The more traditional technique of light painting involves creating freehand designs using a point of light in front of a camera taking a long exposure photo. The results are occasionally recognisable — but most often random — and that's part of their appeal. Jeff Crossman and Kevyn McPhail take a different approach though, using a robot arm to create perfectly pixelated light painting images.
It would be easy to call their use of an ABB IRB 6640 industrial robot as their photography assistant cheating, but the results are just too unique to dismiss. Besides, Flickr is already chock full of random glowing streaks.
The source images for the light paintings are captured using an Xbox's Kinect camera, and the data is then processed with 3D software and other tools to generate a point cloud often composed of as many as 5000 dots. The end of the robot arm is equipped with a flashing RGB LED that can generate any colour, and slowly, over the course of about 25 minutes, it recreates that 3D point cloud as a light painting.
It's a tedious process, but the precision of the robot arm means its creators could even move on to creating light painting animations. This is something that would be all but impossible, relying on a human's imprecise hand movements. [Jeff Crossman & Kevyn McPhail via Engadget]