Digital trickery

I once saw a still picture (a delphin jumping out of the water) but the camera was animated - turning around the delphin showing a 3d sight of the delphin - just like a hologram . I guess it’s digitally manipulated but still how do they do it ?

No digital manipulation (at least, it can be done without digital manipulation). All they do is set up a whole bunch of cameras (over a hundred, in some cases) on a rail, all pointed to the same relative spot. Then, when the dolphin jumps up out of the water right smack dab in the middle of all those cameras, someone presses a button and they all take a picture at the same time.

Later on, in the studio, they put all those still images in sequence, roll the film, and PRESTO!.. it looks like they managed to freeze time. They didn’t, of course… they just took a snapshot of one moment in time from a whole bunch of different angles.

This method of filming was made most famous in the movie The Matrix (in fact, people often call that effect “The Matrix Effect”), although it’s been in use in some small regard before that movie had been released.

If I can ask a related point, in shots like that how do they get rid of the cameras ?

I mean if you spin more than 180 degrees round your subject then surely you should see the cameras on the other side taking the pictures. I’m assuming that they’re digitally removed but I was wondering if there is some easier ‘trick’ that’s used. Maybe it’s all done with mirrors.

And to add a point to the answer SPOOFE gave, if I have a still picture or even a video of a dolphin jumping out the water I can’t use digital trickery to ‘rotate’ round that dolphin. I could model a dolphin, create a computer graphic and rotate round that. But it’s a modelled dolphin not the original, I don’t know what the back of the original looks like from my picture/video.

I add this 'cos I’ve seen several films where they use ‘digital trickery’ to look behind objects or rotate things when they clearly had no way to get that information. It’s annoying and unrealistic.

( Well it annoys me anyway )


I was going to ask this same question. Makes me wonder too.
I suppose those tricks aren’t that easy, because I can’t recall seeing them in older films while they’re almost common in new ones, like “Matrix”, and nowadays even in commercials (Wilkinson, for example).

That part of the effect is indeed done with digital editing, they just replace the other cameras with a background image. However, it’s not always necessary. If all the cameras were above the object and looking down, for example, you could aim them so no camera sees any other one.

The first feature film to use this effect was the spectacularly awful Wing Commander.

>> I suppose those tricks aren’t that easy

It is not that difficult. All you need is a bunch of cameras ($) and set them off simultaneously. (Although I do believe they do digital interpolation). Some guy had the idea and then we all thought “hey, that’s pretty neat and quite simple – why didn’t I think of that?”

Of course, if your movie is animated, then you can just draw it that way. See the “Princess Fiona kicks ass” scene from Shrek for an example.

I’d remembered reading that the effect was invented in the early 90s. A little bit of google and presto! The fella who had that idea was Dayton Taylor. The link leads to an article he wrote in 1996 about inventing it.

I had the same feeling when I learnt about the steadycam. These things are so simple even I could have thought of them. But I didn’t and someone else got rich in my place.