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360-degree bullet-time light-painting in Macau, China

28 Jun 2017

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From Montreal to China. This is the second city of a fabulous tour we did with Intel recently (Madrid, Macau, Dallas). Our mission over there was to create real-time light-painting pictures with the attendees of their event. 

Our test shots turned into magic when we incorporated a carpet blower. A great surprise we never expected. 

Since we started doing outdoors light-painting, we’ve been avoiding wind the best we could (wind and long-exposure are usually not matching very well), but Kim made me notice that I was sometimes able to freeze her hair in the air. It was not very obvious at the beginning and it didn’t make much sense to me, but on a very windy day at Death Valley, we got this incredible shot where there was no doubt about it. 

tube light-painting at death-valley

Even if it was a long exposure, her air got perfectly frozen. Fast forward a few months later, we find ourselves in China doing studio images in a full 360 degree environment, and the inner part of the black structure is smelling so bad (a very strong chemical smell) that we had to ask for a fan to let the air come out. But what they provided was a huge carpet blower (that’s what you rent when you need to dry your carpet after a flood!). Kim said, ok, let’s use it! Let’s make the best out of it. We had that Death Valley image in mind, and we knew we could freeze her hair, but this time in full 360. 

Oh wait, we were absolutely not prepared for what we saw! We were sure of getting a fully frozen image, but instead, we got this beautiful flow of her hair. What happened? The cameras are triggering in perfect sync, there’s no way we could get that kind of movement. The answer lies in the fact that the picture is taken with a one second exposure duration. During that second, if we were super careful having the hair flowing in the same direction as my tube movement, then we would get that result! We’ve been able to reproduce it many times. Now this was made with only 39 cameras, but we can’t wait to try it with 84 or even 132 cameras when we’ll setup back the rig in Montréal. This is going to be much smoother.

In this video, we also explain how Xangle Camera Server works (our custom web based solution to control, calibrate, trigger, sync our cameras).

Finally, we had had the chance to do some outdoors light-painting by the bridge with our new best friend Wong. We found us this perfect location where you can see the 360 Café on the left side (and this is where we ended up the night)

tube light-painting in Macau

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