Time Slicing (aka Bullet Time) is the technique of using multiple still cameras to produce moving footage. Take a look at some stunning footage and behind the scenes rigs.

Cover Image via Mitch Martinez

Using time slicing to capture images actually dates back to the 19th century, but the technique is still used today to capture incredible footage.

Director of Photography Mitch Martinez, whose name you might remember for his Free 4K Footage and Free HD Smoke Effects, has recently released information on his personal time slice rig. To showcase his Time Slice Camera Array, Martinez put together an incredible video featuring fire breathers.

To capture the time slice effect, Martinez and his team used 50 cameras. Each end of the rig held a 4K video camera; one end had a RED EPIC shooting at 120fps, the other had a GH4 shooting 96fps. In between those two video cameras were 48 Canon DSLRs shooting single frame 5K RAW + JPEG images.

Each shot opens with 4K video footage from either the GH4 or EPIC. The time slice frozen movement is composed of 48 images. JPEG files were used for on set processing and review. The final video uses the RAW image files.

Time Splice Rig Mitch Martinez
Image via Mitch Martinez

Since the still images compose the majority of the shot, the video footage is not essential. By using only RAW image files, Martinez was able to shoot images with a long exposure. In doing so, he was able to create this stunning 360 degree footage.

He is also able to composite the photos into a single surreal still image.

timesplice mitch martinez
Image via Mitch Martinez

Mitch Martinez also put together a behind-the-scenes look at setting up the time slice rig. His team uses industry-standard trussing and grip gear to support the custom-built rig. The support gear allows the flexibility of positioning, height, and overall camera movement.  They are also able to shoot in full 360 degree circles, 120 degree arcs, or on a straight track.

While Martinez is not the only person using this type of rig, his work is some of the best out there.

Time slicing actually dates back to the 1878 when Eadweard Muybridge used a series of cameras to photograph a galloping horse at a race track.

Time Splice Horse
Image via Wikipedia

Time slicing was famously renamed bullet time for the sequences and effects of The Matrix.

There is also potential to use time splice rigs to create some stunning Virtual Reality video. John Gaeta, who pioneered the bullet time effects for The Matrix,  is a founding member of ILMxLAB. The xLAB is a division of Industrial Light & Magic that is working to create VR content for films and theme parks.

Time slice rigs offer so many arrangement and possibilities. It’s interesting to imagine where the type of footage captured is headed.

Interested in more filmmaking techniques? Let us know in the comments below.