Another DIY Bullet-Time GoPro Rig (This One's Handheld!)
We recently featured several practical but effective techniques for creating the (by now) famous Matrix-esque ‘bullet-time’ effect — accomplished, in more than one case, by using an evenly spaced array of GoPros and some post-processing elbow grease. Clearly, the availability and portability of such cameras is catching on beyond conventional ‘action cam’ uses, and inspiring creatives of nearly any budget to create shots only A-budget Hollywood productions used to be able to pull off. GoPros make sense for such arrays, because they are forgivingly frameable (and decently affordable as far as rentals go). Now, another project has demonstrated what’s possible with these simple but adaptable cameras — in this case, built into a rig that can also be handheld.
The rig we previously mentioned used 27 GoPro HERO3s, whereas this one uses 15 GoPro HERO2s — this one sacrifices some coverage-smoothness and encompassment for even greater portability and, well, the option of actually handholding it (via PetaPixel):
You might remember PermaGrin Films’ Marc Donahue from his amazing “Dream Music: Part 2″ lyric-lapse video that took 6 hours of work for every 3 seconds of footage. We even shared a behind the scenes look at how that time-lapse was put together, complete with deleted scenes and director commentary.
Dream Music: Part 2 ultimately got some 2 million views on YouTube, but that doesn’t mean that Donahue has slowed down. His most recent project again involved putting together a unique music video, only this time it didn’t take six months to shoot. Instead of tackling time-lapse, “On Smash Live” was filmed using a hand-held bullet-time GoPro array… Working with 750 gigs of data, Donahue put three 12+ hour days into the final product, which you can see below.
What I like about this rig is that it makes possible (or more easily achievable) something I find to be missing in a lot of the DIY bullet time material that’s floating around: you can tilt the damn thing. One of the coolest aspects of bullet-time in The Matrix, to me at least, was that the camera perspective could fly free and independent of all dimensions, including height — not just freezing time and making a perfectly level horizontal-only 360 degree circle-around. And while that’s something that takes a lot more planning to perfect, certainly in a portable or even handholdable rig, I’m excited to see what crafty shooters come up with to tackle such an ambitious effect.
Granted, there’s not all that much tilting in this video either, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t used to very interesting effect, and achieved in a skillfully simple way. Check it out below — the effect is, admittedly, a bit jarring, but admirably DIY and very effective to boot:
Of course, if budget, space, and time allow, you can improve the ‘resolution’ of a bullet time effect by placing cameras even closer together — or, making the rig wider/larger and packing it tightly with camera mounts, and outfitting the cameras with a longer lens (to achieve comparable FOV) if applicable. The accessibility of software like After Effects and cameras like GoPros means anyone with the right approach can not only achieve a bullet time-sort of technique, but really specialize and customize it to your needs as well.
What do you guys think of the effect? How does its quality or use contrast to other examples of DIY bullet-time effects you’ve seen? What are some other ways you could imagine using a rig like this?