ALTERING THE FOCUS
Reel EFX, Los Angeles, constructed a rig comprised of 60 still cameras to capture the chefs at work in the TGI Friday's kitchen for five spots with tabletop director Tom Ryan out of Dallas-based Directorz. The Multicam footage was shot in one day for Dallas based Publicis.
Diretorz wanted a modular multi-cam system that would allow Ryan to pan and dolly at the same time. With a 60-camera rig, Ryan was able to execute a dolly shot, altering its focus along the way.
"What he did was shoot a bunch of stills and then turn them into a flip-book so that you could actually analyze motion," explains Bomalick. The Reel EFX camera rig is designed to mimic the flip-book, allowing its creators to freeze motion and identify its individual parts.
"Boiled down its lowest common denominator that's pretty much in essence what you have - a timed, sequenced, flip-book. That's grossly oversimplifying, but that is basically what it turns out to be." Describes Bomalick. Using the Muybridge principle, Reel EFX constructed its first modular camera rig in late '95 to capture the flight of a tennis ball served at over 100 MPH by Andre Aggassi in a Nike spot for Tony Kaye Productions.
"We set up an array of cameras going in one direction with a panning motion in them hydraulically controlled and programmed through a computer," says Bomalick. "We then set up another 50 cameras just above it for return of service. That way we can pan the cameras, freeze the ball, and the background goes by in a blur. It imparts the speed and the motion yet focuses on the ball."
There is an inverse relationship between the number of cameras in the rig and the actual screen footage.
"If you have a three-second shot, and you're shooting at 30 frames per second, it's going to take 90 cameras to achieve that," explains Bomalick. "And if you're shooting at 24 frames a second, it's going to take actually fewer cameras because each camera represents one frame of film."
The rig used in the Friday's spots, is a refined version of the one used by Tony Kaye. The track was laid in the shape of a fishhook around the chef and the grill, allowing the cameras to process from the beginning to the end of the Array, panning and zooming in on the steak dinner.
"And the ability on the gear-heads to change your camera's angle within the layout enables us unlimited possibilities of catching the direction of the dolly shot," adds Bomalick.
The modular camera rig is versatile and can be arranged to capture high speed movements, from various lines of vision.
"Whatever the director envisions the path of sight to be, we can mimic with a variety of curved and straight tracking," says Bomalick. "We position the cameras along that track so we accomplish the speed of the move, meaning the farther the cameras are apart, the faster the dolly move. If the cameras are positioned every one foot, the moves goes very slow. If I space the cameras every 10 feet then it seems as though we're covering a huge distance in a short span of time, which means we've covered a really fast speed move."
Reel EFX also does posting so that the framework is completed before it goes the flame artist. "We do post work like digital color correction and stabilization here on our NT work stations; we hand off a completed DLT or CD ROM format with continuous color and image stabilization amongst our 100 frames so that they can put it on the flame for final transfer."
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