Getting started with bullet-time: new basic tutorial!

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Hey all! We have a new quick basic video tutorial about how to get started with Bullet-time. This is mostly aimed at getting an overview of what’s important to know. For full details about each steps, the Zendesk is still the reference. You’ll find the full transcript below the video

It used to be very complicated to do multi-camera work, but over the years, we’ve been pushing the technology a lot, aiming to make this (accessible?) for everyone. Here’s a quick video tutorial about how to setup your first bullet-time installation

  • First of all, get your equipment ready. For this demo, we’re going to use 6 DSLR cameras, 6 usb cables, one usb hub, one powerpoint presenter and one computer.

  • Connect the USB cables to the cameras, then to the USB hub, and then the USB hub to the computer

  • Unzip Xangle Camera Server one your desktop and run the software

  • Turn on the cameras one by one, from one to six

  • Make sure you are on manual mode on the cameras.

  • Set auto-power off to disable to avoid losing your cameras (disable the auto-power off setting…)

  • Set the number of cameras to 6 by clicking on the camera status on the top-right corner of the screen. Green color means that all of your cameras are connected. At this point, you should see all of your cameras

  • From the dashboard, click on “Automatically assign camera numbers”

  • Place your calibration bar at the center of your installation. This calibration bar should be black with 2 bright markers at the top and bottom, and a darker one in the middle. Turn on the live view on each camera and align with the bar. Use the grid to help with the precision

  • From Xangle, click on the calibration panel, set your settings to more or less iso200, f4 and 1/200s shutter speed. Click on calibrate, and tweak the settings until you get a perfectly calibrated shot. Once you get a good digital calibration, it becomes your reference and it is going to be applied on each set of pictures you are taking. It comes very handy to carry some black fabric when you’re in a very busy environment. The backlit calibration bar helps a lot for the marker detection

  • Connect the usb dongle to the computer and turn on the device. The trigger button is “b”. You can also use the “b” key on the keyboard, the “b” key on any gamepad, or the trigger button on the dashboard

  • You’re now ready to take your first picture! Change the settings so it make sense with your light condition. For this first shot, we’re going to use 3 LED-panels with continuous light. These are our current settings:

  • To freeze the moment, the best trick is to hold down the button to put the cameras on stand by, and then to release at the exact moment you want the picture to be taken.

  • To view your videos, click on the “Player” tab. You can use the left and right arrows to navigate from one to the other. Use the “zero” key to go back to the latest one.

  • You can also trigger the cameras in Interval mode to add more movement to your videos. For this, click on Trigger Mode, Interval, and set your interval between one and 200 milliseconds. Here’s an example at 5ms, and another one at 30ms

  • From the same menu, you’ll find the famous Jump-and-Freeze mode, which does exactly what it should, however, you’ll need a few more cameras to make this look interesting. Here’s a few examples using 18 cameras, 42 cameras, and 132 cameras

  • To get the best precision with triggering, you can use an external flash. Place your transmitter on one of the cameras, and your flash on the side of the rig. Then put your cameras at 1/60s shutter speed.

  • To review your videos or to share them, click on the gallery. From there, click on a thumbnail to share it

  • You can easily add additional devices for the replay, the sharing or the settings control by using a web browser to connect to your local server. You’ll find the ip address from the dashboard, but you can also use the QR code for easy access from your smartphone

  • To do light-painting, go in Bulb mode or choose a long exposure time such as 8 or 13 seconds. You’ll need to work in a dark environment for this. Use your favorite light-painting tool and paint around your subject

  • There are many other possible things to play with including green-screen, watermarks, fancy overlays, color grading, animated overlays, vertical shooting or speed ramping, but let’s keep this video short and leave the advanced features for other videos

We hope this helps you to feel more comfortable with this technology. It can look a bit overwhelming at first, but once your master everything, the possibilities are endless

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Eric Pare