Introducing Surface Studio video was shot using a robotic arm and an Xbox Elite Controller

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Taking a cursory glance at the new Surface Studio and MacBook Pro videos, it’s easy to see a similar design focus in the production for both but behind the scenes lay a bit more nuanced story as to how Apple and Microsoft put together their new product reveals.

Fortunately, Sean Brown, the president of Motorized Precision was more than happy to share its collaborative production process with Microsoft, and it’s pretty creative one at that. Thanks to an in-depth report from TheBeat, Microsoft enthusiast find out that the company used a robot and Xbox controller to bring the Surface Studio to life.

Similar to the big budget Marvel comic movies, Microsoft utilized a mesh of CG renders and practical effects to present a larger than life vision of the Surface Studio. While the names of many motion and visual designers get a tertiary mention at the end of the report, the Motorized Precision KIRA arm stole the show.

KIRA is one of the latest in robotic camera arms. We first covered KIRA after its big splash at NAB 2016. The rig has a maximum height of 9 ft and can extend to 5.63 ft, weighing 570 lb — and the baseplate alone weighs in at a whopping 3400 lb. The KIRA has a maximum camera payload of 40 lbs and can move 3.2 ft in 0.5 seconds.

According to Michael Maher who reached out to Brown about the Surface Studio production video, Microsoft reached out to Motorized Precision to create rig the shots for its launch video. The Surface Studio video was filmed at Cinerent West in Portland, Oregon by a KIRA loaded with a Red Epic Dragon and Canon 15.5-47 mm lens.

Image via Microsoft / Motorized Precision
Image via Microsoft / Motorized Precision

To get precise movement and tracking, “the Microsoft Surface team had a series of pre-viz shots created in Cinema4D and Maya — which helped guide and program the KIRA’s motion control movements.”

Adding further merit to the viability of Microsoft’s hardware and software in the creative sphere, Motorized Precision also used its MP Studio app on the Surface Studio in conjunction with an Xbox One Elite controller to manipulate the KIRA.

When we push left on the left joystick the robot moves left and when we push left on the right joystick it pans left etc. We made it so simple and intuitive to control that we were able to focus on the creative and not worry about the technology.

Image via Microsoft / Motorized Precision
Image via Microsoft / Motorized Precision

When Maher asked Brown point blank what he thought of the Surface Studio, his answered mirrored what Microsoft hoped would be the case for its new All-in-One device.

I love the Microsoft Surface Studio from a KIRA control standpoint. We developed MP Studio originally as a touch app. On the Surface Studio I was finally able to see that app come to life with Touch Control that made sense! So I was very impressed by the product.  The Dial on set was controlling some amazing color wheels inside some of the apps used in the launch video and it was very impressive to see all the different functionality they were able to get from such a simple device.

Beyond delivering a stunning reveal video, Microsoft managed to test drive its Surface Studio with the exact creative culture it’s designed to entice, and it’s proving to be a viable option.