Amateur filmmaker builds ‘bullet time’ rig for less than $100


Ever wanted to add a little spice to your video creations, perhaps your next Matrix fan-fiction video, by adding a little slow-motion bullet-time effect? Jeremiah Warren did just that, employing a ceiling fan, a GoPro 3 video camera, and a handful of bits of wood, effectively side-stepping thousands of dollars worth of individual cameras and rigging, not to mention computer-controlled timing equipment.

The so-called ‘bullet time‘ effect was made popular in movies like The Matrix, and requires a bank of cameras, all synchronized perfectly, and untold hours of post-production work to achieve the final polished result.

As Warren notes on his blog: ‘The obvious ‘cheat’ to this is to get a high speed camera and build a rig that will spin it around the subject, but this also has limitations. High speed cameras are still expensive, they weigh a lot, and building spinning rigs out of metal is also expensive’.

Here’s the ceiling fan, costing $24, which Warren attached to a 14-foot length of planking.

Photo: Jeremiah Warren 

And here’s the GoPro, firmly attached to one blade of the ceiling fan with another plank of wood.

Photo: Jeremiah Warren

So instead, Warren decided to hook a GoPro 3, which can shoot video up to 240fps, up to a ceiling fan, to spin around his subjects, filming at high-speed. Warren details how he built the rig, including an approximate cost breakdown of around $93 in parts (not including the GoPro 3 Black, which retails for $400), in his blog. You can see an appropriately dramatic video from the homemade rig below.

And no, we do not recommend doing this at home. Especially not the fireworks part. But really any of it.  



While the hack is very impressive, I think it is irresponsible to play firework in a forest.


Oh, c’mon, get a life …


no, it’s actually a valid comment. this is very irresponsible.


My mate lost an eye playing with rockets like this in 1979 when he was just 15.

My thoughts also go out to the 19 fire fighters lost in Arizona forest fires… can you imagine the horror of the guys minutes from death? Don’t play with fireworks in the forest its just stupid..

I can see the claver drama of the fireworks but its promoting stupidity..


I applaud anyone who uses their imagination and ingenuity to do things Hollywood wastes millions on, but come on, this is merely a rotating camera rig. A very well-made one, for virtually no money, but not bullet-time.

Steve Ives

It looks like bullet time to me. The restriction is that with the ‘bullet time’ rigs used in ‘The Matrix etc, the camera path did not have to be circular.

But A+ for effort and the results are very good too.


“bullet time” effect is nearly a still frame. It’s much, much faster than 240fps.


Imagination and ingenuity are more important than money it seems.


wow – awesome!!


Someone will come out with a long strand of bulbs like a Christmas light wiring, only each bulb is a camera sensor.

The shutter is triggered only ONCE in real time, then the serial “same time” shots will be processed into a video clip.

Just like 3D and Lytro, it is fantastic to play around with, but dies out after a while for lack of “usefulness”.

I won.t be surprised the Christmas lights Matrix camera I mentioned above is cvurrently being manufactured deep inside China in time for the Christmas shopping of 2013.

Comment not edited 35 days after posting.



Crazy mad Hot!


Brilliant,,,,, all you ‘ Wahh ,, Wahhh it’s not real bullet time’ clowns can lick it,,,, who gives a damn if there’s no interpolation.


Anyone else cringed thinking about them starting a forest fire?


But it would be an awesome slow motion rotating forest fire




Cringe? Hell Yeah! That’s great forensic evidence right there in pseudo bullet time for a life sentence prison conviction if there was a blaze caused by those actions!



Fireworks in the woods – now, that’s smart!


Cool video, more DIY please, for video and photo Macgyver’s 🙂


Not to split hairs or anything, but that’s not bullet time. Neat home project anyway.

Barney Britton

Spoilsport 😉


LOL It’s like arrow time or airplane time….something slower than a bullet.




They weren’t actually bullets in the Matrix, either.


No, but you could stop motion entirely and circle the subject to watch them dodge the bullets….or slightly offset each capture for a slow motion effect. Just saying that you’d have to have a much higher frame rate to really slow things down using one camera.


And that’s how the arrowtime effect was invented.


Again we have been shown that having the highest number of pixels or the most expensive camera has nothing to do with taking great movies or images. Makes me want to get out there and start thinking about the subject and not what camera I have in my hand.

Great effort regardless of comparisons others are making. This is not Matrix but who cares ! 😀

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