Bullet-time Video Effect By Throwing Your Phone Around

Ski areas are setting formal policies for drones left and right, but what happens when your drone isn’t a drone but is instead a tethered iPhone with wings swinging around you like a ball-and-chain flail as you careen down a mountain? [nicvuignier] decided to explore the possibility of capturing bullet-time video of his ski runs by essentially swinging his phone around him on a tether. The phone is attached to a winged carrier of his own design, 3D printed in PLA.

One would think this would likely result in all kinds of disaster, but we haven’t seen the outtakes yet, and the making-of video has an interesting perspective on each of the challenges he encountered in perfecting the carrier, ranging from keeping it stable and upright, to reducing the motion sickness with the spinning perspective, and keeping it durable enough to withstand the harsh environment and protect the phone.

He has open sourced the design, which works for either iPhone or GoPro models, or it is available for preorder if you are worried about catastrophic delamination of your 3D printed model resulting in much more bullet-like projectile motion.

Thank you [Remeton] for pointing us to this nausea-inducing (ish) hack.

43 thoughts on “Bullet-time Video Effect By Throwing Your Phone Around

      1. I was thinking exactly the same. A small control line model with an electric motor. A radio control to turn on/off the motor and attach the control lines to the helmet. Sounds dangerously fun!!!

    1. My thoughts exactly. It’s a great balance of humor, inspiration, and instruction. DIY videos often get bogged down in technical aspects and high browed opinions of the maker (most of the time, justifiably so). This is why guys like Adam Savage and Frank Howarth’s videos work so well; they have a certain human element to them that connects to the average DIYer.

      Well done, Nic!

  1. Some problems here:
    -Lens has to have some waterproof coating
    -Same goes for the phone, a bumper case would be too non-aerodynamic, I presume, but I think this phone had too close of a call when the final version was shown.
    I like how he films every stage of his project from beginning to finish. Probably something I should start doing – taking photographs is not always cool enough =)

  2. +1 for open source. Nothing I’d use as I don’t engage in activities that are conducive to such action shots….but love the “fix a problem, then tell others how to” mentality.

    1. I feel the centrifugal force would make your helmet wobble in a most annoying manner, although I guess you can rig some sort of buffer to alleviate that somewhat.
      Plus your natural reflexes and senses can guide the thing, a motor would work if it was on a stationary object, but not on someone in wild movement like dong ski moves, I think it would hit the snow almost instantly.

      1. You just need a counter-weight. It could even be another flying camera phone (perhaps one pointing outward to get a panorama). The only problem would be the 2nd camera being visible in the first camera’s shot. To solve this, just add a 3rd and put them 120-deg. from each other (you’d probably only want simple weights at that point, though).

        1. Since my reply for some reason isn’t showing up (did I reply in the wrong tab? shrug), I re-reply:

          If you add a counterweight you just created a gyroscope, which will try to keep your head from changing position, which is probably not good if you are moving about.

      1. Hmmm.. I built something similar back in the day, using two thin wires from a transformer, fishing line and a Scaletrix car motor throttle, and power supply… it does get a trifle boring after the first 20,000 revolutions though.

  3. Is it just me… someone must have thought of this… “kite camera”, a small lifting kite/wing/chute towed behind, and once they get up a good head of steam….pulls camera from shoulder in to the air to follow the skier…. and in my case, no doubt, capture the expletives as I wipe out on the way down the hill… but for those of you a little better versed in the planks on boots game, follows their graceful progress.

    /me goes off to google the idea.. Nope.. don’t see anybody else doing this…. assuming it would work, it has the advantage of not making the viewer want to throw up… but then again, that is half the fun of the “centriphone”.. :¬)

    Opensource that idea too if you think it might be a goer. I’m ski-less these days, so I’m unlikely to give it a try.

    1. Look into kite aerial photography. Usually folks that do it are stationary. You will have to build a picavet or other stabilizing rig. It will be very bumpy with out it.

    1. I think hitting other people or rocks is more of an issue, and you will find lots of shards more than entire phones if whole crowds do it. And people engaged in untangling 3 or 4 wires when they tangle into each other.

      Oh and they probably then make a law against it in many ski resorts :/

  4. I saw something similar in a MTB video once, but they used a boom on a swivel attached to a helmet. This wasn’t the first one I saw, but here’s an example.

    Kudos to you for not having to wear a ridiculous looking selfie stick on your head.

  5. The most mind blowing thing is this guy can twirl a fishing-line-tethered contraption around his head while doing a triple black diamond AND he has the spare time, interest, and know-how to make his twirling exercise into awesome video. IMHO, it could use a few more blinky lights, an arduino somewhere, and at least ONE flip off of a life threatening rock outcropping, but I’m impressed with the depth and breadth of skills as presented.

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