Using Robotics To Film the Perfect Hamburger Shot

It’s no secret that a lot of time, money, and effort goes into photographing and filming all that delicious food you see in advertisements. Mashed potatoes in place of ice cream, carefully arranged ingredients on subs, and perfectly golden french fries are all things you’ve seen so often that they’re taken for granted. But, those are static shots – the food is almost always just sitting on a plate. At most, you might see a chef turning a steak or searing a fillet in a commercial for a restaurant. What takes real skill – both artistic and technical – is assembling a hamburger in mid-air and getting it all in stunning 4k video.

That’s what [Steve Giralt] set out to do, and to accomplish it he had to get creative. Each component of the hamburger was suspended by rubber bands, and an Arduino timed and controlled servo system cut each rubber band just before that ingredient entered the frame. There’s even a 3D printed dual-catapult system to fling the condiments, causing them to collide in the perfect place to land in place on the burger.

In order to get this shot, [Steve] needed two things: precise timing and a robotic camera system to follow the burger down as it was assembled as it fell. The timing was taken care of with a control system he designed himself (which he’ll reuse for future projects). The robotic camera was a commercial unit capable of repeatedly following a preprogrammed path. You can see in the video below how it rotates around the hamburger to achieve a really cool 3D effect. Obviously a camera-wielding robot like the one [Steve] used is very expensive, but with a little ingenuity a DIY build is certainly possible.

[thanks to DMPalmer for the tip]

20 thoughts on “Using Robotics To Film the Perfect Hamburger Shot

  1. So that is why I never get burgers that matches pictures! No one working at McMinimum wage can toss all the ingredient and make them stack neatly like the video shown.

    useless tip: some of the food made for pictures are exaggerated like larger meat patty, extra thick onion rings, extra fresh lettuce and tomato, and buns with extra seeds glued on.

    1. That is, in my understanding, not allowed in commercials or the company will be fined for false advertising. They are required to use everything but nothing else they use in producing the meal they are shown. That being said- they stack things differently and arrange things for the optimum effect.

      1. Actually it is true. They can glue, toothpick, and even staple the food together if they want to. The tomatoes and pickles could be fake as well.
        Those grill lines? Probably painted on in some commercials.

      2. Yet they get away with it. A few years ago when Taco Bell had something with chicken and flat bread, the picture showed about 20 lumps under generous helping of cheese. What they served me was just 4 pieces of chicken and a thimbleful of cheese. I complained, they said SOP is this much chicken and cheese. I pointed to the picture and said false advertising. The manager wouldn’t give me one as pictured, I got full refund and perma-banned from that one Taco Bell.

        Some restaurants will fix you one that is as pictured but usually they serve less than what’s pictured and most people don’t complain.

        1. My working career started with waiting tables and later actually cooking… one thing Fight Club got right above all others was ‘Do *NOT* fuck with the people that make your food!’. If you need further material I will recommend the movie ‘Waiting’.

  2. How nice to see how this was done, interesting video to watch.
    However the technolgy to produce a bruger that looks like the picture somehow does not exist.
    Despite all the disappointed customers all over the world, food is still presented in a different way that that it is sold. In many cases the product on the image doesn’t even use the ingredients of the product itself. For many understandable reasons, for instance making a picture of ice-cream under all those hot light is (to say the least) very difficult.
    Now making stunning pictures of food has become such a perfected art that it starts leading to disappointment when you get the final product. You could also say that there is nothing wrong with image and that it is the cook who sucks at his job.
    Anyway, image and product should match otherwise it is misleading.

    From the movie “Falling down”. Please wind forward to the 4:00 to see the burger and you know what I mean.

    Fortunately, there is room for improvement, as this guy show in his hidden camera video

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