About 15 years ago, when BDP was still based out of Chicago, I had motion control operators calling me from the west coast saying that there wasn’t any work. As CGI became more and more sophisticated there was a brief consensus that motion control was headed for the technology trash heap.
The SXF industry quickly realized that, opps, we really do need MC. For example, if there is a complicated scene that has to travel through a live action sequence and CGI effects have to be composited over that then they need the motion control to shoot the master scene.
In the case of shooting food, a scene may require MC and no CGI. As an example, there may be what’s called an island shot which includes several food entrées within one scene. The camera may need to do a very precise move over each entrée which could not be executed by the AC or DP manually, so MC would be required to capture that action.
Directors Mike Palafox and Pablo Mercado often work as co-directors. Many of their jobs require MC so they use the “Bolt” which is a high-speed MC rig that can, among other things, follow extremely high-speed action at close range.
Directors Todd Klein and Rebecca Russel have “Mechanical Concepts” MC available to shoot those complicated scenes that a human camera operator could not possibly do. Todd Klein recently shot a spot for Sara Lee that was one continuous move that followed the construction of several recipes.
Motion Control is just one specialized piece of equipment in the BDP tool box and I don’t see MC going anywhere soon.