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Creating a high-speed shutter effect

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Ray Stark
Creating a high-speed shutter effect
on Feb 26, 2010 at 2:02:38 am

Hello...I very much like the high-speed shutter effect used in many action sequences (e.g. Gladiator) and sports footage where there's no blurring and an almost strobe-like feel is created in the action. I can create this effect by shooting in absolute bright daylight with the shutter cranked as high as it can go and the aperture opened wide.

Lately, I've been seeing horror/action movies that take place in near darkness (e.g. The Descent) and still have this same high-speed shutter effect. Can anyone explain how this is done with little-to-no light? Or is this an simulated effect created in post?

Thanks for any advice!



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Todd Terry
Re: Creating a high-speed shutter effect
on Feb 26, 2010 at 5:39:58 am

Yeah, you see the "narrow shutter" used so much today. Way toooooo much, in my honest opinion. Sometimes it works and is so appropriate (Saving Private Ryan). Other times it renders movies almost unwatchable (Gladiator). But that's just me.

I can't think of any way to simulate this in post. There's no real way to "unblur" or sharpen blurry footage well... and you need the sharp individual frames to create the juddery/stuttery look of the narrow shutter.

[Ray Stark] "Can anyone explain how this is done with little-to-no light?"

I haven't seen any "dark" films that use this effect that I can recall... but my question would be, how do you know there was little-to-no light? I'd suggest that there probably was quite a bit of light on the set... but it appears that the set was dark because of the narrow shutter(film) or high shutter speed (video). Just speculation, but I'm guessing that sufficient light probably combined with higher-speed filmstocks allow the narrow shutters to be used and create this effect.

It definitely makes action scenes look more... well... "actiony."


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Mark Suszko
Re: Creating a high-speed shutter effect
on Feb 26, 2010 at 4:09:05 pm

And they can darken things up more in post when they do the color grading and shading, as well.

In drag racing they have a saying: "There is no substitute for Cubic Inches"

So maybe you need to rent a camera that can overcrank, then apply shutter effects to the extra frames you have to play with in post.


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Richard Herd
Re: Creating a high-speed shutter effect
on Feb 26, 2010 at 6:52:30 pm

You need more light and a good understanding of contrast ratio.

Imagine you want a 1/1000 shutter. The equation is:

Frame Rate * Shutter Angle = Shutter Speed.

We're basically stuck at 1/24 for lip synch. So now it's a matter of algebra.

1/24 * 1/x = 1/1000

x=42
Shutter angle of 1/42 as a degree that's about 7 degrees. So very very very thin shutter angle.

If a "normal" exposure is 1/24 *1/2=1/48, then you need 5 times the amount of light to keep the same f/stop.

Make sense?


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Todd Terry
Re: Creating a high-speed shutter effect
on Feb 26, 2010 at 9:28:10 pm

Good job of explaining that.

Although you don't have to have nearly that high a shutter speed to create that look (1/1000th).

Most film cameras (at least the ones with variable shutters) will go down to 7°, but I've rarely seen them used that much, even when trying for this effect.

It would bear testing, but 1/500th exposure would definitely be more than enough, and 1/250th would probably be just as fine, too. I'd even test 1/125th. Which wouldn't require the tons of light that 1/1000th would. Still a lot, but not nearly as much.


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Richard Herd
Re: Creating a high-speed shutter effect
on Feb 27, 2010 at 6:49:35 pm

thanks for the kinds words. I agree 1/1000 is crazy-talk!


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Ray Stark
Re: Creating a high-speed shutter effect
on Mar 13, 2010 at 12:59:33 am

Thanks for all the info. Fortunately, I have a few months to do some tests before the shoot.


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