Interview with Hollywood Producer Amy Kim - Robots in Movies

Posted on 04/06/2018 by jpvalery in Industry
Earlier this year, we had the pleasure to collaborate with Daphne & Velma by providing 3 Lynxmotion Phoenix Hexapods. We're super excited to see the movie released earlier this month, and we couldn't be more thrilled to share with you our interview with the movie's producer Amy Kim. Amy will share some insights about robotics in movies and her journey in Hollywood.

What was your journey in the Film Industry?

I began my production career at Warner Bros. Television (while at the same time producing independent shorts and pilots, and serving on the IATSE boards). My indie producing effort WEST BANK STORY earned an Academy Award. Then, I became Director of Production at Nickelodeon (also supporting TV Land, Nick at Nite, and TeenNick) while also successfully managing development, current, and on-air. I later joined Michael Eisner’s digital studio, Vuguru, as Head of Production, creating original scripted content for various partners including Hulu, AOL, and Yahoo. Since starting Lifeboat Productions, we have been working in the digital space with major studios and networks.

How Robotics have been used and are being used in the Movie Industry?

daphne-velma-robotshop-lynxmotion-phoenix-hexapods-scooby-doo-1-movieStill from Daphne & Velma - Featuring a Lynxmotion Hexapod
My mind goes to animatronic puppets and drones with cameras and I’m sure that is what most people think of as well. A newer development is 3D printing. Admittedly, this is “robotics adjacent”, but the ability to print small and intricate items is very interesting. I’ve mostly read about mass printing character faces for stop motion animation and how it has allowed for an exponential increase the level of expression and nuance. I look forward to seeing how other departments, like props, special FX, or make-up, can use the exactness of 3D printing to bring a computer model into the real world of something otherwise impossible to create.

In your opinion, what has been the best use of Robotics in Movies?

Using robotics to create otherworldly beings, creatures, and/or machines is by far my favorite. Instead of a person in costume or CGI only, having real robots on a set to play characters allows for talent to interact and crew to react at the moment, and that is how you can get those fantastic unpredictable moments. The “happy accidents” that can only happen when shooting on a real set with real people… and robots.

With more and more movies using CGI, do you think there’s still room for Robotics/Animatronics in production?

daphne-velma-robotshop-lynxmotion-phoenix-hexapods-scooby-doo-3-movieStill from Daphne & Velma - Featuring a Lynxmotion Hexapod
Definitely. CGI is great and many creatures and contraptions are impossible and need to be fabricated in a computer. However, we’ve already seen productions make animatronics & machines for the set and then augment the footage with CGI. We’ll continue to see practical effects and animatronics on set more and more, as the technology develops. Ultimately, both robotics and CGI will be used together to create the best possible result.

Do you think a Robotics professional could make their way into the Movie Industry?

daphne-velma-robotshop-lynxmotion-phoenix-hexapods-scooby-doo-4-movieStill from Daphne & Velma - Featuring a Lynxmotion Hexapod
The way things are going, it might be a case of movie and TV’s professionals making their way into robotics and other technologies. Tech companies are making their own content while content companies are making & using technology to tell game, VR, and AR stories, so the convergence is interesting and there will certainly be changes to come.

Lynxmotion products have been used previously in TV shows like New Girl and in commercials like KFC – How/Why did you pick them?

daphne-velma-robotshop-lynxmotion-phoenix-hexapods-scooby-doo-2-movieStill from Daphne & Velma - Featuring a Lynxmotion Hexapod
Our decision was a practical one. The hexapods had the right look for our “security defense” machines within the world of our story, and the team at Lynxmotion were fantastic and willing to work with us on our tight schedule and budget.

How was working with Lynxmotion Hexapods?

I love those little guys! They were easy to manage, worked every time and looked great. When are they going to be able to design costumes?
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