VFX Artifacts: The Bullet Time rig from ‘The Matrix’

How the actual rig was built and operated for the Wachowskis’ film.

The bullet time effect from The Matrix still captivates audiences, partly for the on-screen effect itself, and partly for how it was achieved with an array of still cameras and virtual backgrounds.

I wish I could talk to each and every person involved in The Matrix about how the bullet time shots came together. You can already re-visit great articles about the making of the VFX, such as in Cinefex, American Cinematographer, and I’ve also been lucky enough to chat to people such as John Gaeta and Kim Libreri about the work, previously. But there are literally scores of other key crew-members who made bullet time possible.

For the purposes of a VFX Artifacts podcast, and a slightly different perspective on how bullet time came to be, I thought it might be interesting to chat to Frank Gallego, who back then hailed from Innovation Arts. There he worked with his team and others from Manex Visual Effects to help design and manufacture the 121-camera bullet time rig.

So, in this latest episode of VFX Artifacts, Gallego runs down the process, starting all the way before The Matrix to an earlier ‘Frozen Moment’ request, right through to tests and the actual install of the rig in Sydney, and the subsequent use of the rig on Michael Jordan to the Max.

You can listen to the podcast at several places, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify, and via the embedded player below. Also below is a special slideshow of bullet-time related imagery.

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