Your Guide To High Speed

Part 1: Introduction

Summary: In this video, Ryan gives an overview of what will be covered in our multi-part series on high speed filmmaking, as well as defines high speed video and how it is used.

Length: 3:04 minutes

Video Lesson


High speed video is sexy right? I mean, you slow down your average action shot and now you have something with style and grace and a lot more production value. But shooting high speed video isn’t quite as straightforward as you might think. So we teamed up with Via Films in order to bring you this series on shooting high-speed video so that you can walk away with footage you can actually use.

What Is High Speed?

Riding A Bull At High Speed (CS001)
So what is high speed video? Technically high speed video is video recorded at high frame rates for playback at a slower frame rate, which results in slow motion. In the industry we call this “overcranking.” For example, action recorded at 48 frames per second and played back at 24 frames per second will be half the speed as what we normally see.

Old Fashioned Crank Camera (CS001)
The term “overcranking” comes from the very early days when film cameras used to be cranked by hand. Cranking the camera at a higher rate fed film through the camera faster, creating more frames per second.

Phantom Flex 4K Frame Rate Options (CS001)
The faster the recorded frame rate, the slower the playback can look. While there are a lot of VERY fancy computer programs and plugins that can take standard frame rates and give the look of slow motion, the results typically do not look as smooth as capturing it at high speed in camera.

Bullet Through Frozen Red Flower At High Speed (CS001)
In this series we are going to take a detailed look at shooting high speed video. We will cover the basics of choosing appropriate frame rates for different subjects and actions, what triggering methods are best with each kind of events, common workflows, and the special considerations to be aware of when it comes to lighting. We’ll top it off by comparing the results of different high speed cameras shooting at various frame rates.

Girl With Glitter At High Speed (CS001)
High speed video, or slow motion, can be a very effective tool to use in your storytelling tool belt. You can subtly add weight to a shot by recording it at 30 frames per second and playing it back at 24 frames per second, or you can go extreme and record at 1,000 frames per second. But regardless of your choice of frame rate, slow motion is most effective when it is used to add emphasis to an action. For example, pouring water on tomatoes doesn’t look as lush and inviting at regular speed as it does when it is recorded at high speed. Water gently cascading over tomatoes adds grace to the action, more than the reality of a cup of water being dumped on it. This added styling is a helpful tool to use if you are marketing your fresh produce.

Final Thoughts

So before you go out and shoot something in slow motion just because you can, ask yourself how it’s contributing to the story you are telling. If it’s not adding to it, then it is taking away from it. And that’s never a good thing.

So what do you like most about slow-motion video? Or what are some of your favorite shots from a feature film or commercial that you’ve seen? Or where have you ever seen slow motion video applied wrong? Let me know by leaving a comment below. And if you have any questions, ask away, and I’ll be sure to respond.

Tools We Used

Camera / Audio

High Speed Cameras

Interview Camera Package

Behind the Scenes (BTS) Cameras

Lighting / Grip Gear

How To Cinematically Light A Corporate Video (Cinematic Lighting Lesson 20)
How To Light Quickly (Cinematic Lighting Lesson 19)
Your Guide To High Speed, Part 6: Five Tips For A Successful Shoot
Your Guide To High Speed, Part 5: Lighting Six High Speed Sets
Your Guide To High Speed, Part 4: Common Lighting Problems
Your Guide To High Speed, Part 3: Camera Operation & Workflow
Your Guide To High Speed, Part 2: Frame Rate
Your Guide To High Speed, Part 1: Introduction
Lighting For Extreme Frame Rates (Cinematic Lighting Lesson 21)
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