2011 Botsker Winners
And the winning films from the July 2011 Botsker Award Ceremony are….
Photo and 3D-printed Botsker design by Shawn Sims, based on the illustration by Valerie Schoman
Most videos are available in our Vimeo collection.
There were 74 films submitted, 50 screened, nine Botskers Awarded, and one Audience Award. Criteria included relevance to robotics, storytelling, length, depiction of interaction between robots and people, overall entertainment value, inspiration of future technologies, creativity and robot design. Awards were presented by festival-founder Heather Knight and comedian Reggie Watts, with the approving presence of Executive Robot Data in feathered headdress.
Visionary Futures → Moonrush
This category highlights inspiring possibilities for robots incorporation into our future. Moonrush fulfilled this category with real world documentation of a CMU project to bring robots to the Moon as part of the Lunar X Prize challenge and describes the motivations and symbolism behind such an effort that move us beyond the 1960′s idealism of space exploration into a new age.
Ethics & Impact → Chorebot
Winning films in this category should catalyze a creative analysis of humanity’s relationship with machines. With beautifully rendered visuals and a combination of real footage and CGI, Chorebot explored a unique and powerful vision of a dedicated future house robot. The futuristic but believable rendition of the relationship between a dog and the ‘Chorebot’ also included some uncomfortable reflections on our current relationships with technology, with the main human character ignoring everything but his touchscreen.
Best Story → Out In the Street
Here we rewarded films with entertaining and intriguing storylines, particularly those which explored original memes for Robotics. Set in the streets of South Africa, Out in the Street raises questions about identity and rising intelligence as malfunctioning robots begin committing suicide to avoid the depersonalizing process of repair or replacement, achieving rapture. The realism of the shots cut between television news footage, street documentation and the eye-views of the robots themselves.
Most Uncanny → Saturn
Taking departure from the simplistic label of ‘creepy’ evoked by the Uncanny Valley, we dedicated this category to films that provoke discord. As Reggie Watts helped describe, the uncanny refers to something we recognize, though it is strange, an object or being that creates cognitive dissonance due to the paradoxical nature of being attracted to, yet repulsed simultaneously. Now what is more paradoxical than a partially mechanized human woman? Even normal woman can be paradoxical. They are familiar. Yet strange. The film Saturn displays the transformation of beautiful woman into a cyborg machine. This woman represents the future we are afraid of, but may not be able to live without.
Scientifically Hardcore →Bio-inspired Flying Robots
With the goal of creating an interdisciplinary community, we used this category to celebrate both the artistry of filmmaking and the presentation of scientific innovation. This film from an EPFL Robotics Lab in Switzerland interweaves clips from nature with an engaging and understandable presentation of their lab’s extensive innovations in flying machines inspired by exotic insects and everyday birds.
Most Creative → Me and My Robots
This category was all about ‘special sauce’, something extra to capture our imaginations and make us smile. Me and My Robots is playful rap song depicting the main human gangster and his two robot friends. It captured the spirit of the festival: playful, unexpected and depicting positive relationships with machines. It was not a high-budget production, shot entirely on a Flipcam (the same camera we used in the Make Your Own Robot Film workshop the next day), but it was high in energy and had good verse, as his robots would say.
Best Picture → The Machine
Gorgeously and meticulously crafted, The Machine blew judges away in artistry and construction. Though a surprise winner in that the main storyline involves a robot that takes over his windup world, the parable it presents for human society and our relationship with our planet is a powerful one. Being “bigger, faster, and stronger” has the ring of an Aesop’s fable: after discovering the hollowness of conquering a now-desolate landscape, the robot creates man, beginning the cycle again, unclear whether it will be a repeat or redemption.
Best Robot Actor → Absolut Quartet
This was one of our most important categories, as it has no analog in the traditional world of filmmaking. Rather than just celebrating traditionally human acting traits of deep character or successful re-creation of a role, we asked ourselves to identify a robotic performer that could uniquely touch an audiences of viewers, possessed of machine charisma. Engaging its delicate, intricate and graceful room-size attributes, Absolut Quartet made for a unique and powerful winner. The film presents a real world interactive musical system which launches small balls several meters to play its marimba, also incorporating the subtle tones of twisting wine glass and accenting percussive beats. It leaves the impression of dancing as only a machine can with its metal, plastic, and springs.
Best Human as Robot → Waiting For Name Assignment
In this category we sought a film with a human playing a leading robot role in an outstanding fashion. Opening with an iconic scan of a heart-shaped barcode tattoo, Waiting For Name Assignment presents the struggles of a robot that briefly discovers the joy of caring and being cared for, highlighting the struggle between created and creator. With great tenacity and performance, we see a human with no props playing a machine decidedly mechanical, but sympathetic. What do we owe technology if humanity become its God? What does it mean to be human? Can a machine fall in love? This film raises those questions and more.
Audience Award → Operation DaVinci
The audience tweeted its three favorite films to @robotfilmfest, and after the tally by our Social Media manager Cynthia Hellen, Science House awarded a Lego Mindstorm robot kit to the Johns Hopkins University creators of Operation DaVinci, an adorable film in which two friends decide to use a DaVinci surgical robot to play the childhood game Operation.
Full Accepted Film List:
Ataque de Panico
Bio-inspired Flying Robots
CB2: Child Robot with Biomimetic Body
Colloquium on Performing Arts and Robotics
Double A Robot commercial
Double Taker (Snout)
Fritz and Iris
Golden – Rhythm
How to Wash Cheap Christmas Ornaments
Keepon Dancing to Spoon’s “Don’t You Evah”
Manipulation Lab: Do what you do
Me and My Robots
Modern World: Robot Companions
Nao 1337 Audition
Only Son – It’s A Boy
Operation da Vinci
Out In the Street: Sixty40 for Africa Hitech
Outside The Lines
Prusila, Queen of the Robots
Robot Adventures on Planet Earth
Robots of Brixton
Robotic Secrets Revealed: Episode 001
SARCOS Chicken Dance Mo-cap
SARCOS Research Vid
The life of iCub, a little humanoid robot learning from humans through tactile sensing
The New Artist
The Story of HERB
The Tiller Girls: AI meets the stage
Tots on Bots
Waiting For Name Assignment