Bullet Time

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"You know what I'm talking about. In all the cool action movies, and I'm talking about the coolest of the cool, it always seems like time slows down in the middle of the action. You know, you can see the bullets flying through the air, the hero dodging in slow-motion. Oh man, it would be so cool to be able to do that. Bullet-time, that's what they call it. Bullet-time, yeah heh, would be so cool."

Bullet Time is a visual effect introduced in recent films and computer games whereby the passage of time is slowed down so that an observer can see individual bullets flying throughout the scene at a conceivable rate, or any fast-moving object, sometimes with streaks and trails made visible. It is a convenient way to depict Super Reflexes, by allowing the audience to experience the same powers of enhanced perception that the protagonist is using.

It is often used to stop action at a dramatic point, and some variations involve rotating the camera view around the frozen scene in an Orbital Shot so that the audience can see a panoramic or surround view around objects or events.

In film, television and advertising, the effect is achieved by a set of still cameras surrounding the subject which are activated simultaneously. The pictures in the still cameras are then displayed consecutively and spliced into movie frames, creating the effect of a single camera moving around a scene either frozen in time or moving incredibly slowly.

The first example of Bullet Time can be found in the obscure 1981 action film Kill and Kill Again. It was also later used in a commercial by The Gap and popularized by the film The Matrix to the point where most contemporary uses of it are parodies of, homages to, or ripoffs of The Matrix. Bullet Time is also used in computer games such as Max Payne and Enter the Matrix where it allows the player to slow the game world down, but still allows the ability to look and aim at normal speed.

Antecedents to Bullet Time occurred before the invention of cinema itself. Eadweard Muybridge used still cameras placed along a racetrack to take pictures of a galloping horse. Each camera was actuated by a taut string stretched across the track; as the horse galloped past, the camera shutters snapped, taking one frame at a time (the original intent was to settle a bet the governor of California had made, as to whether or not all four of the animal's legs would leave the ground). Muybridge later assembled the pictures into a rudimentary animation, by placing them on a glass disk which he spun in front of a light source. His zoopraxiscope was the direct inspiration for Thomas Edison's moving pictures. In effect, Muybridge had achieved the aesthetic opposite to The Matrix's Bullet Time sequences; it may be a historical accident that no 19th century bullet-time animations were made.

An identical phrase, "Bullet Time", is a registered trademark of none other than Warner Bros., the distributor of The Matrix. It was formerly a trademark of 3D Realms, producer of the Max Payne games. It should be noted that the "Bullet Time" trademark refers specifically to the technique of using multiple cameras and a green screen to "freeze" the action and rotate around it, rather than just slowing conventional action down.

Note that while Bullet Time is often used to depict Super Reflexes, the two are not the same—the former is a visual depiction for the latter, not a synonym. Depiction of Bullet Time contained in imitative works, should only be considered authentic if the effect is shown as being an element of the given environment's physics (i.e., the environment does actually slow down, at least for the individual experiencing it, with other distortions of physics, such as a limited absence/control of gravity as a consequence) rather than being purely visual/aesthetic in nature. As a result, this should not be considered the same thing as conventional slow motion.

See also Caffeine Bullet Time, Time Stands Still, Adrenaline Time, Hit Stop. Very-High-Velocity Rounds may ensue if your bullets aren't slowed but your enemies' are.

Examples of Bullet Time include:


Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

Film - Animated[edit | hide]

  • Over the Hedge makes possibly the best use of a Bullet Time sequence since The Matrix, without being at all a parody of the latter. It occurs when Hammy gets a hold of an energy drink.
  • Kung Fu Panda has bullet-time nerve strikes. Tricky to pull off, but useful against rampaging snow leopards.
    • It also had bullet-time sitting, on Tai Lung's face. Rule of Funny, naturally.
    • In the scene where Po and Shifu are fighting over the dumpling, this is used to show how freakishly fast Shifu is. As Po is jumping up to catch the dumpling with his mouth, he's moving in bullet time. Shifu, however, is not.
  • Shrek. Hilarious parody of The Matrix, as Princess Fiona 'goes Trinity' on Robin Hood and His Merry Men, complete with the rotating camera angle - and a mid-air pause while she fixes her hair.
  • Parodied in the second Madagascar as well, when Alex does his zoo shtick for the stranded New Yorkers, he performs a slow-motion leap, only for one of the people, who are all still moving normally ask, "how does he DO that?"
  • Tangled. Rapunzel swings away from the ledge at the dam, and Maximus lunges to catch her hair with his teeth. The score makes it clear that this is a Shout-Out.

Film - Live-Action[edit | hide]

  • A variant was used in the fight between Tung and Chat in The Heroic Trio.
  • In Star Trek: Insurrection, the Ba'ku have figured out how to induce a temporary bullet time whenever they want. Picard figures out how to do it just in time to save his movie love interest.
  • Watchmen abuses the hell out of it, with actual bullets, a flamethrower, and countless other things used during the fights in the film.
  • The Matrix is the Trope Codifier, though it uses it sparingly.
  • The first Spider-Man film represents Peter's first use of Spider-sense with Bullet Time.
  • This is an explicitly-stated ability of Wesley in Wanted.
  • The movie version of Lost in Space used bullet time before The Matrix came out.
  • Blade uses bullet time in the confrontation between Blade and Deacon Frost. It also came out before The Matrix.
  • The recent My Bloody Valentine remake uses this.
  • One of the strangest (and coolest) examples of this trope is the new Sherlock Holmes film, including an astonishingly well-conceived slow motion explosion that is nothing like you'd expect...
  • Kung Pow had the Chosen One fighting a cow in the meadow and dodging milk shots mimicking The Matrix.
  • Used in Terminator: Salvation, but not by the heroes. Turns out one of the reasons the moto-terminators are so deadly is they can predict the movement of obstacles at high speeds.
  • I Robot features lots of examples.
  • In The Return of Hanuman, Maruti avoided bullets this way in the gangsters' hangout behind a large wall.
  • The Final Countdown gives this treatment to the explosion of a Japanese Zero when it's struck by a Sidewinder missile. Bonus points for the film being made in 1980, decades before bullet time became common practice.
  • When Captain Jack Sparrow shoots at the barrels of dynamite to injure the kraken in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.
  • Inverted in the climax of The Ice Pirates: The titular pirates are going through a time-warp, where time is speeding up, and the film actually speeds up for seconds at a time. The result is weirdly cool.
  • A "wand time" variation shows up in a few points of Harry Potter Part II.
  • Buffalo Sixty Six is one of the earliest examples of this trope, although the camera pans around moments that are frozen in time rather than slowed down. The camera also appears to be handheld.
  • V for Vendetta, in the final fight between V and Creedy's men. Time was slowed during V's knife attack which wiped out Creedy's men in the seconds it took for them to reload. Complete with knife streaks.
  • The first Scary Movie parodied The Matrix bullet-time scene with a thrown disc-shaped object. The killer bends back... and you can hear a crack. When time speeds back up, he can't "un-bend".
  • The trailer for Underworld Awakening has Selene go into super-speed (from her point-of-view) against a squad of armed guards, as she quickly slices their throats before they can fire off a shot. Strangely, the guards should have been better prepared, given that she wakes up in The Unmasked World, where humans are openly hunting vampires and lycans.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • Rin, of the Books Of Bayern, can move into a state where she has "one foot in the world of humans and one in the world of trees." In this state, she is able to dodge incoming arrows, because apparently trees do not comprehend time. Eh, we'll buy it.
  • Umbo from Pathfinder has the literal version of this: he can speed up people's perceptions of time, thus enabling them to think and react faster.
  • In Sergey Lukyanenko's Rough Draft, the protagonist can speed up after becoming a customs officer-functional as part of his powers "package". Of course, police-functionals are even faster, as their job is to, well, police all other functionals. When the protagonist ends up in Earth-1 (AKA Arkan), the human soldiers sent after him use pills to temporarily accelerate, as the protagonist hightails it as super-speed, dodging machineguns and helicopter gunship cannons. The novel specifically mentions him seeing the soldiers move very slowly (from the protagonist's point-of-view), until the pills kick into effect, and they suddenly move at his pace.
  • In Starlight and Shadows trilogy by Elaine Cunningham a berserker rage does this to the point where even hand crossbow bolts aren't too fast to swat with a cudgel or dodge out of square hits.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • One of the earliest TV examples is the 1996 Sliders episode "Double Cross." The CGI used was not nearly as convincing as that of The Matrix.
  • The Necro Cam sequences in various episodes of CSI sometimes display a Bullet Time effect.
  • MythBusters provide us with a rare non-fiction example of Bullet Time in their tests, most notably those involving guns or explosions. The effect is achieved by using high speed cameras to get more frames of the shot, then slowing down the image. The resulting footage is slowed down enough to see a shockwave expanding out from a massive explosion, but still looks as smooth as if it was being played in real time.
  • The Discovery series Time Warp is all about this, in a semi-Mythbusters-ish style (it does only realistic stuff, compared to the wackiness that can be myths on Mythbusters).
  • Sons of Guns: It's a show about a Lousiana firearms manufacturer.
  • The History Channel uses high speed cameras frequently on 'Lock And Load' with host R. Lee Ermey. Then again, the show is mostly about guns. So...
  • Appears regularly in Smallville whenever Clark goes into super-speed mode.
  • Witchblade. Slightly Justified Trope, because the point of an early scene with it is to show that the Witchblade can slow down time, rather than just to make the bullets look dramatic.
  • The X-Files episode "Rush", made in 1999, featured teenagers who could move at super-fast speeds, and used Bullet Time in several scenes where the action slows down around the characters.
  • Hotel Babylon does not only this, but has the camera move around during it- a ride through the hotel lobby is the norm.
  • Used in both Power Rangers Time Force and Mirai Sentai Timeranger. Early on when the titular characters are attacked by the villain's robotic grunts, they flashily dodge the projectiles launched at them in slow-motion. Later, during a mecha fight, the Rangers' Megazord bounces off the sky and launches itself toward the super-sized villain, both firing at each other as the camera does a 360-degree freeze pan around the combatants.
  • Kamen Rider Kabuto uses a variation of this where characters with super speed fight each other in a fraction of a second, so the show uses Bullet Time to slow the action for the viewer's benefit. This results in a near frozen environment (raindrops or glass shards very slowly still falling, or in one instance a character thrown into the air by an explosion still serenely rotating several feet up) while the fighters battle at a more normal speed.
  • Appears within the first 60 seconds of Legend of the Seeker's pilot episode (with crossbow bolts, natch), and exploited frequently from there on and included in nearly every fight scene.
  • Referenced in an episode of QI. While discussing how a fly would see a movie (they would see it more like a slide show, with frame-black-frame-black, etc.), one guest notes: "A fly must sit there, watching the Matrix, thinking "When is something going to happen?""
  • The series Once A Thief used Bullet Time, since it was based on a John Woo movie that also made use of it.
  • In an old The Outer Limits episode, a pilot crash lands. Time for him remains the same, but time in the location he lands slows to a crawl. While in the town, he realizes that a truck is rolling down an incline and will run over a little boy riding his tricycle. He uses a safety belt to tie the emergency brake to the tires, and the truck is stopped before it hits the boy.
  • One episode of Angel slowed time down as Fred shot a bullet through Jasmine and into Angel. This was a major plot point. Individuals enthralled by Jasmine would snap out of it when they were exposed to her blood, so the Bullet Time Cam showed that the bullet carried Jasmine's blood with it as it entered Angel's body.
  • In an episode of Psych, Shawn watches a bullet travel in bullet time. Unfortunately, his hyper-awareness has always been bullet time fast, but he's not. He gets shot.
  • The Cube is a stunt game show which uses an array of special cameras around the playing field (the titular cube) to achieve this effect. For example, the show often freezes the action or goes into slow-motion as the camera angle swings around, usually at a strategically-timed point such as when the contestant just jumped and is still in midair.
  • Any time firearms are used in Auction Hunters. Strangely enough, this trope can be seen at numerous other times for purely dramatic effect while dealing with non-high speed events.

Music[edit | hide]

  • The Japanese Electropop band Polysics parodied this one in one of their videos.
  • Don't forget the mostly animated music video for Korn's "Freak On A Leash".
  • Sphere's video for "Future Stream" has scenes where one member walks around while the other three are frozen in place. As shown in the behind the scenes footage, this was done in the low budget way of everybody simply standing still, with the "floating" props hanging on strings.

Professional Sports[edit | hide]

  • A version of the effect, simplified enough to be done live is sometimes used in NFL football games when an interception is thrown. This effect is emulated in the Madden series of video games, where action stops for a few seconds on changes of possession (interceptions, fumble recoveries or kick/punt returns) while the video rotates to take on the perspective from behind the team now in possession of the ball.

Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • A tabletop example can be found in the Mutants & Masterminds supplement Mecha & Manga. Bullet Time is a power that allows you to spend a hero point while using extra effort to gain an amount of extra actions dependent on the power's rating. However, you may only get one extra attack through this method, though this is due to balance the damaging system of the game.
  • Exalted has some. Panoptic Fusion Discipline induces Bullet Time for the rest of a scene, improving your defenses and all of your attacks with a full "Aim" action.

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Alan Wake. The gameplay will slow down into a cinematic bullet time, complete with the rotating camera, whenever something mildly awesome is done, like when dodging an attack well, lighting a flare moments before getting swarmed, or lighting up the Taken in a particularly flashy manner. This combined with the light and particle effects makes these scenes especially awesome.
  • Achron has a multiplayer variant of this trope, which is interesting because the Bullet Time is subjective; you don't slow time for all the other players when you activate the ability. It's usually used to better micromanage battles.
  • Okami features Kasugami's ability to slow down time, allowing you to, say, sneak past those pesky guards, or see an ultra-fast attack. It's also incredibly awesome to be able to mow down a whole bunch of Mooks in a fraction of a second, or beat up someone while they're in the middle of a Flash Step. A subversion also takes place: Kasugami, the god of Mist, about to be attacked by flying guitars, slows them down using his power while jumping and twisting dramatically... and gets hit by them anyway.
  • Enter the Matrix naturally has it as one of the main features.
  • John Marsten's "Dead Eye" ability in Red Dead Redemption slows everything to a crawl and allows the player to take the time to aim precision shots at difficult targets. Later in the game it can be upgraded so rather than actually shooting people while in Dead Eye mode you just "paint" targets and at the pull of the trigger let off a hale of gunfire at high speed.
  • The later Burnout games have Impact Time, which lets you slow down time after a collision and use the burning debris from accidents to destroy opponents.
  • In Cobalt Bullet Time is activated whenever your character enters at critical moments. This usually happens whenever you are fired upon at close range or by very powerful weapons. This is for you to either get out of the way of incoming fire, or block it with a combat roll.
  • The bullet slowdown mode is a feature available to all playable characters in the Espgaluda series, through the consumption of jewels acquired through the game; however, failing to deactivate the slowdown mode before the jewel counter is depleted makes all of the onscreen bullets travel twice as fast their normal speed (see this video for example).
  • Fallout 3's VATS system was announced by Bethesda as their attempt at TBS, but it appears to have all the features of Bullet Time, except for any resource expense to use it, making it comparatively a cheat. But it does come with a highly flexible and intuitive camera system to dramatize the action sequence, even using shaky-cam and desaturated effects.
    • You can freeze time for any amount of time but action points limited the number of actions you can take. VATS also automatically aims your shots and ignores the gun's scope if it has one.
  • FEAR lets you do this due to your 'enhanced reflexes' that magically make your weapon fire twice as fast at the same time. Worth mentioning that Point Man (and later Beckett) are psychics, so 'magically' isn't that far off.
  • In Geist, traveling around as a ghost slows everything around you to a crawl. Later on, at least two of the bodies you can inhabit pick up a suit of armor that gives you limited amounts of bullet time slowdown in battle. If you're clever, you can even use both at the same time...
  • In Jade Empire, while you only fight one enemy who shoots actual bullets at you, the PC possesses the ability to use 'Focus Mode,' which puts you in a limited-duration Bullet Time. This comes in surprisingly handy on harder difficulty levels. The end boss can do this too, if you use focus mode yourself they cancel and it plays at normal speed. Given who taught it to your character, this isn't really surprising.
  • Using Force Speed in Jedi Outcast and Jedi Academy will slow down time, allowing you to fire or dodge blaster bolts in a de facto bullet time.
    • Also, killing another lightsaber user (or, on one level, speeder bike rider) slows the whole game into bullet time for a second just for effect.
      • The slo-mo spinning death cam is actually an option in the menu: turning it to the highest level means the effect is triggered for every kill the player makes. It's impractical and the delay will probably get you killed, but it does result in a surprisingly cinematic Adrenaline Time effect when fighting packs of mooks.
    • Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter has a similar power called Force Reflex available when flying as Adi Gallia, the Jedi pilot. It does stretch Suspension of Disbelief a bit more than simply deflecting blaster bolts with a lightsaber, since your ship also becomes capable of turning on a dime, dodging lasers, firing at an increased rate, and other things that should be mechanically impossible, at least without jellying the pilot and melting itself, but the laws of physics gave up on the Star Wars universe a long time ago, so what's one more violation?
  • Furies in The Legend of Spyro games have this, with included Visual Effects of Awesome. The Eternal Night also has an extra power for Spyro, fittingly called "Dragon Time", which slows time down for everything around him. It was never explained why Dragon Time didn't return for Dawn of the Dragon, though.
  • Need for Speed: Most Wanted and Carbon have the Speedbreaker, which slows down time so you can easily take any tricky corner (it even makes it easy to take an U-turn with the Dodge Challenger at full speed!), and also makes your car heavier to let you toss around squad cars with little effort.
  • One of the powers available to the Prince of Persia in the recent Sands Of Time trilogy, what with the various time-controlling artefacts around, is naturally the ability to slow time's passing.
  • In RuneScape, the only way to dodge poison darts in the Agility Dungeon, your character has to enter bullet time and dodge them in a direct homage to The Matrix. However, this particular obstacle takes the most time to complete and has the worst penalty for failure (fail too often and you can't attempt it for a while) in that particular dungeon. So it's generally avoided whenever possible.
  • The Trauma Center games temporarily slow time down during an operation whenever Derek activates his "Healing Touch". What happens when Stiles' Healing Touch happens twice? He puts The Flash to complete shame and becomes a syringing, suturing GOD.
  • Virtua Cop 3 has the "Exceeding Sense" mode, activated by stepping on a pedal. When activated, time slows down to the point where enemy bullets become visible and can be shot away. Obviously, there is a limit to how much you can do this, shown by an on-screen gauge.
  • The discussion of the trope should not be without mentioning the formal Trope Namer, Max Payne. The game was the first to use Bullet Time as an actual play mechanic. The sequel actually allows you to quickly reload in bullet-time, which has Max (or Mona) rapidly spin with the guns magically reloaded at the end. There's something John Woo-ish about this.
  • In Wolfenstein, Bullet Time is one of several powers granted to B.J. by the mystical Thule Medallion.
  • Getting Molasses Time in Backyard Skateboarding made you extremely slow, which allowed you to perform extremely high-point combos.
  • In the game Wet, your amazing acrobatic moves slow down into bullet time whenever you draw your guns and start blasting away.
  • The 1999 FPS Requiem: Avenging Angel featured a bullet-time power called "WARP TIME". The game's demo coincided with the release of The Matrix in theaters, resulting in some positive comparisons at the time.
  • The Climax Mode Limit Break in Afterburner Climax slows time down when setting up and launching the Macross Missile Massacre, but you get knocked out of it when your bird gets hit, almost as if the game is punishing you for being n00b enough to still get hit despite the missiles and crap moving slower.
  • Youmu Konpaku of the Touhou Project series will regularly slow everything down for most of her spellcards in Perfect Cherry Blossom. Bullet Time is even more epic when there's hundreds of bullets coming at you.
  • TimeShift uses Bullet Time as an essential game mechanic. You cannot finish the game without using the time powers, and even with them it's still hard.
  • In Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, time will automatically slow down (though not enough to see individual bullets flying) every time you breach a door with explosives to simulate the kind of reflexes a soldier needs in order to quickly clear out rooms of hostiles without retaliation.
    • In the first Modern Warfare, collecting 20 intel laptops would unlock the "Slow-Mo" cheat. When the cheat is active, you lose the ability to knife things in return for being able to slow time down.
  • Possibly the first game ever featuring this was Unreal Tournament (1999), although you could only trigger it with a console command. Just start a Practice Session, and during gameplay, type slomo 0,X into the console. The result is a scalable bullet time environment, considering that slomo 0,1 means super-slow, slomo 0,9 means just a little slower than normal. If you type a number greater than 1 after slomo, you receive a faster gameplay - this can be any number, but after a while, your machine will not keep up with the pace. Any number after 15 caused major suffering to the machine... Slomo 0,0 doesn't work, if you want Time Freeze, there is a command for that too. Combine this with the command behindview 1, and just watch as the game turns into a familiar TPS, only you have more freedom. The mentioned commands only work against bots of course.
    • First? consuming a red potion in Pathways into Darkness would cause the game world to slow down to ridiculous levels, complete with distorted audio. This was back in 1993.
  • Bullet time is one of the major gameplay elements of Alpha Prime, powered by refined hubbardium.
  • In Mass Effect 2, an Infiltrator with a high enough sniper rifle rating can get a few seconds of bullet time when looking down a sniper scope, to help the player line up a headshot. Soldiers also get the exclusive "Adrenaline Rush" perk, which is like a cross between this and Adrenaline Time. Vanguards can also specify whether their Biotic Charge either affects a larger area of impact or enters bullet time after the impact; perfect for lining up a meatshot on a ragdolling enemy.
    • The Soldier "Adrenaline Rush" can be used to take it one step further. When you sprint, the time is also slowed down slightly. If you activate the Adrenaline Rush and sprint, the missiles and enemies nearly stand still while you storm across the room. Now, how cool is that? You can outrun a missile!
  • In Painkiller, the Haste and Double Haste cards have this effect.
  • Half-Life 2's SMOD has an HEV Suit function which slows down time, mainly giving the player an increased reaction time, even to the point of dodging bullets! Certain players use the cheat for unlimited AUX power to have a little fun with this and, the installation of SMOD: CSS Sci-Fi, Redux, and a few others allow options for how it works such as Default, F.E.A.R. style, Max Payne, Time stop (Stopping other NPC's and Physics but simply slowing down the player while bullets are still hitscan), and Script style (Physics, NPC's and the Player slow down but bullets retain their hit scan properties as if the "Host_timescale" command was used)
  • Doom 3's expansion pack Resurrection of Evil has the "Heart of Hell" artifact, central to the plot of the game. Once you kill the first of the bosses, you gain the "Helltime" power, allowing the Heart of Hell to slowdown time around all things but the player, complete with changes to the pitch and speed of all sounds around them. It can be later combined with a "Berserker" power and an "Invulnerability" power from later bosses, allowing a fully powered up Heart of Hell to make the player nearly unstoppable for a short time.
  • BloodRayne: One of Rayne's 'Vision modes'. Curiously it doesn't run out and need to be recharged, so you could play the entire game in slow-mo if you wanted. The second game also added 'super speed' and 'stop time' as upgrades.
  • Bayonetta has this as a signature mechanic - dodge an attack the instant before it would hit and you enter "Witch Time," where enemies are so slow they might as well be standing still. It's the best way to get hits in against the game's tougher, lightning-fast monsters - which is why the Harder Than Hard mode, Nonstop Infinite Climax, makes it nearly impossible to activate.
  • God Hand causes time-slowing whenever choosing a move from the God Reel/Roulette/Wheel.
  • Done completely unintentionally in the classic Star Raiders for the Atari 8 Bit Computers. When a Zylon ship is destroyed, the game draws an exploding cloud of pixels for several seconds. That maxed out the processing power of the Atari, so the game slowed down temporarily... which proved beneficial when there was a second Zylon ship nearby.
  • Devil May Cry 3 introduces Quicksliver style, which allows Dante to slow down time. It's first used by the boss Geryon.
  • Chaos Legion has a Legion sidekick which can slow down time for the enemies, in addition to raining Beam Spam on said enemies.
  • The Titan Motion in Will Rock. Unlike other examples here, it totally sucks since it slows down even your own bullets.
  • Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions gives Spider-Man 2099 temporary bursts of "Accelerated Vision".
  • In Inazuma Eleven, the Heaven's Time hissatsu technique allows the user to slow down time around them to a near-halt, leisurely walk past opponents while dribbling the ball, after which the effect wears off and a whirlwind occurs in the space they passed through (presumably because of all the air particles they displaced) and blows the opponents off their feet.
  • Some Flash games do this by accident; if the game requires more CPU time than your computer has to spare, the effect will often be to slow the game down to a crawl without any loss of detail or frameskipping. In most games this will also cause an Interface Screw due to the game cursor taking seconds to reach the real cursor's location, or due to keyboard commands not being recognised until the character has finished their current action. In others (where the controls remain responsive), it can let the player get through Bullet Hell or slice up countless Mooks without a scratch.
  • In Famous has the "Precision" mechanic, which slows things down to allow Cole to set up long-range sniper-like blasts of electricity. Especially useful for picking mooks off buildings, or knocking them away from gun turrets, but the game does not tell you that, while you're zoomed in, you're draining your energy, so if you take too long setting up a shot, you might suddenly find that you don't have the power necessary to actually shoot.
  • In Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine, the unlockable "Marksman" upgrade to Fury mode slows down time for Titus, allowing him to line up precision shots with his weapon. Extremely useful for putting Stalker-pattern bolter rounds and lascannon shots on target in the middle of a frenetic firefight.
  • In the 1980 sci-fi RPG game Star Quest: Rescue at Rigel, the hero is equipped with the AMBLE ("Accelerated Movement through Bio-electronic Enhancement") system which, when activated, grants the player two moves per round and increases the damage from melee attacks, but also causes fatigue while it's on (and being completely fatigued makes the hero helpless).
  • Resident Evil 5 frequently uses Bullet Time in cutscenes whenever Wesker's involved.
  • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, there are at least three different ways to trigger a bullet time effect: one in the form of a Dragonshout, one as a perk in Archery, and one as a perk in Blocking.
  • Perfect Dark has an item called the Combat Boost which, when administered, acts to slow down the perception of time for greater reaction speed and accuracy. (It was originally called the Adrenaline Pill, but this was later Bowdlerized.) There is also a cheat called Singer Play Slo-Mo in which every level can be played this way.
  • Red Dead Redemption has the bullet time mechanic called Dead Eye where you can slow down time in order to line up more accurate shots until the meter runs out. It works under 3 different levels, the first level requires that you manually shoot while in the slow down state, the second automatically marks the enemy with red dots based on where you pointed the cursor and the limit to these red dots is the amount of ammo in your gun, and the third works similar to number 2 but you manually decide the number of red dots you want instead of having it be automatic. Since the main character John Marston is a cowboy and the story takes place in a Western setting this gameplay mechanic is supposed to simulate the advanced type of hand-eye coordination it would take to shoot as fast and as accurately as the cowboys in the Wild West movies did.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Parodied in the "Party Posse" episode of The Simpsons; N* Sync shows up and starts doing music video tricks, only for one of the members to fall out of the Freeze Frame during the Bullet Time sequence.
  • The Fairly OddParents in the opening of the episode "Power Mad" where Timmy uses this to dodge carrots shot at him.
  • In Toph's introductory episode in Avatar: The Last Airbender, The battles that she is in use Bullet Time to emphasize that yes she's winning, and yes she's blind. Also happens in the series finale, when Katara watches Zuko take Azula's lightning for her.
  • Two instances in the climax of Bionicle 3: Web of Whadows: the first when Nuju flips around a string of Visorak web, causing two Visorak to collide underneath him; and later when Vakama blasts Matau with a spinner. As the camera angle changes, it becomes obvious Matau is a flat, 2D animated image.
  • Parodied a few times in Kerwhizz with the characters reacting in normal time while their racing pods are in ultra-slow motion.
  • In ThunderCats (2011), Rascally Rabbit the Drifter has this as a secondary power of his Wuxia-level Not Quite Flight and Super Reflexes. His lightness and ability to drift on windcurrents makes him appear able to effortlessly Overcrank himself, which he demonstrates by performing a flying No, I Am Behind You in apparent slow-mo while actually chatting in real time.

Real Life[edit | hide]

  • When programming in some languages - typically in lower-level languages (as in closer to the bits and bytes of machine language) - it is possible to make multitasking more efficient with interrupts. In particular, pieces of hardware can initiate interrupts, each having its own priority; and it is sometimes possible to code interrupts with higher priority than the system clock. A millisecond just passed? Sorry, that will have to wait - the system is busy running a subroutine in bullet time.
  • Rumor has it that when we humans get ourselves into an extremely dangerous situation, our mind projects the illusion that everything has slowed down so that we have time to think.
    • Myth busted.
      • This experiment has been done by another scientist, and the test subject was able to read the number on his flashing watch, sort of. The watch says 96, but he read 98. Until the validity of that experiment is put into question, it's still plausible.
      • It's merely probing of image recognition mechanisms, long known in psychophysiolology. Has nothing to do with the speed at which one's brain can do anything else. They also displace the image by a higher-contrast one, otherwise the experiment demonstrates only the existence of afterimages, which anyone capable of video editing or graphics programming can show easily. In this case, it's not even clear whether numbers fail to displace each other in the first place, eye movements change for wider scanning at the cost of choppier vision ("FPS drop"), numbers in this font get recognized faster due to training into basic patterns or all perception indeed accelerates, or how much all these factors contribute.
    • The perception that time has slowed is probably an artifact of how we notice lots more detail in our surroundings when we're terrified, as our senses and brains go into a hyperalert state to try and detect a way out. Because sensing so much information would normally demand extra time and attention, we remember such experiences as taking longer than they actually do.