This past weekend, a crowd of robot geeks, artists, and filmmakers converged on the futuristic-looking 3-Legged Dog studios in downtown Manhattan for the world's first Robot Film Festival. IEEE Spectrum photo editor Randi Silberman Klett and I were left dazzled by all the robots and people and the more than 50 short films screened, which had the effect of discharging an electrical assault on the audience's brain interfaces; the films made people laugh, cry, cringe, but above all think about what it means to build robots and share our world with them.
The organizer, roboticist Heather Knight of Marilyn Monrobot [photo, below], and her coproducers -- Magic Futurebox, Beatbots, and Science House -- did a fantastic job in putting together a robotics extravaganza that included not only screenings (Spike Jonze's "I'm Here" opened the festival) but also live performances, a make-your-own-robot-film workshop, and a robot-themed BBQ. The whole thing culminated in the Bostker Awards Ceremony, with robots and humans parading on the red carpet and3D-printed bot statuettes awarded for categories like "Best Robot Actor" and "Most Uncanny."
If you couldn't attend, don't worry: The organizers have posted all videos on their Vimeo channel. Below, I've embedded my favorite films and the ones that won Botsker awards, plus some live performances. Enjoy!
Robot Film Festival Welcome by Josh Ventura Interrogation Robot by Mike Winter The Machine by Rob Shaw, Bent Image Lab [Botsker Award for Best Picture] Absolut Quartet by Jeff Lieberman, Dan Paluska, Noah David Smith, Willie Mack [Botsker Award for Best Robot Actor]
Data the robot comedian and its creator Heather Knight Keepon Dancing to Spoon's "Don't You Evah" by Jeff Nichols, Wired, BeatBots Operation da Vinci by Kelleher Guerin, Carol Reiley, Tom Tantillo [Botsker Award for Audience Award] Chorebot by Greg Omelchuck [Botsker Award for Ethics and Impact]
Robot Cowboy by Dan Wilcox
Saturn by 1stAveMachine [Botsker Award for Most Uncanny] Out In The Street by Mark Simpson, Nick Paroz, Sixty40, Superfad [Botsker Award for Best Story]
Moonrush by Jonathan Minard, Michael Pisano, Ben Saks, Phil Kibbe [Botsker Award for Visionary Future]
Waiting for Name Assignment by Alvaro Galvan, Carmen Simón Rubio [Botsker Award for Best Human as Robot]
Bio-inspired Flying Robots by Sabine Hauert, EPFL [Botsker Award for Scientifically Hardcore]
Photos: Randi Silberman Klett/IEEE Spectrum
Erico Guizzo is the Director of Digital Innovation at IEEE Spectrum, and cofounder of the IEEE Robots Guide, an award-winning interactive site about robotics. He oversees the operation, integration, and new feature development for all digital properties and platforms, including the Spectrum website, newsletters, CMS, editorial workflow systems, and analytics and AI tools. An IEEE Member, he is an electrical engineer by training and has a master’s degree in science writing from MIT.