How the Centriphone Ski Video Was Made
How one inventive skier built a one-of-a-kind camera rig that changed our perspective on the sport
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Ski porn videos tend to all look pretty similar, with sweeping views of big lines and face-shot close-ups. But a new 360-degree film, which professional Swiss freeskier Nicolas Vuignier shot by twirling an iPhone above his head, stands out. The edit is beautiful and rock solid, offering a full panorama of Vuignier as he skis through the fresh snow and a Swiss terrain park.
The trick, Vuignier says, was to find a way to keep the camera stable while also allowing it to freely swing around his body. So he set about creating a rig that would be as steady as a gimbal while orbiting a camera, at speed, around a rider. While he wouldn't disclose the details of the rig (he's waiting to patent the design), we do know that he held onto a set of wires and used a 3-D printer to create the device. We suspect centrifugal force helps keep the phone steady, while the camera seems to rotate on some kind of axis so the lens stays trained on Vuignier the entire time. He did say he went through six prototypes over the course of two years before arriving at the final model.
It was also a trick to figure out what kind of camera to use. The speed at which Vuignier spins the lens is part of what makes the video so fun to watch. And in order to capture crisp footage, he needed a full high-definition camera that shot at least 240 frames per second. One recording at 120 frames per second wouldn't cut it. So he turned to the iPhone 6, which has that high-speed capability and, as a bonus, is ubiquitous. “I knew if I could get something cool done with an iPhone, it would be even bigger because everybody has one of these,” he says.
As soon as the clip went live, hundreds of people looking to buy the DIY camera rig started messaging Vuignier. He said he plans to release open-source plans on the Internet eventually, but wants to keep a large company from stealing the idea. “I don't want somebody to do a product that costs $100,” he says.