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.

Continue reading “Using Robotics To Film the Perfect Hamburger Shot”

Drones, Clever Hacks, and CG Come Together For Star Wars Fan Film

We weren’t certain if this Star Wars fan film was out kind of thing until we saw the making of video afterwards. They wanted to film a traditional scene in a new way. The idea was to take some really good quadcopter pilots, give them some custom quadcopters, have them re-enact a battle in a scenic location, and then use some movie magic to bring it all together.

The quadcopters themselves are some of those high performance racing quadcopters with 4K video cameras attached. The kind of thing that has the power to weight ratio of a rocket ship. Despite what the video implies, they are unfortunately not TIE Fighter shaped. After a day of flying and a few long hikes to retrieve the expensive devices after inevitable crashes (which, fortunately, provided some nice footage), the next step was compositing.

However, how to trick the viewer into believing they were in a X-Wing quadcopter? A cheap way to do it would be to spend endless hours motion tracking and rendering a cockpit in place. It won’t look quite real. The solution they came up with is kind of dumb and kind-of brilliant. Mount a 3D printed cockpit on a 2×4 with a GoPro. Play the flight footage on a smartphone while holding the contraption. Try to move the cockpit in the same direction as the flight. We’re not certain if it was a requirement to also make whooshing and pew pew laser noises while doing so, but it couldn’t hurt.

In the end it all came together to make a goofy, yet convincingly good fan film. Nice work! Videos after the break.

Continue reading “Drones, Clever Hacks, and CG Come Together For Star Wars Fan Film”

20kW Light Is As Bright As You’d Expect

[Photonicinduction] purchased a very very bright light. This 20,000 Watt half meter tall halogen will just about light the back of a person’s skull with their eyes closed. These are typically used to light film sets.

Most people couldn’t even turn such a light on, but [Photonicinduction] is a mad scientist. Making lightning in his attic, it’s easy to mentally picture him as the villain in a Sherlock Holmes novel. Luckily for us, if he has any evil tendencies, they are channeled into YouTube videos.

He gives a good description of the mechanical and electrical properties of the light. The body is as one would expect for an incandescent light. A glass filament envelope with the filaments supported within. The envelope is evacuated and filled with an appropriate gas. This light is dangerous enough that the outside must be thoroughly cleaned of fingerprints to keep a hot-spot from forming, which could cause the lamp to explode.

After some work, he managed to convince himself that the filaments within were not, in fact, garage door springs, and gave a demonstration of their properties. For example, their resistance goes up as they are heated. In order to keep from tripping the power supply, filaments this large must be preheated. Failure to do so passes a very large number of amps.

The next step was to hook the lamp up to his home-made 20 kW power supply. He gives a good demonstration of just how bright it is. Within seconds he’s sweating from the heat and definitely can’t even open his eyes to see with the tiny sun occupying the center of his abode. Video after the break.

Continue reading “20kW Light Is As Bright As You’d Expect”

Home Made 8mm Digitizer

The 8mm film look is making a comeback, but distributing it is an issue. [Heikki Hietala] wanted an easy way to digitally capture the 8mm movies he made. So, he built an 8mm digitizer from an Arduino, a cheap Canon camera and the guts of an old 8mm film camera. When you throw in a few 3D printed components and some odd electronics, you get an impressive build that captures 8mm film with impressive speed and quality.

This build started with a Canon Ixus 5 camera running CHDK (the Canon Hack Development Kit) to lock the settings down. This points at the film strip through a macro lens so each frame of the strip fills the frame. An Arduino then triggers the camera to take a photo using a USB cable. The same Arduino also controls a motor that winds the film and triggers the film gate from the camera that he salvaged. By reversing the function and triggering it with a servo motor, he can easily blank off the edges of the frame so no stray light shining through the film material causes any problems. Once the camera has captured every frame on the strip, he feeds the captured images into Blender, which processes them and spits out the final movie.

This is a very impressive build overall. [Heikki] has obviously put a lot of thought into it, and the whole thing looks like it runs very efficiently and quickly. The captured video looks great, as you can see from this sample. The decision to use a salvaged film gate was a smart one: there is no point in reinventing the wheel if engineers of previous generations have solved the problem. Kudos to [Heikki] for also documenting the process in a lot of detail: he has produced a 5-part series on his blog that shows how and why he made the decisions he did. This series goes over the overall view of the project, using CHDK to control the camera, 3D printing parts, wiring the Arduino and writing the code that controls the system.

This sits nicely alongside the 8mm to video camera hack that we wrote about recently. This one doesn’t involve taking apart the camera (except for the sacrificial one that supplied the gate), and you still get that wonderfully grainy, jumpy look of 8mm film.

Continue reading “Home Made 8mm Digitizer”

I Built Myself a 16×20-Inch Camera in 10 Hours

[Giles Clement] was avoiding work in a bar, nursing a pint, and doodling a sketch for a camera. He looked at his sketch, thought, “gee, that looks better than answering emails,” and called his friend. An hour later they were at home depot buying supplies, and ten hours of furious work later, they had a camera. Nothing gets a project done like avoiding work! (See it all happen before your eyes in the video below the break.)

The camera is built around a 500mm f/4.5 Goerz Dogmar lens from around 1918 and was apparently used for aerial recon out of blimps. The frame of the camera is pine and plywood. [Giles] had heard that building the bellows for these cameras had taken other hobbyists months and thousands of dollars. Rather than elaborately folded fabric, he supported his 6 mil plastic bellows on telescoping rigid rods. To view the image while he’s focusing it, he sanded a plate of glass with 100 grit sandpaper to serve as a view screen.

Once the camera was completed, they prepared the plates and exposed photos. The first step, from what we could tell, was to disregard all chemical safety practices. The second step was pouring a substance called collodion on an unsanded glass plate and tilting the plate back and forth until the whole plate had an even coat on it. Then it was put in a bath of silver nitrate to sensitize. Once sensitized the plate was placed in the frame of the focused camera and an astonishing amount of strobe light emitted. After that it’s back to the chemical baths for more safety hazards. The whole process has to be done under fifteen minutes or the plate cures before it can be used. The photos that come out are seriously cool. It’s no wonder these old styles of photography have seen a comeback.

Continue reading “I Built Myself a 16×20-Inch Camera in 10 Hours”

The Filmomat Home Film Processing System

The death of film has been widely reported, but technologies are only perfected after they’ve been made obsolete. It may not be instant photography, but there is at least one machine that will take 35mm film and 5×7″ prints and develop them automatically. It’s called the Filmomat, and while it won’t end up in the studios of many photographers, it is an incredible example of automation.

The Filmomat is an incredible confabulation of valves, tubes, and pumps that will automatically process any reasonably sized film, from 35mm to 5×7 color slides. The main body of the machine is an acrylic cube subdivided into different sections containing photo processing chemicals, rinse water, and baths. With a microcontroller, an OLED display, and a rotary encoder, different developing processes can be programmed in, the chemicals heated, developer agitated, and film processed. The Filomat is capable of storing fifty different processes that use three chemicals and a maximum of ten steps.

The video for this device is what sells it, although not quite yet; if enough people are interested, the Filmomat might be sold one day. This is likely the easiest film developing will ever get, but then again a technology is only perfected after it has been made obsolete.

Thanks [WhiteRaven] for sending this one in.

Continue reading “The Filmomat Home Film Processing System”

DIY Lego Slit-Scan 2001 Stargate

[Filmmaker IQ] has a bunch of great tutorials on the technical aspects of making movies, but this episode on copying the stargate Stanley Kubrick’s famous 2001: A Space Odyssey using Legos is a hacker’s delight.

The stargate in 2001 is that long, trippy bit where our protagonist Dave “I’m sorry Dave” Bowman gets pulled through space and time into some kind of alternate universe and is reborn as the star child. (Right, the plot got a little bit bizarre.) But the stargate sequence, along with the rest of the visual effects for the film, won them an Academy Award.

Other examples of slit scan animations you’ll recognize include the opening credits for Doctor Who and the warp-drive effect in Star Trek: TNG.

Continue reading “DIY Lego Slit-Scan 2001 Stargate”