Fake High Speed Photography

To control the hitting of a golf ball and avoid shooting at 2500 frames we faked it. The club was swung by gravity from a bearing at shoulder height and hit the ball perfectly every time. We shot at 200 frames with the Photosonics 4ML, which gets the lens very close to the ground and avoided digging a hole. To simulate a real higher speed shot we planted pieces of grass that flew as real 2500 fps shots would show. We included the golfer's feet rocking as he would have if really hitting the ball. Of course the ball did not distort like it would if really hit at full speed. Aligning the shot so the rig shadow didn't show was a challenge.

One time we placed the ball onto the shot on an arm from behind the ball at 12 FPS and then hit it at 200 FPS. We kept the same exposure and depth of field by removing a ND filter. This was on stage with sod and of course with a lot of light.

Another time we needed shoes floating at and by the camera. A 200 FPS 16 mm test of throwing the shows proved that control was impossible, so we rigged the shoes on threads and dollied them by and at camera. For a close-up we rigged shoes on glass that arced around the camera lens. The glass supporting the shoe pivoted around the lens flat to camera so that reflections of the shoe would be behind the shoe and not be seen by the lens. The shoe also turned as it fell through the shot with a small battery powered remote control motor inside the shoe. For wider shots the shoes dropped on threads.

To see the shoes "falling" from a building we built the side of the building laying flat and dollied dozens of shoes hung just under camera on a grid rigged to overhead dollies. This was before the great rigging wire available today. A lot of threads broke.

Another time we needed live babies falling like the opening to the movie "Garp" into the hands of mother's arms. We shot down at babies that were rotated on their backs on a 5' Plexiglas turn table with a cloud background traveling up behind them giving the illusion of them falling. Mom lay down and her catching arms were dollied to catch the baby from under the camera. The clouded sky was a continuous 50 x 9 foot roll of sky blue paper with clouds air brushed on. Two 4 inch diameter rollers, one motorized, moved the paper. Lighting was not easy with all the rigs to tend with.

To simulate falling cereal flakes at high speed, we rotated the flakes on shafts motorized from behind a plain background. (No detail in background to give away illusion.) The camera dollied up to simulate flakes falling down.

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