Group 1 – Diaries of a Robot

Diaries of a Robot
Mona Safari, Dorothy Choi, Jiamin Liu, Zaheen Sandhu


From researching creative inspirations that we found, 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 transition.



Our main concept for project 1 revolves around creating a cinematic nature scene. We manipulated miniature elements and the robot arm creatively to demonstrate different camera angles that can capture and illustrate the scene.

The story for project 1 centralizes from the Robot’s point of view. The robot is getting in touch with nature, its elements, and the native people, which is reflected by the words in this poem that goes along with our 20-second cinematography. Throughout this journey, our process involves storyboarding in the initial process, along with experimenting with the robot arm and settling with our final resources to create the scene.

Our Explorationsscreenshot-2023-02-28-at-2-20-32-pm

Devs 1 – Exploration
Devs 2 – Exploration


Story Board and Scene Creation

Light and shadow
(Day-to-night transitions)

We explored these spatial and temporal changes through different light effects using a mobile color app and different tangible materials, e.g. pink bubble wrap envelope, and a water bottle, to create ideal colored light that would reflect morning-to-evening transitions.

Its impact on the scene in terms of ambiance and storytelling.



The voiceover narration comes from the lens of the “Robot arm”. We personified the Robot, as it is visiting nature and getting in touch with its world.

“Camera scenes follows the poem reflecting the respect of nature.”


May the warp be the white light of morning,

May the weft be the red light of evening,

That we may walk fittingly where grass is green,

O our Mother the Earth, O our Father the Sky.

American Indian | Tewa Song


The Process – Behind the scene





Touch Point of the Process

One of the most crucial, challenging yet tricky of our process was controlling and playing with that light of the scene. In order to get the effect of the morning light and transition that into the evening light, we decided to use colored lights on our mobile phones and play around with the spatial and temporal changes. For the first part, our main goal was to have a seamless transition of the sun rising and having that sunlight effect. For this effect, we used a mix of orange and blue light. We first hit the record button, waited for a few seconds, and then pointed the light sources toward the scene. Moving along with the arm, we were naturally working with the arm to provide that seamless lighting effect. The next part was to transition to the evening light, for which we slowly moved away from the orange light source but still kept the blue light there, bringing it closer to the camera slowly. We were able to achieve that slow yet seamless color transition through this process.



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Our Challenges

  • ENVIRONMENTOne of the main challenges that we faced while we were setting up our scene was the surrounding environment in the video. We noticed that it was tough to be able to record the scene and not have the immediate environment exposed to the camera. To tackle this, we decided to create walls of thick sheets that would solve this purpose. While this did in fact solve our main challenge, it also acted like a bonus element for our project. We wanted to play with light and shadow and the sheet acted as a great background for that purpose. We also tested different angles and close-up focus with the camera to avoid capturing the surrounding environment the best that we can.picture9

    Sometimes it was difficult to pinpoint how fast or how slow the robot arm should move, with respect to the scene, and also with respect to the narration to match the scene. There was a lot of learning through trial and error during this time. We were able to finalize the timing by first creating a pace for the narration and matching it with each of the keyframes when shooting the scene.

    Sometimes the lighting was tricky – as it may have created too much shadow, captured too much shadow from the robot arm, or didn’t have enough brightness/opacity in colour. We found that the flashlight function on different cellphones has variations in brightness, so we used it to our advantage. For example, a brighter light against an opaque colour can create a bright colour light instead of a dull one. Additionally, casting light adjacent to or in the opposite direction of the robot arm (rather than in the same direction) would minimize shadow capture from the robot arm itself.

Development for the Future!

Initially, we intended to use a blurry background, but during our experimentation stage, we were unable to do so. This could also have been accomplished in a few other ways, but we decided to focus on the main part, which was the narrative of the project, and make it more valuable. After all, this is something we definitely need to experiment with in the future!


Final Video: Diaries of a Robot

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