A slow-moving bullet pierces a pane of glass, sending tiny shards in a million directions. A fist breaks through a piece of wood, and then turns into a car. A bird flies in slow motion, revealing every detail of its wings in action.
This is the domain of high speed digital photography.
Shooting moving objects at a high frame rate, and then playing it back at normal speed, reveals amazing slow-motion details not visible in real time.
This old school technique is nothing new in the world of motion picture film, but it’s now more manageable and more dramatic with cameras that capture these images digitally, at extremely high resolutions.
You can see high speed digital photography in action everywhere. It’s in the title sequence to the latest James Bond Film Quantum of Solace. It’s in the cool new ad campaign for the Acura TL. It’s used in effect shots for USA Network’s Burn Notice. And Discovery Channel has a whole show centered around it called Time Warp.
And now you can see it featured in Under Armour’s new workout training website called The New Prototype.
During a two-day, three-camera shoot at the end of October, we featured Denver Nuggets Strength Coach Steve Hess demonstrating various high intensity workout techniques. We used two of our Panasonic HDX900 HD Cameras shooting at 24 frames per second as the primary cameras, and the Phantom HD High-Speed Camera shooting at 300 frames per second for specialty shots - like extreme details of shoes hitting the court, or an athlete flying through the air dunking a basket.
When Phantom Camera Tech Kevin Zanit first revealed the high-speed camera, we all gathered around - many seeing it for the first time. It’s essentially a cool looking box with a lens on one end and a cable wrap on the other end leading to a computer. The 8 gigabyte version captures twelve or so seconds of footage at 300 frames per second into its internal high-speed dynamic ram. It then takes twelve minutes or so to download the footage from the camera into the computer’s hard drive, thus freeing the camera up for another take.
The camera’s flexible triggering system means that the operator can see what he likes, and then record it retroactively. Essentially the camera is always recording, much like your DVR at home, but only captures what you tell it.
Shooting at 300 frames per second requires more light than is typically needed for an HD shoot. Gaffer Garth Gunberg, Key Grip Richard Usrey, and their team brought in several flicker-free HMIs for the job - lighting zones for Steve and the actors to work in. Zumi Hidalgo and I needed to roll in plenty of ND behind the lenses of HDX900s to compensate for this extra light, and still get a desirable f-stop.
Producer Ross Jones stepped in to operate the Phantom camera, with the help of AC Rob Sackett, and Tech Kevin Zanit. It was always there for the cool angles on motion that looked more dramatic slowed down. Watching the replays of what they captured was always a treat.
Director David Hudson and the folks from Producers Video out of Baltimore, along with their client Under Armour, were pleased with their Colorado team, and the footage that we captured. You can see our work on the Under Armour TNP Training website in a couple of weeks once editing is complete. We’ll keep you posted!
Check out other cool Slow Motion footage shot with the Phantom Camera: Vision Research Movie Gallery
Photos Courtesy: Steve Roseboom
Production Crew: Producer: Ross Jones, Director: David Hudson, Production Coordinator: Maria Sandhei, Director of Photography and A Camera Operator: Tom Miller, HDX900 B Camera: Zumi Hidalgo, Phantom Camera Operator: Ross Jones, Phantom Camera Tech: Kevin Zanit, Sound Mixer: Steve Roseboom, A/C Rob Sackett, Gaffer: Garth Gunberg, BB Electric: Steve VanNess, Key Grip: Richard Usrey, Best Boy Grip: Terry Moses, Hair and Makeup: Beth Ryan, Craft Service: Reg Kruger, Production Assistant: Will Beckingham.
This Article first appeared in the November 2008 issue of Big Pictures News.
Written By Tom Miller, Photos by Steve Roseboom
Copyright 2008, Big Pictures Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved