Yesterday the media lab in our Leeds office was taken over by a strange TARDIS looking pod. People walking past seemed very interested in the flurry of activity going on within the strange structure. It was actually Andrew Robinson of PiFacePiFace fame and his two little elves Tom and Tom setting up their famous 'bullet time' camera rig.
After a mad dash in the morning to Leeds Market to buy 20 metres of black fabric to create the pod to house the rig and several hundred extension cables later the stage was set and employees were invited to come down to record their own Christmas messages.
After a few network issues the team managed to get the cameras working and the employees started to filter down with their various festive ideas from a hand made light up LED Christmas jumper to a charity message from Santa.
The rig is created with 48 PiFace Control and Display units which sit neatly on top of the Raspberry Pi to allow users to interact with the credit card sized computer without the need for a monitor, keyboard and mouse. The effect, called Bullet Time, or Time-slice, consists of taking a number of pictures from multiple cameras at the same time, but playing them back one after another. Because all the frames are taken at exactly the same time from different views but shown in order, it gives the effect of moving around a scene while time is frozen. The project was fairly involved requiring a three metre ring of 48 Raspberry Pi’s, half a kilometre of network cable and a few industrial network switches!