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Cinematographer creates slow-motion video of a cheetah's sprint

Cheryl Santa Maria, staff writer
November 30, 2012 — If you only watch one video online today, make it this one.

A cheetah can reach a speed of 96 km/h in as little as 2 seconds
A cheetah can reach a speed of 96 km/h in as little as 2 seconds

Brooklyn-based cinematographer Gregory Wilson has collaborated with National Geographic to produce the first-ever high-definition, slow motion film of a cheetah sprinting. 

The project is part of National Geographic's Cause an Uproar Big Cats initiative.

Wilson says he wanted to do something special that harnessed cutting-edge technology to showcase the world's fastest animal.

"The origins of the shoot come from a series of photographs taken in 1878 by Eadweard Muybridge," he says.

"To prove a bet, he set up a series of plate cameras to photograph a running horse and prove once and for all that all four feet are off the ground at one time. In doing so he created the first ever motion picture images ever taken."

According to Wilson, Muybridge gave his viewers the sensation that they were travelling alongside the horse -- a feeling he wanted to recreate with his film.

Filmed at the Cincinnati Zoo and filmed over three days, the shoot required an army of equipment, including a high-speed camera and a custom-built trigger system.

"To keep up with the top speed and acceleration of a cheetah, we needed our dolly system to get up to 96 km/h in as little as 2 seconds," Wilson says. 

The video, which was created for the November issue of National Geographic, can be viewed in its entirety on the magazine's website.

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