Bullet time is the perfect cinematic tool to freeze a dramatic moment. Scroll ahead to see the best bullet time moments in TV and film.
Ask anyone what the most memorable scene from The Matrix is and they’ll say ‘the one with the bullets in slow motion.’ It’s the scene that coined the phrase bullet time and became a seminal pop culture moment.
During an epic rooftop fight scene, bullets fly past Neo’s body as he leans backwards and avoids them in slow motion. The cameras fire sequentially around him, enhancing the intensity of the scene. It’s been replicated again and again and again, but nothing quite beats this iconic cinematic moment.
The Emmy Award-winning HBO series ‘The Watchmen’ uses bullet time in a pinnacle flashback scene. A momentous brawl breaks out in a grocery store. Guns are drawn by the Klu Klux Klan, and our protagonist, The Hooded Justice, leaps through a window as shards of glass shatter in slow motion around him. The camera pans, morphing seamlessly through the wall to capture his epic escape from danger.
A sense of reflection is created, forcing the viewer to step outside of the scene and observe it like a memory. Alongside the film-noir style of production, the use of bullet time enhances the graphic novel atmosphere, adding that extra level of drama to this key moment in the Hooded Justice’s journey. It’s one of the smoothest bullet time moments we’ve ever seen.
X-Men: Days of Future Past
The kitchen scene in X-Men: Days of Future Past is the movie’s stand out moment. Set to the tune ‘Time In A Bottle’, Peter Maximoff (aka Quicksilver) demonstrates his superhero powers in slow motion.
What starts as a stand off with a group of gun-wielding security guards becomes a frozen playground for Maximoff to manipulate the moment in time. He sprints around the room moving plates, body parts, changing the direction of bullets and causing general mischief to save his accomplices from their impending fate.
Arguably one of the best bullet time moments in tv and film, it amplifies Maximoff’s superpowers with the added comedy element too.
The bullet time effect isn’t just used for adding drama and tension to a scene. It can be just as effective at enhancing a joyous, comedic moment too, and the wedding scene in the BBC drama series Sherlock is a great example of this.
It’s Watson’s moment, newly married and having photographs taken outside of the church. As the photographer’s camera flashes, the frame is frozen. Moments of joy are captured, enhancing the expressions of guests. All but Sherlock, whose staunch demeanour is captured in freeze-time.
BT Sport Boxing
Bullet time offers a different perspective of fast moving action, and our work with BT Sport Boxing is a great example of how the technique can be used to showcase athletic physique and skill.
Capturing boxers in 360 motion, the viewer is given a unique opportunity to see the abilities and athleticism as the boxers spar in the ring. We used a slow shutter speed, coupled with bullet time techniques to create a motion blur effect to amplify the speed and power of the fighters.