Instead of repeatedly standing in front of a camera and waving an LED bulb to create long-exposure light paintings, Josh Sheldon automated the process with an impressive photography rig that takes orders directly from 3D animation software. The resulting animations, made with precise camera moves and robot-controlled lights, are like nothing you’ve ever seen.

But don’t for a second think that creating these animations was easy just because of Sheldon’s rig. Designing, building, and programming the machine appears to have been a huge challenge, as was getting it to play nice with the 3D modeling software Blender. Sheldon detailed the build, and how his rig works, on his GitHub page, but word of warning: building one for yourself is not for the amateur electronics enthusiast.

The machine also doesn’t make the long-exposure photography process any faster. It’s still subject to the laws of our universe, and each frame often required up to a three-second exposure. As a result, even short animations took countless hours to capture every last photo. It’s undoubtedly a lot of work, but the machine is expanding what’s possible with this unique art form.

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[YouTube via Prosthetic Knowledge]