This week the team at NHK have shown off a method for expanding the world of "Bullet Time", a form of time-freezing video and photo capture made famous by the original "Matrix" movie. Having done a bit of a timeline exploration of Bullet-Time back a few months ago, we can confidently say that the art has come a long way since its "first appearance" in the intro to the Speed Racer cartoon. Here the system to capture such time-stopping images transforms with panning, tilting, and shared lens data between multiple cameras.
Where before this system, "Bullet Time" setups were largely based on a controlled burst of photos set in a circle or line, fired one after another for a final product that had to be stitched together, this system takes another approach. While the idea is the same, the space in which this system can operate is much larger.
"Using this system, you can create the effect of stopping time, and moving the viewpoint all around the subject. Previous methods used a fixed camera, so they could only capture subjects moving in a narrow or limited space. But this multi-viewpoint robot camera system can film dynamically moving sports, or subjects at lots of locations in an extensive space." - NHK
As you'll see in the demonstration video below, this system can move. Direction control is assigned virtually while image processing allows all cameras to focus on the subject at once from different angles. Switching between cameras is then only a matter of choosing which angle the user likes.
Sports broadcasting has been tapped as the first area in which this system could be used to great extents. Instead of working with a single camera capturing slow motion action from a single angle, an array of cameras could be used to see which body part goes where and when. Never again will a touchdown be a touchdown without the full 360-degree confirmation replay.
This system has also been suggested to be part of NHK's upcoming 3D TV system. With "integral 3D TV" from NHK, the Star Trek holodeck will be accessible. It's only a matter of time!