Every now and again you'll see something that makes you stop and stare -- eyes wide and mouth agape. Something that uses the film medium in a whole new way. This is one of those things. Bot & Dolly, a design and engineering studio based out of San Francisco surely combine automation, robotics, and filmmaking in a beautiful and awe-inspiring way. They recently shared their short film entitled Box that uses the live projection mapping of 3D computer graphics on two 2D screens attached to robotic arms to create stunning 3D effects -- and everything on-screen is captured in-camera. If that description doesn't do it for you, and it most certainly won't (or shouldn't,) check out the video after the jump.
The technique Bot & Dolly uses to create this video is almost as cool as the video itself. According to an article by The Creators Project, Bot & Dolly uses their "state of the art robotic camera systems 'Iris' and 'Scout', which allows for millimeter precision of the robot arms." The software to interface these robotic arms, typically used for car manufacturing, was developed by Bot & Dolly in the 3D animation software Maya.
Projection mapping is used mostly in advertising, concerts, art installments, and even by DJs to accompany their music, but this video shows that there is definitely a place for it in filmmaking -- especially for those who want the bragging rights of capturing it all in-camera.
And that happens to be of the things I appreciate personally about Box, that it's reminiscent of the first films that used optical illusions for filmmaking -- it's Georges Méliès for the digital generation. Sure, you can create just about anything in post -- entire worlds, creatures, and landscapes that could never be captured in the real world, but there's something about capturing an image organically that warms a cynical old heart.
One of the most impressive and exciting things about Box is that the actor in the video is interacting with an ever-changing and ever-moving environment, or in other words, an evolving set. The precision that this would've had to take is incredible -- to combine the real world with an illusory world with enough finesse that the two mold into one.
The Creators Project says that a behind the scenes video will be available soon, so definitely keep your ear to the ground.
What do you think of Bot & Dolly's Box? How likely are you to use projection mapping on one of your projects?