It’s exquisite. It’s everything I dreamed of when I was a kid- robotics, in-camera film effects, precision. The San Francisco based firm of Bot & Dolly has pretty much upped the game for everything involving projectionmapping in real-time and combined it with extreme robotic film making. It seems a natural progression though, and I can’t think of anyone more capable and qualified to do it. But before we give in to our Robot Overlords, let’s remember they still need to be told what to do. It’s just that they do it over and over again with ridiculous precision and razor-accuracy. I don’t know what they used for projectors, but I suppose it wouldn’t take much in terms of lumens for a project like this. Projection software on the other hand was accomplished with Touchdesigner. As advanced as Touchdesigner is, the more you watch what they’re doing with the Iris robotic arm the more you realize that projectionmapping is the easy part. They have an entire array of tools at their disposal- BD Live, BD Time, and the stunning BD Wheel- a hand-held control wheel that allows you to scrub through a shot or attenuate playback speed. If you’ve ever been to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago and seen their toy manufacturing display – this is like that x1000. They have a couple of Motoman robotic arms that you can race and play against…but this scale is entirely different.
It’s not hard to discern where or how the effects are in-camera, but the marriage of the elements is what overwhelms me about Box. That, and the sound. That first big whoosh at 1:24 is just plain sensual.
Tobias Kinnebrew of B&D explains: “Box explores the synthesis of real and digital space through projection-mapping on robotically controlled moving surfaces. The short film documents a live performance, captured entirely in camera. Bot & Dolly created this work as both an artistic statement and a technical demonstration. It is the product of an experience vision realized through the integration of multiple technologies pivoting on our software platform BD Movetm for precision control of robotics.” It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to extrapolate where you can go with this type of gear on a film set. With the extreme precision and playback capabilities, the possibilities are truly endless. I gotta get out to the coast and see this in person. That’s all there is to it.
Absolute heaven. Dig it!
Another really cool project from our friends at NYX Visual- ‘Electric Bit’. Louis De Castro says they developed the concept to be shot on the back wall of a new very futuristic venue in Paris: l’Electric. “Our setup was done using a custom built quartz composer rig. It’s based on the “Tracked User” functionality of the kinect camera, importing only the silhouettes of the persons moving in front of it. The feed was pixelized according to the wall sculpture grid then used as a mask to play media content and interact with various effects (color, speed etc…). We then remapped the video feed using MadMapper. Creating a new surface for every pixel then mapping it to each pyramid, we covered the maximum space our video projector could provide. The result was a 8bit looking tracking funhouse installation played by the audience of the night.”
From The Agency, comes this great looking project- shot at night in the forest of Fontainebleau. Romain tells me they first shot the band members in their photo studio. Then, during the night in the forest of Fontainebleau, they projected their portraits on the rocks and trees and then took about 600 pictures (like a stop-motion). Finally, they assembled the pictures and added a camera traveling (parallax) and transitions between pictures (morphing) with Apple’s Motion software. Love that they did it on the fly, with a car battery and an inverter!
- video projector Optoma 3000 lumens
- electrical converter
- power supply car battery
- midi keyboard
- camera Nikon D800
- Apple Motion
- Apple Final Cut
I was a shooter long before I was a projectionist so watching the olympics takes on a whole different significance. I use a robotic camera system where I work and robocams have been a fascination of mine for years, starting with the venerable Sony EVI-D30. My current rig is 3 Vaddio HD19′s but they pale in comparison to some of the robotic/wire cam work of the London games. Watching women’s rowing the other day, I kept noticing the cut-away shot to the overhead camera. At first I thought maybe blimp or aerial cam, but on the dolly shot from shore it was clearly a wire cam. Then I looked at the length of the race- 2500m! What the hell kind of rigging would you need for over 2.5 kliks of distance on a wire cam????? Well- two x 95m high towers and 2500m of cable- that’s what. Pretty sure this is a record……
imagery courtesy Cam-Cat Systems
At the start, the camera which can rotate 360 degrees, is 85m above the athletes’ heads. At this level it can zoom in on four boats. As it follows the race it gradually drops closer to the water, hovering a mere 8m above the water at the 1,100m mark at its lowest point. Finally as the athletes are gasping at the finish line, the camera will zoom back to the start at 70km per hour for the next race. “The buzz of the overhead wire camera is going to put rowing into a completely different realm for showing our sport,” said David Tanner, Performance Director for British Rowing. Stefan Boisjoly, the broadcast venue manager at Eton Dorney, told the Washington Post: “To us, rowing is one of the most magnificent sports and the fact the lake is so long was a challenge,” “We always wanted to be able to show the full length of the lake. You can do it with a helicopter, you can do it with a blimp but our goal is to have something that is more flexible, that we can use race after race after race. The images coming out of there are just unreal. It is so beautiful.”
And the athletes agree. After been shown the shots that the camera produced during a training outing, Nathalie Dell of the USA women’s quadruple sculls said, “That’s so awesome!”
The camera was developed by Cam-Cat Systems to film a documentary on St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna. The Austrian-based company quickly realised the potential of the technology for sport. The Cam-Cat system has been used to film ski jumping, Formula One racing, and in previous Olympic Games. There are five other systems in use for the London Olympics, including two in the main Olympic stadium, mountain biking, equestrian, white-water canoe and kayaking, and one across the River Thames.
The shots achieved by all the robo-cams, (and the real-life shooters) are nothing short of outstanding and I can give credit to them for making the Olympics watchable, despite NBC’s rather lame coverage and presentation.