Does anybody know anything about time-slicing, used in the
matrix, when camera moves around actor and time stands still.
I'm keen to use effect in a short film, wondering if anybody
could give me advice.
Is it possible to build your own camera system.
Llewellyn Thomas wrote :
>Is it possible to build your
own camera system.
As comedian Chris Rock says "You can drive your car with
your feet - not that's a good idea - but you can."
Time Slicing takes numerous still or motion picture cameras,
a special rig and precise computer control to achieve the
effect = mucho $dinero$
Wonder if megapixel digital cameras are being used yet - might
save some steps and help with registration.
The Film Foundry
>Time Slicing takes numerous
still or motion picture cameras, a special >rig and precise
The one used on "The Matrix" did, sure. On the other
hand, you could just as easily stick a bunch of cameras along
a curved rail and so long as they were all focussed on a single
point, or a controlled array of points, you'd be fine.
The effect is heavily reliant on postproduction, but that's
something that any desktop computer could handle these days.
I wouldn't have any particular hesitation about trying to
build a simple setup - so long as someone was to provide a
>Time Slicing takes numerous
still or motion picture cameras, a special >rig and precise
I've always thought you could do very nicely - and in one
quick take, too - using a Photosonics high-speed camera locked
down on a circular rail system. Use a cluster of F- or G-
sized model rocket booster engines sync-started with nichrome
wire to propel the camera around the track in well under a
second. Use some big, soft and non-flammable buffering to
catch the camera on the far side.
For those allergic to high-specific-impulse solid fuel motors,
try Googling "bullet time" or "Flo Mo".
Adam "non-destructive testing? That's no fun" Wilt
/ Menlo Park CA USA
>using a Photosonics high-speed
camera locked down on a circular rail
Hey, good idea...now do it and show us the results LOL
This is a great website. I encourage anybody who is interested
in time splicing to take a look.
I only wish I had know about this one when I was writing the
chapter on special effects. I certainly would have mentioned
Tim MacMillian if I had known he was the inventor of the method.
He certainly deserves recognition for what he has done.
>This is a great website.
Well it's certainly interesting to note the similarities (in
concept) between Tim McMillan's early camera (the one with
pinholes) and the Timetrack camera invented by Dayton Taylor
which I worked with 4-5 yrs ago (see the Discover Card ad
in the samples).
Although Tim's Josephine rig looks like the first really practical
See this web site, and note the intellectual property/patent
>Timetrack camera invented by
Dayton Taylor which I worked with 4-5yrs >ago
I thought there might be others who had similar developments
and/or were claimants to the invention/patent; that sort of
thing always seems to happen with new ideas like this.
Thanks for the info...I'll note all this in the second edition.
I had the pleasure of seeing Tim Macmillans experimental student
films which he made in the early 80s using his 'primitive'
pinhole arrays. They are quite beautiful loops and quite definitely
the first instance of what is now known as time splicing.
Part of the charm and aesthetic appeal of his early work is
the scratchy 'analogue' quality that derives from the frame
to frame fluctuations in exposure, registration and focus.
IMHO recent practise of others of digital frame interpolation
and general 'cleaning up' of the image seems to diminish the
magic of the effect and make the whole shot look synthetic.
I'm sure I saw one of those circular pinhole arrays on Tomorrow's
World in about 1989. Judith Hann threw a handful of confetti
through it. Spectacular.
Phil Rhodes wrote :
>I'm sure I saw one of those
circular pinhole arrays on Tomorrow's World >in about 1989.
It was 1993!
I always remembered it as earlier which makes me feel a bit
long in the tooth (it was still ten years ago mind). They
ran the credits over a loop of a 'shot' where a leaping dog
was frozen in mid air. It received a record number of complaints
to the BBC switchboard from distraught animal lovers who where
all under the impression that to endlessly rotate a camera
around a static dog it had to be a corpse and hence the program
makers had somehow slaughtered it in the process.
What can I say. I live in a country where people beat up paediatricians
and burn down muslin factories!
Here is a resend of and old post of mine with some additions.
I have taken to calling it a "Still Array" since
it describes the setup as opposed to someone's fanciful marketing
I have done this (with Reel Efx) and get a lot of calls inquiring
about the doing the technique. Once Producers find out how
much a completed shot is they also want to know the cheap
Our shot was a multiple-element-Motion-Control-green-screen-lighting-cue-extravaganza.
Very tricky and they performed well.
Nine out of ten inquiries about this process pass on the cost.
Also, I would seriously consider hiring a VFX Supervisor to
oversee the whole concept from beginning to end. This is the
kind of sequence that has things falling through the cracks.
I can't speak to their rigs but here are some other suppliers
of still arrays :
>I only wish I had know about
this one when I was writing the chapter on >special effects.
I certainly would have mentioned Tim MacMillian if I had >known
he was the inventor of the method.
Muybridge did this in 1878-79!
Check any reference on photography the famous multiple camera
rig that was built to settle a bet on whether all 4 legs of
a horse leave the ground during full gallop. These shots were
"projected" in a Zoetrope later the Zoopraxiscope
that were both precursors to Edison's work!
Muybridge used a set-up that included 36 lenses with 12 to
24 cameras, placed at 30, 60, and 90 degree angles to his
subjects. The two cameras placed at 30 and 60 degrees were
able to hold up to 12 lenses each. A session could potentially
yield as many as 36 dry-plate negatives. Some of Muybridge's
techniques are still used in photographing special effects
for film. By October 1885, he had made 20,000 photographs...
I don't know Tim or if his claims are out of ignorance, conceit
or differentiating a subtly technicality, but 100 years is
a long time to be upstaged. It reminds me that at one time
Louie Schwartzberg of Energy Productions claimed to have invented
time-lapse (in the 1970's).
VizFxDp On-Set Super
Eric Swenson wrote :
>Muybridge did this in 1878-79!
Not really. I am a great fan of Muybridge, but the essential
difference is that his final product was a series of still
His accomplishment was great, but he did not "invent"
motion pictures or the time-slicing effect; his brilliant
innovation of related but different. If he had invented time-slicing
I certainly think we would have seen it a long time before
the Gap commercials or the Matrix.
>Check any reference on photography
the famous multiple camera rig >that was built to settle
a bet on whether all 4 legs of a horse leave the ground during
The horse was only the beginning. Muybridge's next experiment
saw him placing a hundred or so cameras around a politician
to see if he could actually be detected in the middle of a
lie. Obsessed by magic, he developed a circular time slice
setup designed to capture and reveal the secrets behind basic
magic tricks. (He was too shy to simply ask.) He once tried
to capture the moment when a lawyer felt pity, but eventually
gave it up as hopeless.
His crowning achievement, and the one that sets him way ahead
of the pack, was an experimental film involving kids wearing
Levis Jeans back in the early 1880's, where he shot time slice
footage of a square dance and incorporated it into standard
moving footage. (Unaware that the film had great commercial
value, he was simply using the system to chaperone a collection
of rowdy teenagers.) This was the basis for the recent series
of Gap commercials, which were really just ripping off a style
that had been developed a hundred years before.
Muybridge reportedly got his ideas from the ancient Babylonians,
who had developed a technique wherein a hundred scribes with
clay tablets were placed in a circle around a wrestling ring
to document the moment of decisive victory. That was truly
the miracle of its day, as the scribes had to work extremely
fast : cuneiform shorthand was still way in the future. Translations
of ancient texts refer to the process as "tablet time."
Art Adams, DP
Mountain View, California - "Silicon Valley"
Eric Swenson wrote :
>I don't know Tim or if his claims
are out of ignorance, conceit or >differentiating a subtly
I should clarify here. The assertion that Tim MacMillan invented
this effect was mine, not his. My impression of Tim MacMillan
when I met him was that he was incredibly unassuming. He sees
himself foremost as a visual artist and is incredibly philosophical
about the fact that his techniques and cameras have been 'ripped
off' by many others. I can think of several individuals who
have tried to claim absolute complete credit for devising
time slicing - he is not one of them. He simply pre-dates all the other (living) contenders.
> Muybridge did this in 1878-79!
I'm not going to get into a spitting contest about this but
I'd like to see you try and argue that to John Gaeta or Joel
>I'm not going to get into a
spitting contest about this but I'd like to see >you try and
argue that to John Gaeta or Joel Silver
With all due respect to John Gaeta, I don't know what he is
saying now, but back when the Bullet Time rig was being developed
(I was a consulting engineer on the project myself and subsequently
supervised a shoot for an IMAX show using the rig) he was
not claiming to have originated the "temps mort"
methodology by a long shot. There were already extant rigs.
The Bullet Time rig embodied many advancements to the "temps
mort" methodology, including a sophisticated yet operationally
simple way of aiming cameras such that they could follow a
moving target (time slice pan and tilt to go along with the
dolly move) as well as sequential triggering methodologies,
previous methodologies and layout methodologies that allowed
us to set camera paths up on complex splines. I have not seen
another rig that allows as much flexibility in camera layout
as John's design does, though I have not kept up with every
design out there. In the disclaimer department, I have not
worked directly with John since then, though we worked together
in the early.
Blain Brown wrote :
>Not really. I am a great fan
of Muybridge, but the essential difference is >that his final
product was a series of still photographs.
That is the definition of these still array set ups. Different
pieces of film being exposed at the same (or near the same)
time in discreet geographic locations. The assemblage of these
still photographs to create the illusion of movement is all
you need to make a "motion picture". Here is where
it gets shaky because the motion picture projector as we know
it had not yet been invented.
There were the Praxinoscope, the Phenakistoscope, and my favourite,
the Zoopraxiscope. These were all used to view or project
Muybrige's stills to create the illusion of movement.
Consider this :
A little later Muybridge designed a portable camera, eighteen
inches square and four feet long. It was fitted with thirteen
matched lenses, one of which served as a finder. Three plates
12 inches long and 3 inches wide were put into specially designed
holders, which were divided into twelve compartments. The
"electro-expositor" and the multiple plate holder
simplified the technique; it was no longer necessary to stretch
two dozen threads across the track or to lead two dozen plate
holders for each "take."
>His accomplishment was great,
but he did not "invent" motion pictures >or the time
I did not say he "invented" motion pictures but
that his works were precursors to cameras and film as we know
it from Edison and team.
"Another attraction at the  World's Fair was Edison's
peephole moving-picture machine, the kinetoscope. It was a
direct descendant of the zoopraxiscope and Edison, in a letter
dated 1925 to the Society of moving picture Engineers, wrote
that the germ of his idea for moving' pictures "came
from a little toy called the zoetrope and the work of Muybridge,
Marey, and others."
>his brilliant innovation of
related but different. If he had invented time->slicing I certainly
think we would have seen it a long time before the >Gap commercials
or the Matrix.
But we have. It's been a long time though. Muybridge's works
were all either a curiosity, or used in scientific studies
of human and animal motion.
The tool was just used differently. This resurrection is not
the first time a solely scientific technique has been used
to create stunning images. Slitscans, Million FPS cameras,
Kodaliths have all been used -to name a few.
"An artist with an unfamiliar wonted device will often
When the cumbersome process of setting up dozens of individual
cameras was synthesized down to one image taking device, the
old process was abandoned. The movie camera hit all the marks.
Cheaper, faster, lighter better.
Then, after 100 years of looking at movies made from a single
lens device that exposed consecutive film frames, someone
(I will not venture who), resurrected the very expensive concept
of multiple cameras in an array.
The excitement came from the WAY the cameras were placed combined
with new color, clarity and not-seen-in-100-years way of capturing
a moving image from multiple angles simultaneously. That gave
us a rebirth of an early technique.
VizFxDp On-Set Super
Even a brief browsing of Muybridge's The Human Figure in Motion
would seem to support Eric Swenson's position.
IA 600 DP
>His accomplishment was great,
but he did not "invent" motion pictures >or the time-slicing
It's very rare that anyone can be claimed to be the sole inventor
of something. To do so would be to deny entirely the way in
which human knowledge is advanced - each step built upon the
last. Some steps are greater than others of course, and deserve
recognition as highlights : but usually the most conspicuous
advances are the little ones which combine a few ideas in
an innovative application.
Hence time-slice/bullet time/frozen moment systems all use
the Muybridge multi-camera approach, and combine it with creative
placing of the cameras to simulate an instantaneous tracking
shot - an aspect not used by Muybridge as that wasn't his
objective at the time. Some techniques now use computer pre-visualisation
techniques to design the camera layout, laser alignment to
implement it, micro-timing to re-introduce the time dimension,
and of course digital repositioning to align each frame. None
of that reduces the place of Muybridge in progress towards
the current techniques.
In other contexts, based on the step-by-step view of advancing
Who "invented" photography?
Who "invented" motion pictures?
Who "invented" sound films?
Who "invented" television?
Please don't answer any of these questions - life is too short
and bandwidth too precious.
I'd like to add to the discussion on Muybridge, McMillan and
Time-slicing by pointing out that one of Tim McMillan's photo-art
pieces using his Time-slice rig; is a shot of a Horse, with
all it's hooves off the ground, at the point of it's death
(it's just been shot!).
I'd be very surprised if McMillan isn't paying homage to Muybridge
in this piece.
It got him nominated for the Citibank Prize a few years back
(can't remember if he won or not).
I also worked with McMillan on an ident (involving Rugby players
diving into a puddle) a few years ago and found him to be
very unassuming. He was sponsored by Kodak, incidentally and
I think the first rigs were developed around the time he was
at Art College in Bath in the early 80s.
>This is the way "time slice"
was done in the beginning....
I do not know who revitalized the still array. The first time
I heard of it was at least a decade ago when a production
company wanted to shoot a champion tennis players ball in
a "dolly" shot at it crossed the net.