Image courtesy UNIT9 and Gatorade

Video production outfit UNIT9 pulled off some neat visual tricks in a recent project for client Gatorade. Using a custom-built 'rain rig,' precisely timed water droplets fall to the ground in the shape of a figure. Strobes illuminate the droplets and give the effect of freezing them, and frame-by-frame the water figure appears to run, jump and kick right in front of our eyes.

The figure's movements were informed by motion-capture, and the rain rig had to be timed to turn water pressure on and off at millisecond intervals. The camera, strobes and rig were all synced to work in concert with each other, and each frame was processed to correct for gravitational acceleration of the drops as they fell.

Photo courtesy UNIT9 and Gatorade
Photo courtesy UNIT9 and Gatorade
Photo courtesy UNIT9 and Gatorade

Manipulating falling water to this extent hadn't been done before, so the rig was custom built. It's a neat piece of innovation that plays with the most basic principle of video capture: string together a certain number of still images every second in front of a viewer's eyes and they'll look like a moving image. For more, check out the behind-the-scenes video and visit UNIT9's website.