Photographer Creates Gnarly All-Terrain Mobile Workstation

June 18, 2010
By Dan Havlik, PDN's Technology Specialist

Mobile workstation

What do you get when you cross a souped-up photography workstation with the Mars rover? The DR8, an off-roading digital hub designed to bring the comforts of the home studio to the trickiest of terrains.

"The DR8 is a great machine to convert tough location shoots into luxury indoor shoots," said Aladdin Ishmael, CEO of AI Digital Imagination and creator of the device.

The 500-pound DR8 is built inside a power converter that can run an Apple MacPro workstation along with twin 30-inch monitors. The device is made of solid steel and sports rubberized tank treads to move it over sand or snow.

Balanced to remain upright even on rocky terrain, the DR8 can rotate on its axis and has a foot stand on the side of the machine if a human wants to go along for the ride. There's also a front shelf for carrying a generator, if needed, for a shoot.

"We took it to Tahoe, CA in the snow, and the beaches in Malibu," Ishmael told PDN Gear Guide. "I have been using the DR8 for about three years already. Clients we work with this machine are: Kohls, Target, Fredricks of Hollywood, Spin Magazine, TNT TV, and Cosmo. When we get it to any location, no matter how interesting the talent is, the conversation always end up about this machine."

Three rechargeable batteries are inside the device, two to run the DR8 and and one as emergency back-up to power the computer and the monitors.

According to Ishamel, the DR8 is designed to be used for up to a five-day shoot, ten hours a day, with no additional charge.

The emergency back-up battery can run the computer and monitor system for about four hours with no AC or generator power, he said. There's also a built-in 25-foot retractable power cord.

The DR8 will only available for leasing beginning in 2011, though. It will be available as part of a digital capture package that includes cameras and digital techs, for $2,400 a day. There are also plans to offer a year-long lease of the DR8 for $11,000.

He added that he's currently customizing a DR8 for digital video capture so it can be used as an editing and viewing station for RED digital cinema cameras.

The DR8's website (, at the time of this writing, was still a work in progress. Until the site is fully up, Ishamel says it's ok to contact him via email ([email protected]) if you want more info on the DR8.

More info can also be found at AI Digital Imagination's website:

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