This requires no introduction, just watch:
As a performance this is pretty amazing as the extensive use of optical illusions to generate a feeling of depth where there is none surpasses anything that I’ve seen before. It gets even more impressive when you find out that all of it was done in camera, I.E. none of the effects you see on there have been edited in. Initially I was a little sceptical of that, I mean this kind of stuff is child’s play to anyone with Blender and some 3D tracking software, but once I saw the robotic arms in the background I immediately understood how everything fit together and it’s incredibly impressive.
There’s 2 key components at work here the first of which is the IRIS robotic arm from Bot and Dolly. They’re essentially scaled down industrial robots with several pivot points allowing them to move freely in 3D space. These are what are holding the two white panels where most of the magic happens and you can see that they’re quite agile even with their considerable bulk. The magic here is though that the camera is also held on one of them which is what allows the next piece of technology to really shine.
As you can probably guess there’s 2 projectors (at least, there could be more) which are responsible for all the visual imagery you see: one behind the camera and one pointing down onto the floor. Now what makes all of these crazy images possible is the fact that the IRIS arms can report their exact location in three dimensions, allowing the projectors to then display images with the required perspective to generate the illusions. It’s similar to the WiiMote head tracking application that came out a while back as the demo makes use of the same principles to generate the illusion of depth.
Another cool application of robots like this is introducing motion into high speed camera shots. Traditionally high speed video usually remains static as moving the camera fast enough to get any kind of good perspective in them is nigh on impossible. This demo reel from THE MARMALADE shows a very similar kind of robot that they use to do high speed video that has significant amounts of motion in it. The result is so foreign that it feels like it’s in the bottom of the uncanny valley for me but it’s still very impressive.