Create your own Bullet time camera rig with Raspberry Pi

Matrix was the movie that showcased what can be achieved by putting dozens of cameras together. Back then it was an extremely expensive technology and it still is. However people have found a lot of cheap and ‘can-be-done-at-home’ ways of doing it – including strapping a camera to a phone. None as elegant as the actual bullet time set-up.

Enters Raspberry in the picture.

This tiny, inexpensive device has been doing wonders around – just a few days ago we saw howRichard Garsthagen was using it as a full body 3D scanner. Now, a team of extremely creative people have created a really inexpensive bullet time set-up using Raspberry Pis – and the whole set-up costs less than a professional DSLR camera.

Folks at PiFace have created an inexpensive rig which looks more like the LHC at CERN using nearly half a kilometre of network cables, 48 Raspberry Pis fitted with cameras and PiFace Control.

The rig worked perfectly – in terms of doing what a bullet time set-up should do. Raspberry Pis achieved the Hollywood’s ‘frozen time’ affect at a much lesser cost.

Check out this video.

Here is a quick list of hardware used to create this set-up.

  • 48 Raspberry Pi Model Bs
  • 48 Raspberry Pi Cameras
  • 48 PiFace Control and Display
  • 48 NOOBS SD cards
  • 48 5V PSU
  • About half a kilometre of network cable
  • 2 x 24 port switches
  • 1 wireless router
  • Custom laser cut frame
  • Enough extension cables plugged into a single socket to scare most caretakers
  • Python script listening to receive command to take picture (included in snap-camera package) https://github.com/piface/snap-camera
  • Python script to collect images over network and assemble frames in order.

The set-up opens new possibilities for film-makers with tigh budgets to get ‘Hollywood’ effects using Pis.

About Swapnil Bhartiya

A free software fund-a-mental-ist and Charles Bukowski fan, Swapnil also writes fiction and tries to find cracks in the paper armours of proprietary companies. Swapnil has been covering Linux and Free Software/Open Source since 2005.

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