MuyBridge light birds

Make sure to check the more detailed step by step guide at

Light painting is as old as photography itself, by taking a long exposure photograph we are able to record the movement of light through space. I wanted to take this simple idea and push it to the extreme, using a robot to paint 3D drawings and recording the long exposure as it happened. 

Painting is often constrained to a flat canvas, part of the motivation of this project was freeing myself from those dimensional constraints and being able to use a volumetric "canvas".

Modeling Process

It all started with plasticine, in part because my hands were getting tired of the mouse, in part because I just wanted to touch the physicality of matter. The actual sculpting only took a couple of hours from sketching to having a digital scan with 3 different flying positions. 

3D Scanning and Mesh Simplification 

One of the (uncountable) perks at Pier 9 are the scanners available. In this case I was using the Artec Spider to get high resolution models out of my little sculpture. At the end I reduced the mesh significantly but I still had the option of high resolution. 

G-Code Generation

I imported the reduced meshes to rhino and then played with grasshopper one very short night until I got the desired feel. I was looking for very fluid curves that would define a bird but maintained some level of abstraction, almost looking like a DNA chain. Finally, after learning to write some basic 4 axis G-code I automated the process in grasshopper.

Filming is a time consuming process but well worth it. I am using a track system and developed a method for the camera to always film about the same center. The ultimate goal is to achieve a bullet effect, similar to those crazy shots in the Matrix, but with one camera only, as opposed of having dozens perfectly timed and synchronized. 


Once the all the footage was filmed it is time to process it. This can be achieved in After Effects but in this case I was using Isadora. First tracking light, then making magic appear. 

Now I am working with Charlie Nordstrom, the amazing videographer that convinced me to come to Pier 9 in the first place. I am really excited to see what he is doing with the footage.