Watching ballet on TV doesn’t provide nearly as satisfying an experience as seeing it performed in person — at least using traditional filming techniques. Director Tarik Abdel-Gawad has taken a radical new approach to capturing footage of a ballet performance, using a motion-control camera on a robot arm that’s been choreographed as part of the routine.
Before filming began, Tarik worked with San Francisco Ballet principal dancers Maria Kochetkova and Joan Boada at a motion capture studio to digitize every last move they’d make while performing. This gave him a virtual stage where he was able to program and sync the moves of a robotic camera alongside the performance. These movements would then be perfectly reproduced on-stage, while the dancers performed the piece.
Here’s what the performance, entitled Francesca Da Rimini, looked like from behind-the-scenes with the massive stage-side camera making its intricately plotted moves:
And here’s what the robot-mounted camera actually recorded during the performance — footage of a ballet that actually makes you feel like you’re one of the performers on stage.