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Filmmaker shoots with fifteen GoPros for a Matrix-like bullet time effect

By dpreview staff on Mar 18, 2013 at 18:51 GMT

Amateur filmmaker Marc Donahue of Permagrin Films recently shot a video with an array of fifteen GoPro action cameras to achieve Matrix-like bullet time special effects. The arc-shaped rig allowed him to shoot simultaneously from all cameras. In post, Donahue added the freeze frame and slow motion effects.

There are several videos on Marc Donahue's YouTube channel demonstrating his experiments with the action camera. Also check out the Donahue's interview by FStoppers where he talks about the pre and post -production work and challenges involved. (via Mashable)

Comments

Total comments: 103
Ian Wright
By Ian Wright (10 months ago)

This is an illegal video, the process used is patented by Digital Air
http://www.digitalair.com/licensing_commercial.html

They own a patent that says if you take a picture form a frame by frame media (which to you and I is video), then it is theirs.

The only way to do bullet time without contravening their patents, is by using single shots from still cameras.

0 upvotes
Karmaschinken
By Karmaschinken (11 months ago)

I built an array made of 50 Canons, but I am targeting interactive animations, have a look here:

http://www.martin-hoppe.com/mailreply/index.php?id=9044&param=animation

Have fun!

0 upvotes
stevens37y
By stevens37y (Mar 26, 2013)

for the perfectionists:

http://youtu.be/cUGewBdAy8c?t=5m10s

0 upvotes
Alex Krachko
By Alex Krachko (Mar 25, 2013)

I think that the company GOPRO will soon establish a production of equipment for such an effect

0 upvotes
Ionian
By Ionian (Mar 23, 2013)

Holy Hipster!

0 upvotes
guidocoza
By guidocoza (Mar 22, 2013)

Ripcurl also did nothing new, had guarantied ten times the budged and made a boring clip.
Einstein nearly failed math in grade seven and 30 years later he led the world into a new area.
Well done Marc Donahue, keep on doing it and silence your critics!

1 upvote
Octane
By Octane (Mar 21, 2013)

Let me get this straight, you take the idea that has been done many years ago, has been perfected in major movie productions, you wait a few years, take a few cheap cameras, do it over, just poorly and then people say, 'so cool', 'such a great idea'. Alright :)

3 upvotes
cacv12000
By cacv12000 (Mar 21, 2013)

Why do you have to be so bitter? Are you not getting enough attention?

3 upvotes
Octane
By Octane (Mar 22, 2013)

@cacv12000 When I saw the headline I actually got excited and was looking forward to seeing it. I was just disappointed by the poor quality. The cameras were poorly synced and the overall quality wasn't impressive. The hands and feet wobbled when the actual idea was to freeze the moment and have the camera track in 'bullet time'. Overall the quality wasn't that good either. Just funny to see people say 'great imagination' when the neither the idea is original nor is the execution well done. Well done on GoPro's marketing, thought :)

0 upvotes
jvideographer
By jvideographer (Mar 22, 2013)

Wasn't the idea that it was done so cheaply?

0 upvotes
Mike_V
By Mike_V (Mar 20, 2013)

This has been done before quite a few times.

Including early last year a whole launch campaign for a big surf label (I can't remember, but I think it was Quiksilver) was shot entirely with exactly this technique.

they set up scaffolding in a wave pool and at actual surf breaks to mount the Go Pros on.

There is great behind the scenes video of it on the web.

The operators they had computers on set for visualisations also.

Very cool stuff.

0 upvotes
Narupol
By Narupol (Mar 20, 2013)

A diligence is a real magic.

0 upvotes
Adrian Harris
By Adrian Harris (Mar 20, 2013)

This short film shows great imagination and ability, I am sure he will get offered a lot of work from it. Well done.

1 upvote
maxnimo
By maxnimo (Mar 20, 2013)

From a purely artistic point of view this was impressive and fun. But the question that comes to mind is this: Do you really want to have reality distorted so much? It may be good for a quick thrill but is it good for the spirit, good for the soul and good for the historical memories we leave behind?

1 upvote
stevens37y
By stevens37y (Mar 20, 2013)

yes. It helps to understand Einstein's relativity theory.

2 upvotes
gwales
By gwales (Mar 20, 2013)

Great effort - achieving effects like this with a low budget will inspire others. In a few years we will be seeing a whole new wave of cinema, with low budgets and great results (and a shitload of crap, of course). Isn't that what every filmmaker dreams of?

0 upvotes
Zuzullo
By Zuzullo (Mar 20, 2013)

How do you edit that? Take one frame from every camera?

1 upvote
youngstu
By youngstu (Mar 19, 2013)

This is one of the rip curl adverts using a big gopro array
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0x52u2yzgI

2 upvotes
stevens37y
By stevens37y (Mar 19, 2013)

nice

0 upvotes
KodaChrome25
By KodaChrome25 (Mar 19, 2013)

Thanks. So how does Timmbits explain this? Doesn't seem to be any shutter lag or inconsistency here? These guys got lucky?

0 upvotes
typicalarmchairphotographycritic

That's the one I was talking about, thanks! Yeah, aside from the distortion from the water on the lens, their bullet-time is nice and smooth. I'm curious to know what caused the difference in quality between the two videos, and I'm really curious how Rip Curl worked with their video in post: I don't think it's just a matter of taking one frame from each camera, I bet they use some sort of morph transition or something to create that smooth motion.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
stevens37y
By stevens37y (Mar 19, 2013)

His "Dream Music: Part 2" is also very good.
Ok I know anyone among the folks here could do it
in 5 minutes with post processing. :>)

Comment edited 18 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
typicalarmchairphotographycritic

Good idea, but I agree that it's a bit too herky-jerky. I remember a surf company did this a few years ago but with alot more (30 or 40 if I recall) Gopros, and it looked really good (I'd post the video if I could find it), and didn't have that "twitch" effect that this one did.

I've been wanting to do something like this for a while now, my hope was to try it with iphones (since almost everyone has an iphone), though I'd imagine it'd still be a bit of a hassle.

0 upvotes
webrunner5
By webrunner5 (Mar 19, 2013)

95% of the video anyone could have done with one GoPro in post editing. Not impressed much either.

Comment edited 27 seconds after posting
1 upvote
Kim Letkeman
By Kim Letkeman (Mar 19, 2013)

Right, so with one angle you can get 95% of the 3-dimensional rotation effect ... were that even remotely true, we would see it all the time. But alas, it is not true at all :-)

3 upvotes
Cryptnotic
By Cryptnotic (Mar 21, 2013)

@Kim

95% of the linked video is from a single-camera.

0 upvotes
stevens37y
By stevens37y (Mar 19, 2013)

Genius idea. It's fantastic. Gopro is worth the money

0 upvotes
OlavM
By OlavM (Mar 19, 2013)

Good ! -Did anyone ask, exposing the brand-name of equipment used THAT MUCH ? A kind of "deal", coupled to the number of "clicks" on this clip, would do the trick here. I do not express any suggestion of the existence of such a deal here, but do point at the rather obvious possibillity of it...

0 upvotes
Timmbits
By Timmbits (Mar 19, 2013)

a plug for gopro

5 upvotes
Bill Rees
By Bill Rees (Mar 19, 2013)

I'd love to see links from the critics of their own film work. This is brilliant.

1 upvote
leecamera
By leecamera (Mar 19, 2013)

To be honest this is a fantastic effort on a budget of zip.

It's interesting that Marc uses the GoPro as he'd be shooting video with each rather than a series of stills - which opens possibilities to editing motion within the Matrix effect.

I think the comments about motion artifacts may be confused with the "scratch" editing within the action. We've got some interesting forwards and backwards motion of the subject whilst the tracking motion continues in the same direction. This is the first time I've seen this and kudos to Marc for coming up with a variation on a well known effect.

And to the critics of the execution... please send us your examples - we'd love to see how much better your versions are...

2 upvotes
BigEnso
By BigEnso (Mar 19, 2013)

Unless GoPro supplied the cams, it was hardly a budget of zip. Each goes for about $399.00 (Amazon Hero 3 Black) so we are looking at about $6,000 not counting any other materials that were used.

4 upvotes
Tee1up
By Tee1up (Mar 19, 2013)

I agree. Zero budget it aint but it is indeed seriously cool.

2 upvotes
Timmbits
By Timmbits (Mar 19, 2013)

it's a marketing plug. what else!

2 upvotes
Andrew Butterfield
By Andrew Butterfield (Mar 19, 2013)

>with fifteen GoPro's

Apostrophe alert!!!!

5 upvotes
Timmbits
By Timmbits (Mar 19, 2013)

people can't spell anymore!

1 upvote
Kim Letkeman
By Kim Letkeman (Mar 19, 2013)

Sure they can, its spelled "anymore" ...

2 upvotes
KodaChrome25
By KodaChrome25 (Mar 19, 2013)

wrong... anymore!

0 upvotes
Mister J
By Mister J (Mar 19, 2013)

Lots of time, effort and energy here - and some good effects.

Look forward to seeing future developments.

0 upvotes
panman55
By panman55 (Mar 19, 2013)

Brilliant!
REALLY like the high-quality home-grown anybody-could-do-it approach, and of course the name says it all - more power to PermaGrin, can't wait to see the next experiments.Fab stuff guys

2 upvotes
Combatmedic870
By Combatmedic870 (Mar 19, 2013)

Very cool.

0 upvotes
Burbclaver
By Burbclaver (Mar 19, 2013)

Jeez. Lighten up. It's just an experiment. Not perfect, but at least they are experimenting. It took a lot more effort than typing a whiny comment into an internet forum.

14 upvotes
love_them_all
By love_them_all (Mar 19, 2013)

Not impressed.

0 upvotes
Leandros S
By Leandros S (Mar 19, 2013)

I'm with vFunct - this sucks through lack of synching.

0 upvotes
Timmbits
By Timmbits (Mar 19, 2013)

it looks like at least one or two of the cameras were a bit slower in the shutter-lag department... it demonstrates quality inconsistencies in the GoPro brand.

2 upvotes
hindesite
By hindesite (Mar 19, 2013)

Nice job, great video. Thanks DPR for covering this (though I'm sure it would show up in my GoPro subscription anyway :-)

What a bunch of armchair critics. Most never do anything, judging by their galleries etc. Difficult to fail if you aren't actually doing anything.

4 upvotes
Peiasdf
By Peiasdf (Mar 19, 2013)

So you cannot criticize the president because you have never been a president?

The idea is good but the editing is subpar in my opinion. I believe they will only get better with experience.

3 upvotes
hindesite
By hindesite (Mar 19, 2013)

Yeah, love your galleries, too.

1 upvote
Ingloryon
By Ingloryon (Mar 18, 2013)

Great!

2 upvotes
KodaChrome25
By KodaChrome25 (Mar 18, 2013)

Nice job Bro. Ignore all the negative posters below.

3 upvotes
LKJ
By LKJ (Mar 18, 2013)

GoPro is?

1 upvote
Garp2000
By Garp2000 (Mar 18, 2013)

"This video contains content from UMG. That partner blocked this video for your country". WTF?

1 upvote
warpspace
By warpspace (Mar 19, 2013)

you can bypass by using a alternate link,
install proxmate for firefox

2 upvotes
Francis Carver
By Francis Carver (Mar 18, 2013)

I think all in all, buying 15 GoPro-cams will still cost someone a whole lot less dough output than getting a single really good pro-class video camera with a decent lens on it, huh?

3 upvotes
utomo99
By utomo99 (Mar 18, 2013)

I think main Go pro problems is the lens distortion.
They need to reduce this.
so the videos look better.

Not many people need a matrix like effect.
but many are need good videos

0 upvotes
sportyaccordy
By sportyaccordy (Mar 18, 2013)

As stupid as this will sound, GoPros need to be fish eye lenses to catch all the action. When you are surfing or skydiving optical optimization isn't really as much of a priority as just getting the footage.

One place GoPro really does need to improve is with sound. I want to record my motorcycle rides and GoPro's mics are terrible in that regard. They pretty much don't capture anything below 100Hz, I am guessing to minimize wind noise.

2 upvotes
LeonTheremin
By LeonTheremin (Mar 18, 2013)

@sportyaccordy, record audio separately and sync it later, get a simple recorder like a Zoom H1n with a foam windscreen or deadcat on it and put it in your backpack and set it to 48/24 or 48/16. It still might be too windy. Maybe a super fuzzy backpack would work, and don't let the recorder touch the walls of the backpack, make it suspended in there somehow. Or put it inside a fuzzy seat bag on a shockmount. I've always wanted to try that. Your bike will probably be loud enough to hear through all the wind protection. What kind of bike is it?

0 upvotes
utomo99
By utomo99 (Mar 20, 2013)

Not all the time people use this for surfing . sometimes we use for other purpose and need NO fish eye effect
I wish there is option

0 upvotes
sportyaccordy
By sportyaccordy (Apr 17, 2013)

@LeonTheremin, I have a Ninja 650R.

0 upvotes
Yiotis
By Yiotis (Mar 18, 2013)

Sorry but this is a failed attempt to achieve Matrix-like bullet time effect.

And for Matrix they used film cameras.

7 upvotes
Francis Carver
By Francis Carver (Mar 18, 2013)

Yeah, after getting a giant dose of headache by watching the above posted clip, I was also about to say that the Matrix trilogy was definitely NOT recorded with GoPro-cams.... most fortunately for us, the viewers.

6 upvotes
T3
By T3 (Mar 19, 2013)

If by "film cameras" you mean movie cameras, you'd be wrong. The original Matrix movie used Canon Rebel SLR still cameras. At the time, these Canon SLRs were loaded with film, but the subsequent Matrix movies used digital Rebel DSLRs. BTW, one of the reasons why they used Canon Rebel DSLR is A) the Rebels used standard mini stereojack-style electronic cable release, B) they were inexpensive. Other brands, as well as Canon's own higher-level DSLRs, didn't use minijack remote connectors.

3 upvotes
Erick L
By Erick L (Mar 19, 2013)

I believe they used Canon A2.

0 upvotes
Yiotis
By Yiotis (Mar 19, 2013)

Sorry, SLR film cameras

Comment edited 10 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
love_them_all
By love_them_all (Mar 19, 2013)

They were 1 series bodies, shown in the making of.

Comment edited 11 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Timmbits
By Timmbits (Mar 19, 2013)

I think T3 fantasises about it being cheap rebel cameras! ROTFL as if they'd take cheap rebels for that... and as if with million$ in the budget they'd even care about jacks for el-cheapo equipment.

Comment edited 55 seconds after posting
1 upvote
Paul Guba
By Paul Guba (Mar 18, 2013)

Nice commercial for GoPro thanks. Now lets all go out and buy their product.

6 upvotes
The Jacal
By The Jacal (Mar 18, 2013)

And get them from Amazon.

2 upvotes
vFunct
By vFunct (Mar 18, 2013)

Shutters weren't synced properly (see motion flickering between frozen images), but a good start. Can go pro be triggered externally?

5 upvotes
Simao
By Simao (Mar 18, 2013)

I think that it is apparent that the producer made that in purpose.

Whether the flickering effect was nice or not is another matter.

2 upvotes
Timmbits
By Timmbits (Mar 19, 2013)

it's quality inconsistency... some of the GoPros had more shutter lag than others

0 upvotes
hammerheadfistpunch
By hammerheadfistpunch (Mar 18, 2013)

Concept gets an A, Execution gets a D. Keep after it though, this could be very interesting. Though i have seen a couple of other people try it with the 1 and 2 with similar, semi good results.

4 upvotes
Cane
By Cane (Mar 18, 2013)

"Hey you whipper snappers, get off my lawn!"

1 upvote
Sdaniella
By Sdaniella (Mar 18, 2013)

brilliant
has a nice 'be right there' 3D look
take advantage of the gopro's diminutive dimensions

far smaller than conventional dcams/dlrs/mft done in Matrix [dSLRs]

next closest thing is the pc webcam
or cellphones overlapping each other

sdyue

0 upvotes
Timmbits
By Timmbits (Mar 19, 2013)

or any of a number of small sensor cameras sold on the market

0 upvotes
roblarosa
By roblarosa (Mar 18, 2013)

Not enough cats in this video.

2 upvotes
wlad
By wlad (Mar 18, 2013)

..and it's a shame really, because the footage quality is barely enough for a video of cats... seriously, lots of artifacts, flickering, pretty awful really..

..and all it takes is a SINGLE camera:
http://vimeo.com/33408157#at=0

5 upvotes
JamesInCA
By JamesInCA (Mar 18, 2013)

Not really. The device you linked to permits a visually similar effect, as long as your subject's path is completely predictable, and you don't mind re-shooting if you don't get it right the first time. But if you're capturing live action and you want the footage of an event as it happens, you need multiple cameras.

It's also not clear whether their custom robot is actually a product available for purchase, or whether it costs more or less than 15 cameras.

Lastly, as to the quality - good points, but I don't think his purpose here was cinematic quality. It was proof-of-concept. Sure, now the question is, how good can it get?

1 upvote
wlad
By wlad (Mar 18, 2013)

@JamesInCA - yes, what I linked is a wholly different league,
here's a behind the scenes movie:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A2CLQdCU7O0

But I'm sure something similar could be built with an amateur level budget as well - without all those bells and whistles like a professional 3d modelling interfaces and stuff like that..

1 upvote
Peiasdf
By Peiasdf (Mar 19, 2013)

@wlad
Amazing. I have always thought those clips are CGI.

1 upvote
wlad
By wlad (Mar 19, 2013)

@Peiasdf I think most studios do use CGI for effects like those, but it seems this german studio can accomplish similar effect with a single high speed camera mounted on a robotic arm.
As a geek, I'm impressed :)

1 upvote
Timmbits
By Timmbits (Mar 19, 2013)

@wlad, thanks very much for sharing that.
very impressive!!!

but you have to concede that it's not the same thing. in that video the robot is making the camera move faster than the subject, and it is a very very very expensive setup ($200k for the robot, maybe?). whereas the gopro thing is rather low budget in comparison. would have cost even less if they had used standard wide angle regular cameras (many small cheap portable ones on the market to choose from).

0 upvotes
dgeugene1
By dgeugene1 (Mar 18, 2013)

I have a headache.

2 upvotes
Roland Karlsson
By Roland Karlsson (Mar 18, 2013)

Can someone tell me whats so special with GoPro? What kind of properties does it possess that makes it possible to take photos that normal cameras cant take?

3 upvotes
plasnu
By plasnu (Mar 18, 2013)

Cool factor.

1 upvote
JohnMatrix
By JohnMatrix (Mar 18, 2013)

The only property I could see was the one that meant they couldn't actually get all the shots perfectly sync'd. I found the slight "judder" somewhat distracting.

Great news article

7 upvotes
Erick L
By Erick L (Mar 18, 2013)

What's special are the variety of expensive plastic mounts and accessories that break easily and marketing.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
1 upvote
hammerheadfistpunch
By hammerheadfistpunch (Mar 18, 2013)

2 thigns:
1. decent quality POV
2. Cheap as chips

1 upvote
steve ohlhaber
By steve ohlhaber (Mar 18, 2013)

Gopro is great if you need waterproof and wide angle. Not sure why this guy even used gopro 3 models since any cheap little cam that shoots video can do this. Some videos needed the wide angle, but most didnt appear to need it at all.

1 upvote
Timmbits
By Timmbits (Mar 19, 2013)

for this video, nothing special about gopro - you could use just about any camera to do this. (it's the same marketing tactic that apple has been doing for decades now "look at what you can do with apple" and people automatically conclude that you can't do that with any other computer)

this is merely their marketing team finding ways to use a camera, showing it being done with a gopro, and then using social media to get free advertising for the brand. (youtube, fb, vimeo, camera-centric websites like this one)

Comment edited 3 times, last edit 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
kimvette
By kimvette (Mar 18, 2013)

. . . and with this one video, GoPro notice a tenfold sales increase

0 upvotes
makofoto
By makofoto (Mar 18, 2013)

Another GoPro article yet DpR still won't review the most popular camera in the world?!

1 upvote
deep7
By deep7 (Mar 18, 2013)

I'm sure they've had iPhone articles...

9 upvotes
SirSeth
By SirSeth (Mar 18, 2013)

Ha! :)

0 upvotes
tkbslc
By tkbslc (Mar 18, 2013)

Curious what the most popular camera is in the world according to makofoto.

1 upvote
rithex
By rithex (Mar 18, 2013)

cool project but doesn't really work that well due to the fisheye lens.

1 upvote
makofoto
By makofoto (Mar 18, 2013)

Fisheye effect can b corrected in post, plus there are two tighter optional angles view.

0 upvotes
plasnu
By plasnu (Mar 18, 2013)

Also I see some timing glitch

1 upvote
Timmbits
By Timmbits (Mar 19, 2013)

the timing glitches are quality inconsistencies in the cameras. some have more shutter-lag than others.

1 upvote
JordanAT
By JordanAT (Mar 20, 2013)

Actually, I think the timing glitches are a result of the cameras not being genlocked. They're shooting fast, but not fast enough that you can get perfect syncronization of the frames in time domain.

That's what makes this cool - you don't have to have a set of computer synchronized SLRs to create a limited bullet-time effect.

1 upvote
CameraLabTester
By CameraLabTester (Mar 18, 2013)

Would be really cool if the shutters were triggered by a massive signal from a singular device than from a wired switch.

Cool concept. Many will surely follow.

.

3 upvotes
Timmbits
By Timmbits (Mar 19, 2013)

electrons travel at about the speed of light... no matter how long the wires are, a meter or 10 meters, they'll still make the cameras fire at the same instant.
the problem here is inconsistencies in the cameras themselves. some just have a longer shutter lag.

1 upvote
TylerQ
By TylerQ (Mar 18, 2013)

Amazing. Well done!

2 upvotes
Total comments: 103