Thank smartphones and sci-fi for giving us the awesomeness of the ‘Mannequin Challenge’

A 'bullet time' scene from 'The Matrix.' It's also proof that, yes, everyone is a sci-fi geek now. That magic was duplicated in this year's follow up film, X-Men: Apocalypse, this time to the track "Sweet Dreams" by the Eurythmics. But there's an even earlier, more groundbreaking scene that is really at the heart of the social media trend, and it's in one of the best science fiction films ever made: The Matrix. The film popularized the Hollywood visual effect known as "bullet time," giving us the unforgettable image of Keanu Reaves (Neo) dodging bullets in a virtual world. Yes, there were earlier attempts at this visual effect in 1998's Lost in Space (see below) and Buffalo '66, but 1999's The Matrix is the film that used cutting-edge camera work and visual effects to best pull it off. Image: new line cinema The hyper drive scene from 1998's 'Lost In Space.' In the case of the first Matrix film, Maeda described how he used 120 still cameras and two motion picture cameras, all operating at different frames per second, along with digital image interpolation, to achieve the stunning effect. However, now that smartphone cameras are ubiquitous and social networks are the world's default distribution channels, it was only a matter of time before someone harnessed the power of smartphone cameras to mimic the look and kick off the biggest series of fake special effects we've ever seen. And if you pay close attention to these kinds of tech-driven social media trends, you'll realize that we saw the first rumblings of the Mannequin Challenge play out in Japan's still photo trend of several years ago.

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A 'bullet time' scene from 'The Matrix.'
A ‘bullet time’ scene from ‘The Matrix.’

The Mannequin
Challenge
is officially the coolest new social media trend to
take over Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Facebook, compelling
people to go to great lengths to show off what’s possible when you
(fake) freeze time.

Although the idea almost seems obvious at this point — now that
nearly everyone has a mobile camera — it should be noted that the
Mannequin Challenge is actually the purest embodiment of 2016 tech
allowing us to live out some of our science fiction fantasies.

It’s also proof that, yes, everyone is a sci-fi geek now.

Think about it, and when you finally make the connection you’ll
probably remember that cool time freeze scene from X-Men: Days
of Future Past
. In the now iconic scene, Quicksilver (Evan
Peters) runs through a maze of people and objects all frozen in
time as the classic song “Time in a Bottle” by Jim Croce serves as
the soundtrack. Yep, it looks exactly like Mannequin Challenge,
only with Hollywood special effects thrown in to enhance the frozen
time effect.

That magic was duplicated in
this year’s follow up film, X-Men: Apocalypse, this time
to the track “Sweet Dreams” by the Eurythmics. Despite our
familiarity with the visual trick, it was nevertheless the most
stunning scene in the entire film.

Those two scenes from the hit franchise, more than anything
else, are likely responsible for someone finally figuring out that
whipping out a smartphone and getting people to remain motionless
could simulate the time freeze effect. But there’s an even earlier,
more groundbreaking scene that is really at the heart of the social
media trend, and it’s…

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