Using GoPro Camera Arrays For A Live Bullet-Time Effect
Marc Donahue from Permagrin Films has been busy since his production of Dream Music, which got over 2 million views on YouTube. Most recently, Marc has been experimenting with GoPro camera arrays for a unique effect, most similar to bullet-time like in the Matrix. Click on to see the final video and read an interview with the man behind the lens.
You can follow more of Marc’s work at his Vimeo page, where he has plenty of interesting videos, as well as behind the scenes pieces on his productions using Dynamic Perception motion timelpase rigs and other fun stuff.
Here is the final video:
Fstoppers: What GoPro models were you using, and did you use the GoPro app to control them?
Marc: GoPro sent me 15 Hero 2‘s that had hero 3 processors in them. My buddy Donovan at red bull got me 5 more, and my roommate let me borrow 3 of his. So I was using a combo of Hero 2‘s and Hero 3‘s. I didn’t use the GoPro App because I had a SmallHD DP6 monitor to check my camera angles. I also attached an extra GoPro stacked atop the center camera in the array rig to use as a reference camera. (You can see this in the picture of the array shoulder rig my roommate is wearing) I also peppered in some canon 5d mark 3, mark 2, and 60D footage that Beau Brigham and I shot.
Fstoppers: How many GoPros were in your main array?
Marc: I used 15 GoPros. It was the most I could fit on our new array without seeing the other cameras. My friend Shea Nyquist welded the rigs and we carefully figured out all the angles we needed to use.
Fstoppers: What did you do to sync your cameras together? And what did you use to record the drummer’s audio?
Marc: I used Pluraleyes to sync the audio. I recorded Navene (the drummer) with a Zoom H4N. Navene also recorded the drumming through his computer. So I used the H4N as a reference audio track, and when I had all the takes in sync I swapped out my recording with Navene’s recording. The song is a live take. Navene used to be the drummer for Animals As Leaders, and is working on a solo project where he plays acoustic drums with a MIDI controller to trigger synths/baselines. He is focusing on having live performance based pieces. This is what we wanted to capture with “On Smash”.
Fstoppers: Post production must have been tedious! What was the most challenging part of editing this?
Marc: Trying to match cameras both in exposure and color correction. The hero 2 cameras are auto everything so there was no way to really dial down your settings. I pretty much had to hope for the best. I used 4 takes with 15 cameras and other DSLR footage which gave me 65 layers in FCP to work with. I just organized everything down to a split second, used multiple sequences per take and stacked a final build sequence. It was actually fun to have that many options to choose from.
It took a day to convert the footage, which was 750 gigs of data. I was done with the edit in three days. It was a lot of work, over 12 hours a day, but I was so stoked when I saw the final result that I couldn’t stop editing. Charging 20 GoPros was a pain too. They were all over my apartment.
Fstoppers: Has working with this GoPro array given you ideas for projects down the road?
Marc: Yeah I have a bunch of ideas and am going to sit down with GoPro to discuss them. I already shot another music video with this technique and it will be out next month. I’m also shooting another video similar to Dream Music Part 2, but incorporating in these GoPro shots so stay tuned its crazy!
Fstoppers: Thanks Marc, for taking the time to do the interview.