The following is a tutorial on how to build your own cheap, portable and hood-style bullet time camera rig on the cheap and the fly. This rig was designed by the Graffiti Research Lab and director Dan the Man to use in a hip-hop music video for underground rappers Styles P, AZ and the legendary Large Professor (spinning below). Just another chapter in the GRL's continuing mission to make open source the sixth element of hip-hop.

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...
viviluk7 years ago
wowa! this is intense
RussNelson7 years ago
Do they have to keep saying fuck and mother fucker? And, not to whine too much, but the beauty of the bullet time effect is that in the Matrix, they go from movement, to stoppage, to movement. I watched the whole video and didn't see one instance of movement/stoppage/movement.
just throw a video recorder at the end of the line of cameras
I somewhat agree, they did actually a chieve a very nice low budget bullet time RIG, but I am a little disappointed that it wasn't used to full advantage. Since I haven't done an instructable yet, I assume I'll get some attitude for making a negative comment... This is not to knock Grafitti Research Lab at all. I'm a big fan of their inventive projects and daring and all, but with that rig, I would just want to make some footage that really rocked our collective world. The effect as GRL used it in this film (the bullet time shots) I believe I could do a similar thing with one video camera and a handful of still images, and Adobe's sick new Creative Suite... and leave some money in the kitty for the wrap party's supplies. In fact, I guess I am just gonna have to see what I can do to put up an instructable about it,. All my comments notwithstanding, I think this was an excellent project, maybe not Grand Prize material, but really up there in the winning zone.
i agree and posted to the likes. i like what they did but can we say overkill.
DjProToJeeX7 years ago
i think it woulda been cheaper to just make a track and a high speed camera and just have to roll start to finish like how it was actually done. seems like a lot of extra stuff for how to do bullet time. its a great concept probably the easiest for the basic user to make, to do this effect and the most expensive. and i agree with russ nelson. thats not the matrix effect at all. i think this instructable is 100 percent over kill. ive seen a group called digital visions do this effect first hand a few times with a much simpler rig for the 420 outlaws. and i thought this guide would be along the same lines as there rig. and as i saw it my first and only remaining thought is. why would you do it with so many cameras. it worked but the question is not if it would work. its with that many cameras dang how couldnt you get that effect to work.
alleyezonme7 years ago
I've seen people made this 4 times... It was presented at a mall once. its pretty cool when they show the results. they charge 2 bucks though...
micronxd7 years ago
Wow.... you guys have done outdone urselves again! I friggin love it!
bullitje7 years ago
wow this sure is one of the best and most intense instructables ive ever seen
Tailslvr7_77 years ago
wow... this is sweet!
rogerthis7 years ago
Seriously cool. It looks like you are working with long exposures exclusively from what you have said. . . can you get decent sync if you wanted to trigger the shutters all at the same time? Decent for me would be 1/200 or faster. I am doing something similar with an array of Nikon 4300's but i have to use a long exposure and a strobe to freeze action.
sparkysteve7 years ago
Cool! You could make this much cheaper and use only 1 camera! You will need to make a track on an arc along which the camera will travel. Then set the camera on multiple shots at what ever frame rate you require. Then set the camera taking shots and push,drag around the arc on the track. You can play with fps and speed along the track to get better images. Nice work!
That wouldn't work. It would if all you were doing was the rotation/bullet time, but for the light writing, it wouldn't work because light doesn't float in the air to let you take multiple photos of it lol. Good idea though if all you want is a cheap bullet time.
DavidD7 years ago
I am surprised it won as well. This isn't new and people have been using throw-away digital camera that were mod'ed to achieve this as well.
Fatvod7 years ago
I dont think this deserved it honestly. I think its fantastic and a very creative instructable. But who the hell on this site is gonna be able to afford a grand to build this thing??? I mean most instructables are something anyone can do with minimal cost. But id be suprised if more than 2 people build this thing. Im not trying to criticize this I think its very cool but not worthy of the prize.
super0cow7 years ago
its cool and all but who has 24 digital cameras
Brennn107 years ago
Congratulations on winning the Laser Cutter Challenge!
lil8devel7 years ago
fuuucking dope.
uguy lil8devel7 years ago
I wonder who is the dope?
That Picasso light drawing was taken by Gjon Mili, not Man Ray, genius though he was.
albesure4447 years ago
Hey guys its Al great job on the Instructables! what no props to me! hahaha I Just Started working on Ghetto Matrix 2 its all metal pipe. No more struggling to put it together! I'm making a curved stand and a straight line stand.
fi5e (author)  albesure4447 years ago
Yo! Heard about it from Dan, can't wait to see it. Don't worry, we got you shouted proper on step 14 and here:

Looking forward to Ghetto Matrix Reloaded.
camscam7 years ago
Graffiti Research Lab brings it AGAIN. Clever Bas7ards over there. Genius.
MediaMarc7 years ago
hmm.. i should read better.. didn't see the shout-outs..

shutting up now =\
MediaMarc7 years ago
Very nice work, you should also check out Pips Lab! These guys are at it for YEARS and have done some groundbreaking stuff!!!

I remember seeing one of the founders first projects about 11 years ago!!! I think it was one of the first executions of bullit-time, all done for under $20 dollars!!!

Some day, when i have time, i will make an Instructable about this but maybe someone else catches on..

Basically it's a PVC-tube with holes cut into it on 1 side, the size of a throw-away-camera-lens. Glue about 36 lenses (get them for free at your photoshop) behind the 36 holes with a distance between each lens that corresponds to 1 frame of conventional film size. Then, in a darkened room, pull a lenght of film through the PVC-tube, make sure that the film does not twist inside so that each lens has a nice piece of film behind it (this requires a LOT of fiddling). Once the tube is installed correctly, and perhaps bent in a nice arc, get your buckets of water, set up your target (your cat?) in center of the PVC-tube, get your Flash ready (strobe or conventional camera flash) and FIRE.. then get out the film, develop, scan, sequence et VOILA!!

Again, this was done for under $20 dollars, and has produces some really spectacular results!!!
Thats Amazing
whatsisface7 years ago
Awesome, I've always wanted to have a bash at this.
torsten7 years ago
cool, cool. one step ahead of one of my old projects.
did this with 8 cameras and a bunch of friends within 4 ours
not that smooth but 2 years ago. it aint easy being cheesy!
ahead7 years ago
This cool. I think I can accomplish this instructable with a single camera. Thanks for the great idea!
royalestel7 years ago
Final Cut pro and Shake both have optical flow retiming, which you can use just as easily, but with better results than crossfading. The software basically does automatic morphing between frames, it's not perfect, but it is much better than cross-dissolve.
You know, the latest version of premiere has optical flow as well, but it's a lot harder to use, as I recall.
Toulouse7 years ago
This is very cool. I saw a picture somewhere of the matrix green screen room, and it's pretty much the same setup just with a full 360* of camera's. The video is pretty slick too. Love the 3d effects! Great Instructable!
The difference is that all the cameras fire in sequence instead of the same time.

Grooved up...am playing with light and cameras too...have a look at some of my images from the Xmas break...Jahogg
What an amazing and detailed project. Thank you for sharing it with us. :D
FEARstyle7 years ago
The only step they are missing here is the removal of the camera's in post. See one viewer pointed out that you can see the cameras on either side at the start and end of the clip. Well this is obvious and can be fixed. How i would remidy this and this is how they do it in the industry is simply take a second set of shots without the action going on or the actor(s) in the shot. Remove the actor and so forth take the shot again but in two parts. remove the cameras physically that are in the frame before taking the photo on either side. Now to make this easier and get the cameras back in place id love to see some sort of registration system so you can move the cameras from the scene and get them back to their nearest possible location. Now that i have a photo without anything or any one or the cameras in it i can rotoscope the cameras out. Simple edit add's a few hours work but this way you wont have the rig or the cams in the scene at the end.
Could you also use a lens with a short focal length so that the background cameras were out of focus? Although, I suppose that depending on the scene you would *want* to have the background (minus the cameras)
With the way the rig is set up, they get a bit of a mis-bug: a former problem that acts as a solution. As I see it, the whole thing is in two halves, so it's just a matter of removing the clamp and shooting an actor-free scene with the same settings on one half, then installing the other half and removing the first and doing the same. That way any camera's image has a spare image with just the background and no actors or rigging — a clear shot to photoshop in to any frame.
This is so cool! Love QRL!