Acclaimed DoP Talks About His Love Affair with Motion Control

I was hooked when I first saw the Rutger Hauer ‘Guinness’ commercial in the early 1990s done at ‘Telecine Cell’, when I was starting out as a runner at Central Television, in Birmingham. Anyone who remembers the charm and genius of that spot may feel the same way – but it simply blew me away and I was totally hooked.

For my sins, I went down to London almost immediately and found a job in a Motion Control Studio and was still there ten years later. As you can see my love affair with Motion Control has not been without a long period of courtship over the years.

Milo Motion Control RigThe Milo is now a far more versatile and dependable beast and with the evolution of The Bolt High-Speed Rig, over the last three years, we are seeing some amazing high-speed camera sequences that have completely re-energized this tool.

Things have definitely moved on over the last twenty years and for the better. Nobody wants to be doing repeat passes and matte runs at 2.00am on a Friday night – Saturday morning. Although the overtime is nice, most of us now have better things to be doing (like sleeping personally speaking).

Fortunately, modern target tracking software and compositing have come a long way, opening the door for Motion Control to become a far more creative tool. The Milo (MRMC’s Oscar-winning rig) is a versatile and dependable beast and with the evolution of The Bolt High-Speed Rig, over the last three years, we are seeing some amazing high-speed camera sequences that have completely revolutionised this creative tool. Essentially for me, is the ironic fact that these robotic systems have become more adaptable and are actually a very cost-effective solution.Junior Bolt

Simply put, when a producer at a large agency needs you to undertake ten product pack shots in a day – producing a sequence starting on a beautifully lit bottle label to reveal a whole product range in a room set, in a limited screen time of 100 frames (and on a 90mm macro lens) – there is probably still no solution available, in camera, to achieve this cost effectively and without descending into madness

 – However, armed with Motion Control and a good operator I would say “Just Bring It!”

And let’s throw in that beautifully placed droplet of water running down the bottle at the start of this sequence just for good measure to impress the client – because we can! Also, because maybe I am a little OCD like that – although who wouldn’t be OCD having worked in a Motion Control Studio for ten years …


Mark Emberton is a highly acclaimed director of photography working with premium consumer food, drinks brands and products such as Heineken, Welch’s, Jordans, Lancombe, Chivas Regal, Huawei, No.7, Carling… to name but a few. For more information regarding Mark Emberton, please visit: http://www.markemberton.com/reels.html


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