Lance Acord: 3D Simulation

From American Cinematographer, Playing a Risky Stock on Buffalo 66, by Jean Oppenheimer (July 1998)

Acord remembered a technique utilized by French commercial director Michel Gondry, which employed a circular still-camera array that was simultaneously triggered-- "freezing" the subject from multiple angles. The resulting frames were then sequentially morphed and animated to create a virtual pan and 3-D effect. Acord thought he could add to the shock of his murder sequence by similarly "freezing" his actors, but he used a different method.

"I discovered it by mistake. I had previously worked on a project that was to be composed of a series of stills, with the exception of a few scenes that we would shoot with a movie camera. However, we used the movie camera as a stills unit and just shifted the angle slightly while all of the actors froze in place. By moving the camera around the completely motionless actors, we got that same kind of unnerving 3-D effect that Gondry had achieved [with the still-camera array]. A person can only hold so still, however. The thing that made it possible was ramping from a regular camera speed to a high speed. The actor would freeze mid-scene, at which point we would ramp up to 80 or 90 frames per second, sometimes as high as 120fps, and then quickly shift the camera from one side of the actor to the other."

- Lance Acord, ASC

Ramping the frame rate would ensure that whatever small movement the actors made would be imperceptible. To enhance the 3-D effect, and create the impression that a split-second in time had in fact been captured makeup artist Goochie Westman found some blown-glass pieces, resembling splashing red liquid, which had been used for a cranberry juice commercial. When these were attached to the back of Gallo's head, it looked as if a bullet were passing through his skull, with the blood effectively "frozen" in the moment of death.

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