Peep the vid at the resolution of the proletariat (below):
Or see how the higher-res live here.
Before we even get started I'd like to throw out some shout outs to PIPS:lab, Pikapika and Picasso/Man Ray for their inspiration on this project. Humbly, all the GRL did was create a tool that would enable the director Dan Melamid to remake the Matrix with Neo as a rapper from Yonkers, NY surrounded by the best graf writers in the city using a mash-up of several existing light-drawing techniques and their own hand-styles.
This project started for us when Dan called and asked if we wanted to get involved in a project combining light, graffiti, bullet time, Brooklyn, and rappers on a small budget to create a video for Styles P's the Hardest. Dan explained that to rent a bullet time or time slicing rig in NYC, it could cost as much as $100,000 per day. Luckily for him graffiti writers and graffiti engineers work for coffee and snickers bars. So we all worked together to make a system that only costs $5000-$8000 and takes just two days to make.
For photos of the video shoot travel here.
Big thanks to Dan for inviting us in and allowing us to open source the process in this tutorial.
(More thanks, credits, and shout outs in Step 14... )
The GRL is a F.A.T. Lab Production.
Now let's jack into the Ghetto Matrix...
Step 1: Tools & Materials
Tools For Camera Rig:
- Jig saw
- Crescent wrench
Materials for Camera Rig:
- (24) Digital Cameras w/ remote cable shutter control:
Olympus SP-510 UZ - $299.99 / each or less
This is not the only camera that will work and 24 is not a magic number. This is the camera that worked best for us and 24 is how many cameras we could afford on our budget. If you have more cameras you can make a larger matrix and you can place the cameras closer together. This will result in a more fluid animation covering a larger area. The most important thing you will need to check before purchasing thousands of dollars worth of cameras is that they have a remote cable shutter release. If you want to create the light effect like we did in the video, you will also need a camera that has a has a bulb setting (meaning that when the shutter is pressed it stays open until it is released). This enables you to hold the shutter open to make light drawings.
- 1/2" - 3/4" Plywood:
This will be used to create a wooden platform for the cameras. The amount of wood to complete the arc will depend on the radius of the desired system (see Step 2). Most likely (2) 8' x 4' sheets will suffice. You can find plywood at your local lumber yard and it should cost less than $40 dollars for two lower grade pieces of plywood. It aint gotta be pretty.
- (4) Compact Light Stand:
$ 53.50 / each.
We had these on hand so we used them and they worked well. Any tripod system will work however, so if you are looking to save money there are cheaper alternatives.
- (4) Steel Pipe Flange:
Make sure to get a flange with threading capable of accommodating a short pipe section (mentioned below) and at least four-hole mounting pattern. You can get this at home depot or your local hardware store in the plumbing section for ~ $3 dollars.
- (4) Steel ~2in long and ~1in O.D. Pipe Sections (threaded at atleat one end)
This Pipe section should be able to crew into the pipe flange (above). You will insert the top of the tripod stand into this pipe section to support the platform. You may need to modify the pipe section by drilling a hole into the side of the pipe opposite the thread and tap it. You can use a thumbscrew to act as a set screw on the tripod stand to make a more secure connection. You can get threaded pipe at your local hardware store or home depot for about $2 dollars.
- (24) Bolts - 1" Length, 1/4" diameter, 20 thread-count:
Most 35mm camera bodies accept a 1/4" diameter, 20 thread-count screw, but check this before going to the hardware store. These will be used to attach your camera to the wooden platform. A perhaps better alternative to bolts (which don't allow you to accurately adjust the cameras pan or tilt) would be some heavy duty velcro. This connection is strictly for stabilization purposes so it doesn't need to be anything fancy or industrial. A more flexible, but expensive way to do this is use the swivel on an exiting tripod. This will let you fully (though possibly not accurately) adjust the pan, tilt and yaw of the camera. These bolts are commonly available at your local hardware store and cost about ~$3 - $4 dollars for a box of 100.
Tools for Control Box:
- Soldering iron w/ flux and solder
- wire cutters / strippers
- Phillips head screw driver
- needle nose pliers
- drill with drill bits
- wire ties
- wire anchors
- liquid flux
Most of these tools can be found at your local hardware store or radio shack or have been sourced via online catalog companies.
Materials for Control Box:
I have linked to Radio Shack component because of their omnipresence, but you can beat Radio Shack prices at Digikey, Jameco, etc.
- (3) Spools of Stranded, Insulated, 26-22 AWG Wire - $5.99
- (24) Remote Cable Release (RM-UC1) - $56.99 / each (You will need one of these per camera)
- (1) Project Enclosure (8x6x3") - $6.99
- (25) SPST High-Current Mini Toggle Switch - $2.99 each (single pull single throw will work fine)
- (1) Universal Component PC Board - $3.49
- (4) 6-Position European-Style Terminal Strip - $2.89 / each