That’s right. We have our very own in-house rig, the Manta Motion Control System. Our recent animation work with this cutting-edge toy earned us a place on the first ever ‘Innovation 50’ list of forward-thinking companies. Our development with this new device earned us a second accolade on the list.
The process of motion control photography makes it possible to control camera movements with high levels of precision and to repeat the exact same movement many times. This technique allows us to shoot multiple passes of different elements and then combine and composite these elements to create shots consisting of several complex layers.
Motion control lends itself perfectly to the medium of stop-motion and integrates seamlessly with the work that we do for creating multi-pass trickery or steady, controlled time-lapses. It gives us the ability to incrementally move the camera between animation frames. The end-result? Highly believable and fluid camera movements which appear to move in real time, but which have been achieved as part of the stop-motion animation. Motion control can give any project a new level of immersion and believability.
Bespoke Motion Control Rig
The Manta is a highly valuable tool with bespoke capabilities, developed in house, which truly makes it a one-of-a-kind motion control rig. Unlike some other rigs, Manta gives animators the ability to view live previews for stop-motion, which adds an unparalleled level of control to the creative process. Versatile multi-axis camera control makes it possible to plan out elaborate camera moves, complete with exciting twists and turns. Combined with the essential ability to adjust focus as necessary and a camera head that will accommodate any DSLR model and many professional cinema cameras, and you have a motion control rig that is far ahead of some industry standard equipment.
One advantage of the Manta is that it can operate as a life-size track and dolly with an impressive 3m vertical reach (1m minimum height) and a 5.5m lateral reach end to end. This means the rig can be used to film in smaller scale life size sets, as well as miniature stop-motion sets.
We also have additional rotation axis mounts and linear model movers which can be used in conjunction with the rig for added dynamism and trickery.
We’re always excited to use the Manta in new ways to create something new with motion control techniques, so if you have an idea for a shoot which could be enhanced with the Manta’s capabilities, get in touch for a full spec and rate card.
The Manta isn’t just a fancy train set. Our philosophy is to use the camera as a character, whose movement should be used judiciously to augment the point-of-view for any shot, sequence or story.
Motion Control Examples
Experience the creative potential of motion control for yourself by checking out some of our projects which were made possible using motion control, and specifically the Manta:
Pilsner Urquell ‘Legends’
A world crafted entirely from paper. We moved the camera in a continuous left-to-right travel cycle to journey through Pilsen town square, underground, back up and round, coming full circle to view the point of origin.
Penny, Arctic Christmas
We facilitated this complex studio shoot, collaborating with VFX giant Glassworks. We created lofty crane manoeuvres over wide urban scenes, plus more dynamic sweeps across Arctic ice floes.
Da Vinci Learning Idents
Our model movers are capable of shifting up to 25kg of mass on a linear track. We used this to create the impression of ice cores being moved into a storage freezer, by filming the whole set rotated through 90 degrees. By adding refrigerated vapour (dry ice) which naturally falls, creates the impression that the ice cores are moving horizontally, not vertically.
We also used the Manta rig to sweep the camera across a miniature art gallery model, as well as various smaller, more subtle moves and tricks:
As mentioned above, one advantage of the Manta rig is that it can cope with life-size sets. We built this living room environment and built the shot with 16 separate passes to cover each aspect of animation.
Sony Movie Channel
We pieced this snowy paper world together with a combination of replacement cut-outs and light-writing elements, match moved to get the right depth and perspective.
True Crime: Valentines
A 6-day time-lapse where the rig ran day and night to capture this haunting single shot of roses gradually wilting. We set up delicate temperature controls to ensure the rate of decay remained constant.