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Impressive dreamlike video features 100 dancing robot balls

Dancing with a room full of robots is more graceful -- and more complicated -- than you might think. CNET's Michael Franco talks to the filmmaker who made it happen.

Filmmaker Scott Winn has worked with a lot of actors in making his videos, including those who played Stormtroopers. But for his latest project, Winn made a short film with a group of actors of a different kind -- 100 round rolling robots known as SPRKs.

The project began when Winn was contacted by Sphero, manufacturer of the simple ball-like bots and the same company that recently released a working home version of the BB-8 droid from the upcoming .

"It is a toy, but it's also a teaching tool in schools to help kids learn engineering and robotics," Winn told CNET's Crave blog about the SPRKs.

"I came up with this fun, fantasy, dance idea which I thought could help younger audiences connect. I wanted to make something more lighthearted and less comedic than my other videos. And what you saw was the result of that. We worked hard to write the perfect music with the right tone for the film. That was my first task and really what helped construct the video itself."

As you can see in the "making of" video, the project was a bit of a bear to pull off. When most of your cast members are robotic and can be easily stepped on, things can get pretty complicated. Plus, the shoot had to be done at night, so the crew had to fight off fatigue while executing precision work.

"This was a tough one to pull off," Winn said. "It took a lot of prep and planning. And even on the day of shooting there was a level of uncertainty going into it all. There was only so much programming we could do with the balls. The rest was trial and error and we had to make sure Jordyn, our dancer, the balls, and camera and lighting were all synced up. It was quite the task and also the reason we had to shoot two full nights back to back."

The result looks like all that work was worth it. It's a smooth-flowing dream-like sequence in which young lead dancer Jordyn Jones gets woken up by a SPRK on her bedside. The robot then lures her into a room full of the other 99 robots, where a graceful dance between girl and bots takes place.

I wonder when the Academy will start giving out Oscars for "Best Robot in a Supporting Role." Or is that "roll?"