DIY Timeslice with a few home camcorders!

My colleague Nikki Stew has been looking into filming TimeSlice for our current series "Life in Cold Blood". Timeslice is a cool method used to freeze time as used in the Matrix and in the John Downer Natural History series - Weird Nature, its usually a BIG BUDGET job but Nikki may have stumbled across a DIY method of creating a cheaper one...

Timeslice was developed in large part by a Bath based company: Timeslice Films and you can view from examples on their website.

Bullet-time at Home
You don't need a million-dollar budget to create this cool effect. While it may not look quite like the big-dollar effects you are used to seeing on television, you can pull off a nifty looking effect with a little ingenuity.

To start, set up several camcorders in a semicircle, point them at a central subject and roll tape on all of them simultaneously (see Figure 1). While the cameras roll take a flash photograph of your subject as he jumps into the air. Next import a few seconds of footage from each camcorder to your nonlinear editor and identify the same frame on each tape using the camera's flash as an indicator. Export each frame as a still and then re-import them, placing them on the editing timeline in sequence. Stretch each still frame to three or four frames to extend the duration of the effect. Because there are 30 frames in every second of video, a shoot using 10 camcorders to produce 10 stills, each set to three frames on your timeline, would result in a one-second effect.

To make the effect more fluid you'll need some morphing software. Michel Gondry used this technique to great effect in his excellent music video Like a Rolling Stone in 1995. Basically, there just wasn't enough money in the budget for a multi-camera rig, so he opted to use the morphing trick. You should try it too! Elastic Reality is a perfect choice for this, but other programs are available. Basically, you're going to morph each shot into the next by correlating similar objects in the two images.

When you play your project back, you should get an excellent bullet-time shot, usually with a little artistic warping thrown in to boot.


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