Photographing the rocket and engines

A busy day yesterday filming and photographing the rocket. The CO2 engines worked well – but as they say, please, please, please don’t try this at home. I took lots of advice, and stood well back. I also had a Chaplain to Her Majesty The Queen on the team (my Dad) praying we didn’t inadvertently fire the thing over the fence.

I discounted the idea of building a launch tower and hoisting the rocket up. The tower would have been lots of fun, but something of a diversion, alas. I also think the rocket would have twisted when the CO2 fired, so a smooth ascent would have been (most likely) impossible. Important to note here that I was trying to carefully photograph a miniature, not launch a rocket – the two activities are somewhat different.

The short film above was shot with my ‘B’ camera. I’ve slowed it down in places to give you some idea of how the final images will look. Rather excitingly, the sound becomes incredibly realistic at slower speeds!

My ‘A’ camera is capable of taking a blast of 72 still shots in hi-def over 3 seconds. I used this to record the smoke. The camera is positioned at the pointy end of the rocket focused on the engines, while Dad is standing behind me taking stills with his camera… a ‘C’ camera, in fact.

As yet, I’ve not had a chance to process these hi-def images, but they look good in playback through the viewfinder. Oh, I should say that none of the film above will be used in the final sequence because it is low resolution – it is just to show you what the setup was like and the sort of thing I was doing to get the shots I needed.

We also took a series of still images of the rocket ‘animating’ across the garden without the engines firing. We did this by measuring out the garden with a tape measure, then moving the rocket slowly across it. The camera in the upstairs bedroom followed the rocket full frame taking still pictures.

Now begins the post production process of creating the launch sequence by taking both sets the images – animated stills and smoke –  and putting them together in Photoshop. I also need to build the background photographically. The idea is that there will be a flick book effect for twenty or so pages. I hope it’ll all work… errr… somehow. It ain’t rocket science.


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