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Everything You’ve Always Wondered About the High Speed Cameras That Create Slow Motion Footage

Everything You’ve Always Wondered About the High Speed Cameras That Create Slow Motion Footage


Have you ever been to a sports event in which the critical play was too close to call, and referees had to review their super slow motion cameras in order to make a decision on the play? This types of high detail video footage, where more information is captured than the eye can see are not captured by your run-of-the-mill video camera. Slow motion footage is captured by ultra high speed cameras, that are sensitive enough to grab every detail from the shot so that every minute aspect of it can be reviewed in slow motion. The technology behind high speed cameras goes far beyond just capturing something with your iPhone and then putting the slow motion filter on it. There is an entire science behind high speed cameras.

What makes high speed cameras different from other video recording devices?

High speed cameras are finely-tuned to take a series of high-quality images in sequential order so that every detail of the subject is captured. When those images are play back in slow motion, the viewer can analyze or measure specific details that happen so fast the naked eye couldn’t capture them (such as the too-close-to-call sports event in our example).

Essentially, this is possible because high speed cameras capture a far greater amount of frames per second than a conventional video camera. A standard video recording device captures 30 frames per second. When the footage is replayed, our eyes and brain connect those 30 frames per second together, creating a full motion sequence. However, a lot of details can be lost within the 30 shots per second. The number of images that a high-speed camera catches per second varies by the quality of the camera; the lowest level of high speed cameras capture 500 frames per second, 17 times more than a standard video camera. A nice high speed camera, such as a 1000 FPS camera, captures 34 times more detail than a standard video recording device. Some high speed cameras are capable of recording 3000 frames per second, giving you a level of detail that you could never get with a standard camera.

Benefits of high speed cameras.
The important information that can be captured with a high speed camera is useful to a variety of industries. We’ve all seen automobile commercials where the crash test is replayed in slow motion, with details such as the airbag being inflated and the restraint system working. When you watch this type of videography, you are enjoying the fruits of high speed camera technology. If slow motion video was shot with a standard 30 frames per second camera and then slow down to a tenth of the speed, there would only be enough image information for three frames per second. The human brain can separate images faster than that, so the video would not look cohesive. The result would be a somewhat jerky stop-motion type video.

Even beyond the weather cinematography, high speed video footage is used for detailed analyzation in a number of industries:

  • Automotive manufacturers
  • Food and Beverage producers
  • Technology and electronic component industries
  • Household product manufacturers
  • Education and research facilities

What are the practical uses of high speed cameras?
The actual purpose that this diverse list of industries use high speed cameras varies from one to another. However, most common uses of high speed cameras fall into one of the following categories:

  • Scientific research. Scientists use high-speed cameras to capture natural phenomenons in high detail for further investigation. This type of technology is used in biology, fluid dynamics, meteorology, and bio-mechanics, to name a few.
  • Technological development. Being able to inspect your equipment and its operation in detail is incredibly effective in the design phase, the modification phase, and the early production phase of new technology.
  • Testing and production. The manufacturing industry regularly uses high speed cameras to deeply test the assembly and components of a product before producing in mass. This includes stress testing, shock testing, and vibration testing, as well as other testing points, depending on the product.

Have you ever worked with high speed cameras? What application did you need the slow motion camera detail for? We’d love to hear about your experience in the comment section below.

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