September 12, 2016

Watch: Here's a Behind-the-Scenes Look at How Phantom High-Speed Cameras Are Made

What does it take to build a $150K high-speed camera? 

Nothing is more beautiful than a nice super slow motion shot—except for maybe the creation of the camera that captures it. Luckily, Gavin Free from The Slow Mo Guys takes a trip the Vision Research headquarters to give us a behind-the-scenes look at how their Phantom high-speed cameras are made, from the circuit boards to every single screw. Check it out below!

As Phiroze Dalal of Vision Research says, every Phantom starts its life as a series of boards, which are populated (but not manufactured) at the facility. Each board has two corresponding stainless steel masks with patterns of holes that replicate the board's exact pattern of gold contact positions, and both are put into a machine that squeezes solder paste through the stencil right onto the board.

Most Phantom camera components are soldered onto the boards with a pick-and-place machine, which takes tiny, even microscopic components off of cassettes (which look like reels of film), and places them where they need to go. However, some components are too big for a pick-and-place machine to handle, so these must be hand-soldered by Vision Research.

Dalal says that, depending on the model, once sub-assemblies are built, it takes about an hour to 5 hours to assemble a Phantom camera. However, before they can be shipped, they go through hours or days of testing for optical and sensor defects to make sure each one is operating properly.

After that—boom—it's on the market for over $100,000 and you stroll down to the Phantom store and pick one up for you and your buddy for a fun day of taking turns filming each other sneezing. Okay, maybe not—you'll probably never own one of these cameras, but you may work with them one day, so why not learn about how they're manufactured?

Also, just for good measure, here are The Slow Mo Guys filming a Pyrex measuring cup shattering at over 343K f/s. Immediately following it, you can watch all 19 hours of footage captured in just those 5 seconds of shooting. (That is the slowest motion I've ever seen—so slow that you can't even really consider it motion anymore.) Enjoy!

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4 Comments

Best pocket protector ever!

September 12, 2016 at 11:34AM

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Richard Krall
richardkrall.com
1423

It was kinda hard hearing the word pronounced solder as in "sold" when it should be pronounced like "sod."

September 12, 2016 at 9:31PM

13
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I'd never heard it pronounced Sodder until US cable shows made it to Australia.
Solder is how it's always been said here too.

September 19, 2016 at 8:02AM, Edited September 19, 8:06AM

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Stewart Fairweather
Cinematographer
126

Blackmagic Design.. you are somw of my favorite ppls in the game, but could you please go to these ppl and understudy their QC procedures? The loyal customers would love that. You can be greater than the other buts you have to get this one thing right.

September 14, 2016 at 4:11PM, Edited September 14, 4:11PM

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Wentworth Kelly
DP/Colorist/Drone Op
2714