"GoPro Array" Creates Incredible Action Video In Bullet-Time

When my friend and filmmaker Marc Donahue of Permagrin Films told me about the idea behind his "GoPro Array", I was speechless. Place 20 GoPro Cameras side by side in a slightly curved custom holder, set them all to film in super slow motion, and then use the footage to create a "bullet-time" look at break dancers performing some super cool moves. The results are a unique and exciting look at one of America's coolest dance forms. 

When Marc first built his GoPro Array, he filmed some incredible scenes, but he felt he could he could push the boundaries of his MacGyver-esque invention even further.  He contacted the breakdancing crew True Movement and explained his bold idea to film them in "bullet-time" using the GoPro array. They jumped at the opportunity to be involved with a unique film, and Marc decided to meet with the crew at their headquarters in San Diego, California. 

Being outside of his home location of San Jose, California, Marc didn't have access to his usual group of assistants, lighting techs, and additional camera operators, so he reached out to his Instagram followers. Marc told me 

To my complete amazement over a dozen hard working and dedicated people showed up. Interacting with your followers is key, and having Insta-meets is also a great way to establish a face to the name.


Marc and his vagabond crew of Instagram assistants assembled at the San Diego UNITED Training Center, a gymnastics facility dedicated to inspiring inner greatness and social confidence through the disciplines of Parkour, Break Dancing, Gymnastics, Aerial, Tricking, and Calisthenics fitness. When the breakdance team arrived, Marc set up his "GoPro Array"

Shooting across different media, this film included the use of the 20 camera GoPro Array, the RED Epic Cinema Camera, and some Canon DSLR’s. We used high frame rates to get some epic slow motion action. This also helped sync up the GoPros.  We also tried out a new sync cable that is hard wired into all 20 GoPros (the cable can fit up to 36!). With this particular cable I am able to run a script (previously loaded onto all of the GoPro SD cards) that simply turns on the camera, starts recording for a pre-determined amount of time, stops the recording, and then shuts off the camera. You can choose from 30 seconds, 1 minute, 2 minutes, and so on.  We chose the 1 minute script while shooting this video.  

The effect is cool, unique, and fun. Now, the question is, will Marc update his GoPro Array to the HERO4 so he can capture these guys in 4k? My guess is no, since he cannot film in 240FPS

You can find more from Permagrin Films on their website, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram



Michael Bonocore's picture

Michael is a full time photographer, traveler and workshop teacher based out of San Francisco, California. Michael's passion lies in international photojournalism, which has brought him to lead photography workshops around the globe. Michael has written guest articles for companies such as Matador Networks, SmugMug, and Borrow Lenses.

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Thanks for the writeup Michael!!!

This would be amazing to use for the next Summer and Winter Olympics!

While the athletes and dancers are in fact unique, that is not a word I would use to describe the "bullet time" technique used here. It's been done, done again and then done one more time....right here.
Nothing new here.

Hmmm for me it looks more distracting then incredible ...

looks awesome

Amazing athleticism, simply awesome control of their own bodies. Not a fan of bullet-time, but I found it appealing on some of the shots. Great job and nice post.

Didn't someone else already do this with the same setup a while back? But it was with a drummer instead of athletes....and as i recall the results were terrible....this one is a little better, but i feel like the perspective difference between the first and last camera in the array isn't enough to really get a PROPER bullet time effect....

Thanks for sharing..