Dev1- Group2






Description of what you are investigating

In this mission, we study the control of the robotic arm and establish the operating range to carry out the automatic shooting. The controllability of the robotic arm has inspired us to use it in experimental video production. An experimental film is a film with a single objective language, without narration or subversion of traditional storytelling techniques. It mainly creates short films and closely relates to surrealism, expressionism, and avant-garde art. The methods used in the experimental film include defocusing, distortion, staining, repetition and quick editing of the image. Furthermore, unsynchronized sound and image, voice variations, grotesque characters and vague themes are also common styles in experimental movies.

To achieve a unique camera lens in experimental film, we think robotic arms are a good starting point for research. So we would like to test this technique on our first mission.




For our project, there is a frame which we will use in the edited video to show whether the candle was lit or extinguished. It is essential for this Dev1 to be familiar with the robot arm because the robot arm can complete precisely the same movement every time. Then we can have 3 similar frames, but the candles are different.

1. Turn around the empty plate. First, we marked 6 points around the plate. Then we adjusted the angle of the robot arm by hand at the first point and set it to be Waypoint 1. Besides, we moved the robot arm to each of the remaining 5 points via the touch screen to control the robot arm and turned it back to the first point. This makes the camera track around the plate 360 degrees. Thus we set up the robot arm’s trajectory and started recording the first frame – the camera circling the empty plate.


2. Three candles on the plate. We put three candles into the plate when the robot arm was circling the second time.


3. Lit three candles on the plate. We controlled the robot to stop at Waypoint2, Waypoint4 and Waypoint6 by the touch screen. Then another person can have time to light the candles.





  1. YouTube. (2006). YouTube. Retrieved February 3, 2023, from
  2. Matt. (2022, September 25). What is experimental film: The Essential Guide • Filmmaking Lifestyle. Filmmaking Lifestyle. Retrieved February 3, 2023, from



Group 1 – Devs 1 Assignment

Dev 1 assignment

Group: Dorothy Choi, Jiamin Liu, Mona Safari, Zaheen Sandhu

Description of what we are investigating:

From researching creative inspirations that we found from Behance, Instagram, and the web, we were inspired by cinematic themes in nature, miniatures, and light imagery. Our brainstorming led us to investigate how to create a simple, cinematic nature scene (e.g. animals and a cottage at the top of a hill in the countryside, near the ocean) that involves spatial and temporal changes, such as day-to-night transitions and playing with the weather (e.g. inducing fog, precipitation). We used Miro as a collaborative space to note ideas and resources that would be helpful in creating this scene. Additionally, we experimented with the Robot arm to get a sense of how it can be used to film the scene. For example, the Robot arm could be useful in holding a phone to film the scene from a panoramic aerial view, panning over the scenic transitions. We are also thinking of minimizing post-production, focusing most work on the production process.

What we learned / How it went:

In this group work, we figured out the technical principles of the robot arms from zero to one, and complete the design of how to do interaction based on the technology of the robot arms.

  1. Learned how the robotic arm works and used a robot arm to manipulate the behavioural trajectory of the robotic arm movement in the course.
  2. Searching the internet for works related to robotic arms helped us to understand the possibilities of human-computer interaction, and also helped us to open our eyes and think in a broader way.
  3. Learned from each other’s ideas in group discussions and brainstorming sessions with team members from different backgrounds.
  4. Several techniques are tested for light effects, such as using a shiny surface to make reflections on objects.
  5. For the project, we tested the possibility of changing the object’s position simultaneously with camera movements. Moving the objects and using a hand in the scene makes it feel like a theatre scene, which makes our set feel more alive!

Our Challenges:

  1. As part of the test, we used the flashlight on our cellphones to see if it was able to make a sharp contrast on the object. This was not successful on the day, so we will need to work on that for the next session.
  2. In order to make the scene look more detailed, we need to experiment with different backgrounds to see if we can create a blurry background, but the space we have is not enough to experiment with different sets, so we’ll need to figure out how to accomplish this.

Our Tests:



Devs 1 – Group 5

Devs 1 – By: Firaas Khan, Victoria Gottardi, and Yifan Xu

What are we investigating?

For this first assignment, our main goal was to experiment with the robot arm and a camera, since our first assignment is going to be between us and the robot holding the camera. We want to investigate how the robot arm moves with a phone and phone stand attached to the gripper, what the limitations of the movement could be, other capabilities of the robot arm movement that we might not have expected, and what a short video might look like filmed by the robot arm. We figured this would be good practice for project 1, to give us a better idea of what we would be potentially working with before we got too deep into the storyboarding process for our final video.

Process and Results

img_20230125_105956 img_20230125_105958

Final Video Link

What we learned

We first built a program that had the robot clutch the iPhone while recording a brief video introducing the computer that was on the table from all sides, in order to verify the hypothesis that a smart robot is capable of spinning 360 degrees and shooting while in motion. But it didn’t turn out that way. Due to space limitations and the length of its arm, which made it simple for things to collide with it, the robot was unable to complete the 360-degree rotation assignment. At that point, we noticed that when we built up the project, the space and the robot’s structure had not been taken into account. We updated our software to a successful half-circle spin after carefully observing and measuring the area and the robot’s construction. To sum up, through our initial interaction with the robot, we have discovered that the first thing we need to keep in mind when beginning a new program is the robot’s entire environment.

Link to Code




Dev 1- Group 4

Team Members: Anas Raza; Chitra Chugh; Ellie Huang; Ricardo Quiza Suarez

Description of what you are investigating (100 – 200 words)

For the first experiment, our team is investigating different perspectives of cinematography and their effects on the rendering of scene dynamics. Each of the team members has presented an idea and brought materials for testing. Anas decided to use the robotic arm for light painting, specifically drawing text using long camera exposure capturing a robotic arm holding a light source. Ellie is trying to explore close-up shots to top view shots, recreating a miniature landscape with elements of abstract sculptural objects. Ricardo delves into the question of how we can translate pop culture elements, such as memes or iconic video game scenes, into a precise perfect camera shot with the aid of a robot? And Chitra is trying to capture the speed and motion using the anime character toys widely known as beyblades. She is trying to create an intra-interactive  pattern between the objects and then using a robot arm to capture the zestful dynamics of the toys. She is trying to achieve a comical violence essence through this idea.

What is it you are trying to figure out?

For dev 1, we are trying to experiment with a diverse range of possibilities with robot cameras, in terms of rotation, movement, control and timing. We are striving to familiarize ourselves with the robot arms and the technicality of it in order to better achieve optimal collaboration, specifically how the robot can aid in creating a precise scene. In addition to the technical part, we are exploring multiple themes incorporated into the cinematography of robot cameras and how unique effects can be generated via such methods.

Documentation of process and results


screen-shot-2023-02-03-at-10-34-15-pm screen-shot-2023-02-03-at-10-34-07-pm



The scene: Boo haunting a character (Mario usually) until it touches him and Mario dies.

The props:1 Boo figure + another figure. Human hands to assist movement.

Death by Boo example links (what we are trying to replicate):

Boo movement pattern:

Sketch diagram for setting up the scene:

screen-shot-2023-02-03-at-10-32-16-pm screen-shot-2023-02-03-at-10-32-06-pm

Description of what you learned (100 – 200 words)

  • Importance of speed and acceleration: altering a different speed and acceleration completely changes the way of storytelling from the robot camera. There are a lot more that could be further explored in terms of the accurate control of robot arms.
  • The project has to be thought about with the limitations of the setting. That includes, the length in a grounded setup can not be larger than the table, and the robot itself has many limitations regarding how much it can displace its parts. 

How did it go? It doesn’t have to work to be useful experiment. Give a brief description of what you learned (100 – 200 words) 

  • Human components: human’s appearance adds on another layer of playfulness and dynamics to the whole scene. On one hand, hiding human interaction makes the whole cinematography intriguing when the objects “come alive”, while on the other hand, having human components in the scene registers human presence and the collaboration between robot and human is strengthened. 
  • Learning on team collaboration: when one person is maneuvering, others could be helping with holding the bottom, checking from different angles and et cetera. A good and smooth collaboration maximized efficiency.
  • Regarding robot arm placement and sturdiness, we discovered that the arm could not move more than a speed of 250mm/s. The safety feature was halting the arm when we tried to move the arm more than 250mm/s. This is because of the mechanical vibration that was produced as a result of high speed and unstable base.

Group 3 – Dev 1

Dev 1 

Group 3: Wentian, Nicky, Shipra, Gavin

For Dev 1, we wanted to experiment with the robot arm’s spatial movement. Primarily, the goal was to test how the robot arm could handle a 360 degree encircling of an object.  We attached a phone to the gripper, utilizing the phone’s camera to take photos/videos of the object. Additionally, we also wanted to explore shooting angles such as a top-down perspective. In these experiments, we are trying to figure out how fluid the robot arm can be, after we’ve programmed a series of moving commands into the console. We observed the speed of the arm transitioning to different points, whether it would collide with the object, and the quality of the photographs/videos taken on the phone. This is prep work for our Project 1, where the camera’s perspective will be crucial. This will also be very useful for Dev 2, where we plan to use the robot to 3D scan an object.


First, we placed our main character “Dead Panda” on the central area of the table beside the robot arm. To prevent the arm from reaching the maximum moving distance to the bottom, we put some wood blocks under the object to increase its height. Then we started to position the beginning waypoint of the robot arm and adjust the shooting angle of our camera. After all the initial preparation, we started our first attempt by inputting four waypoints that were programmed by each of us. Unfortunately, our first attempt failed. The gripper kept doing full rotations during the demonstration – a potential hazard for the object – because we were manually changing the positions and angles of the gripper. After another failed attempt, we realized we needed to control the gripper and arm on the pad rather than direct operation on the robot to resolve this issue. Although the camera collided with the object several times in movement due to inappropriate positioning of waypoints, we eventually accomplished the task and got a smooth video of an encircling shot of our main object.



VIDEO OF DEV 1 <— Click

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Learnings & Outcomes
While going through this process of trial and error while working with the robot arm, we were faced with a few of the aforementioned challenges. This process helped in understanding the limitations of working with the said technology. We realized the importance of working towards smaller goals helped in understanding the movements and familiarizing ourselves with the controls. The first step towards Project 1, resulted in a short 360 degree video of a small object placed on the table. The intent was to be able to create a smooth transition between camera angles and positions. We achieved that to an extent by working as a team art directing the scene. This exercise was able to add value to our Project 1 Ideation process.

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