Creating A Cheap Bullet Time For Ice Bucket Challenge

So, it took a couple of weeks, but I was finally nominated to do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

I was going to skip the ice bucket and just make a donation, but then I read this article on Vice about the challenge and the disease. I realised that I didn’t know anything about ALS until this campaign, and it sound horrific, so I thought I’d do my part spreading the word further.

I decided that I should use the video is incentive to try and experiment with some camera work. I had seen a few cool slow-mo versions of the challenge already so I thought I should try and take it further and attempt a bullet time effect.

Initially I thought about trying the traditional bullet time technique, getting 10 GoPros, mounting them in an arc and stitching the multiple angles together afterwards. I sent an e-mail around the office to see if I could borrow enough cameras, but it was the long weekend and people wanted to use their GoPros.

One of the replies to the e-mail pointed me to this page that featured this clip:

I had seen this clip before but had completely forgotten about it.

I didn’t have a ceiling fan mount, and I didn’t fancy setting up something electrical and then tipping water all over it, so I decided to create a manual version.

I took my girlfriend’s hula hoop and tied two pieces of rope across at 90 degrees to each other so it could hang flat. We hung the hoop above my head on an exercise frame that my friend has in his back garden and rotated the ring about 15 times so the ropes twisted. When we let go of the hoop the twists in the rope cause it to spin.

When I attached the GoPro it obviously unbalanced the setup and prevented it from spinning smoothly, so we needed to mount a second GoPro directly opposite the first one. You can see the other GoPro in the video. We were going to run that one too, to give us an alternative angle, but the battery was flat so it is there purely as counterbalance.

I set the GoPro to 120fps at 720p and turned on ProTune. When I got home I ran the shot through the GoPro software and converted it to Cineform so I could grade the footage slightly. Kept the Cineform file at 120fps but re-interpreted the footage to 30fps in Premier to slow it down.

I think the effect worked pretty well. Next time I will try setting the GoPro to 240fps and see if the drop in resolution ok. It would have also been better if the hoop was spinning faster.

I will also make sure that I frame up the other camera properly next time 🙂

If you want to donate to ALS research try this link: