(Images courtesy of The Format Factory)
Loop Technology had the honour of lending their robot expertise and facilities to help produce ‘I’m Leading the Dance’, an emotive mini-documentary which aired on CBBC on the 8th March 2021.
It tells the story of 14-year-old dancer Neisha as she works with disabled choreographer Kate Stanforth to create an artistic dance – partnered with a 1-tonne KUKA KR240 robot!
From the BBC synopsis: “Neisha’s dance is one of triumph and tenderness, inspiring others to find their own strength despite the obstacles that may lie in their way.”
The KR240 which normally works alone in a safely confined enclosure to perform tasks for research and development purposes, had to be reprogrammed to perform for the dance.
During the development stage, Kate used a model robot to plan discrete robot poses to compliment the movement of Neisha.
I then layered the pictures on top of the video of Neisha rehearsing to get the timing right. I took this into the @Loop_Technology workshop and worked with their engineers to translate the pictures into actual movements that Neisha & @KateStanforth could work with when we filmed pic.twitter.com/mDOquSkC4T— Benjamin Field (@Benjamin_field) March 8, 2021
Our Software Engineers used a robot simulation software, RoboDK, to generate a simple robot program with matching poses to run on the KR240. However, some artistic license was needed as some of the choreography was too fast for the robot! Working closely with the director, the robot program was refined in order to keep up with the more explosive dance moves and to restrict the robot within a safe zone in the cell. The resulting robot program needed to be triggered at the precise moment in order to stay in sync with the music and Neisha.
Benjamin Field, Head of Development at The Format Factory comments:
“I’d like to express my most sincere thanks to the team at Loop Technology for allowing us to use their wonderful facilities in order to produce this amazing film for CBBC. The team rose to the creative challenges we fed in with excellent grace and a determination to get results, especially when pandemic factors were a big unknown. Special thanks must go out to Alun Reece for leading the way from Loop’s side but also to the other members of the team who gave up an incredible amount of their time to see us over the finish line. The programme looks incredible and without Loop Technology we wouldn’t have been able to deliver such a fine looking creation.”
The documentary is available to watch on BBC iPlayer.