Two Romanians working for Vision Research were awarded the Scientific and Engineering Academy Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which organizes the Oscars in the US. Radu Corlan, chief scientist with Vision Research and Petru Pop, software architect with the same company, together with two other colleagues- Andy Jantzen and Richard Toftness, received the award for their contributions to the design and development of Phantom high-speed digital cameras. Feature films that have used Phantom cameras to create slow motion effects include Sherlock Holmes (1 & 2), Born to be Wild 3D, Inception, Resident Evil: Afterlife, Green Hornet, Secretariat, Zombieland, Source Code, Captain America: The First Avenger, TRON: Legacy.
Corlan was responsible for the sensor specification and design, camera architecture, firmware, and Pop was in charge of software design to realize the image processing pipeline. Pop also coordinates the research team of Vision Research in Romania. The two awarded Romanians, together with Alexandru Aciu, have the patent rights for the high-speed camera. Aciu, a Romanian from Timisoara, started developing the technology back in Romania, before emigrating to the US in the early 90s, where he joined Vision Research. Aciu died of cancer in 2004.
Vision Research’s Phantom line of digital, high-speed cameras is used by scientists and engineers, film producers and even for military purposes. In the film industry, they are used for shooting special events scenes. The Phantom V12 camera was used to shoot the Discovery Channel documentary ‘Time Warp’, where an MIT professor shows, in slow motion, phenomena the human eye would not otherwise perceive (in video below) . The cameras shoot images in HD, 2K or 4K resolution at speeds greater than 150 fps that, when viewed at normal projection speeds, are super slow-motion.
The Phantom family of high-speed digital cameras, including the Phantom Flex and HD Gold, provide imagery at speeds and efficacy surpassing photochemical technology, according to Vision Research. Prices of the camera in the Phantom line range from USD 50,000 to USD 150,000.
(photo: Andy Jantzen (left), Petru Pop (left center), Radu Corlan (right center) and Richard Toftness; photo credits Todd Wawrychuck AMPAS)