Watch Pixar’s First Animated Short Recreated With 5-Ton Camera Robots

Very cute, but also kind of terrifying.

by Ian Birnbaum
Aug 20 2016, 2:00pm

The Cyclops camera rig on set. Image: MRMC

For filmmakers and animation nerds, Pixar's 1986 short film, Luxo Jr., is an iconic piece of history. Before that short, no one had seen animation that looked like that, and the personality and emotion shown by two lamps set a new standard. To celebrate the 30th birthday of Luxo Jr., a crew of filmmakers in London recreated the entire short using their programmable camera rigs.

It sounds cute until you realize that these things are enormous. Filmmakers fxguide and Stiller Studios use these programmable robotic arms to get fast, sweeping camera movements that would be impossible or dangerous for human camera operators to pull off. The larger rig, named Cyclops, weighs 4.5 tons and if you run it twenty-five feet down a track, then back to its first position, "the accuracy from one end to the other is half a laser beam wide," according to fxguide.

To make this video, the teams programmed two rigs to run through a series of poses and recreate, beat for beat, the Pixar original. Both rigs ran together at the same time, smoothly moving up and down their tracks. When they were finished, the team sped up the motion, animated in the adorable beach balls in post-production, and a charming homage was created.

When the robots rise up and kill all humans, they will do it with the emotion and personality programmed into them by well-meaning humans. It's the best we can hope for.