Lights, camera, (slow-mo) action!
Meet the Phantom Flex4K – the world’s most advanced high-speed cinematic camera.
The sequence involving Robert Downey Jr escaping through the woods amid exploding trees in the movie Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is arguably the best slowmotion action footage ever seen on a cinematic screen. It was shot on a Phantom ultra high-speed camera. The latest variant to leave manufacturer Vision Research’s US production plant, the upgraded Phantom Flex4K, is now available locally to tease our home-grown advertising and movie industries with thoughts of another beguiling option to help boost their visual creativity and woo audiences.
As you can imagine, operating the Phantom Flex4K is nothing like filming with your average family handicam. Costing around R1,8 million (depending on the exchange rate), this is one serious piece of kit. We met up with Falk Eggert from High Speed Worx, the proud owner of the first Flex4K camera to land in the country, as he and his colleague Johan Horjus underwent certified training under the watchful gaze of Vision Research’s Nick Long.
From what I could tell, the two-day training session seemed more like fun than training. Exercises included the two guys slapping each other in the face, sing stuff in the swimming pool and smashing fruit and vegetables to bits with a hammer. For me, watching the playback of Horjus catch a flat hand on his chops was the most illuminating sequence. Captured at 2 000 frames per second, and filling a whopping 64 GB of data for the 5-second clip, it showed in minute, pin-sharp slow-motion detail how the skin on his cheek then nose folded, buckled and rippled as the force of the strike followed through. I honestly didn’t think facial skin could exhibit such fluid dexterity – it looked hilarious.
Underneath all the laddish shenanigans, there was a serious side. Phantom’s local agent, DVIS’s Werner Grundlingh, explains: “All the Phantom cameras operate basically the same, but the Flex4K has so many extra features. When a client’s spending millions on a project, you’ve got to get the footage right first time.”
Capable of capturing 4K footage at 1 000 fps, and even faster 2K clips at 2 000 fps, the Phantom Flex4K boasts up to 64 GB of internal RAM. Its CineMag IV storage system can be kitted out with two 1 TB flash drives (allowing one to be removed and content downloaded while you’re busy filling the other). At 4K resolution the camera offers super-35 mm depth of field. The custom 10 megapixel sensor captures intricate detail with impressive dynamic range and low noise – which translates into excellent image quality and low-light performance. Capture, trigger, playback and save controls can be found on both sides of the camera in order to provide a seamless workflow for different environments. Connectivity options include Bluetooth (range: up to 100 metres), Ethernet port and a 4-pin Hirose output for a monitor. And, for the first time on a Phantom, the camera can be set to write either RAW or compressed files directly to the CineMag.
For more information visit www.highspeedworx.com
PHANTOM FLEX4K SPECIFICATIONS
PIXEL SIZE: 6,75 micron
SENSOR SIZE: 27,7 x 15,5 mm
LENS MOUNT: PL (standard), Canon EOS, Nikon F/G
INTERNAL RAM: Up to 64 GB
RECORDING MEDIA: Phantom CineMag IV (up to 2 TB)
SIZE (L X W X H): 29,2 x 14 x 12,7 cm
WEIGHT: 5,33 kg