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Hollywood’s latest blockbuster Gravity was filmed by Kuka Robots. Four giant industrial robots whisked props, lights and even actors around the set in a ballet of split-second precision, as well as doing the camera work …



Hollywood’s latest blockbuster Gravity was filmed by Kuka Robots. Four giant industrial robots whisked props, lights and even actors around the set in a ballet of split-second precision, as well as doing the camera work. They call it cinematic automation.

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Kuka Movie shoot

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Hollywood’s latest blockbuster Gravity was filmed by Kuka Robots. Four giant industrial robots whisked props, lights and even actors around the set in a ballet of split-second precision, as well as doing the camera work. They call it cinematic automation.

Bot&Dolly bought three second-hand industrial Kuka Robots back in 2008. People will start using robots to move cameras around. The first robot found its way into a Louis Vuitton TV commercial.

Warner Brothers executive announced that the studio was shooting a new movie called Gravity with help of Kuka robots.
Gravity has a lot of impossible shots which you would not be able to do with traditional wire work and is massively ambitious technically. It took a year and half to write a new control system for the robots that could be used on the set.

Robots were used in film-making as far back as Star Wars, but they were always custom-built and required proprietary software and a highly-specialized human operator
Bot&Dolly’s founders felt that it was time to get film-makers back into the real world. so they took Autodesk’s Maya animation software (the industry standard) and wrote tools to allow non-robotics experts — like animators — to run Kuka Robots using the software they were already familiar with. Animators can move a camera around, or an actor or a prop. Anyone from Pixar can pick up the tool that they use every day, hit an export button and animate a Kuka robot.
Kuka Robots can achieve a level of precision, speed and coordination of movement which cannot be matched by humans. If you want to move a coffee cup six inches across a table at two meters per second and have it stop on a dime, we want to give you a tool to do that without hiring a developer. Lights, props, explosions, special effects, and even the positions of the actors — all can be synchronized to the millisecond and coordinated with sound and playback.

Kuka Industrial robots system contains checks and safeguards to ensure the robots are on the programmed flight path and uses laser tripwires, pressure mats and other technologies to keep track of the humans. High-risk shots are rehearsed at various speeds, building up to real-time.

People are pretty fascinated by Kuka robots. When they move in a highly coordinated way where all the axes are moving at the same time, the movement is incredibly organic and snake-like. It’s a bit disconcerting and amazing even to myself having watched these things for years now. In a theatrical production, we are trying to give them a sense of character, purposely making them sad or proud or scared. You can convey emotion quite easily.

The next generation of stars may be built, not born.

Botndolly