SpareBot music videos

Craft & Design Music Photography & Video Technology
SpareBot music videos

Phil Clandillon saw a recent post about sparebots, and was moved to show his own work.

Asked about his technique to make the animation, he responded with great detail and technical clarity:

It was a very DIY operation. I’ve been doing these interactive flyers for around 6 years in my spare time for Sancho Panza, who are a house music sound system / promoter (most famous for their annual stage at Notting Hill Carnival) over here in London, UK. I typically make the flyers over the course of one or two evenings so that quality can be a bit variable, but the dancing electronic parts man turned out well. In 2006 the theme for the year’s flyers was that Matt and Jim from Sancho would send me a piece of music, and I would base the flyer on it. The February tune was “Over and Over” by Hot Chip which is a repetitive electro-pop number. I had the idea for the dancing man made from components based on this.

The process of realising it went something like this:

I dug around in the drawers at home for all the electronics bits I could find (also a work colleague at the time helped out by donating some more vintage bits, such as those used for the head and legs) and made up the character on a piece of bread board.

I then need to photograph him in the various “frames” in order to create the animation. The biggest challenge was mounting the camera so it pointed down at the breadboard and so it didn’t move around between shots. Also lighting was a problem as the character need to be reasonably evenly lit so he wouldn’t throw shadows.

I used a combination of an open frame from a filing rack (think a cube with no sides), and a plywood wine rack with a seven inch reggae record stuck over one of the holes. The type of seven inch with the middle taken out turned out to be exactly the right size to poke the camera lens through. I used two pillowcases and three desk lamps to make a rudimentary light tent. I then moved the character gradually through his dance moves, taking a photo at each step. One problem was that pressing the camera’s shutter button caused the camera to move, putting the animation out of alignment, so I used the camera’s self timer instead, resetting it for each shot.

I then made the final adjustments to the characters position by layering up the frames in Photoshop, before animating the result in Flash.

I have a website but it’s a bit out of date at the mo (shoemaker’s shoes and all that) – you can see more e-flyers in my archive. Interestingly the artwork for the website is also created from electronics. I had a friend who can solder better than me help me make up an LED logo of the tag I used to spray when doing graffitti as a kid. I then took it out on the street in London and photographed it in a variety of locations. These photos went on to form the backdrop for the website (my gf is standing out of shot holding a 9V battery on the end of two wires!).

Phil and colleague Steve Milbourne also recently did this Excel spreadsheet ASCII music video for AC/DC from a few weeks ago.

We’re a digital creative team and we’re very inspired by the maker scene, so a lot of our ideas involve getting our hands dirty with hardware and software. We’re also daily readers of the Make: Blog!

Thanks Phil. Keep up the great work!

How are you changing the way you look at the things in your life? When you look at a pile of junk, what do you imagine? What do you make when nobody is looking? Pass along your ideas in the comments, and add photos to the Make Flickr pool!

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Making things is the best way to learn about our world.

View more articles by Chris Connors


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