Bullet time rocket photography

A project log for Silly hardware wishlist

Too simple for a project page & which may never happen.

lion mclionheadlion mclionhead 02/13/2020 at 08:040 Comments

Get the press credentials required to set up remote cameras & set up maybe 50 cameras around a launch pad to get a bullet time pan of the launch.  Bullet time pans were popular 20 years ago & died off as computer animation replaced practical images, the cameras required to get acceptable image quality got a lot more expensive, & people forgot how to do it.

The mane problem is the amount of gear is limited to what people can carry on the bus & the amount of time allocated for camera setup.  It would require the smallest possible cameras in waterproof containers, with tripods.  The triggering would have to be ideally fiber optic, but such a long cable might not be compact enough to fit on the bus.  It wouldn't be practical to run a long wire around a launch pad, either.  This leaves laser optical triggering.  The good news is modern cameras can almost get full motion video at resolution only still cams could get 20 years ago.

The cameras would have to be the cheapest Chinese board cams with the cheapest storage, rather than consumer point & shoots.  They'd have to be foldable into ordinary luggage, like starlink satellites, then unfold into full waterproof containers with tripods.  The keychain cams of long ago would be small enough, but too expensive.

They'd relay the trigger in a daisychain, with each camera firing a laser at the next camera.  The laser relay would have to be a separate box from the camera.  Because of the intermittent communication, the laser relay would transmit a time code & the cameras would have preset times to shoot.  An IR relay might do a better job.  It might be easier to record full motion video at a higher framerate than the accuracy of the trigger, in which case the cameras would only need separate sound triggers with no laser link.

They would need modes to test the triggering & the framing with a phone.  Some kind of removable dongle would communicate with the phone.

Power consumption would have to be low enough to stay in standby mode with batteries cheap enough to buy 50 of.  It's almost reasonable to build up a proof of concept with fewer cameras, even though lions will never live close enough to a launchpad to do the real thing.  The proof of concept could be a replacement for the automated tracking camera, but the trick is the subject would have to stand in the right place instead of relying on the cameras to track her.