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class="style8" Filming Pills In Slow Motion

>Published : 9th January 2004

>Fellow Cinematographers :

I have been ask to shoot a pharmaceutical commercial in slow motion of a capsule/pill falling through space in a '2001 Space Odyssey' style. A few ideas have been toss around including CG with the director. Any ideas out there in the cyber cinematography world on how to execute this idea?

Robert F. Smith
Los Angeles


>Robert Smith wrote :

class="style9">>slow motion of a capsule/pill falling through space in a '2001 Space >Odyssey' style.

>Watch the 'Blue Danube' sequence from 2001 and you'll notice that there's no distant stars in the background and that no two spacecraft models or planet matte paintings pass over each other in the frame. The choreography of camera movement against the rotational movement of the models is very simple and cleverly designed to create the impression of more sophisticated compound movement. It's all in the 'angle of the dangle'. Kubrik was making the most of the technical limitations of the day. If he were to attempt the sequence today, for better or for worse, he'd have used CG rendering of everything from the ground up.

>You'd need large scale models of your pills to get anyway near the DoF required and some sort of motion control rig. They're objects that lend themselves to being created by computer - more so than highly detailed and textured spaceships. The one element you're probably best to shoot 'live' would be some lens flare elements against black.

>Tom Townend,
Cinematographer/London.


class="style9">>falling through space in a '2001 Space Odyssey' style.

>Oversized model shot underwater against black. Zero-g environment, very effective.

>Franz Pagot
Director of Photography/Underwater Cameraman
http://www.franzpagot.com
London UK

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>You can get home hobby kits with electromagnets above and below that make a metal object float between the electromagnetic forces. You can then tap the object and it will spin freely in X, Y & Z axes without every drifting from its place in space. Paint a small piece of iron to look like a pill and stick it between these electromagnets, then zoom in & out, dolly, whatever. Total control.

>Mitch Gross
NYC DP


>Mitch Gross writes :

class="style9">>You can get home hobby kits with electromagnets above and below that >make a metal object float between the electromagnetic forces.

>Cool idea. Has anyone actually tried this way of shooting??

>Another option may be to suspend the pills on the motion rig which we use to shoot small jewellery. It is a prop rig on which one could suspend the pills with rods or wire that can be paint brushed out in post. The pills are suspended with the wire between a large ring which can rotate on motor controlled x and y axis'. The camera can be on a rail to push in and out and controlled by motor. Of course, the next step up would be to shoot them with motion control along the same lines.

>Oversize props will definitely help with the small details and make the rigging, lensing and lighting easier.

>Best of Luck. Please let us know what you do and how it works out.

>Jim Sofranko
NY/DP


>Mitch Gross wrote:

class="style9">>You can get home hobby kits with electromagnets above and below >that make a metal object float between the electromagnetic forces.

>What a great trick! Too bad you can't do this with a camera...the mag-lev camera support!

>Of course, it's really pretty easy to do an inanimate object like a pill in CGI... probably wouldn't even take very long.

>Jeff Kreines


class="style9">> "slow motion of a capsule/pill falling through space"

>Since you asked how to film the pills falling, not suspended, I'll give you my 2 cents. You could use an Arri 3 or 435 and shoot at 130fps or 150fps and use strobes. Clairmont Camera rents them. They're not cheap but the will do the job very nicely. I used them once on a job where coins fell. The coins were very sharp in each frame and the overall effect looked great. Good luck.

>Andrew Hoehn
First Assistant Camera
Detroit, MI


class="style9">>Since you asked how to film the pills falling, not suspended, I'll give you >my 2 cents. You could use an Arri 3 or 435 and shoot at 130fps or >150fps and use strobes. Clairmont Camera rents them.

>You can also get them from Unilux.

>Dropping pills through the frame may not give you the "2001" waltz look your director is seeking since the pills won't tumble predictably.

>A low tech solution is to shoot the pills out of a vertical tube with a jet of compressed gas. With a little experimentation, you should be able to keep every launch in the same trajectory. With a little practice you can track the pills in flight or let them go through the frame.

Turn the camera sideways and the pills will float through the frame.

>If the camera is positioned near the peak of the flight you'll get two passes -- one up and one down for the price of one. If you set up at the peak, you'll get a more realistic tumble as the pill changes direction.

>Shoot against a blue screen and you're all set.

>Get a revolving mount and you can do it all in one take....

>Brian Heller
IA 600 DP


>What are your requirements background wise ? Any interaction with other objects or actors?

>Eric Neil Bolté
Montreal based DOP/Animator


>We had to shoot slo-mo pills for a film a while back.

>The ECU of the bottle's lip was the beginning of the effect with the camera locked off and the bottle rigged on a hinge joint so as to make the pills fall at an exact angle to lens.

>The bottle was a very specially rigged long tube bottle with the end [bottom] cut out [and framed out] so when the bottle reached a certain degree of tilt, a prop guy could 'push' a specific amount of pills out to increase the trajectory.

>This was shot at 120fps @ a 45 degree shutter.

>The sequence continued with a cut to a shot of the pills falling through frame. Top to bottom of frame.

>We did the same thing again, dropped an abundance of pills against blue or green screen and shot these at 120fps/45 degree shutter while tilting downward. But, the better effect came when we broke the shot down into elements: single pills.

>We shot these pills at 40 fps or so. A single pill was mounted onto a tiny diameter rod [piano wire] and rigged to a tiny DC motor which was held in a C-stand. A model train transformer gave the motor it's power [rpm] and direction [clockwise or counter clock]. I think it was a 60 rpm motor but we cranked it down to whatever we wanted. It was some cheap $2.00 surplus motor found in a junk shop.

>The 'action' of the pill falling thru frame was simply achieved by tilting the camera down to up...and doing multiple takes per pill at a couple of different speeds.

>So pills were mounted in a wild off-centre fashion by placing the support rod onto the motor with that poster putty and knocking it slightly off-centre to create an elliptical 'spin' on the pill. The look like the pills were hitting each other and bouncing off when they were finally composited together.

>It was a simple & great approach to our need. The background plate was a simple tilt down of an out of focus scene, shot at several speeds to get one that would work for the director.

Cheers,
Jeff Barklage, s.o.c.
US based DP
www.barklage.com


class="style9">>A low tech solution is to shoot the pills out of a vertical tube with a jet of >compressed gas.

>Another low tech solution is to stretch a piece of latex across a small frame and place the pill(s) on it. Pull the latex down from the bottom and catapult the pill into the camera frame above it. Several practices can get the correct trajectory and height. This can be shot at 150fps because the pills can peak at or near the top of your camera frame depending on your shot.

>One note worth mentioning. Whenever I shoot free-falling objects, I usually recommend a high-speed camera like the 35mm Photosonics or 16mm Actionmaster. The frame rate I shoot for falling objects is most often tested but to avoid "chatter" I find that I usually end up at around 500 fps. Shooting at 150 fps may get your shot but IMHO it is very limiting. So of course, test.

>Slowing down in the transfer is limited to about 20-30% slower before the chatter begins but that also depends on the subject and it's sizing in the frame. Shooting more fps means more information for the duration of the shot. Chatter occurs when the time between frames is significant and the lack of recorded information becomes noticeable. I have always found that shooting a higher frame rate gives the editor many more options for speed in post than if you are maxed out by filming too slow a frame rate.

>Just my 2 cents.

>Jim Sofranko
NY/DP


>Direction [ clockwise or counter clock ]. I think it was a 60 rpm motor but we cranked it down to whatever we wanted. It was some cheap $2.00 surplus motor found in a junk shop.

>The 'action' of the pill falling thru frame was simply achieved by tilting the camera down to up...and doing multiple takes per pill at a couple of different speeds.

>So pills were mounted in a wild off-centre fashion by placing the support rod onto the motor with that poster putty and knocking it slightly off-centre to create an elliptical 'spin' on the pill. The look like the pills were hitting each other and bouncing off when they were finally composited together.

It was a simple & great approach to our need.
The background plate was a simple tilt down of an out of focus scene, shot at several speeds to get one that would work for the director.

Cheers,
Jeff Barklage, s.o.c.
US based DP