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This robot thinks it’s Spielberg: Watch this machine-filmed ballet

Ballet is a very expressive kind of dancing that can at times become incredibly fast paced. Trying to photograph ballet dancers close-up is already a challenge for a human photographer that is able to react quickly and spontaneously to the dancers’ movements. But for a robot? Impossible.

Or so you’d think, but the video “Francesca Da Rimini” by Tarik Abdel-Gawad teaches us better. Because as quick and seemingly unpredictable as the movement of the dancers may be at times, as strict are the rules that govern their performance. And if there’s anything that a machine loves, it’s rules.

So what Tarik did was to make use of these specific rules to which the dancers follow during their performance. By recording their performance with motion capture technology, he was able to recreate it as a 3D model, which could use to program a robotic camera.

The result is the video you can watch below, which manages to capture a lot of the expression of the performance, despite the fact that it wasn’t recorded by a human being that can respond to the dancers’ movements in a natural and intuitive way. Or maybe it is exactly the fact that the robot arm captures the performance mechanically, and that it could be programmed precisely, that helped bring out the essence of the dance.

If you’re curious to learn more about how the video was made, there’s also a look behind the scenes in which both Tarik and the lead dancer, Maria Kochetkova of the San Francisco Ballet, recount their experiences of the video’s creation.

(Via Laughing Squid)

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