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:
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...