A small creative studio in New York City is bending the speed of light. And no, this isn’t hyperbole or metaphor.
Satellite Lab was founded by Carlo Van de Roer, Stuart Rutherford, and Matias Corea––an artist, software developer, and designer, respectively––who came together to develop a technology they named DynamicLight. This patented process allows filmmakers and editors to use moving light sources within footage captured at any speed –– including the frozen world of high-speed imaging. According to the company, DynamicLight creates the ability to move light sources within images frozen in time when one is using a high-speed cinema camera coupled with light sources moving at over ten thousand feet per second. This software controls the movement of those light sources and the movement of the scene as independent variables, allowing one to manipulate the speed of light relative to the action. Light sources can be moved on any path––a straight line, a curve, etc.––and can illuminate any pattern. The mechanics are admittedly a little confusing to wrap the brain around, but it’s every bit as magical as it sounds.
So how does all that technical jargon translate to the finished product? Well, the results are stunning. The services of Satellite Lab have been enlisted for some seriously high-end, high-profile projects; the team has worked with some of the world’s top designers and film studios to incorporate DynamicLight technology in advertising and movies. Christian Louboutin, Nike, Finlandia Vodka…these are just a few of the brands scattered across Satellite’s impressive portfolio. Even Thor: Ragnarok utilizes DynamicLight to create some seriously stunning battle scenes.
But Satellite Lab is no one trick pony; expanding and evolving the development of DynamicLight, the team has also developed two separate technologies known as Platelight and Framelight. Platelight, according to the team, provides the ability to capture multiple lighting set-ups simultaneously; each is recorded as separate footage of the same live action, with zero time offset. It can be used in post-production to create some jaw-dropping, optically ambitious spectacles. And while the technology is patent pending, it’s already been exhibited at the Dolby Gallery in San Francisco in an installation titled Here and Then. This seven-minute film features action that occurred in a fraction of a second; according to Satellite, multiple light sources moving faster than the speed of sound were recorded simultaneously, each providing separate footage of the same moment.
Framelight, on the other hand, provides the ability to shoot video and stills simultaneously using synchronized lighting. Working with strobes, Satellite can operate two cameras in unison (one for stills, one for motion), or use one camera to capture both. Check out these dramatic stills for Northface:
We’ll be keeping our eyes peeled for future projects from Satellite Lab as this exciting group of creatives pushes the relationship between digital technology and filmmaking to new limits.
Photos via Satellite Lab.