Well — you guys were right. As it turns out, it was actually a pair of animators who fooled the internet.
Not sure what we’re talking about? Last month, the [Kuka Robot Group] put out a highly polished video showing an industrial robot playing table tennis against the apparent world champion of the sport — it was extremely well done and entertaining to watch, but unfortunately… also fake. Weeks after the first [Kuka] video came out, someone named [Ulf Hoffmann] released another video, a small table tennis playing robot that looked almost feasible.
As some of our readers pointed out:
The movements seemed unnatural for the size of the servos and arm structure. ~ James
CGI. As others have pointed out, the shadow of the arm disappears when the robot is show from the side, even though they were added in the other shots. ~ Brandon
My cgi tip off was the cable under the table. It stretches instead of sliding around. ~ Aj
Notice it’s running Outlook Express and Internet Explorer – no self respecting hacker/maker would run those apps – lol. ~ vonskippy
And a GIF showing a CGI hiccup… how disappointing! Anyway — the truth has come out as reported by [Philip Steffan] of c’t Hacks. As it turns out, not even [Ulf Hoffman] is real. The elaborate fake was concocted by a pair of animators, [Tobias Becker] and [Steffen Tron] — And you know what, we’re pretty impressed.
The pair is planning to start up an agency this year for making viral ad campaigns — [Ulf] was an experiment to see how they could do. To make it as realistic as possible, they created the maker and even started documenting the project last year to add some realism to it. Unfortunately, when the [Kuka] robot video came out they had to hurry up and publish something to ride the coat tails of success.
And for those of you wondering how they actually did it, well, you were all right — completely CGI. [Steffan] was standing behind the table hitting the ball — they just erased him and animated in a robot. As for the off-putting “servo” noises? They were actually made by turning a Märklin model train engine by hand.