An In-Depth Guide to Sequential Photography

4th Jul

Sequential photography: “the art of showing the viewer a single moving object on a single image in different stages of movement.

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History

One of sequential photography’s first instances has grown to be one of the most famous, and instantly recognisable photographs in history. In 1877, a series of images were commissioned with the aim of verifying a theory to see whether when a horse is in a full run, did all four feet leave the ground simultaneously?

Eadweard Muybridge, the photographer, challenged with this task, first becoming famous in 1868 with his photographs of Yosemite Valley, later tackled the challenge of sequential, or stop-motion photography. He then progressed into inventing and developing his own techniques, including ‘a new shutter design he had developed which operated in as little as 1/1000th of a second.’

At The Flash Pack, our business is about actively trying to evolve these photographic and multimedia techniques and develop them for the digital age.

Introduction to Sequential Photography

Today, multimedia artists and creatives are pushing boundaries by combining modern technology and historical photographic techniques like sequential or multiple exposures. They’ve created a movement, pushing towards a digital revolution. And this revolution is creeping into major social events. In 2015, Anna Wintour decided she wanted to ban selfies at the event, and instead, curated a series of collaborations with digital and multimedia artists.

Lighting, composition and levelling have all moved away from taking an aesthetically ‘direct, forward-facing’ focus. More immersive artwork has become popular in recent years. In 2016, at the MET Gala, Vogue curated a light tunnel for their A-list attendees. This made a complete change to what attendees had experienced previously, and its popularity rippled through their celebrity guests.

Projection mapping, light installations and digitally immersive experiences are becoming the front-runners in the creative scene.

Over the last several years, more people are curating digital and lighting installations, with the aim of creating a multisensory, multidimensional event. So to keep up with this, we realised we faced a challenge.

How do you capture the essence of a multi-sensory or experiential event, with a simple direct, forward-facing shot?

The answer is you can’t! At least, not with a standard, single camera.

Multi-Camera Rigs

By building our Freezus Curve multi-camera rig.

This 3D-photo technology perfectly captures the subject by being calibrated so each camera will set off at the same time. The result? People are left with a movable photograph, adding more context to their experience.

People and brands are looking to be able to digitally interact with images, and share instantaneously across social media. So for the end-result to have this level of interaction, so should the actual shot.

Technical

Composing 360-degree panoramic photographs can pose a challenge. All the way through our testing period, we were discussing the best angles and ways to better define each subject’s movement.

Calibrated to set off all at the same time, the Freezus Curve uses 10 camera’s, our 360 Bullet Time Rig, can use anything from 65, 100 or even double that, all, which are needed to take the shot. To capture the subject, there are 16 milliseconds in between each shot, so each image adds the next layer of movement, emphasising the fluency in between each shot.

With this timing, there’s a very short window of frame for creative movement or physical expression. It’s clear everyone’s still beginning to grasp the idea of movement in photography. So, for some more insight into how we built our multi-camera rig, Neil Thomson and Henry Betts, two of our Creative Technologists’ deliver their insight:

What stages went in making the multi-camera rig?

When I joined the team I started by coming up with a solution and doing proof-of-concept tests to show the solution was viable. When we were satisfied that it was we started developing in earnest.

As with most product development cycles, there was always going to be a lot of prototyping and testing. When we started (a couple of years ago now!) by rigging multiple cameras, we found stabilisation was a major issue.

Lighting, composition and levelling - could you offer any advice on these areas?

At The Flash Pack, we’re an event-based company, so the majority of our shots are of large groups.

Lighting and composing something for anywhere between 1 and 20 people (or more!) can be a challenge, but it's a credit to our team that they always come up with something interesting and fun, through the use of props (glitter canon anyone!?) or interesting sets and backdrops - check out what we did for IWC Geneva for example.


Why did you want to create it? What was the initial thinking?

Because it's fun and the output looks amazing! Hollywood is always pushing boundaries of visual effects so we take inspiration from their technology, and use our in-house ingenuity to automate it for live events. We then stylise each ‘look’ and feel with our unique blend of frivolity and punchy panache.


What’s the difference between our Freezus Curve and the Bullet-rig?

Our Curve is simply a smaller section of the Bullet-rig which is a full 360-degree sphere. Bigger isn't necessarily better of course. As the Curve is a more intimate affair, it gives different creative opportunities.


What did you learn from the testing phase?

A lot! We're always developing, tweaking, improving and adding new features and post-processing options which are what makes it such an exciting product.

 

Photographic techniques are always developing, and it’s exciting for businesses to adopt these, and develop them for the digital age.

To see how sequential photography has progressed, visit here.