Let’s take a pause from all the last camera announcements and smell the roses with this outstanding epic ultra-high fps video. Shot on a modified Freefly Ember by filmmaker Tim Sessler, LEVITATE is the best video that was shot on this camera. Check it out.
Freefly as a high-speed-camera manufacturer
Back in 2020 Freefly Systems released the WAVE camera. It was the company’s first entry into the slow-motion specialty camera world. Three years later they released Ember which has improved image quality, dynamic range, resolution, and usability – allowing us to capture 4K images at up to 1,000 FPS. “Overall we were really impressed by Ember – the camera delivers an incredible image for its small form factor and price”, tells us filmmaker Tim Sessler from the production company BROOKLYN AERIALS. The differences between Ember and WAVE are solid, in every aspect. Both of them incorporate a Super 35mm sensor (Ember has a Gpixel GSPRINT sensor that is capable of 11 stops of DR). WAVE is capable of 4K at 420 FPS, compared to Ember which can shoot 4K (2.37:1) at 1,011 FPS, which is more than twice. The price is higher too. WAVE costs $8,000 compared to Ember which costs $18,000. However, it seems that WAVE can shoot better images. The WAVE was heavily utilized in fascinating projects (Read: RED Komodo and Freefly Wave for Super-Fast (and Epic) FPV Aerial Cinematography, Freefly Wave + FPV Drone = Never Seen Before Slow Motion Shots, Watch: Super Epic Freefly Wave 4K 422FPS Footage). Luckily, Sessler shows us that Ember can deliver cinematic ultra-fast FPS as well.
As elaborated by Sessler: “I just finished a personal project that was shot on the Freefly Ember. We put the Freefly Ember through its paces. With a hot New York City summer as our backdrop, we followed parkour athlete Sha Mualimm-Ak and tried to capture his epic moves juxtaposed against the hustle and bustle of the city. I feel like there is still not much great footage of the camera out there and a good example of what can be done with it. A lot of the piece was shot without OLPF, making it a full spectrum camera – adding the Kolari IR Chrome filter we achieved a really stylized Aerochrome IR look. While much of the piece was shot on the 12mm Laowa, we also juxtaposed the wide angle and shot 800mm (35mm equivalent) on the Movi Pro. For the first part of our shoot, we set out to capture the busyness of NYC. Stabilized with a MoVI PRO, we shot with a Canon 400mm DO II still lens and 1.4x Extender resulting in an 800mm focal length (35mm equivalent). Together with Movi Operator Ryan Hamelin and 1st AC Adam Roberts, we traveled through the city to find interesting moments”. Furthermore, “Going with a super paired down camera build allowed us to get very dynamic with the camera movement – rotating and tracking with Sha’s movements” Sessler added.
Ember + Laowa probe lens
Sessler says: “For the texture elements we used both Laowa 12mm as well as the new Laowa Periscope/Probe lens for underwater photography and shots moving through fire. Big thanks goes out to J.P Damboragian who took on the edit (he previously crafted our ‘Wolakota’ and ‘Vortex’ films) and also to Seth Ricart and the entire RCO team for coloring the piece and really making the images sing. Also thanks to Sha and Ben for joining this project and opening the world of parkour for this piece”.
To sum it up, not many filmmakers know how to shoot slomo (slow-motion). In order to dazzle the audience, it’s not enough to dial to camera to a higher FPS and hope for some slomo epicness. You need to do more than that. For instance, a scene must be directed specifically for slomo, and paired with an accurate camera setup. LEVITATE is a beautiful reference for a well-done high-fps implementation. Indeed, the video looks gorgeous.
Check out LEVITATE below:
Here are the products mentioned in the article, and the links to purchase them from authorized dealers.