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Tech by VICE

Satellite Lab Manipulates Light in Frozen Worlds

Satellite Lab has created a "programmable brain system" with the ability to make it look like you've stopped time for the scene, but not for the moving light sources.

by Becky Chung
Nov 6 2014, 9:30pm

RGB from Satellite Lab on Vimeo.

A "programmable system" has been devised with the goal of creating the ability to "use moving light sources within the frozen world of high-speed imaging," according to artist Carlo Van de Roer. Simply put, the imaging technology has the ability to make it look like you've stopped time for the scene, but not for the moving light sources.

Explains Van de Roer, who previously experimented with a Poloroid aura camera for portraiture, "We needed to move light so that the world appears frozen by comparison, so we developed a solution to move light-sources at several thousand feet per second. [...] This gives control over the speed and motion of the light-sources and the speed of any motion in the scene as independent variables, offering a new way to control the representation of time and space."

Developed by Satellite Lab, the team comprised Van de Roer, software developer Stuart Rutherford, and designer and co-founder and Chief of Design at Behance, Matias Corea, the technology can accelerate, decelerate and change the speed of its lights as well as their paths. Seen above, test footage of the technology in motion reflects the first piece of Satellite Lab's dazzling efforts.

The team shot the above footage in the old Autumn Bowl space in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. They used red, green and blue light rays to bathe high-flying break dancers, and the resulting intersecting light sources created white light and cyan, yellow and magenta shadows. “I’m excited about the new creative and technical potential for filmmaking,” explains Van de Roer. “We’re pursuing projects in that area, maintaining an emphasis on shooting in-camera, as well as interactive and experiential ideas.”

Click here to learn more about Satellite Lab. 


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Autumn Bowl
Carlo Van de Roer
Matias Corea
Satellite Lab
Stuart Rutherford
programmable brain system