Capturing precise, dynamic action in high-speed with camera movement requires extensive levels of automation. Leaders in visual engineering, RiTE Media Group specialise in combining high-speed filmmaking with ground-breaking robotics, such as MRMC’s Bolt Cinebot, to create breathtaking visuals.
Collaborating with Director and Visual Engineer Steve Giralt, RiTE produced this beautiful short film – ‘Shoemaker’ – a visually arresting examination of the shoemaking process.
Steve Giralt commented “The Shoemaker is the story of the making of a leather shoe in a visually different way. A big part of my visual engineering storytelling process involves breaking down a thing or idea, examining its parts, and capturing the process of putting them back together. For Shoemaker, I examined the process of making a shoe and created a visual interpretation of that process through my eyes and the eye of the camera.“
RiTE also created a revealing behind the scenes video of the shoot, demonstrating the technical expertise and intricate, bespoke engineering solutions required to capture the amazingly detailed footage.
EXPLAINING THE HOW…
Colin Michael, a Visual Engineer at RiTE Media, explains in more detail how some of the shots were achieved here:
The approach is simple. It starts with understanding the shot we are after, breaking it down into its moving parts and working out the physics we need to control. The next step is to design a rig specifically tailored to the particular action to be automated for the shot.
When you’re shooting close up, macro high-speed action, it’s imperative that the camera motion control system and the actions of the subject are totally synchronised. This level of precision is made possible by MRMC’s Flair motion control system.
At RiTE we build our own specialised robots to work in tandem with our MRMC Bolt Cinebot, and the most satisfying part of building one of these bespoke shot-specific rigs is hooking it up to Flair and seeing it come to life. When I’m standing at the controls for the Bolt and our custom automation rigs, I often find myself thinking about how impossible it would be to pull this off by using human hands alone. Human reaction time cannot come close to the precision required to create these automated high-speed shots.
The pencil and Xacto blade shots required a horizontal motion across a surface as well as an additional axis to control pressure. We used a custom rig that I had initially built to pour and spin beverage bottles and added a regulated pneumatic cylinder to control the pen and knife pressure. The rig consists of a slider base driven by a 6-amp stepper motor, an MRMC model mover turntable mounted to that base, a custom 3D printed mount to house a mDrive 23 motor on the rotation platform, which finally drives a long rotating shaft. On the end of the long rotating shaft, we designed and printed a joint assembly that would hold the pencil or knife as well as the small actuator to control the pressure. This assembly was set up in Flair as three auxiliary axes, the actuator was triggered via Flair using MRMC’s trigger box.
THE HOLE PUNCH…
For the hole punch shot, we swapped the pencil & blade portion of the rig with a larger actuator fitted with the hole punch on the end. This allowed us to hover over the leather, punch a hole, move to the next point, punch another, and so on.
Being able to program the camera motion and the movement of the subject within the same interface was crucial to the success of these shots. This allowed us to spend more time focusing on other important details, such as lighting. Another slider was set up with a Hive 100c light mounted to the platform and we used a long actuator to send the light sliding across the background at very high speeds. This was also triggered using MRMC’s trigger box.
To create the hammer shot, we built a custom rig similar to a hold-down clamping actuator. We used Actobotics parts for the frame, a Festo actuator and a custom 3d printed clevis fitted with four shaft idler bearings for super smooth and repeatable hammer strikes.
For the sewing machine footage, we rigged a large Festo actuator to the same surface the machine was bolted down to. This was automated using Flair’s cyclic triggering mode which lets you repeat trigger on-off signals like a metronome, saving a lot of time by not having to manually input each command into a table with corresponding trigger commands. Overall, this project was a huge technical challenge but we’re all proud of the way it turned out!
Director: Steve Giralt | DP: Justin Dombrowski | Visual Engineer: Colin Michael Quinn | Producer: Jacob Kiesgen, Indiana Robbins | Edit: Nadine Mueller | Color: Dario Bigi | Sound Design: Paris Schulman, TJ Dumser, Drew Mullins | Musical Arrangement: Paris Schulman
The incredibly talented Virtuoso – The Virts team was captured in slow motion by the Bolt high-speed cinebot, by the equally brilliant Shooting Gallery Asia. The video demonstrates in slow motion the extreme skill of these talented Cardistry artists.
A note from The Virts about the project and the video “RISE”:
If there’s one thing we’ve learned from shuffling cards over the past 14 years, it’s that you only get better at Cardistry as you repeatedly push yourself beyond your limits. The by-product of that, of course, is dropping cards – again, and again, and again.
Today, after 14 years, we still drop our cards all the time. Sure, we now drop our cards less frequently; but no matter how much better we’ve gotten, bending to the floor and repeatedly picking cards up covered in dust (and hair) never gets any less frustrating.
Over the years, we’ve come to establish a bit of a love-hate relationship with failure. We still don’t like it, yet we’ve also come to recognize that if we’re not dropping our cards enough, we’re also not going to get any better at Cardistry. And in that sense, we’ve come to find failure rather beautiful.
RISE was birthed from a vision of ours to capture this intriguing beauty of failure. Envisioning a juxtaposition between clean forms and abstract swirls, we pictured cards being manipulated with impeccable technique – abruptly interrupted and exploding out of the very hands that shuffled them.
We imagined them rising from the ground; the cards fluttering through the air in slow motion, dancing like the leaves in the Fall… and returning to our hands – perhaps forming imperfectly at first, then progressing with each step taken, and finally, displayed in all their glory. Yet our stubbornness as Cardists doubling as filmmakers resulted in a few interesting restrictions that we imposed upon ourselves.
If this “Fall” vision were to be captured, it would have to be done with no CG. Everything had to be filmed in-camera and performed by ourselves with a real deck of cards. Next, there would be no use of green screen, compositing, or other camera trickery. The furthest we agreed upon was the reversal of several scenes – and only if they genuinely added to the story we wanted to tell.
And finally, the cards used could not be gimmicked in any way – no strings, magnets or anything of the sort. If what we envisioned could not be accomplished by our technique, then the idea was scrapped.
Thankfully, after months of planning, testing, and of course…failing, we finally had the opportunity to transform our vision into a reality.
Through the use of a Phantom high-speed camera mounted on a Bolt Cinebot (thank you Shooting Gallery Asia), and the help of a leaf blower or two… RISE was born. We truly hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed making it for you.
– The Virts
RISE feat. the FW17 Virtuoso deck
Cardistry performed by Virtuoso (The Virts):
This year’s CES show in Las Vegas saw the latest technology from around the world – with all the big brands demonstrating their latest products and solutions. But the big theme for CES seemed very much in the realm of robotics! We were the central feature for the Nikon stand, who were releasing the AF-S Nikkor 180-400mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR super-telephoto. Both The Bolt and new Bolt Jr brought crowds of people in, keen to get their own personal ‘Robot Video!’ recorded on the cinebots.
It was a complex robotic move, requiring some very clever programming. Motion Control Operator Julian Hermansen put the move together in 3ds Max, and talks a little about how he did it:
“Both the Bolt and Bolt Jr. were rigged and set up in a scene in 3ds Max. All geometry and measures were precisely matched to the real setup along with the framing of the cameras.
The 3d rigs consisted of several different rigs blended during the animation to allow for a combination of movements that would otherwise not be possible – for example, mixing forward kinematics and inverse kinematics and combining target tracking of the camera head with freely animated rotation movements of the head.”
Watch the short highlights video here:
For more information about the Bolt and Bolt Jr. click here
The team over at Rite Media Group in Atlanta were recently created a Coke Zero spot. Mikey Cosentino, CTO talks about the project:
When an established brand announces a new product, it’s a challenge, but any challenge is an opportunity. That’s why we brought an inventive approach to accomplish a shot that’s never been seen before, with a brand that is known and loved worldwide.
“We invested weeks into developing a
three-axis robot arm, 3D printed custom
parts and meticulous attention to detail, as our
workspace was within a millimeter of precision.”
With a combination of our forward-thinking team plus Mark Roberts’ Motion Control Bolt, we were able to create magic. Our simplified approach takes you on a journey from inside the bottle to inside the glass – all in a one-take continuous camera motion.
We invested weeks into developing a three-axis robot arm, 3D printed custom parts and meticulous attention to detail, as our workspace was within a millimeter of precision. Our expressive thinking, innovative engineering, and expansion of boundaries led us to find a moment so different and so new.
COKE ZERO SPOT
The Bolt high-speed cinebot is capable of delivering precision repeatable camera moves at ultra high speeds! For more information on the Bolt, click here
To see other great work from Rite Media Group visit: www.ritemediagroup.com
The Los Angeles based creative agency, Where It’s Greater (WIG), has teamed up with Nike and Dick’s Sporting Goods to produce a campaign video for the new shoes Nike REACT Flyknit Hyperdunk 2017.
A brand new style, the REACT Flyknit Hyperdunk 2017 was first introduced at this year’s NBA Finals by Dremond Green of the Golden State Warriors, and will officially be hitting shelves at Dick’s Sporting Goods on August 3rd.
Where It’s Greater founder, Dan Hall explains:
“The REACT Flyknit Hyperdunk 2017 features Nike’s REACT technology, which is extremely responsive but also extremely cushiony, so I wanted to create an up-tempo piece in which both attributes were on full display.”
In addition to taking cues from the technology, Dan Hall also drew inspiration from the shoe itself. Seeking to mimic the trainer’s minimalist black and white colour blocking. The commercial was filmed in the Where it is Greater studio and was custom built by Dan and his team, creating a Hyperdunk-inspired basketball.
“The first time I saw the shoe, I immediately knew exactly how I wanted the video to look – the colour palette, the lighting, and, most importantly, the set. It had to be a reflection of the shoe, but also
a great showcase for it.”
WATCH THE COMMERCIAL
The spot was created using WIG’s own Jr. Bolt high-speed Cinebot. Talking about the Jr. Bolt, Dan says:
“The Jr. Bolt is a new addition to the Where It’s Greater studio and a
perfect fit for this project, the slogan for the Hyperdunk is ‘Instant Rise’,
and I can’t think of a better tool to visually convey that than the fastest
high-speed camera robot in the world. There is just no other way to do it!”
BEHIND THE SCENES CLIP
For more information on Jr. Bolt contact us
About Where it Is Greater
Where It’s Greater agency is a nimble, concept-to-camera creative studio in Los Angeles, founded by acclaimed photographer, director, and producer, Daniel Hall. Clients include Nike, Beats by Dre, Gucci, Converse, MeUndies, and The National Basketball Association.
In this short behind the scenes video, freelance motion control operator Jerry Andrews, along with co-director Jared Raab, talk about The Bolt high-speed cinebot and how it was instrumental in capturing July Talk’s music video which was shot on location at William F. White Centre in Toronto in association with Part & Parcel!
You can watch the July Talk’s full music video here:
William F White International is the largest production equipment supplier in Canada, with locations across the country. Jerry Andrews is a freelance motion control operator working in partnership with WF Whites and others.
The MRMC Bolt is the world’s fastest and most advanced high-speed camera robot for live action, television commercials, VFX, or for table top work. Reaching top speed of over 4 metres in under a second, Bolt has the ability to get up to speed instantly from standstill to high-speed motion and back again in fractions of a second. For more information on the Bolt click here.
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.
The 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.
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
Behind the Scenes with Bolt on Marvel’s Dr Strange
Last year we had the pleasure of working on some of the coolest VFX shots on a feature that was Oscar nominated for its visual effects. The Hollywood blockbuster, Doctor Strange, tells the story of a lesser known but extremely powerful character in the Marvel Universe. Benedict Cumberbatch plays Stephen Strange, an arrogant neurosurgeon who after a car accident seeks help from mystics studying the dark arts and who then turn him into a Sorcerer to protect the World from a magical threat!
Motion Control was brought in for a variety of VFX shots. In the scene where Doctor Strange walks through what looks like a broken mirror, two Modular rigs were synced together so as to be able to shoot simultaneously. This was achieved with two passes from different sides of the room.
Other shots required more camera speed which is when Bolt on Track was brought in. Multiple passes were needed at different frame rates to make it appear as though Doctor Strange was exiting his body in astral form. This can be seen in the hospital scenes. Another shot later in the film required the Bolt to run the camera move at full speed forwards and then backwards so different elements of the scene appeared to be moving backwards in time.
During the summer, MrMoco and the Bolt High-Speed Cinebot made their way to Sofia, Bulgaria to shoot a 360 video for Samsung and the release of their Gear VR headset. The Video was produced by Resistance Films and directed by Ross Cairns.
Samsung created the first VR rock music experience with the ‘hypercube’, which toured the UK festival scene giving visitors a virtual reality experience like never before. 50 people at a time strapped on VR goggles and got instantly immersed into the cube to experience ‘first hand’ what it’s like to be inside thrashing it out like the famous Biffy Clyro.
To create the experience, a large Perspex cube was built in the center of a stage, with hundreds of fireworks aimed directly at it. All that was needed next was a band willing to step inside and play – enter Biffy Clyro!
In total, 47 cameras were used, with the Bolt CineBot swapping between a bespoke Black Magic 360 rig and an Alexa. The bolt was used partly to get smooth uninterrupted 360 shots around the cube and also for safety as one couldn’t be near the cube when the fireworks were going off.
The trailer for the experience can be seen above. The full 360 video was shown in Samsung’s ‘Hypercube’. However, a Biffy Clyro music video will be released in February featuring the same content for those who missed it.
Our LA sister company, Camera Control Inc., recently filmed the most technically difficult job ever undertaken. The shoot was for OK GO’s ‘One Moment’ music video. The group, famous for their painstakingly rehearsed choreography, pushed the limits of motion control that resulted in a visually stunning single high-speed shot.
The entire video lasts a total of 4.20 seconds! However, once slowed down and played back at 24 frames per second, the viewer is treated to a stunning display of technical wizardry from a wall of exploding paint to guitars being blown out of the air. In total, there are 318 events that had to be triggered!
The director and lead singer of the band said about the shoot:
“We used very precise digital triggers to set off several hundred events in extremely quick succession. The triggers were synchronised to high-speed robotic arms (Bolt on track) which whipped the cameras along the path of the action”
Watch behind the scenes video below to see how technical the shoot was and how precise it all had to be to make it work. This video would have been virtually impossible without the Bolt High-Speed CineBot on track and the software to program exact and repeatable moves.
Full credits and background notes for the video can be found by click here