Bullet Time With A Ceiling Fan

freaking awesome

Bullet time has been around since at least the first Matrix movie (actually there was a Gap ad before that), and despite it being an oft-used cinematic technique, it still hasn’t gotten old. [Jeremiah] wanted to tap into the awesomeness of bullet time, and managed to come up with a great camera rig using only a GoPro and a ceiling fan.

The build really relies on only two components: a GoPro camera and a ceiling fan. In [Jeremiah]’s videos, a ceiling fan is mounted between two trees on a sturdy piece of lumber. The GoPro is suspended from one of the fan blades with the help of a piece of wood, a hinge, and a short bit of cable. After [Jeremiah] wired up the fan to a dimmer switch he could control the speed of the fan and Bob’s your uncle.

This isn’t the first time a GoPro has been used for a bullet time rig. In fact, our buddy [Caleb] did a similar build by spinning the camera around on a lazy suzan. Gotta love the high frame rate available on the GoPro, huh?

Vidias after the break.



29 thoughts on “Bullet Time With A Ceiling Fan

  1. Looks nice. Has anyone attempted a multi camera bullet time setup?
    I had a play around with my single gopro and some frame interpolation software (slowmovideo.gronjow.net) to see what you could stretch the maximum camera separation to, while still getting a nice result.
    I figured you could then use two gopros for video at each end of the rig and then multiple cheap stills cameras triggered simultaneously in between.
    Results http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QKTyqQY0Q_Q and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3HTK1h4pCQ.
    Sorry for crappy ‘test scene’ and no real world examples!

    1. If it’s just for something like this I’m sure you could find another camera with higher quality for the same or a similar price, since it doesn’t need to be as small/compact/durable as a go pro does, since it is intended for sporting activities.

    2. If you want slomo but dont need the gopro’s high definition, you could use a playstation 3 eye. It films up to 75 fps at 640×480 and 187 fps at 320×240 for 20 bucks

    1. One of the problems with the number of people on this planet and the size of the internet is that a simple idea like this is frequently thought of by multiple people.

      Also, as an article older than the one you cited, check out hackaday (shouldn’t be hard, you’re already here!): http://hackaday.com/2013/03/20/bullet-time-with-a-single-gopro/

      I try and give people the benefit of the doubt when I see that they’re actually executing on ideas, especially because I whine about patent law so much. I don’t think this guy stole from petapixel, but you never know, I could be wrong!

      1. Yeah, I figure if two people can independently invent calculus at approximately the same time, any silly little hack someone can come up with will happen numerous even excluding copycats. You either give up on the idea of doing anything completely, 100% never been done before or you go insane/kill yourself.

    2. He does actually give credit:

      “A friend sent me a video by Mark Rober who came up with the idea of using a ceiling fan as the spinning rig, and a GoPro 3 for the high speed camera (which shoots up to 240fps). I decided to implement this idea, but instead of mounting the fan upside-down, mount it the correct way so I could film larger subject matters.”

      1. And I’m totally wrong too! Yay!

        Though “stole” is not the right verb since he gave credit (and really, “plagerized” would have probably been more appropriate than stole anyway)

        Pedantic man: awaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!

        1. By ‘away’ do you mean ending to be, steadily continuing to be, or moving to another location?

          It is the Schrodinger’s cat of state semantics.

          Pedantic man: My God, It has gone recursive!

  2. Nah, not bullet time as it’s commonly perceived. If it was then the camera would be spinning around with the firework frozen in time.

    Also goes back much further than the late 90s, Tim MacMillan is generally credited with inventing ‘time slice’ photography in the early 80s:


  3. Has anyone seen the true original bullet time videos? I think it may have been Michel Gondry but I could be wrong, what he used was a roll of 35mm photographic film unrolled and placed in a ring with holes drilled in, like lots of pin hole cameras in a circle pointing inwards, he set it to trigger when something entered the ring. I can remember one of the shots where he threw his Jack Russel dog through so it just hung in the air and like the camera orbited the dog, This was back in the late 80′s early 90′s. Does anyone have a link maybe

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