A few weeks ago we had the pleasure of working with craft brewery Oskar Blues to create a choose-your-own-adventure style video series that utilized a custom-built air pressure cannon capable of shooting beer cans at 275 miles per hour. The mission was straightforward – capture various targets exploding with multiple cameras including the Sony FS-700, Panasonic GH4 and GoPro HERO3 and HERO4. Only one caveat, the HERO4 must be rigged into the center of the target platform and revolve around the target in a full 360 degree circle without getting blasted by a can.
Blowing things up is a primal urge for many of us but safety was a number one priority. While a beer cannon is theoretically awesome, it could also be lethal without the proper precautions. Note: DO NOT TRY TO BUILD THIS AT HOME. Tarps were setup around the blasting area to keep projectiles contained and safety goggles were mandatory. Once all the cameras were speeding everyone had to clear the blast area. Once clear, the air cannon would be charged up to the proper PSI, giving us a full minute before blast off, allowing any last minute safety checks.
Everything was lit with two 1.2 HMI’s with two Arri 650’s providing some fill for the cannon. Our 240fps “beauty” camera was the Sony FS-700 with a Cannon 80-200mm and an Odyssey 7Q. A Panasonic GH4 was mounted on a doorway dolly with curved tracks that wrapped around the cannon which became our “reveal” camera. Another GH4 was mounted on the Varavon Birdycam 3-Axis gimble to provide pre-blast coverage of the targets sitting on the platform. Finally the GoPro’s were mounted in various angles within the blast site to provide maximum coverage of targets. Since many of the targets were liquids, the GoPro cases had to be wiped off repeatedly.
To create the GoPro Bullet-Time Rig, we had to create a truss using planks of lumber from Home Depot. Height was important as the GoPro would have to revolve around the center of the target. Since all of the targets were of various sizes, we picked an average height of 8’.
Next we mounted a standard ceiling fan onto a wooden disc and mounted that onto the center of the truss. To create the arm, we rigged scraps of plexiglass through the center of the fan and held everything together using grip tape and industrial zip ties. A wooden dowel rod was rigged diagonally to provide additional support. A GoPro adhesive mount was attached to the bottom and reinforced with more grip tape. The entire rig was spray painted black for cosmetic reasons. As the rig got blasted with liquids, the mount would come loose and everything had to be repositioned and taped back together. If we had more time, the design would have been much more secure but for a 3 hour DIY project, it did the job.
Overall, I’m very pleased with the results of the shoot. The post work was intense as we had a total of 19 final target footage from 8 different cameras. The GoPro HERO4 4K codec seems to require some heavy CPU resources so it’s important to have a fast computer when editing it natively. Check out the final piece below and please note that you’ll have to watch it on a desktop computer to utilize the navigational buttons on YouTube.
Varavon Birdycam2 3-Axis Camera Gimbal
GoPro HERO4 Black Edition 4K Video Action Camera
Panasonic GH4 4K Video Recording
Odyssey 7Q OLED Monitor & 4K RAW Recorder