Bullet Time: Behind The Scenes

For months I’ve had this dream of making a visual effects shot like the Bullet Time sequences from The Matrix.  Wire rigs, fake bullets, green screen, computer animation, slow motion… the works!  Recently the stars aligned and I was able to pull it off with a team of 11 visual effects artists.

Actually, that’s a lie.  None of that happened.  The real story goes like this…

I had some leftover rental gear, and I was determined to put it to use.  I had no idea what I would shoot, but I had a location in mind and I knew I wanted an emphasis on creative lighting.  My friend Brandt Siegel saved the day by  joining me at the last minute.  We got together and made the most of it with no particular goal in mind; we just got off our butts and started taking pictures.  Here is what we came away with at the end of the day.

Around 2:00 AM that night I was transferring the photos to my computer when I came across our Matrix reenactment photo and thought, “Oh man! Wouldn’t it be cool to Photoshop some bullet ripples in there?” and then I thought, “Heck, I could animate it into a visual effects shot.”

So that’s what I did.

Bullet Time

It’s been so long since I’ve done anything creative with animation or visual effects, and I’ve really been wanting to push myself lately.  Needless to say, I made it a priority this time and now I have something to show for it.

I kinda doubt that any of my readers really care to hear the detailed explanation of how I made this, so unless a few of you pipe up I’ll skip that part and move on to my closing thoughts.

I’m most proud of:

  • The color correction
  • The sound sync
  • The look of the bullet trails
  • The cut-out of me (particularly my hair and out-of-focus gun and hand)
  • The fact that it’s done even though it never had to be

On the other hand, if I had more time I would change:

  • The lifespan of the bullet trails.  They are too short for my taste.
  • The Depth of Field and Motion Blur of the bullets.  They are too sharp since I did not render with either DoF or MB.
  • The dynamic interaction with the background.  I tried to hide this by overlapping the bullet trails or making them disappear behind me, but it simply wasn’t worth the effort to make realistic bullet holes for this impromptu personal project.

All things considered, I’m very pleased.  My only goal was to make something creative, and this is far above my expectations for a last-minute photo shoot.  Huge thanks to Brandt for going along with me on this random adventure!

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