BOLT Robotic Camera System on Stephen Colbert
I just saw the clip of the studio performance by 30 Seconds to Mars on Stephen Colbert’s show last night. It went out live from the Ed Sullivan Theatre in New York. Playing ‘Dangerous Night’, the band also had a dancer in strobe lighting well away from the stage. But the huge beautiful elephant in the room was the BOLT Robotic camera system, which shot most of the performance.
Resembling one of those robots in a car assembly plant, the BOLT is at once engaging and strangely unnerving. The musicians themselves were playing to the camera, facing away from the studio audience, facing the back of the studio where sat the tracks and heavy base tracks of the most important player in the room. I understand the BOLT camera system has been used widely since 2015 when it was released, and there have been several upgrades since. But this metallic gymnast was gobsmacking.
30 Seconds to Mars music is brilliant, a lot of the momentum of this visual was in the whiplash repositioning of the lens. Also, the creamy smooth tracking dropped in as the music tempo allowed. It was really the dolly and the performance of the camera on display, shown through its resulting imagery, as well as from several witness cameras watching BOLT whip around from shot to shot. Poetry in motion.
First, some detail about the BOLT robotic camera system seen bouncing around the front of the band like a, like a camera operator. Planning to shoot a music clip, as one will imagine, is a choreographic project. From ‘lights up’, to ‘fade to black’, each beat is timed on a sheet like a stage manager’s rundown. The camera operator, the grip, trackers, focus and lighting are all melded into one machine, driven into code during preproduction. Looking at BOLT’s showreel, reveals some of commercial cinematography’s best moments over the last couple of years.