Earlier this week I saw a video that was showing how some guys made some really cool bullet time effects with 15 tiny rugged awesome cameras called “GoPros”(that wasn’t a paid endorsement, they’re awesome). For those unfamiliar, the bullet time effect gained popularity from the first matrix movie. The footage slowed down to slow motion while [Neo] dodged some bullets, but the camera was still able to move around. To do this, they built a massive circular rig and mounted tons of cameras all around. Using these multiple angles, they were able to stitch together the scene in slow motion and “move” the camera.
I know that the multiple camera method works, but I also know that many production companies have moved to a new method of using a single high def slow motion camera on a fast and precise robotic arm. They get the cool shot they need and have the flexibility to change the path the camera takes much easier. The only disadvantage here is that you can’t stop time entirely and rotate around the object.
I can’t find the video right now, but there was a great one that showed how they could use this industrial arm to move the camera along with pouring wine, or around a drum set.
I decided I could easily build a rig to allow me to do a rotating effect during slow motion. I opted to go the easiest quickest route which was simply to mount an arm on a “lazy susan”. I then placed a GoPro Hero3 on the end of the arm, set the recording mode to 120fps and gave it a spin.
The faster you spin the arm, the more the effect looks like bullet time. Otherwise, it just looks like a nice rotating movement. The results turned out great, even though the slow motion footage is only in 720p.
Some possible future improvements would be to add a platform for things in the middle. I had intended to do this, but the metal I was using flexed too much when extended that far. There is a tiny bit of wobble, some additional weight on the lazy susan might clear that up.