Tuesday, July 20, 2010

In slow motion

I must admit I have some kind of obsession with super slow motion (slo-mo) videos.  I think the capability of slowing down and actually observing what nature has to present, is a remarkable achievement.  And off course, Schwarzenegger riding his bike off a junction just appears so much cooler in slow motion.

But about the nature part, search for slomo on YouTube and you'll see some cool videos, some of them slowed down 20-30 times.

Creating nice super slow motion videos is not just about recording a regular video and then playing it at a slower speed.  It's about capturing a whole lot more information than what our eyes and brain can comprehend.  And then slowing all that information down to play it at a speed which humans can understand.

Humans on an average can perceive moving objects at 30 fps (frames per second).  Which is to say that, if we see 30 pictures one after the other within one second then we can perceive these pictures as a smooth motion.  Any slower, and we will find the experience jagged.  Any faster, and we will miss some pictures in between.  So, how does slow motion work?  You need advanced cameras which record at say 300 fps (it means they take 300 pictures of a moving object within one second).  Now if these 300 pictures are shown to a human at the rate of 30 fps, it's going to take 10 seconds.  See that! 10 seconds to play what actually happened in 1 second.  So, it appears to us as if it happened in slow motion.  And since the speed at which we see them is still 30 fps (ideal for humans), it still appears smooth to our eyes.

Anyway, what fascinates me is that other living beings who are capable of perceiving and interpreting things at a higher rate (let's say 60 fps) would watch us do things in slow motion.  "Those dumb humans", they might say.

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