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Filming Smoke Grenades in 1000 FPS



Pre-Production:


It’s no secret, we (here at Mystery Box Video Production) love filming in high frame rates. We get so enthralled with the ability to slow down time, it creates some of the most surreal and majestic moments. Not to mention, we love the image that comes off of the Phantom Flex 4K camera, the skin tones and the colors have a great tone and texture, and the image is crisp.


This summer we had the opportunity to swing a week rental with the Phantom Flex so we lined up a week full of shooting. We left one day marked as “SMOKE GRENADES” in the calendar. That left a big empty question mark for us. We knew we wanted to test out Enola Gaye’s colored smoke grenades (http://www.enolagaye.com) in slow motion, but we weren't sure just want we wanted to create. After some negotiation we decided to play it simple.

We rented out a warehouse that had good ventilation. Meaning, it was missing part of the walls and roof. Well warehouse is a loose term for a place held together with random pieces of metal sheeting. But we needed decent ventilation for all of the smoke grenades we were about to inhale, but we also wanted light control so this worked perfectly. We all called a couple friends in and got a series of different athletes and talent to come and try out moves in slow mo.


Production:


We love when we get an opportunity to experiment, so It was an easy day of playing around and trying out different moves. There were a few limiting time factors going into the day: each smoke grenade lasts for about 2-3 minutes, and we had about 50 grenades. Also, the camera can only capture so 10 seconds worth of footage before it needs to download. And then always did a few test takes with the camera moves and focus. We rigged the Phantom to capture takes in 3 increments of 3.3 seconds, so we would start a smoke grenade and then have the performer do 2-3 tricks in that 3 minute window. It’s still hit or miss with timing, but we anticipated moving a bit slower with this type of work and took our time.


We love these grenades (not a paid plug - but Enola please send us more grenades any time!) the amount of smoke, the fullness of smoke and color is unmatched to what we’ve been able to find on the market.



Post-Production


We didn’t have a specific client attached to this project so we took our time in the edit playing with mirroring and effects. After locking the edit, we brought the all RAW cine files from the Phantom 4K Flex into DaVinci Resolve and graded the entire clip in HDR, and reconnected the graded 4K HDR files back into our Adobe Premiere Project. This allowed us to avoid any round tripping issues since almost every single shot had speed ramping.

This video and other 4K content are available for licensing. Mystery Box is a full service production house based in Salt Lake City, Utah.


Written by Katie Schwarz, Owner & Producer




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