Using two Bolts to Shoot Stop-Motion

Using two Bolts to Shoot Stop-Motion

CASE STUDY

Visual engineering & cinema robotics company 6 Degrees was tasked with creating a visually stunning, but extremely challenging commercial for the supermarket giant, Lidl. Using two Bolt Cinebots, the goal was to capture a continuous shot across a large family dinner table, using stop-motion techniques to portray the passage of time through childhood and young adult memories.

PROJECT OVERVIEW

The objective of the commercial was to show how food purchased from Lidl keeps its high-quality food standard over the years. The sentiment is that no matter how life unfolds, one can always discover the taste of childhood or relive the nostalgia of traditional food eaten when younger.

Nothing beats having a giant robot on set and everyone taking their phones out to post about what they got to experience on set, on their shooting day. Shooting with the Bolt is more than using a tool; it’s an event.

Radu Sfefan Fulga — Motion Control Op, VFX & DOP

6 Degrees

THE CHALLENGE

To ensure the vision of the commercial was achieved, one of the main challenges was timing, to ensure that the triggering of lights, SFX, and the model mover (Bolt on pedestal) for each move would have the correct time delay when using stop-motion. In preparation, it became apparent there would be an issue with paper cutouts getting in the camera’s way. The cutouts, which were light and only held up with magnets, were often in the direct line of the camera path and using the Laowa Probe with the periscope mirror millimetres above the table. It became a problem with them being knocked over.

The Solution

The solution was to use a combination of back and forward runs, that could then be spliced together in post. By only using a forward run it would have meant that once the camera started, it would knock over the cut-outs. By the time the desired shot was framed correctly, the cut-out would already be lying face down on the table. Doing backward runs meant the camera started at the end position, so once it reached a cut-out, it could tip it over, and then continue — but the necessary footage was already captured. All the frames to make the stop motion were there, and anything after that point was not needed. Using backward runs ensured any shake was not an issue, especially if the periscope nudged an object or the table. That was the solution for 30-40 instances which when tested matched well enough with the forward runs.

In essence, the editor could remove, add or duplicate frames without cutting them from the actual move. This cancelled the need for complicated math on how many stop motion frames would be needed at which frames of the move.

Radu Sfefan Fulga — Motion Control Op, VFX & DOP

6 Degrees

The Result

Instead of just capturing each instance of stop-motion, complete capture was used to give more freedom in editing. This enabled them to control the stop-motion without affecting the time of the actual move. Out of 600 passes, the editor essentially had two timelines to work with. One with all the takes synchronised with the exact same start and end frames — overlapped in order (‘back runs’ also, but reversed). From that timeline the editor could cut to the next stop-motion instance, choosing from shot 1 to shot 2, getting the exact same frame, but with a different stop-motion instance, but with the move being the same.

In essence, the editor could remove, add or duplicate frames, without cutting then from the actual move. This cancelled the need for complicated math on how many stop motion frames would be needed at which frames of the move. It also meant the client could request different lengths of the final video, and it would be a simple revision to the edit. The end result was an incredible new Lidl commercial utilising some extremely clever moco techniques from an incredibly talented team!

WATCH THE VIDEOS

The Team

Client: Lidl
Agency: Mullenlowe
Production Company: Studioset
Directors\Stop Motion Animators: Damian & Anton Groves
DOP\Motion Control Operator\On Set VFX Supervisor\Colorist: Radu Sfefan Fulga — @raduunkle
Cinema Robotics & Visual Engineering Unit: 6 Degrees Romania — @6degreesro
Rental House: Cutare Film — @@cutarefilm

Rigs, Cameras & Kit Used

Cameras: ARRI Alexa Mini & Laowa 24mm Probe + custom built periscope
Lenses: Zeiss Supreme Prime 25mm
Robotic Rigs: Bolt on track (9m of rail) & Bolt on pedestal (with a modified custom compact base)

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