Toy Robot Takes a Trip Into Space...For a Music Video
If the recent Lego Space Shuttle launch has taught us anything, it's that sending things from our childhood into space can be awesome. It's that line of thinking that led to the creation of a music video where a toy robot was sent into the upper atmosphere.
James Trosh produced a music video for Lucky Elephant's "Edgar" as part of his final university project for his degree in television production. The video centers around a little toy robot, who goes about its day like a human, until it decides to shoot off into space in a makeshift rocket ship. Whereas other people may have been satisfied using a green screen for the scene, Trosh went the extra mile by attaching a camera to the craft and actually sending the automaton into orbit.
I had seen the project by a group of MIT students who sent a still photography camera into near-space for $150, and really wanted to try something similar with a video camera. I was going into my final year of my [...] degree, and had the idea to do the near-space launch for one of my graduation projects - but incorporate it into a music video.
The space scene started out in a farmer's field in Cambridge, UK. The toy robot was firmly fastened to a papier-mâché spaceship, and a GoPro HD camera and GPS system set up opposite the rocket. The two were connected with a piece of wood, and to keep the technology warm, covered with an outdoor tap warmer (it gets cold up in space!). The contraption was hooked up to a weather balloon that took the robot up into the sky for a brief trip to space. Check out the launch and flight through space below:
The robot took a look around near-space (about 92,000 feet from the Earth) for two and a half hours before heading back down to the ground, and fortunately didn't land somewhere in the sea! Thanks to the GPS tracking, James managed to find the robot just 11 miles away from the launch location, with plenty of great footage.
Of course, there are a few difficulties when planning a launch into space, and this project was no different:
The time of year we did the launch was notorious for bad jet streams, and we had to wait a couple of months before we could find a weekend where our predictions said the robot wouldn't land near an airport, the sea or in Belgium. Thankfully we were able to find a good day to launch two days before my university deadline, and we were able to get the footage edited and submitted on time.
The whole project cost James about £400 (around $630), and the launch video has over 268,000 views. Meanwhile, the music video has been screened at festivals internationally and on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. GoPro (the makers of the camera) liked the video so much that it decided to use the film for one of its advertising campaigns.
James also isn't quite finished either: While he is no longer at university, he is hoping to try out a newer GoPro camera in space, as well as a lighter rig in order to fly even higher.
You can find out more about how James set up his project, and the different hurdles he faced, on the Project Edgar blog. Watch the video below to see how the project came together for the full music video:
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