CAMERA ROBOTICS ROUND TABLE
Def: Can you share some examples of how new robotic technologies have been used in recent film productions in order to enhance creativity and efficiency? EB: Our innovative robotic systems were used on several major blockbuster films involving high-speed action sequences or split-screen techniques, where one actor is duplicated within the same dynamic scene. We make this possible with the whopping camera speeds available in our cinema robot arms, which are also fully repeatable and simple to control on set. KW: Spidercam allows filmmakers to create very unique shots – 360° shots around the action, a mix of aerial shots like a drone and close-ups like a steady-cam, capturing scenery and surroundings then swooping in for dialogue and emotions. And all that while being perfectly quiet and stable. The Spidercam also has the advantage of speed, keeping up with fast-paced action, and while the stabilised head provides the action shots, there are additional safety features to support the camera crew, giving the actors more freedom to move around without obstruction. The additional tracking allows Spidercam to provide its position in space, giving the possibility to, for example, add impromptu CGI for visualisation options. Def: In what ways have robotics and AI-driven technologies changed the landscape of visual effects and CGI in the film industry? EB: Camera robotics have partially replaced the need for CGI in many filmmaking applications. This is primarily
EB: Yes. There has been a shift in job roles and responsibilities in the industry where we’ve seen many camera operators and videographers transitioning into motion- control operators. At Camerabotics, we provide full training and one-on-one support for industry professionals that are coming to our platform, so they can make the most out of it and keep up with the latest technologies on the market. KW: Every sector changes with new technology. The film sector generally embraces new tech, and specialists for robotic cameras are now a common part of film productions. Robotic solutions have their own requirements for operations and maintenance (plus occasional troubleshooting). Another aspect is safe operation: remotely controlled or fully automated movements require delicate handling, and finding the right balance between ‘the best shot’ and keeping the risk of collisions to a minimum. Def: Looking ahead, what are the emerging trends and future possibilities for robotics in the film industry? How might this technology continue to evolve in the coming years? KW: Robotics will continue to enrich the filmmakers’ tool set. The next logical step is the merge of various technologies. Robots and CGI are already working hand in hand, but not to their full potential. Robot automation is another promising feature. You could create paths for your robots in an editor and have the system recreate them perfectly for every shot. Or – using the same editor – utilise keyframes to change speed, path or camera orientation. Or do it manually – automation to make everything plannable, and manual input to retain maximum creativity. EB: We believe the industry will evolve in many exciting directions over the next few years, with many capabilities geared for real-time production in both filmmaking and live broadcast. Robotics will continue to accelerate production speeds and fuel creativity by making the filmmaking process more efficient and flexible for directors and DOPs – allowing them to make on-the-fly commands on set and seeing results instantly as they go about content creation.
due to it being a lot faster and a lot cheaper compared to CGI in many use cases. Additionally, camera robotics produce more realistic and real-world footage that simply can’t be done with CGI, such as dynamic scenes involving liquids, fire or human beings. KW: Flexibility and freedom to capture what could have been impossible shots. Robotics allow the camera to get closer to the action and, depending on the outcome, support shots where the actor’s view of the scene is required. Most robots – including Spidercam – need to know their position in space for their own operation, so the info of the camera position is already available. Combined with the camera orientation and camera functions, you can easily get the full set of tracking data in order to place CGI accurately. Plus, as this data is available live, it can also be utilised to generate a pre-visualisation of a CGI shot – adding perspectively correct graphics in the pre-production. Def: What challenges and limitations have filmmakers encountered when incorporating robotics into their projects, and how have they overcome them? EB: With all the powerful capabilities that robotic technologies have been able to bring to filmmakers, there also came certain challenges and limitations with the practical implementation, such as a relatively large cost for smaller outfits, plus logistical limitations – involving adequate studio space, power availability as well as portability for on- location shoots. KW: Most robotics are customised to the individual film; often the rigs have to be mounted on moving cars or specific buildings in order to get the right shot – which takes time to set up and then several takes to get right. There are also limits to what a robot can do: a maximum speed or range, plus not every system works with every camera/lens set-up, etc. Our recommendation is to always have a system specialist on site. Def: Has the use of robotics in filmmaking led to shifts in job roles and responsibilities within the industry? How have professionals adapted to these changes?
RUNWAY ROBOTICS Spidercam in action for CHANEL at Fashion Week spring/summer 2024
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