How The Insane Bar Scene From “The Other Guys” Was Shot

One of my favorite scenes of all time is the crazy Bullet Time scene in the bar in “The Other Guys” featuring Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg.

In that scene Allen and Terry go through a whole night of crazy drinking in under a minute with the entire scene frozen in bullet time. Unlike other bullet time scenes, like the one in the matrix, this scene was shot using a single camera on rails. The camera was programmed to repeatedly follow the same path while different elements of the scene were filmed. This combined with stuntmen who can hold pose for a long time and a bunch of CGI effect created one of the best bullet time shots I know.

How The Insane Bar Scene From "The Other Guys" Was Shot

Here is a behind the scenes look that shows how the final composite was done.

Here is how co-writer/director Adam McKay explains it to MTV:

“…The film’s most visually stunning scene is one that even James Cameron might applaud. It’s a freeze-frame, continuous-shot bar scene in which Ferrell and Wahlberg are caught mid-action in a series of drunken incidents. The scene honestly defies easy explanation, which is why we waited until now to reveal how McKay captured it.

“My DP, Oliver Wood, and I had seen this Phillips short film with cops fighting clowns,” he explained. “We loved it, but I think that cost $4 million to shoot. At first we were going to do digital camera stills, and I just thought that was boring and we kind of did that already on ‘Talladega Nights.’ Then Oliver said, ‘I think we can do the Phillips thing,’ and in four days we came up with the plan.

“We got this motion-capture camera that you program so the camera moves exactly the same every time,” he added. “It was similar to what they did in ‘The Matrix’ with the flying bullets. They weren’t wearing motion-capture suits. I wish I had thought of that. I would have made Will wear one for no reason. We just wrote joke scenarios of a night gone horribly wrong. We went to this bar on the Upper West Side [of Manhattan] and shot it in half a day. We cast stuntmen and women who could hold poses. Our special effects company, Evil Eye, added all these funny elements.”#

Here is how this scene was originally shown in the movie.

P.S. Of course, if you don’t have access to high end movie camera with motion control and rails that span a whole bar, you can always crowd-source bullet time.