You thought this 7-Eleven commercial was CG but it was really shot using a giant robot arm

Aug 3, 2020

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

You thought this 7-Eleven commercial was CG but it was really shot using a giant robot arm

Aug 3, 2020

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VWljbU7f1cM

I’m not entirely sure how recently the above commercial for 7-Eleven was released (I’m in the UK, not many hhere), but when I first saw it, I thought for sure that it was just some pretty neat CG. It turns out, though, that it was actually shot 100% practically and for real by none other than Steve Giralt and his team. Yeah, I know, I was quite surprised, too.

While a computer was used to previsualize and programme the moves, the actual sequence was shot on a Bolt motion control robot arm. I can’t quite tell what the camera was (some shade of RED, most likyle), but the lens used appears to be the Tokina Cinema Vista 16-28mm II T3 cine.

One of the great things about motion control rigs for something like this is that you can play the same motion over and over again precisely. But this is what initially made me think this was CG, because the same exact moves are shown in advertisements for different 7-Eleven products. The commercial at the top of this article is for Big Gulps, but as you can see in the Instagram video above, which shows off their coffee. Steve said that it was actually cheaper to do it practically than to go with CG, as they could reshoot the same sequence over and over again as many times as they wanted once they were all set up.

Steve Giralt is one of the biggest names out there when it comes to motion control robot arms for commercials, and we’ve featured his work on DIYP a number of times. And for those wondering why the behind-the-scenes video shows a coffee covered in foam and the final commercial does not, Steve says they just shot multiple takes and the coffee used in the final video was not the one shown in the behind the scenes video.

The most fascinating part of all this for me, though, was watching those zoom and focus rings continuously turn throughout the sequence as it moved through the scene. That must’ve taken a lot of planning and testing. Absolutely amazing.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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One response to “You thought this 7-Eleven commercial was CG but it was really shot using a giant robot arm”

  1. Youri J. Soloviov Avatar
    Youri J. Soloviov

    All this technology and know-how to promote junk food! ?