Filming Tips

Monkey Lights on a moving bike can be challenging to film. The difference of the frame rates between the camera and the Monkey Light causes the images to not fill the entire wheel. This can be overcome with a combination of camera settings and/or post-production effects.

Phone tips

  • We’ve found that it’s difficult to capture Monkey Lights on a phone.  If your phone has a manual shutter speed control, you can try a setting between 1/4s and 1/15s.
  • We’ve tried the following apps with mixed results:
    • Skyflow: (link) This is the best app for capturing Monkey Lights that we know of, but you will need to pay to remove the watermark.  It still has its limitations though.  These settings worked for us:
      • Set ISO to 24
      • Set Shutter to 1/5s
      • Set Time lapse interval to 1/5s
      • Go to “LE” mode, and turn on Light Trails.
      • Set Light trails to Lifetime: 0.5s, Threshold: minimum
    • Yamera: We have gotten good results with this app!  Try a shutter speed of 1/15s or slower for both video and photo modes.
    • Lightspeed: Some settings can be helpful, but overall not very effective
    • Slow Shutter: Not great
    • Pablo
    • HEx (cam)
    • Night vision
    • Lapse It Pro: Configure it to take photos at 100ms intervals, with 100ms shutter speed.  In photo mode you can get a 360-degree shutter, but in video mode you can’t.
  • Neutral density filter:
    • Adding a neutral density filter in front of your lens to darken the scene (or dark sunglasses!) can help make the lights show up better in video.

Still Camera Tips

  • Typically a shutter speed between 1/4 and 1/15 is good with a typical riding speed. To fill more of the wheel with the light pattern, either spin the wheel faster or use a slower shutter.
  • Try a 2nd-curtain flash to illuminate the rider and scene, dim the flash by -2 stops at least.
  • “Light Painting” techniques can also be helpful.

Video Camera Settings

To achieve the most realistic representations of our lights while preserving motion:

  • (option 1) Shoot at 24 FPS with 1/24 shutter speed (360 degree shutter). Apply “Echo” effect in post-production (Premiere, After effects). Our Space Dragons and Kickstarter 2016 videos used this method. You may need to mask the wheels to avoid undesired echo.
  • (option 2) Shoot at 24 FPS with 1/12 shutter speed (720 degree shutter). Minimal post-production needed, but only a few professional cameras can do this setting. Our MLP Kickstarter video used this method.
  • (option 3) Shoot at 24 FPS with 1/24 shutter speed (360 degree shutter). Ride the bicycle fast enough to keep the wheel solid. The Museum of Brisbane video used this method.
  • The default setting on most video cameras is 24 FPS with 1/48 shutter. This will cause obvious “pie slices” in the captured video of the Monkey Light.

Video Cameras

  • Sony FS700, RED, Canon C100, BlackMagic: All support 360 degree shutter (or more) and suitable frame rates.
  • Canon DSLR: Use Magic Lantern firmware to enable 360 degree shutter and slow shutter capabilities for video.