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Heroes - Frozen time sequences


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#1 Alex Taylor

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Posted 30 November 2006 - 04:07 AM

I've started to watch the show Heroes - fantastic so far. They've had a few sequences where Hiro freezes time and walks around in the suspended world. I'm sure they've done this in other films as well..

Anyway, everything else is frozen but Hiro is walking around normally. I thought this would be a simple case of greenscreen, but they often use elaborate camera moves and rotate around other 'frozen' characters. My next thought was that the elements were all 3D, but it transitions so seamlessly from real-time to frozen-time.

Any thoughts? I love dissecting VFX sequences but this one has me hooped!
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#2 Will Earl

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Posted 30 November 2006 - 05:39 AM

They did a similar shot in Xmen2 using professional mimes to mimic 'frozen' people as the camera moves in and around the scene. Also in Big Fish, there is a similar shot, where Ewan pushes aside some floating popcorn.

There's multiple ways to do a shot like this, some can be done on set, others on a greenscreen, objects that are suspended in mid-air you can use CG elements, humans that are suspended in mid-air I'm not so sure, most likely you'd use some sort of rig on set with can be painted out. You could probably comp a shot using cards and still elements, but it would depend on the type of shot it is. A steadicam shot might be difficult, whereas a fairly nodal camera might be easy to composite together.

Big effects houses would possibly use a digital double. Like the Super Punch shot in the third Matrix film. But I can't imagine that much effort going into a tv show.
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#3 James Erd

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Posted 30 November 2006 - 03:50 PM

I've started to watch the show Heroes - fantastic so far. They've had a few sequences where Hiro freezes time and walks around in the suspended world. I'm sure they've done this in other films as well..

Anyway, everything else is frozen but Hiro is walking around normally. I thought this would be a simple case of greenscreen, but they often use elaborate camera moves and rotate around other 'frozen' characters. My next thought was that the elements were all 3D, but it transitions so seamlessly from real-time to frozen-time.

Any thoughts? I love dissecting VFX sequences but this one has me hooped!



The TV series Dead Zone makes extensive use of this effect. Another TV series that uses it from time to time is Charmed. I suspect this technique may have evolved from the Bullet Time effect used in the Matrix:

http://en.wikipedia....iki/Bullet_time

If not I think it could be done that way, since the difference between slow motion and freeze would be only dependent on when the cameras in the array were triggered, but mixing in the live motion must require some advanced MOJO :ph34r:
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#4 Alex Taylor

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Posted 01 December 2006 - 02:58 AM

Mojo describes it well I think :)

I thought about bullet time, but the camera moves they're doing are so dynamic (possibly Steadicam, I haven't sat down and analyzed any of the sequences thoroughly) that I think it rules that out. I think mimes is a good possibility.. mimes plus comped "frozen" elements like spilt wine, etc. However they did it, they pulled off something incredible for a modestly-budgeted TV show!
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#5 James Erd

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Posted 01 December 2006 - 02:24 PM

Mojo describes it well I think :)

I thought about bullet time, but the camera moves they're doing are so dynamic (possibly Steadicam, I haven't sat down and analyzed any of the sequences thoroughly) that I think it rules that out. I think mimes is a good possibility.. mimes plus comped "frozen" elements like spilt wine, etc. However they did it, they pulled off something incredible for a modestly-budgeted TV show!


I'll have to go back and watch it to see the camera moves but it really feels like bullet time.
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#6 Will Earl

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Posted 02 December 2006 - 06:06 AM

Not having seen the show, I decided to see if I could find an example of the effect on youtube and found this scene.... a very cool little scene.



As far as I can see there are 4 VFX shots (there could be others with less obvious effects in them, it's hard to tell with the compression) here.

I'll try make an educated guess at the VFX breakdown.

1. The girl about to get hit by the truck. FG girl shot on greenscreen reacting, BG plate of truck barrelling towards camera. Either that or shot all in camera, using a long lense to compress the action.

2. The Hero freezing time, CU pulls back to reveal everything frozen. People standing around are . The girl and the skipping rope is either a composited still element or a girl on a special rig.

3. Steadicam shot starting behind the girl, moving through the street to the girl about to be hit. We don't see the girls legs in this shot so it's possible she's standing on the ground, her braids could have wire in them to hold them up like that while the skipping rope is either made of wire or CG. The people on the bikes in the street are possibly mimes sitting on bikes that are rigged to the same spot. The toys floating in the air are CG elements. The girl that is about to get hit is leaning back on a support that has been painted out with her braids held up by wire. There looks to be a man behind the girl diving away from the camera, we can't see his face, so he could be a dummy or a mime in a rig to hold him up.

4. Cut to the Hero pushing the girl out the way. There's a little bit of movement in her arms so I'm going with the mime theory again, this time she's on a dolly for him to push her along and out of the way of the truck.

Again I've only made an educated guess based on a clip from youtube. So I could be completely wrong.
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#7 Alex Taylor

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Posted 03 December 2006 - 02:06 PM

Will,
I think you're right, it's most likely a mix of mimes and CG. I also noticed that little bit of hand movement! In the last episode they dealt with his freezing of time differently, by not even showing it, so clearly it was several expensive sequences!
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Rig Wheels Passport

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Wooden Camera

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Metropolis Post

Glidecam