Remember the first time you saw Neo dodge Agent Smith’s bullets in The Matrix? Ever wonder how that ultra-cool effect was achieved? The answer is through a special visual effect called “bullet time,” which The Matrix essentially pioneered. In fact, the term bullet time is a registered trademark of Warner Bros., which produced The Matrix. Who knows, if not for bullet time, there might not be a viable market for Matrix Sunglasses and hence we’d both be out of luck!
According to Wikipedia.org, the bullet time effect is a “digitally-enhanced simulation of variable speed (i.e. slow motion, time-lapse, etc.) photography used in films.” The effect can transform visual elements of space and time; so for example, normally imperceptible events like flying bullets can be virtually filmed, and from multiple angles and points of view. This would not be possible with conventional slow-motion technology because the camera simply can’t move that fast.
Although the effect existed prior to 1999, it was not until it was used in The Matrix that it became highly popularized. I don’t want to get into the technicalities of how bullet time was accomplished in The Matrix, but if you really want to know, the Wiki page goes into extreme technical detail:
The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions took the bullet time effect and enhanced it even further by utilizing high-def computer generated approaches that I couldn’t even begin to comprehend. The funny thing is, it’s only about a decade later and already the bullet time approach used in the original Matrix movie is outdated. It just goes to show you that the evolution of The Matrix stops for no one…so put on your Neo Sunglasses and enjoy the ride!