The Matrix wowed us with its special effects and sent filmmakers scurrying to replicate the iconic “bullet time” effect in their own scenes. And, as time has gone on, we have seen more and more “off-Hollywood” creators piecing together their own bullet time sequences, particularly for extreme sports. Shots like this require multiple (read: many) cameras and, even when using a GoPro array, are cost-inhibitive to most.
Now, thanks to a research team at Columbia University, this technology may be coming to the masses, using (you guessed it) an iPhone.
The project, headed by Yan Wang, is focused on app development to provide iPhone users with the capabilities of creating their own versions of these iconic shots. The app, called CamSwarm, connects multiple iPhones over a local wi-fi network. With one of the phones designated as the master unit, the app synchronizes the shutters of all the phones to record footage of the same scene from different angles.
Using the devices’ built-in sensors and positioning features, the app provides on-screen indicators to ensure that each phone is the proper distance and perpendicular orientation to the scene or subject. Additionally, it also gives users a look at what the phones next to them are capturing so that they can be sure to get enough overlap in the footage for stitching it together later.
The footage is then taken into a video composer where it is synchronized, and pieces of each “reel” are added together algorithms blending the transitions between them.
Unfortunately, the project is still in development, and no announcements have been made about future commercialized plans for the app. So, at this point, iPhone users will just have to stick with using their phones for the boring stuff…like making feature-length movies.
As this type of technology continues to progress, I can’t wait for the next great fad to start sweeping the Internet by storm…