The Phantom HD Camera

Posted by Mark

Last week when I was in Beirut I was there for work shooting a commercial for Wataniya Airways. One of the cool things about the shoot was that we were using the Phantom HD camera. The Phantom HD is a digital camera that can shoot up to 1500 frames per second (fps) at 720p resolution or 1000fps at 1080p.

I think we were one of the first people in the region to use this camera if not the first. Anyway just to explain what shooting at high speed means or does. Generally video runs at around 24fps. So that means if you shoot 1 second of footage at the speed of 1000fps, when you play it back at regular speed of 24fps, that 1 second of footage will last around 40 seconds. What this does is allow you to capture a lot of detail in that 1 second. It’s similar to the camera used on the Discovery Show, Time Warp. If you shoot a bullet in front of a high speed camera you will be able to see it flying through the air when played back. The camera slows down time.

Since the commercial is going to get released soon I was able to get permission to post one of my favorite takes. It’s a scene of a guy dressed in a dishdasha falling back onto the bed. What I liked about this shot is the way the dishdasha moves while in the air and also how the bed ripples when the guy lands. This scene is going to be in the final commercial except we will only be using around 2 seconds of this 47 second clip. [YouTube]

Note: I am trying to get my hands on a higher resolution footage, once I get that will update this post with it.

Update: I’ve updated the video with the higher quality version. Also added the picture below of the camera on set.


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38 comments, add your own...


  1. Laziale says:

    Cool , can i do that ( or close to it ) in a normal HD cam ?

  2. Mark says:

    No you can’t, you need a high speed camera to be able to do it. There are some Casio cameras that are capable of shooting at high speeds but at low resolutions. There are some HD cameras that can shoot at 60fps which would give you results similar to the Desert Kings 2 Kuwait video which you can see here

  3. Mark says:

    Phantom also are releasing a consumer friendly high speed HD camera but its going to cost like KD5,000 I think

    http://www.letsgodigital.org/en/14133/high-speed-digital-camera/

  4. Patrick says:

    Consumer friendly = KD 5,000? lol.

  5. The Kuwaiti Godfather says:

    Very consumer friendly

  6. Mr.pedro says:

    5000KD Thats almost SIT-ALAAAAAAAAF

  7. Mark says:

    sorry my mistake, according to engadget the base model of the consumer camera will start at just under 10,000$ which is around KD2,800
    http://www.engadget.com/2009/08/14/vision-research-rolls-out-high-speed-phantom-miro-ex-series-came/

  8. Mahoona says:

    LOL @ Mr pedro

    I like, beautiful sense of smooth landing.. message well received :)

  9. Realist says:

    I like how the colors on ads are surreal and movie like. I wonder why Arabic series have stupid home video feel, where its possible to improve the look by a combo of lighting and better cameras and sound.

  10. Patrick says:

    Because an producers of Arabic series tv shows want something cheap and quick. They don’t care about quality, they know people will watch anything.

  11. Holla says:

    I was very pleased at how the shots came out. This camera is sick and the director really knows what he is doing. Excellent stuff, can’t wait to see it on the telly :D

  12. Marzouq says:

    This is going to be an interesting camera to try out, I wana see what we can do with it…

  13. Vbot says:

    Phantom is a cool unit. I know they’ve had one in Dubai for over a year. Saw tests a long time ago. Cool stuff. And though I’m generally a complete digital-convert (especially in post production) I’m just curious to the decision to shoot on HD when you could have shot on film and got the same results.

  14. Mark says:

    Vbot: If we shot on film it would have been maxed out at around 150fps.

  15. ben says:

    that is so sweet!

  16. Vbot says:

    Well, I guess then it’s a gear issue for the region, because there are photosonic camera systems that can shoot up to 8,000 fps at half frame prisms, and 2,500 fps with full 35mm frames. Looks beautiful though. The test I saw from Dubai had balloons popping with water inside. Some cool stuff. Looking forward to seeing the finished spot.

  17. Mark says:

    Well digital did have a lot of advantages in our case. One primary advantage is that we could see the playback right after we took the shot. Another advantage is you save a lot of money on film.

  18. Patrick says:

    Just thought of something, How many takes did it take to do this? Did this guy have to jump back and fall on the bed 50 times? Surprised he didn’t hit the bed and pass out. lol.

  19. Mark says:

    I think this one took under 10 takes for sure.

  20. sinner says:

    I would have been funner if it were a voluptuous woman falling!

  21. kyx says:

    Mark.. you’re blonde?!!?? LOL… Nice effects though.

  22. Mark says:

    thats not me, its the director

  23. kyx says:

    Is just joke mark!!! Lighten up……

  24. FAH-Buzberry says:

    Mark, i think it’s better if you reinstall wp-touch 1.8.9 because 1.9 messes the theme.

  25. Kuwait says:

    The guy is controlling his laughter in the video… surely there must’ve been quite some takes before this was okayed :) lol

  26. Omar Al-Masab says:

    The Phantom HD camera produces astonishing results, It costs around 75,000KD fully functional, and needs an army to operate.
    Other then for High speed the camera is useless and inefficient.
    Bottom line it is only used for High speed cinematography.

  27. ariston says:

    Wicked! can’t wait to see the final for TVC!
    Mark, did the guy do some Superman flying fx? I think it’s supercool… :)

  28. Burhan says:

    Very, very cool indeed.

  29. L says:

    Dammit! Now I don’t know whether to get the Red camera or this one!!

  30. Mark says:

    get the red, this camera is only for high speed shooting

  31. ahmadTV says:

    Wow this is amazing Mark ! I thought that camera was used when I saw that commercial, I heard of the camera a few months ago and I was eager to see it being used in this region, and I must say congrats on being one of the first on using it :) how much a days rental would set for ?

  32. Mark says:

    I honestly don’t know.

  33. jason says:

    Do they really have a Phantom HD in Dubai for over a year.
    If u know who runs it please let me know.
    I have been shooting in Dubai with Phantom HD that i bring from the UK
    The Phantom HD is mainly for high speed but it is capable of 4-1052 at 1080p and there is nothing to say u cannot use it for 25fps only.
    It is 14bit uncompressed 2k camera and no other camera has more than 14bits of colour currently normal speed or high speed. In fact most top out at 12bit. 14bit is 4 times the colour as 12bit.
    I have done many jobs where this camera is only used for 25fps, because it is that good. It is way better than red at 25fps, but also way more exoensive as a rental item as the price of the camera only tells u half the story.
    IF u want more information please feel free to contact me.
    I work with the Phantom all the time and will probably be bringing one back to Dubai very soon, as i dont know of any in UAE currently

    Jason Berman
    High speed Tech
    London
    44 7973 698 475

  34. [...] is a cool new Pedigree commercial which was shot at 1000 FPS using the Phantom camera, the same camera we used for the Wataniya Airways commercial. The dogs look very cool in slo-mo. [...]


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