Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Smashing Alarm Clocks In Super Slow Motion

A super slow motion concept stock video of smashing an alarm clock with a sledgehammer!

Smashing A Ringing Alarm Clock With A Hammer
Hey, who hasn’t wanted to smash a ringing alarm clock with a hammer, or better yet a sledgehammer? Well, that is exactly what I got to do, and to have it filmed at 1000 frames a second to boot (do I love this career or what)? When I got the opportunity to shoot with a Phantom HD camera to help beta test the GVS9000 VTR hardware and software to efficiently utilize this high-speed marvel I didn’t hesitate. I threw together a list of ideas, grabbed some props, pulled together a skeleton crew and undertook some super slow motion stock video clips.

One Alarm Clock, One Try
One of our first ideas to execute was the alarm clock destruction. Now as it happened I only had one alarm clock. That means we had to nail it on the first try. I accepted the challenge and responsibility of swinging the sledge (OK…the fun too). My hammer was one of the smaller, short-handled ones. We set up our lighting, a 5000K tungsten light (lower wattage lights tend to “strobe” at slow motion frame rates) filtered with a 4x8 diffusion panel, on one side, and a 4x8 sheet of foam core adding fill on the other side.

A Ringing Clapper and Killing Time
With the lighting set-up and the camera ready I took a few practice swings. When I was relatively sure I could hit the clock squarely with a good hard swing I asked my partner, Stephanie, to give me a count down. Three, Two, One…slam! I nailed it! I can’t tell you how gratifying it was to do a good job of hitting that clock! The video looked great too.  In Final Cut Pro we sped up the first part of the clip so that the clapper looked like it was ringing in real time. As soon as the hammer reached the top of the alarm clock we slowed the frame rate to 30 frames a second implementing our super slow motion.  Voila! A concept stock video about deadlines, boundaries, time issues, sleep issues…and I suppose…killing time! OK, maybe not that one.

Eight More Clocks And A Faster Frame Rate
Even though we were happy with our image we wanted to see if we could do better. Since we had the camera for several days we went out and purchased eight more clocks. You can see some of our additional efforts at stopping time (hey…another concept) by smashing alarm clocks. These additional efforts really brought out how lucky we were with that first effort. In the subsequent efforts I missed the center of some of the clocks, in one the Duracell batteries became clearly visible, in another the clock had very little action and so forth. I think the first effort was still the best, though in the next eight attempts we did move the frame rate up to 1900 frames per second.

Three Different Breaking Clock Videos And Revenue Generation
We ended up submitting three different versions. I think each of these smashing clock videos can work as a stand-alone video with a voice over, or type, and can also work as parts of other video productions as well. It will be interesting to see which one generates the most revenue. Time well tell (no pun intended).

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