Cheetahs are the world's fastest (land) animal, and as part of a cover story about Cheetahs in the November issue of National Geographic, cinematographer Greg Wilson paired them with a Phantom Flex camera running on the world's fastest dolly. During the shoot, one of the cheetahs actually broke the animal land speed record, running the 100-meter dash in 5.95 seconds (take that Usain Bolt!) with a peak speed of 61 miles per hour. My first car could barely go that fast. The result is a beautifully rendered tracking shot demonstrating the cheetah's fluidity like never before:
In addition to the behind-the-scenes segment at the end, here's how they did it:
Video is no longer available: vimeo.com/53129783
I asked Greg for some more details on the technical aspect of the shoot. Here's what they used:
Camera: Phantom Flex
FPS: Varied between 1,200 and 1,600fps
Lens: Angenieux 45-120mm
Remote Head: Sparrow Head
Dolly System: A beefed up/custom SuperSlider from Doggicam Systems in LA
Camera operators were: Frank Buono and Scott Dropkin (Frank operated the famous car chase scene in Children of Men where Julianne Moore's character is shot.)
1x 150,000watt LabLight made by Luminys in LA. Its a pure DC-powered, long arc Xenon bulb that has short duration bursts of about 8 seconds.
1x 20K Tungsten light through 1/2 Frost
1x 12K Maxi Brute through 1/2 Frost
I'm sorry, I thought you said 150,000 watts of light, I must've misread that... wait, no, that's correct. At speeds that high, you need a lot of light -- but 150K watts? That's just crazy. Almost as crazy as an animal running at 60 miles per hour...
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Thanks for sharing Ryan.
November 26, 2012 at 5:40AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
That is absolutely amazing on every level.
November 26, 2012 at 6:13AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
That kitty's got some excellent running mechanics.
And I guess the shot was pretty cool too.
November 26, 2012 at 7:07AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
November 26, 2012 at 7:23AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Nice find. :)
November 26, 2012 at 8:17AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Were they shooting during daytime? Looks like it in the making of at least. First I thought it was a night shoot.
And they still needed that much light?! 150K, damn!
November 26, 2012 at 8:56AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Muy bueno que inversión de equipos! tambie usaron una hero3?
November 26, 2012 at 8:57AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
When we shot this with phantom flex we used 6 50k lights plus some 18k's as fill http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7k-09k0slFg
November 26, 2012 at 9:23AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
I can't believe how little his head moves the whole time. He's completely in control of the those leaps. Nice stuff. Next I want to see a Velociraptor!
November 26, 2012 at 10:51AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
thats so much light, then i remembered how insane the shutter must be with those frame rates. lots to supplement.
November 26, 2012 at 10:53AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
For a vfx animator it simply does not get any better than this. By far the best cheetah reference I have ever seen. Incredible post Ryan, thank you.
November 26, 2012 at 4:29PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Ha I was thinking this must be really appreciated by you guys! I've watched slow mo of cheetahs before, but the way you can watch the gait, spine and everything interact in this is just hart stopping.
November 27, 2012 at 5:13AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
ball of string!
November 26, 2012 at 5:29PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
they are cats after all! :)
November 27, 2012 at 6:48AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
It's like they watched one too many "internet cat videos" and decided to one-up everyone.
November 26, 2012 at 7:56PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Cheetah's are my favorite land animal and it's so awesome to see them captured like this in super slow motion. Great work put together by the team involved. Cool collaboration.
November 27, 2012 at 6:49AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
thanks for posting this; has been a great delight!
underscores why I have a "thing" for cats, even if my two old tomcats are heat seeking sloth.
November 30, 2012 at 12:09PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Wow...if Muybridge could've seen what people are doing now...
December 6, 2012 at 3:42PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Is this video for purchase?
February 15, 2013 at 10:53AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
I doubt it but National Geographic probably has a department somewhere that deals with licensing content.
February 15, 2013 at 1:19PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM