Ben Dolphin Talks About HIGH SPEED SHOOTING

This was a very interesting BUZZ that I found today and wanted to share with you.

Combining a blend of art, science, and advertising, Ben Dolphin has danced at Lincoln Center, created 3 Dance Films and won 2 Emmy’s, an Addy and Silver AD&D awards. As a dancer, he was part of the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater and Twyla Tharp Dance Companies.

He is a Phantom Camera Master in every sense of the word, and I am sure that many of you have seen his state of the art high-speed/slow-motion image capture for companies like Lindt, Dove, 7-Up, Budweiser, Lancome, L’Oreal, and so many more. You might have thought that they were too good to be video, that they were CG, but having watched him in action, these are all pure video magic.  I spoke with him recently, and we had a fantastic conversation about the High-Speed shooting. I’ll let his words and thoughts on the matter speak for themselves.

Today slow motion is ubiquitous. With the speed at which we consume content, and the accelerated pacing aimed at hooking our attention immediately, audiences long to experience a sense of visual relief. Slow motion provides the perfect opportunity for brands to offer just that. However, it remains vital that the message should match the medium.

How fast is high speed exactly?100, 500, 1,000, 2,000, a million(fps) frames per second? At only 1,000 frames per second (fps), a mere ¼ of a second event provides almost 10 of slow-motion playback. The yield is plentiful, and at a time when a single shoot must cover many months of social and digital assets, this feature is of particular interest.

So, why shoot high speed? Slow motion accentuates action that has been conventionally too fast to be seen clearly. It emphasizes narrative details, product features, and character development by presenting the viewer with an abundance of valuable new information and more time to experience the micro-moment. Even the seemingly most mundane scenes can benefit from being filmed in slow motion.

Take a smile, for instance; seeing the birth of a grin can create a narrative and speak volumes about the character at hand. MINUTE MAID  Slow motion is also an exceptionally effective tool to heighten the emotional connection between action and the viewer.

It is instantaneously attention-grabbing, distilling focus and making the invisible visibleARISING  Furthermore, slow-motion invites us into the intrinsic mechanics of an action, be it pouring a glass of wine or shooting a basketball. We are privy to each stage and each moment on the most elemental basis. The result is an authenticity few techniques offer brands otherwise. Slow motion celebrates simplicity, without needing to stylistically distract the viewer. This direct perception engenders an intimacy between the viewer and the material.LINDT


When is high speed called for?

When a wide pallet of media is available, high speed is best suited to accentuate brief events. Occasions of impact, collision, explosions and intrinsically rapid action are obvious choices but powerful moments packed with emotion and challenge also benefit. Food and beverage brands in particular turn toward the advantage of high speed, as it accentuates taste appeal. The actions of individual ingredients, flavors, and liquid components are choreographed to highlight and individuate their qualities in a fashion the viewer may overlook with a macro or graphic approach, let’s say.

DECADENT DELIGHTS  If we wish to emphasize a specific quality of a product (DOVE, creaminess) or bring powerful attention to a branding issue (TROPICANA, pulp), we design brief nano-events, which demonstrate those desired properties when filmed in high speed. This is easier said than done. Filming one of these “Nano Momentsapparent” requires the focus and coordinated efforts of the entire production team.

The Camera, Light, Grip and Special EFX effect upon operate collectively and precisely to control the custom rigs, capable of capturing each choreographed element with split-second timing. Even when a shoot plans to incorporate high speed, there’s exciting collateral, playback, when even familiar and premeditated events yield new and spontaneous information. 7UP

How does high speed affect time?

 Filming high speed requires a high-speed camera and powerful lights. The faster you shoot, the slower the playback. If you drop something into the water, how long does it take to submerge? (TECATE) How long are things suspended in air during that moment they change from up to down? FLYING FOOD Time becomes elastic since the creative now has control over the rhythm of the drama based upon how time is expressed, making high speed experienceimmensely valuable in assessing the outcome.

In moving images, we use Dynamic Velocity Ramping, changing the speed during a shot to suit the rhythm of our narrative. We may stretch or speed up time as an accentuating feature. LIPTON PEACH We already mentioned food and beverage brands benefit from the use of slow motion, but live action and dance are organic fits as well. It allows a performer to steal time, then pay it back later, focusing on the suspense of a specific action. This is called “Rubato” and means quite literally, to rob. For example, a ballerina moves frighteningly fast, stealing time for her final magnificently long held balance, or a musician takes his “sweet” time only to end with a swift flourish on the beat.

The payoff of high speed

We innately seek and desire new information, something slow motion delivers. By framing moments in poetic grandeur and giving insight to the otherwise un-seeable, slow motion and its extension of time provides the viewer with a deepened perspective. As the content landscape continues to grow and diversify, an emphasis on preserving the art of storytelling is paramount. Certain things only happen super-fast.  But meaning may take a few moments to experience.

Ben Dolphin



NOTE: All high speed examples are from Ben Dolphin’s work.

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