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How Many Canon EOS-1D X DSLRs Does It Take to Freeze Time? Apparently 50…

By Hanssie on July 23rd 2014

The bullet time effect was made famous in the late 1990’s with the movie The Matrix. It takes multiple cameras working in unison to create the slow motion effect where time seems to freeze, yet the camera is still moving around them. To recreate the effect and do it well, it usually takes a production crew and a large Hollywood budget. Something a public broadcast documentary doesn’t have, but one Swiss production company, DokLab made it happen.


They needed 50 cameras and 50 lenses for a shot that they envisioned to conclude a segment for a Swiss TV show that showcased extreme sports for a public broadcaster. The particular segment was about bungee surfing, a sport where surfers use bungee cords to catapult them up river. So DokLab asked Canon, who happened to have 50 Canon EOS-1D-X‘s and Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 II USM’s on hand (in preparation for the World Athletics Championships in Moscow).

Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 9.32.23 PM

With half a million dollars in equipment, the team at DokLab, who incidentally had never used the 1D-X before, set out to unbox 50 cameras and lenses, set them up to all the same settings (1/1000sec at f/2.8, ISO 800) and place them on the rig. “We set-up one camera and used a CF card to copy and paste the profile and chosen custom settings to the rest of the cameras, so they were all the same. That was important.” said one of the cameramen, Pierre Reischer. They also had to devise a way to trigger all 50 cameras at the exact same time.

After the shoot was completed, it took 2 weeks to edit the 10 second clip, but in the end, the team says it was well worth the effort and the client was ecstatic. Watch the “making of” video below (it’s in German, but it’s still pretty spectacular to see the set up).

Read more about the shoot and see some great behind the scenes images over on the Canon Professional Network. I’m going to go ask Canon if they’d let me borrow a few 1D-X cameras.

[Via CPN/Digital Trends/ Images via Screengrabs]

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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Sean John Zanderecza

    reminds me of the 360 projects on vimeo :)

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  2. David De Fotograaf

    DokLab gains it’s 5 minutes of fame. :) (and Canon gains a bit of fame to.)
    Nice end result…

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  4. Herm Tjioe

    Bullet time in 4K video resolution . . . achievement unlocked. Stacking together RED Dragons is considerably more expensive

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  5. Chris Nigul

    This ‘freezing time’ thing was done with canon cameras over a year ago.. Nothing to brag about imo.

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  6. Kevin Nguyen

    The is a fun way to play around with half a million dollars :)

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  7. Miklos Terei

    This must be very hard to set up, but I also feel that with such resources they could have done better. Dear Canon, please give me a try!

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  9. Mike Roux

    A waste of resources if you ask me. All those 1DX’s and the bullet time effect it’s smooth. Devinsupertramp (youtube) would have done a better job with just one camera :P

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    • Drew Valadez

      at the end of the video i was impressed and then thought why couldn’t they of done this with 5Diii or cheaper 6D instead? The 1Dx i touted for it’s build and AF speed and neither was an element in this video. They could of done the same thing with a Rebel or even an Sl1 for that matter.

      Marketing dept at work.

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    • Stan Rogers

      Two words: shutter lag. Not only did they need to minimize it altogether, they needed it to be absolutely consistent shot-to-shot (to within a small fraction of a millisecond) on each of the cameras. You can adjust the timing circuit to account for the differences between individual, consistent cameras, but you can’t adjust it to account for shot-to-shot variations between cameras — and if the response isn’t sufficiently quick, the amount of delay added by the timing circuit would make motion capture very hit-and-miss. (You can only adjust by adding delay; there is no way yet to subtract time.) The equipment cost is a small part of the overall cost of a shoot like this.

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  10. Jeff Lopez

    Couldn’t understand a word but still a very cool video and effect. Am I the only one annoyed by the fact that every camera had a strap attached to it? Just seems like the straps would just be in the way.

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    • Drew Valadez

      I would think the straps would be necessary when each camera is handled individually prior and post mounting on rail.

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