High gloss, snappy color, and fast, well-lit fun are all first impressions of Victor Haegelin of Patagraph’s homage to the Renault 4L. Made for the car’s 60th birthday, the Vimeo caption for the piece reads: “Suivez la course folle de cette petite voiture lancée à pleine vitesse sur un bureau: Here is a tribute to the 4L in stop motion. Follow the crazy race of this small car launched at full speed on a desk.”

“I had been planning to make a race with tiny cars on a desktop for a long time. And that’s exactly when Renault came and asked me to celebrate the Renault 4L 60th Birthday,” Haegelin told us. “I couldn’t have been more excited.”

Shot from the vantage of the toy car’s eye’s view, the piece zips the viewer over, under, and through desk objects like an open scissors portal, and a rolled construction paper tunnel. The action moves as quickly and nimbly as the car itself zooming in and out of traffic, while the camera follows it all just as adeptly. “My aim was to make a crazy race on the desktop with amazing and smooth camera moves,” he told us. “We managed to make a 4 axes motion control thanks to 2 coupled DitoGears slider that support a perpendicular Noxon Slider, on which was attached a Noxon Pan and Tilt. We used a Canon EOS R with a Laowa 24mm lens.”

Technical challenges arose, but the team persevered with some help. “First we had to make the crazy 4 axes motion control possible and easy to drive. Thanks to help from Dyami (Caliri, Dragonframe Co-founder) and Dragon 5, we managed to couple the 2 DitoGears so we could move them together on only one axis.

“The second and maybe biggest challenge was the size of the Laowa lens + camera, they are about 50cm long together. How to make a pan around a 3 inches car with such and size.” This is the point at which necessity became the source of inspiration. “That’s when the periscope idea arrived,” Haegelin explained. “I decided to place a 45° mirror in front of the lens and place the camera vertically. Then I could pilot the inclination of the mirror thanks to the tilt motor and a long stick.” The effect can be seen in-depth in the making-of video below.

As for future projects, the team just finished shooting a stop motion movie that celebrates an American track and field stadium about a one-year race of a maniacal hurdler. “The 18cm puppet starts his race in stadium and runs in a 33m long landscape!” Haegelin said. “The film is a full travelling with a locked camera and a travelling setup. We built an automatized belt with the 2 coupled DitoGears and made the 33m of setup running in front of the camera. It is supposed to be released on the 18th of June, stay tuned!”

Producers: Wizz Design
DOP: Jeremy Lesquenner
Set Design/Props : Coralli Grieu
Sound Design : Martin Fletchner

Check out this making-of video for more on the production: