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kottke.org posts about slow motion

This AI makes high-quality slow motion videos from regular 30 fps video

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 23, 2018

NVIDIA trained a deep learning framework to take videos filmed at 30 fps and turn them into slow motion videos at the equivalent of 240 or even 480 fps. Even though the system is guessing on the content in the extra frames, the final results look amazingly sharp and lifelike.

“There are many memorable moments in your life that you might want to record with a camera in slow-motion because they are hard to see clearly with your eyes: the first time a baby walks, a difficult skateboard trick, a dog catching a ball,” the researchers wrote in the research paper. “While it is possible to take 240-frame-per-second videos with a cell phone, recording everything at high frame rates is impractical, as it requires large memories and is power-intensive for mobile devices,” the team explained.

With this new research, users can slow down their recordings after taking them.

Using this technique and what Peter Jackson’s team is doing with WWI footage, it would be interesting to clean up and slow down all sorts of archival footage (like the Zapruder film, just to choose one obvious example).

A powerful video of every concussion in the NFL this year

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 01, 2018

Data artist Josh Begley edited together a 5m30s video of every concussion suffered in an NFL game this year. I was barely able to get through this…I had to pause a couple of times. From an article about the video at The Intercept:

The NFL has done a masterful job at mainstreaming the violence of the game, so that fans and spectators don’t feel too bad about what’s actually happening out there. No single word has protected the NFL from the true costs of this violence more than “concussion.” That word puts a protective barrier between us and what’s really going on out on the field.

It’s not a headache. It’s not “getting your bell rung.” You don’t have a bell. It’s a traumatic brain injury. Every single concussion is a new traumatic brain injury. In addition to the torn ACLs and MCLs, in addition to all of the horrible broken bones, the NFL diagnosed at least 281 traumatic brain injuries this season. And no document has ever quite displayed the horror of it all like “Concussion Protocol,” a film by Josh Begley and Field of Vision.

The backwards slow-mo technique is a bit off-putting at first, but as Greg Dorsainville noted in the video’s thread:

If it was in forwards it would be like any big hits package you see in an espn highlight show where we celebrate the football and hit and not mourn the result of the moment: a human in pain, disorientation, and slowly killing themselves.

Having big second thoughts on watching the Super Bowl this weekend, karma offsets or no. (via @harmancipants)

Hummingbirds flying in slow motion

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 18, 2017

Slow Mo Hummingbird

National Geographic photographer Anand Varma recently took some slow motion videos of hummingbirds in flight. Incredible footage. It always amazes me how still their heads and bodies are while their wings beat furiously. Here’s National Geographic’s feature on using high-speed cameras to uncover the secrets of hummingbird flight.

World’s smallest birds is just one of several distinctions that hummingbird species claim. They’re the only birds that can hover in still air for 30 seconds or more. They’re the only birds with a “reverse gear”-that is, they can truly fly backward. And they’re the record holders for the fastest metabolic rate of any vertebrate on the planet: A 2013 University of Toronto study concluded that if hummingbirds were the size of an average human, they’d need to drink more than one 12-ounce can of soda for every minute they’re hovering, because they burn sugar so fast. Small wonder that these birds will wage aerial dogfights to control a prime patch of nectar-laden flowers.

Fun facts: some hummingbirds can beat their wings 100 times in a second and can sip nectar 15 times per second. I also like the locals’ name for the Cuban bee hummingbird, the world’s smallest bird: zunzuncito (little buzz buzz).

The rolling shutter effect explained

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 07, 2017

When your phone takes a photo of something, it scans the frame of view line-by-line from top to bottom quickly. But, if you’re photographing an object like a fan or plane’s propellor that’s moving very quickly, the scanning exposure can warp the final image. That’s the rolling shutter effect. Using high-speed camera footage to simulate the warping, Smarter Everyday shows us exactly how the rolling shutter effect occurs. The guitar strings are the coolest; more of that in this video:

P.S. Here’s the behind-the-scenes for Smarter Everyday’s rolling shutter video.

The swirling beauty of colored ink in water

posted by Jason Kottke   May 05, 2017

Macro Room, which has previously brought you close-up shots of melting ice cream and pills dissolving in water, recently filled an aquarium with water, shot various colors of ink into it, and filmed the swirling beauty in close-up slow motion.

P.S. It’s worth sitting though the bro-y thanks portion of the video to get a glimpse of their lo-fi rooftop setup. Did they shoot all that on a phone?

How the BBC made Planet Earth II

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 20, 2017

In the first of a three-part video series, Vox’s Joss Fong looks at how the technology used to film nature documentaries has changed over the past 50 years and how the producers of Planet Earth II used contemporary image stabilization techniques to make the series with a more cinematic style.

In the 1970s and ’80s, it was enough for the NHU to show people a creature they’d never seen before and provide the details in the narration. The films were illustrated zoology lectures. Since then, the producers have become sticklers for capturing specific behaviors, and in Planet Earth II, they showcase the drama of those behaviors. Each scene sets up the characters to perform something - something brave, something brutal, something bizarre. They’ve made room for our emotions; that’s what cinematic storytelling means.

And visually, the cinematic approach means the camera is often moving.

Hollywood filmmakers have kept the camera in motion for decades, but for obvious reasons, it’s much more difficult when your subject is wildlife. As we explain in the video at the top of this post, NHU producers used new stabilization tools throughout the production of Planet Earth II to move the camera alongside the animals.

The program doesn’t make you wait long to showcase this new approach. The tracking shot of a lemur jumping from tree to tree is one of the first things you see in the first episode and it put my jaw right on the floor. It’s so close and fluid, how did they do that? Going into the series, I thought it was going to be more of the same — Planet Earth but with new stories, different animals, etc. — but this is really some next-level shit. The kids were more excited after watching it than any movie they’ve seen in the past 6 months (aside from possibly Rogue One). The Blu-ray will be out at the end of March1 but there’s also a 4K “ultra HD” version that had me researching new ultra HD TVs I don’t really need.

Oh, and remember that thrilling sequence of the snakes chasing the newly hatched iguanas? Here’s a short clip on how they filmed it.

Update: The second video in the series is an ode to the BBC’s pioneering use of slow motion and time lapse photography in their nature programs.

Fong also explains one of my favorite things to come out of the first Planet Earth show, the slow motion buffer capture system used by the crew to catch great white sharks leaping out of the water.

But also, digital high-speed cameras came with a continuous recording feature. Instead of pressing a button to start recording and then pressing it again to stop, they could press the button as soon as they saw some action, and the camera would save the seconds that happened before the button was pressed. That’s how the cameraman captured this great white shark coming out of the water, not just in the air, for this sequence in the 2006 Planet Earth series.

I hope the third program is on sound, which has been bugging me while watching Planet Earth II. I could be wrong, but they seem to be using extensive foley effects for the sounds the animals make — not their cries necessarily, but the sounds they make as they move. Once you notice, it feels deceptive.

Update: The concluding video in the series shows how the filmmakers use thermal and infrared cameras to capture scenes at night.

The bit at the end about the Sony a7S is interesting — as cameras go, this one is much cheaper than the professional high-def cameras used for most of the scenes but is way better in low light.

  1. I still have a Blu-ray player than I barely use and only buy 1-2 BR discs a year, but Planet Earth II is one of those increasingly rare programs you want to see in full HD without compression or streaming artifacts.

The chemistry of matches (in super slow motion)

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 24, 2016

With amazing super slow-motion footage of a match head starting to burn as a backdrop, this video explains the chemical reactions involved in lighting a match.

When the match is struck, a small amount of the red phosphorus on the striking surface is converted into white phosphorus, which then ignites. The heat from this ignites the potassium chlorate, and the match head bursts into flame. During manufacture, the match stick itself is soaked in ammonium phosphate, which prevents ‘afterglow’ once the flame has gone out, and paraffin, which ensures that it burns easily.

(via gizmodo)

Fire tornado in super slow motion

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 24, 2015

The Slow Mo Guys lit a bucket of kerosene on fire, surrounded it with 12 box fans, whipped the fire into a tornado, and filmed it with slow motion cameras at up to 2500 fps. I don’t know about you, but I want quit my job, say goodbye to my family, give this mesmerizing rotating fire all of my money, and follow it around the world, doing its bidding. (via colossal)

How bow-tie pasta is made…in slow motion

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 28, 2015

From Zerega Pasta, a video that shows, in slow motion, how farfalle (aka bow-tie pasta) is made at their factory.

Incredible combination of precision and quickness.

Slow motion lightning

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 22, 2015

Slow motion video of a South Dakota lightning storm shot at 2000 fps.

I love the little tendrils “sent out” by the clouds before a big strike happens. It’s like nature is searching for the optimal path for the energy to travel and then BAM!

Tennis serve in slow motion

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 01, 2015

At 6000 fps, you can see just how much the racquet flattens a tennis ball on the serve.

(via devour)

Slow motion candle magic

posted by Jason Kottke   May 15, 2015

If you hold a lit match an inch or two over the smoking wick of a recently extinguished candle, the candle will light again. If you record that happening with a high speed camera and then slow it way down, it gives you some clues to how that happens:

Hint: wax is a candle’s fuel and smoke is wax vapor… (via digg)

4K dreamtime

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 22, 2015

Technically, what you’re looking at here is a video shot in 4K resolution (basically 2x regular HD) and at 1000 frames/sec by a Phantom Flex 4K camera which retails for $100,000+. Skateboarders ollie. Dirt bikes spray dirt. Gymnasts contort. Make this as fullscreen as possible and just sit back and enjoy.

My favorite bits were of the gymnasts. In super slow motion, you can see how aerial flips are all about getting your head down as quickly as possible, then snapping your legs around as your head stays almost completely motionless — like a chicken’s! Mesmerizing.

Slow motion CD spinning

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 26, 2015

From the Slow Mo Guys, a video shot at 170,000 frames/sec of a CD shattering after being spun at 23,000 RPM. Worth watching until (or skipping to) the end to see exactly how the disc fractures.

(via digg)

The top slow motion moments of 2014

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 02, 2015

From The Nerdwriter, some of the best uses of slow motion in movies, TV, and music in 2014.

Good stuff. But they missed one. :) (via devour)

Slow motion metal shavings

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 06, 2014

Confirmed: metal shavings flung off of drill bits in slow motion are beautiful.

(via digg)

Slow motion surfing

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 31, 2014

You know what’s pretty? Big waves and surfing in slow motion. Take a break and relax at 1000 fps with this mesmerizing video.

The Hans Zimmer soundtrack only adds to the effect. (via ★interesting)

New York streets in beautiful slow motion

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 09, 2014

This starts out ordinarily, but give it some time…it gets really good around 90 seconds in. The combination of panning and slow motion creates a powerful sense of energy around almost-still imagery; it’s a trippy effect. See also James Nares’ Street. (via subtraction)

Slow-mo skateboard tricks

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 03, 2014

It turns out that this close-up video of slow motion skateboard tricks is all I’ve ever wanted out of life.

I had no idea that’s what they were doing down there. It’s a symphony of footwork!

The leaf that hates water

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 20, 2014

Aatish Bhatia noticed a plant in his backyard whose leaves naturally repelled water. He took a sample to a friend who had access to a high-speed camera and an electron microscope to investigate what made the leaves so hydrophobic.

But how does a leaf become superhydrophobic? The trick to this, Janine explained, is that the water isn’t really sitting on the surface. A superhydrophobic surface is a little like a bed of nails. The nails touch the water, but there are gaps in between them. So there’s fewer points of contact, which means the surface can’t tug on the water as much, and so the drop stays round.

The leaf is so water repellant that drops of water bounce right off of it:

Difficult ballet moves in slow motion

posted by Jason Kottke   May 29, 2014

Professional dancers from the Washington Ballet show off their most difficult moves, filmed in slow motion.

(via colossal)

Wes Anderson slow motion supercut

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 09, 2014

No one uses slow motion more consistently than Wes Anderson; all his films except Fantastic Mr. Fox use the technique. Here are all the slow-mo scenes from his films strung together:

(via devour)

Slow motion video of a base jump going horribly wrong

posted by Aaron Cohen   Dec 06, 2013

Vimeo user Subterminally appears to have had the worst 13 seconds of his life last week when he hit the cliff off of which he was base jumping. Subterminallyill received a “Compression Fracture of the T12 Vertebra, 5 stitches to the eye, 6 stitches to the chin, severely sprained Back, wrist and hand. multiple bruised areas,” which is not too bad considering he FELL OFF A FUCKING CLIFF.

Alternate copy for this post, “No. No, no no no no no no. No. No. No. No, no, no, no, no. No.”

(via just about everyone)

How cranberries are harvested

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 03, 2013

This video seems like it was made specifically for kottke.org. In the first half of it, you learn how cranberries are harvested. In the second half, there’s gorgeous HD slo-mo footage of wakeskating through a cranberry bog.

And with a Tycho soundtrack no less…it’s all too perfect. (via ★interesting)

Slow motion video of an AK47 being shot underwater

posted by Aaron Cohen   Jul 23, 2013

Here’s slow motion video from Smarter Every Day of what it looks like when an AK47 is shot underwater. Not only is the slow motion footage beautiful (best shots at 2:40, 4:30, 7:20), the science behind why the bubbles do what they do is explained. Science! Previously.

Slow motion video of kids trying new foods

posted by Jason Kottke   May 10, 2013

Perfect for a slow Friday afternoon. Have a good weekend everyone.

Stupidity captured at 2500 frames/sec

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 18, 2013

A Danish TV show called Dumt & Farligt (which translates as Stupid & Dangerous) films all sorts of crazy things at 2500 frames/sec with a super HD camera. You may have seen the first video from last April…here’s a follow-up that just came out:

The highlights for me were the bottle of red wine in the microwave and the rocket-powered drying rack from the first video and the bottle of Diet Coke shot with a bullet and gas leak in a camper. The Diet Coke scene is almost cinematic, the way the bottle’s clothes are blown off and “arms” flap around as the bottle spins, wobbles, and finally falls to the ground. (via digg)

Surfer swims for his life

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 07, 2013

Remember the guy who rode the alleged 100-foot wave? Here’s a video of some other tow-in surfers from that same location (Nazare, Portugal) on the same day. The waves aren’t quite as big as 100 feet, but the sequence starting at 1:52, where the guy falls off his board and swims like hell to get out of the way before the whole ocean crashes down on top of him (watch the top of the wave), gives you a real sense of how insane this sport is.

Great use of high definition and slow motion. (via @alexismadrigal)

Molotov cocktail exploding in slow motion

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 01, 2012

This doesn’t look so impressive in slow motion but when it switches to super slow motion around 2:00, watching the gasoline attempt to outrun the flames is really cool.

(via devour)

This is what it looks like to fire a gun under water

posted by Aaron Cohen   Sep 28, 2012

Lovely photo of a gun being fired under water.

firing-a-gun-under-water.jpg

And here’s a slow motion video of the same. Gunfire starts around 2:10.

(via neatorama)