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High Speed Shooting, Why And How?
- Friday, Oct. 12, 2018
Shooting High Speed Creates Slow Motion and Here’s Why People Love It...
NEW YORK - By Director/Cinematographer Ben Dolphin
Today slow motion is ubiquitous. With the speed at which we consume content, and the accelerated pacing aimed at hooking our attention immediately, audiences long to experience a sense of visual relief. Slow motion provides the perfect opportunity for brands to offer just that. However, it remains vital that the message should match the medium.
How fast is high speed exactly?
100, 500, 1,000, 2,000, a million(fps) frames per second? At only 1,000 frames per second (fps), a mere ¼ of a second event provides almost 10 of slow motion playback. The yield is plentiful, and at a time when a single shoot must cover many months of social and digital assets, this feature is of particular interest.
So, why shoot high speed?
Slow motion accentuates action that has been conventionally too fast to be seen clearly. It emphasizes narrative details, product features and character development by presenting the viewer with an abundance of valuable new information and more time to experience the micro moment.
Even the seemingly most mundane scenes can benefit from being filmed in slow motion. Take a smile, for instance; seeing the birth of a grin can create a narrative and speak volumes about the character at hand. See work example here: MINUTE MAID
Slow motion is also an exceptionally effective tool to heighten the emotional connection between action and viewer. It is instantaneously attention grabbing, distilling focus and making the invisible visible. See work example here: ARISING
Furthermore, slow motion invites us into the intrinsic mechanics of an action, be it pouring a glass of wine or shooting a basketball. We are privy to each stage and each moment on the most elemental basis. The result is an authenticity few techniques offer brands otherwise. Slow motion celebrates simplicity, without needing to stylistically distract the viewer. This direct perception engenders an intimacy between the viewer and the material. See work example here: LINDT
When is high speed called for?
When a wide pallet of media are available, high speed is best suited to accentuate brief events. Occasions of impact, collision, explosions and intrinsically rapid action are obvious choices but powerful moments packed with emotion and challenge also benefit.
Food and beverage brands in particular turn toward the advantage of high speed, as it accentuates taste appeal. The actions of individual ingredients, flavors and liquid components are choreographed to highlight and individuate their qualities in a fashion the viewer may overlook with a macro or graphic approach, let's say. See work example below or here: DECADENT DELIGHTS
If we wish to emphasize a specific quality of a product (see work example here: DOVE, creaminess) or bring powerful attention to a branding issue (see work example here:TROPICANA, pulp), we design brief nano-events, which demonstrate those desired properties when filmed in high speed.
This is easier said than done. Filming one of these “Nano Moments,” requires the focus and coordinated efforts of the entire production team. The Camera, Light, Grip and Special EFX teams must operate collectively and precisely to control the custom rigs, capable of capturing each choreographed element with split-second timing.
Even when a shoot plans to incorporate high speed, there's an exciting collateral effect upon playback, when even familiar and premeditated events yield new and spontaneous information. See work example here: 7UP
How does high speed affect time?
Filming high speed requires a high-speed camera and powerful lights. The faster you shoot, the slower the playback. If you drop something into water, how long does it take to submerge? (see work example TECATE) How long are things suspended in air during that moment they change from up to down? See work example here: FLYING FOOD
Time becomes elastic, since the creative now has control over the rhythm of the drama based upon how time is expressed, making high speed experience immensely valuable in assessing the outcome. See work example here: See work example here: IGNITE
In moving images, we use Dynamic Velocity Ramping, changing the speed during a shot to suit the rhythm of our narrative. We may stretch or speed up time as an accentuating feature. See work example here: See work example here: LIPTON PEACH
We already mentioned food and beverage brands benefit from the use of slow motion, but live action and dance are organic fits as well. It allows a performer to steal time, then pay it back later, focusing on the suspense of a specific action. This is called “Rubato” and means quite literally, to rob. For example, a ballerina moves frighteningly fast, stealing time for her final magnificently long held balance, or a musician takes his “sweet” time only to end with a swift flourish on the beat.
The payoff of high speed
We innately seek and desire new information, something slow motion delivers. By framing moments in poetic grandeur and giving insight to the otherwise un-seeable, slow motion and its extension of time provides the viewer a deepened perspective.
As the content landscape continues to grow and diversify, an emphasis on preserving the art of storytelling is paramount. Certain things only happen super-fast. But meaning may take a few moments to experience.
About The Author
Ben Dolphin, a native New Yorker, is an elite commercial tabletop and live action director/cinematographer, creating TV commercials on five continents. A world renowned for High Speed/Slow Motion shooting liquids, cosmetics, food, fashion, beauty, gold & diamond jewelry and pharmaceuticals using emerging technologies such as: 8K, 6K, VIZ EFX, Phantom Flex 4K Camera, BOLT high speed motion control and Advanced Rigging with an experienced personal bag of “Production Tricks” to create his State The Art Images. 2 EMMYs®, an ADDY and a Silver AD&D award have been awarded to Ben’s work. NOTE: All high speed examples are from Ben Dolphin’s work.
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