World Debut: Hypernova Music Vid, Shot with Flash at 10 FPS

At 10 FPS, the burst rate of the Canon 1D Mk III takes on almost a Tim Burton-like quality when shown as a movie -- a technique any sports shooter has seen while scanning through multi-frame bursts in Photo Mechanic.

Iranian crunch band Hypernova and director Richard Patterson married the fast motor drive of the camera with the Profoto Pro-8a Air, the Uzi-inspired studio strobe which can keep up with just about anything out there. (Actually, they used a whole slew of Pro8a's. Must be nice.)

First the behind-the-scenes video above, which gives a little look into how they did it. Then hit the jump for the final product and some background on why in the world anyone would want to do this sort of thing in the first place.

[NOTE: The music video is very intense, and deals with themes of religious intolerance and torture. And while the ten-FPS strobed technique marries perfectly with the subject matter, you cubicle slaves might want to turn the sound down a little and/or wait till the office killjoy hits the coffee machine. ]

The Result:

This is the first time this has been shown anywhere, which technically means that you are at a world premiere right now. And the whole thing kinda has a "Jacob's Ladder" feel to it, IMO. (Loved that movie.)

But why not just use a 5D Mk II and do it Laforet style?

Well for starters, you would need an insane amount of continuous light to push lumens that far into a scene. Using flash as a quasi-continuous light source lets you employ the same techniques to balance your flash with your ambient that we do for still photos. (The vid is, technically, 16,000 still photos.) That is something you could not do if all of the light sources were of the true, continuous variety.

Since you are turning the flash into essentially a continuous light source with the stop-motion technique, you end up with two kinds of "ambient" and a boatload of control between the two.

The flash generators are the same water-cooled, belt-fed machine guns that Annie used for the Profoto Anniversary shoot. Much more tech info on this whole process in available a special page at Profoto.

On a side note, I am digging that song, "Universal," in the BTS vid. I am a big Bloc Party fan, and I am definitely hearing some influence in there.

For more on the band and the director visit Hypernova on Myspace or Patterson's website.

RELATED :: Annie Shoots Conny Dufgran ::


Brand new to Strobist? Start here | Or jump right to Lighting 101
Connect w/Strobist readers via: Words | Photos

Comments are closed. Question? Hit me on Twitter: @Strobist


Blogger dougkeith said...

This looks like a crazy shoot... but the product is awesome. Thanks for the video.


September 15, 2009 1:30 AM  
Blogger RyanG said...

Wow... Just... Wow... A very novel way to shoot a music video. The low frame rate contributes a lot to the creepy vibe that permeates the video.


September 15, 2009 1:31 AM  
Blogger Raji Barbir said...

I have only one question which wasn't addressed...

How could they shoot continuously without killing their buffer on their memory cards? I can shoot continuously for about 20 something frames on my 1D MkIII before it slows to a useless crawl.

September 15, 2009 1:32 AM  
Blogger David said...


Not sure, but guessing:

Remember, this is going to be a vid, so no frame-by frame RAW processing, most likely. On top of that, no insane resolution needed, either.

I would have been shooting jpegs at the camera's lowest res, which at 2784x1856 would have still been bigger than HD when put into a movie.

Presto: Buffer out the wazoo.

September 15, 2009 1:42 AM  
Blogger Raji Barbir said...

Thanks David. I'm so used to staying in full RAW that uh... yeah I forgot there were options there :D

I might have to try that method with natural lighting and my Glidecam while I wait for Canon to come out with a 1D MkIV with super duper HD video.

Unless of course you have a bazillion Profotos and a large film crew lying around in your house somewhere?

Lemme know, thanks! ;)

September 15, 2009 2:12 AM  
Blogger Un Fotografo said...


it should be a 1D mk III not 1Ds.... The DS is capable of 5 fps, not 10...


September 15, 2009 2:21 AM  
Blogger Alex DiFiori said...

It's nice to see awesome technology put to good use for once.

My only question is whether they broke one of the lights.

September 15, 2009 2:45 AM  
Blogger Fianke fotografie said...

Is it 'high frame rate strobe' week? Chase posted a vid on his blog of him shooting skiing at 10 frames/sec with strobe. Incredible results in both cases.

September 15, 2009 3:25 AM  
Blogger SS Buchanan said...

@Alex, I'm not sure about breaking the lights, but this post seems to have broken YouTube - I can't view either video :)

September 15, 2009 3:29 AM  
Blogger Martin Hobby said...

Wow, not only are you giving me great photo tips, you are also turning me on to new bands.

This truly is a one-stop-shop for all I need to know about.

September 15, 2009 3:56 AM  
Blogger Sudhir said...

Amazing, I was always wondering if something like this was possible. Now to downsize that idea and use it creatively with limited equipment!

September 15, 2009 4:20 AM  
Blogger norsk said...

This is exciting. Profoto Pro-8a Air, fast enough to use in music videos. If not to stop a flying bullet or global human rights abuse.
Great song and great creative use of technology.
Would love to see the higher res video, I'm sure the devil and the beauty is in the details.

September 15, 2009 4:35 AM  
Blogger Wim said...

wow that's an amazing result

September 15, 2009 5:32 AM  
Blogger kramon said...

nice technical and logistical achievement! congrats to the daring makers!

the video has a "strobed" look (that is wat we actually call it here in video-land ;-)), due to the 10 fps-ratio.

this, of course, ads (well) to the style of this video (the strobed look)

if they would have wanted to make it look smoother, they could have used an old video technique: if you halfen the speed of the playback-sound on set, then shoot at 10fps, you could easely, in editing have fastened it up to 20 fps, so the dubbing is correct while having 20fps, which is way closer to the required 24/25fps for "fluent motion"

what this would also do, besides letting the singer being lip-synch, is fasten-up the action around the singer (if there would be any).
in this video it would'nt have made such a big difference, since there's not that much movement by the other band-members.

it's a greatly executed video! kudos!

September 15, 2009 5:40 AM  
Blogger Marcel Hauri said...

So many flashes are definitely not for an epileptic. But the video is great

September 15, 2009 6:00 AM  
Blogger Daniel Derkacs said...

He does state that it is the 1D not 1DS. Nice work.

September 15, 2009 8:10 AM  
Blogger Ben said...

I wonder if he is using the new Sandisk 64gig 600x memory cards, that would explain why buffer wasn't too much of a problem.

September 15, 2009 8:51 AM  
Blogger Sandrino said...

AMAZING!!!! Yes push strobes, stills into film and the 5DMKII pushes the other way. CONVERGENCE YES YES it's a live and happening!

September 15, 2009 10:49 AM  
Blogger donghai said...

My question might be silly:
Question 1: they mentioned Redrock micro dslr, anyone have more info about that piece? and it's roll in shooting?

Question 2: is that possible to achieve same effect using hdvideo feature on 5dII shooting instead of 10fps on Mark I.

Question 3: after million times profoto flash, if these band need to see an eye doctor?

September 15, 2009 11:04 AM  
Blogger aeubank said...

Like others have said the camera being used is a Eos 1dMark III for the 10 fps. It's a bit misleading to say it's the 1ds Mark III. Love the shot and the technique. I guess you could shoot with jpeg medium fine and have enough space on the cards to get about 64 gig. Camera will switch media cards automatically when one fills up..


September 15, 2009 11:56 AM  
Blogger norsk said...

@ben, from what I can read on the profoto page, the cards were Lexar Compact Flash Cards.

September 15, 2009 12:10 PM  
Blogger hmiller said...

I'm diggin the songs (Universal) from the BTS video too. Can't seem to find it on iTunes or Amazon. Any idea where to purchase it?

September 15, 2009 12:30 PM  
Blogger Steve Perks said...

Spread this across a couple of forums today. One reaction was 'Could you not just take a very good quality film and drop every other frame or something to get the same effect?'

My reply was 'why climb a mountain when you can get dropped off by a helicopter at the summit? Answers here:...........
As a 1d Mk3 user, I thought it was pretty cool. Loved the video and loved the band/song. Looking at the setup, I don't think they would be too worried about a dent in the shutter count!

September 15, 2009 6:25 PM  
Blogger Billy Hunt said...

I did a motor drive stop action video of puppets to promote my local theater company's fundraiser. I used fluorescent lighting, which was a little cheaper. :)

September 15, 2009 6:39 PM  
Blogger rfphotoart said...

What a great time we live in. Technology and art blending in so many fantastic ways. There are some very smart, creative people out there. I love to see what they keep coming up with.

September 15, 2009 7:08 PM  
Blogger jdemke said...

Cool concept and great execution. Coming from a video background I wonder why they didn't shoot in a variable frame rate video camera? Modern (expensive) video cameras can shoot in 10 fps, but they do write video files not a series of image sequences. That must have been a pain to manage all of those images and edit them in video.

September 15, 2009 7:21 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Tramontana said...


Made this a year ago as an internal training vid for Nat Geo Expeditions:

September 15, 2009 9:15 PM  
Blogger Matthew G. Monroe said...

I definitely like the look of this video, and it's pretty cool that they did it with a DSLR and some fast recycling Profoto heads.

I do wonder if this could have been done with a DSLR and some Unilux strobes... Unilux units are designed for the film and video industry, and are used all the time in commercial shoots to add "crispness" to moving product shots. They're also used in music videos to give a sort of stop motion look to real time action (Metallica videos come to mind). If they could be sync up with a DSLR (Pocket Wizard? PC plug?), then the only limit would be the frame rate of the camera -- not the recycle time of the strobes

September 16, 2009 10:33 AM  
Blogger ciro frank schiappa said...

i don't like the video at all.
it's ok the tecnique but is so full of visual stereotypes
sorry but it seems a parody to me.

September 16, 2009 1:54 PM  
Blogger jimmyd said...

Interesting approach but I gotta say the results underwhelmed me. Maybe it's just me?

September 16, 2009 6:49 PM  
Blogger shawnpix said...

Great minds think alike. I just did an interview with Jay Blakesburg, who shot a video for Third Eye Blind on a Nikon D300. This was shot at about 3 fps, not 10.

You can read it here

September 16, 2009 8:13 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Histed said...

Mmmm interesting and fun to see what you can do with a still camera: but it does smack a bit of "look we can polish the parade ground with a toothbrush!" yes you can.. but why not use the kit designed for the job?

I think it should be called from now on the Sisyphean video capture technique. LOL.

Light is light at the end of the day: and why not light it with conventional lights: HMIs etc. they are used for a good reason... Ironically I was thinking the other day about how I would use my old theatre lights to do some lighting for the still camera... Why not ? well.. because it is easier to use flash guns. Same argument: the other way round... Still it is fun to play games. Hell if I had the 1d MkX I'd love to have a go myself !
thanks for posting: thought provoking as always, even if it seems a little pointless. What I would love to know though : is if combined with under cranking the camera as someone suggested above: if the shots were taken on full resolution, would this allow you to generate an image to rival a Red one ? or indeed that would look good in an IMAX cinema? Are there any projection media that can project really really hi resolution comparable to the max res of the 1D -- however esoteric?

Jonathan Histed

September 16, 2009 8:14 PM  
Blogger nicola said...

technologically interesting - artistically boring, from MPOV

September 17, 2009 5:09 AM  
Blogger Rob O. said...

LOVE the technical aspects of this post. One of the truly revolutionary advancements in our craft that will no doubt shape the future.

Too bad though we have to endure the lunatic rantings of some religious zealots singing about killing us non-believing infidels in the process. Maybe you should re-post it w/no audio...just hate seeing this awesome blog played as a soapbox for a bunch of extremist haters.

September 17, 2009 11:36 AM  
Blogger PeskyResponder said...

Hey, newbie here!
Been admiring 'strobism' for a while, and while researching the other night, came across this site.

Am all RSS'd up and looking forward to future posts and reading my way through the past ones!

September 17, 2009 12:37 PM  
Blogger David said...



Lighten up, Francis. It's social commentary. They are not being *literal*. You're both railing against the same thing.

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds wasn't about an aloft, bejeweled lady, either.


September 17, 2009 5:45 PM  
Blogger Jon Senior said...

This strikes me as the death of a shutter. I wonder whether the total equipment outlay (including the replacement of the shutter) was better than just using video and post production.

Not that I'm not impressed, just wouldn't want to do that to a camera that I own!

September 18, 2009 3:47 AM  
Blogger greg said...

I just did this with a Canon 5D and a Nikon SB-28. You guys who hated the dark nature of the Hypernova video will probably like my more light-hearted material:

LET IT LOAD. I'm working on getting it into flash, but for now it's just a large .mov file.

And for everyone saying, "Why not use a video camera?"... I would love to but I'm poor.

September 20, 2009 1:59 AM  
Blogger Soblar said...

I'm interested in knowing what they have done about focusing? Did the autofocus cope with such shooting?

September 20, 2009 6:08 PM  
OpenID chrisnemes said...

This is like taking an airplane to drive-through. Is it cool and different? Yeah. Did you get a tastier burger? No.

I reckon it would have looked the same or better using video equipment (dropping frames).

There is continuous lighting equipment for rent for any situation, if that is their argument for using photo stills.

Kudos for the initiative, but they are doing it in stills and not video just because they can.

The clip is a showcase for ProFoto lighting and I can understand that, but not sure I can tag a video "creative" just because it was filmed using a toaster and not a video camera.

There are many really imaginative music videos using stop motion. Search for "Her morning elegance" on YouTube and have a look.

August 01, 2011 9:23 PM  
OpenID chrisnemes said...

Why did I just comment on a 2-year old post? I was redirected from and thought this is a recent post as well.
Man, I feel so silly right now.

August 01, 2011 9:42 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home