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Filmmaking at 1,000FPS: How to Capture Firefighting in Super Slow-Motion

Filmmaking at 1,000FPS Condensing Actions for Real Firefighters on a Live-Burn Film Shoot.Still001

This is the first of our behind-the-scenes series on the slow-motion, live-burn fire shoot Let Me Know When You See Fire, shot on a Phantom Flex4K.

When you’re recording 16GB a second — yes, I said sixteen gigabytes — you’re only going to be able to capture a few sections of action at a time. This is the price we pay for having amazing cameras like the Phantom Flex4K, which shoots 1,000 FPS at full 4K resolution. You’d better get your staging, choreography, and framing right at these data rates!

If you didn’t catch the Flex4K camera demo when it first dropped — though judging by the numbers, plenty of you did (it has 600K views) — here it is:

Director Brendan Bellomo and DP Greg Wilson (whose work you can also see in my own short) explain the kinds of things to keep in mind when you’re shooting at high speed — not to mention when you’re shooting a live-burn fire.

They shot on a prototype camera, but it is worth noting that the production version is now available (to rent, not buy — that is, unless you’ve got $140,000 burning a hole in your pocket). It is only appropriate that, for this piece, our behind-the-scenes footage itself is also in slow-mo:


Related Posts

  1. First Glimpse at the Phantom Flex4k, a Full Production Machine Shooting 1,000FPS in 4k
  2. Watch the World's Fastest Animal in Super Slow Motion in the World's Fastest Dolly Shot
  3. What You Need to Know Before Shooting Slow Motion with the FS700, and Some Recent Examples


We’re all here for the same reason: to better ourselves as writers, directors, cinematographers, producers, photographers... whatever our creative pursuit. Criticism is valuable as long as it is constructive, but personal attacks are grounds for deletion; you don't have to agree with us to learn something. We’re all here to help each other, so thank you for adding to the conversation!

Description image 21 COMMENTS

  • I like how he is having a shootout with the fire using a water-hose

  • Damn, that looks good. I remember when using a Phantom meant hiring two men with beards, a laptop and a very tetchy camera. SD was all it could handle and it was pretty rubbish watching anything back. This kicks ass

  • The interview looks terrible. One subject background blown out, one not. You need to have consistency in your backgrounds. The color tone is all off. Too much blue overwhelming the shot. Composition is off too, you need to balance the frame. Not sure what you guys were thinking.

    • everyones a critic eh . . .

    • I think you’re missing the point.
      This article is not about the cameras or lighting used for the “Behind the Scenes” on the fly interview.
      Believe it or not its about their filmmaking process at 1,000 FPS.

      It’s daunting to me that you would get on here and criticize that interview.

      Jess please share a link to your best work? Perhaps you have a Reel that best demonstrates your talents.

  • Kenneth Merrill on 12.2.13 @ 4:27PM

    The link’s not working. I would be interested to read it!

  • I am a proud Phantom owner/technician and must say that shooting with a High-Speed camera is a real pleasure, but absolutely a craft that needs to be refined, over and over again. As the post says “when you’re recording 16GB a second you’re only going to be able to capture a few sections of action at a time” It brings the photojournalistic instinct of capturing a moment just right, in a split second.

    If any of you NFS readers are interested in high-speed for your films, my company in Brooklyn rents a phantom w/ a Vision Research/AbelCine certified technician:

  • I feel like a RED EPIC at 2K slow motion could have done this job just as well.

    Whats the Dragon shoot at in 2K…300fps? Would you see the difference on the internet?..Vimeo playback

  • I’d like to see the same footage with FS 700. It can go what 240 FPS at 2K and up to 960 at a lower res?

    • Me too….good point.

      Its a cool piece, don’t get me wrong. But I feel like this is a little “overpriced” and over zealous of a production. I also understand this was to showcase the new camera in some sorts. But I feel like there are people(production houses) out there that will try and justify this camera and production to a client.

      I also feel like a cheaper camera option could have yielded VERY similar results than this bazillion dollar production example.

      • The camera is priced around 140k, similar to an Alexa. So it’s not unreasonable at all. Plus, if it gives the image more lattitude (than the Miro for example) I know plenty of people to be very excited to shoot with this.

        The right tool for the right job, it usually comes down to that.

      • We should pretty much never say the price tag of a camera because then that’s all people focus on. Shooting a firefight on a prototype camera that will eventually be priced at six figures does not mean this was a “bazillion dollar production” AT ALL. I suppose if you’re assuming the short cost a ton of money, that’s a good thing, but for any shoot where it’s amazing they were able to get what they did under the circumstances, it’s always funny to hear someone making assumptions that it was a huge production. People always assume “oh I could do that if I had a lot of time and money,” but very often the piece you’re looking at was shot on a very limited budget in very limited time. And that’s where the assumption goes out the window.

        • Shame you can’t take the smallest critique. I know you think you know it all but you should listen once in a while.

          • Joe Marine on 12.4.13 @ 3:51AM

            Holy rabbit hole… You’ve posted under about a dozen different names and email addresses, including as the creator of a specific Kickstarter project (which I’m really hoping was just impersonating, otherwise I don’t know what to think anymore), responding to yourself a few times with different names, usually something negative in relation to Ryan’s projects, or the credibility of this site or its writers.

            We have no policy about real names or anything, and obviously most people who comment are anonymous, but really, what’s with the vendetta? One post had three of you talking to each other (which we did know at the time). Wouldn’t it be easier to just not read the site anymore if you hate us and what we do so much?

  • i presume what we’re seeing is graded, looks a bit soft to me