Howto video your robot


We all know that a robot is supposed to move. Without movement, a robot is just dull. The same goes for pictures of robots. We wanna see them move!

Here are a few quick tips for making and embedding a video of your project. Take them or leave them.

Which video service to chose?

The following services have proven to work well in LetsMakeRobots pages: YouTube, MetaCafe. Other services might also work. Experiments can be suggested and followed here.

The following service appears to be OK, but not great: Google Video (uploads are reported to be slow).

How to make titles?

You need video editing software for that. Warning: editing video will severely decrease your robot tinkering time. But it can be loads of fun.

Link back!

LMR videos are getting syndicated and embedded more and more. Not to say stolen. Remember to put some artwork, titles, branding, whatever in the picture to remind the viewers where to go for the original stuff: here! Some prefer the simple method of a piece of styrofoam with the text written on it in permanent marker.

Youtube offers "annotations" that allow you to put in such a reminder after the fact. Even when you forgot to include it in the original footage. These annotations can even be used to link to any youtube URL. Maybe a channel page from some other LMR member?

Tagging is important

Did you know that the original YouTube video of the Yellow Drum Machine has had over one million views? Would you like your video to get that kind of attention?! Then use these tags: "robot", "" and "lmr". Use OneWordTags, WithoutSpaces.

If you put LMR's URL in the description, make sure to include the whole http-colon-slash-slash thingey like this: . That will show up as a clickable link in most web browsers.

In-Picture branding LMR

Thanks to Psy and Ndupont, we now have a cool LogoBot and a whole series of logos and wallpapers. A very special video edition is included in the LMR Logo Kit. Look for the file letsmakerobots_com.gif. (Or use this one.)

You will need video editing software to add this logo to your videos. Make sure they are visible for at least four second. Longer if you have them moving across the screen. Fast moving objects will be poorly visible after the video compression algorithm gets its way with it.And keep in mind that your video hosting service (Youtube) will put its own logo in the screen as well. It might block your titles and logos. Stay clear of the bottom right corner.

Picture quality.

More light is better. Daylight is best. Especially around sun set or sun rise. It just is gorgeous light.

Don't worry too much about picture resolution. The video service is going to reduce that anyway. Just make sure to zoom in on the relevant details though. And mind your focus. It will help the video compression algorithm a lot if you hold your camera still for a second. Otherwise the algorithm will remove details in fast moving pictures.

Get down! Pictures shot from a low standpoint will see your bot "eye to eye". That is so much more lively than the helicopter shot from your shoulder height.

Declutter the background. A busy surrounding will only distract the viewer. Or choose an outdoors background. They tend to be less noisy than robot workshops.

Keep it sweet, short and fast, do not repeat. Consider speeding up some scenes (in editing software).

Keep it moving: take ordinary (still) pictures for detailed views and descriptions. And include those seperately in your post.

Leave the original sound intact: it helps the viewer to understand what's going on.

Cool points to be earned...

With music. But: do not drown out the original sound. And be careful about copyrighted music (youtube will detect it automatically and refuse to make your video public).

With narration: explain to the audience what you're demonstrating. Also, this saves you a lot of writing later.

With exclusive membership of the very enigmatic SYFL Video Club! Membership is open and free to anyone. But there is no howto for that one!





(from "Take a look at these 2 pictures of the same robot, taken with the same camera:" and down!)

Cool and fun!!

This video was fun and interesting. The RC "robot" flipped the other robot several times that was fun.

/Emil Hemdal (SWE)

**[example of an annotated video to be created and embedded] **

Here’s a video with annotations in youtube, if you still need an example. Yes, the vidoe is crappy. No, the robot’s no good. But it has annotations, yeay!

/ vzz-clck-“Maneuver”

I added annotations to all

I added annotations to all my quadroped movies on youtube now.

I used:

"Check out more robots and robot projects on"

pretty easy

Thumbs up!
Thumbs up!

added tip
hold camera still for detail shots

My couple of items of advice

I have a couple of things to note, based on my own attempts to make videos of classic computers (look for my user ID “anachrocomputer” on YouTube, and the same on Flickr for stills).

1. Lighting is vital. I saw a video once where I really wanted to see how the mechanism worked, but the engine was lit from behind! No light where it mattered, on the front! But another important idea is to avoid casting dark shadows, because the camera (still or video) won’t be able to see into those shadows. One thing that I use a lot in macro photos is a reflector, which can be as simple as a sheet of white paper. Place it just outside the shot, reflecting light into the shadow areas of the subject.

2. Keep the camera still. One hazard with making your own videos is that you’ve seen the subject many times before while making and programming it. This seems to lead to a temptation to glance at it with the camera, then move away for another angle, then move again, and so on. Sometimes this happens at lectures where the lecturer has seen the slides before (many times) and changes slides much too fast! Remember that the viewer is watching the video to see your robot, so make sure the camera stays on the subject for a reasonable time. Use a tripod or other camera support if you have one (or can borrow one).

Editing software

Can anybody help to tell me what software can process MOV, MPG and AVI files?

I got Premiere but it does not want to open the MOV files.

Got it working. The Quicktime support was wrong…some file missing or something like that…now it’s working…

And yes…I tried to convert it but with not much good results (e.g. Logo in the picture since it was a trial version, not this format supported and so on.)

I mean I don’t want to be G.Lucas but at to put the LMR logo in the movie, add some not copyrighted music, title etc.