Sunday, 14 October 2012

Improvised slow motion and FPS (Frames Per Second)

I have previously stated that I wanted to do a piece of work based on the word and concept of "destruction" all filmed at slow motion. The work has to have a unique piece of my own style. I do like what Fatboy Slim did in his Gangster Trippin' below:


However I don't just want to have things exploding (I do not possess any high explosive). Crushing objects using bricks in slow motion is one way of which I can easily show destruction. I also have a couple of small pyrotechnic charges. I intend to put the pyrotechnics in glass bottles whilst filming light it then run, leaving the camera behind Perspex to protect it.

I also want to show the willingness for humans to destroy each other, I intend to go to a mixed martial arts training session and film them literally beating the crap out of each other. Hopefully this will be long enough for the backing of the piece (something to cut back to). I will also film small objects being crushed by vehicles. Perhaps even get to a scrap yard to film a car being destroyed or damaged at least.

Kit dilemmas

So here is my current inventory of camera equipment:

Panasonic SD5 full high definition camera interlaced at 50FPS
Adobe After Effects
Olympus Digital SLR

The only way I would be able to produce slow motion would be in Adobe After Effects using the Twixtor plugin (this blends and air brushes each frame for super imposed slow motion). The only problem with this setup is that my camera uses an older technique where the picture is interlaced in lines at full definition. What we want is a 'progressive' picture which is film like, for example if you pressed pause on a progressive picture it should contain a complete frame. If you press pause on an interlaced camera it will only contain half the picture as it is expecting to lace up with the preceding frame. Interlaced picture is no good for my project and although I can use an interlaced camera, it must be deinterlaced in software before we can use Twixtor.

My project is going to play at 24fps which is the cinema standard, Twixtor in After Effects has no problem converting this frame rate. But at this stage I am frightened of the project not looking its greatest, time to reach into my pocket.

If I could film progressive pictures at 60fps, when I slow it down to 24fps it will be in proper slow motion. There will be also no need to turn it into a progressive picture either. Again the software and plugin will take care of the time code or FPS at 24. Twixtor also allows you to slow the picture down to a similar of 1000 FPS without the picture looking jumpy.

Ideally I'd purchase a camera that could handle a different frame rate but my budget is thin, I'm a student. So I thought I would look at what is available to the consumer and to my delight I found that a Go Pro Hero Hd camera allows you to film in the resolution of 720p at 60fps. The camera is also waterproof and has a drop proof enclosure. This enclosure also prevents me from having to buy perspex as it is protected. The lens is extremely wide angle. The camera is reduced from £200 to £130 on the Go Pro website, I decided at this price it was a steal- I aptly disclosed my debit card details I also ordered a tripod mount so I can get all sorts of strange angles. Although this camera is designed for extreme sports its 'slowmo' mode suits me and my budget.

The Go Pro camera does not have a viewfinder so I just google "composite mini LCD screen". Mainly American blogs recommended a "3 1/2 inch screen for $20".This screen connects using a standard jack to composite cable which I already have. I do have to modify this screen slightly, all I have to basically have to do is solder a 9v battery connector to it and attach some sticky Velcro. If you are wondering why I am using a small screen it's just to simply frame the shot- making sure that the action is going to be captured. Go Pro wanted 100 pounds for theirs and I'm not paying that as I am on a budget, it might have wifi but its just far too much money to spend on top of the outlay.

The required shooting conditions

It is best to shoot using a high shutter speed, as this will make the frame sharp (this plays dividends in the edit and processing). In order to shoot high-speed photography you need lots of light, so perhaps avoid film in dark areas. If shooting can take place outside do so or anywhere where it is lit well. Twixtor needs well-defined images in order to process them, basically the better exposed images the slower the 'slow mo'. If you don't have enough light try to add some more simple.

As I will have a camera that can shoot 60 FPS progressive it is wise that the Go Pro camera is used as much as possible, as it provides better quality imagery and causes less problems.

Sound is not an issue as a song will be chosen as the backing track, hopefully one will be found that fits. It is always important to get in the habit of editing to your backing track and not finding your backing track try to fit to your edit. If you edit to a chosen song then you can use the rhythm of the song to improve the quality of the sequences timing.

Shooting your first shot in the sequence

Hopefully your organised and know exactly what you want to shoot and where... If you don't know don't worry.. Just learn to experiment. I do not advise for you to copy what I am doing completely, it is dangerous and you can end up maimed. The order that I shoot in will not be the order of the edit.
I will find a wide open space and place a bottle on a brick to raise it in the shot. The camera will be under the main blast radius. I will check that the shot is composed as I wish using the LCD screen attached. Once I am content I will disconnect the LCD screen and then clear the area of unnecessary items and make sure there is no danger to anybody else. I will then light a small explosive charge down the neck of the bottle, once lit and dropped I have less than five seconds to get into safety. One thing I won't do is look back. I will be wearing eye ware but this is a dangerous shot.

Once the charge has gone off and I am satisfied with the result I will sweep up any left over debris then download the video to the computer. Once the video is downloaded I will import it into Adobe After Effects then apply the Twixtor plugin to slow it down to its absolute minimum, without it being jumpy that is. I hope to see glass fragments tearing through the air in a radial sphere.

Next part of the blog will be the new camera and the test footage which will be iodine diluting in an inky manner to create a people solution. Need to get a location sorted for the pyrotechnic element of this sequence, and a brush.

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