How to Make a Semi-Bullet Time Rig with a Ceiling Fan and a GoPro
There aren't many things cooler than a really well-done bullet time sequence, which is probably why we like to cover it so often. If you've seen our other bullet time posts, both on the technological advances of multi-viewpoint camera setups and DIY rigs, then you might've been bummed out that the technology is either unavailable, too expensive, or too time-consuming. But, here's some good news. Though currently you can't make a legit bullet time rig without using lots of cameras, setup, and time, you can get something close to it by using a 2x4, screws, a GoPro, and a ceiling fan -- and the result will look great for your low-budget projects. Hit the jump to see how.
Photographer, videographer, and all-around creative guy Jeremiah Warren posted this DIY tutorial on his blog. Now, before we go any further, technically what Warren captures isn't bullet time -- it's a 360 degree slow-mo shot, but the shot is awesome. The first thing that came to my mind was that if you choreographed it right, you could possibly do faux-bullet time with a series of movements and freezes by your subject as the camera makes its rotations. It wouldn't be The Matrix, but it'd be interesting to try on your low-budget film. Or you could always just do some cool shots with the rig as is. Check out his video below to see what he was able to capture with his rig.
The construction of the rig is pretty simple. Warren was kind enough to elaborate on its construction:
I wanted to be able to film people inside the rig, so I had the idea of mounting it like a normal ceiling fan in order to capture subjects inside the radius of the fan blades. The biggest “engineering” problem was figuring out where to suspend the fan. I found two trees that were the perfect distance apart and mounted a 14 foot 2x4 between the trees. I spliced the fan into a speed regulator and hooked that into an extension cord so I could plug it into a power source. The GoPro was attached to the fan blade via a section of thin pine wood that hinged off the end of one of the blades. I fastened a section of wire between the fan blade and the pine wood, so I could regulate how far out the camera could go.
Warren does us a solid by sharing a list of materials with the tutorial, so building your own should be a snap. Watch the video below to learn how to build one of these things, and then jump down to find the materials you're going to need as well as how much it cost him to make.
This comes straight from Warren's blog post:
- 8 foot 16 gauge extension cord: $10.47
- Assorted wingnuts: $2.91
- Deck screws: $9.37
- 14 foot 2×4: $6.58
- Lag screw (attached fan to the board): $0.24
- Utility hinge: $1.67
- Utility bolts: $0.97
- 1 inch x 3/8 inch pine wood: $5.52
- Ceiling fan: $24.99
- Speed regulator and recessed wall box: Under $15 for both, I lost the receipt for these items
So, for around $80 (not including the GoPro) you can build a rig that isn't all that pretty to look at, but gives you an interesting shot. And I'm sure there are plenty of you out there who could add to and modify it to adapt it to other cameras -- though I'm not sure who would be willing to strap their expensive cameras and lenses to a ceiling fan. Warren told us that he made his rig after he was inspired by the one made in this video by Mark Rober.
What do you think about Jeremiah Warren's DIY rig? Can you see yourself utilizing something like it for your own projects? Have you ever made something similar? Let us know in the comments.