High Speed For Slow Motion Punches

January - 2009

When you shoot a normal video, the camera captures 30 individual images every second. Viewed normally, each second that went by during the recording takes one second to play back. If you use a camera that captures a higher number of images per second but play it back at the standard rate you get what we know as a slow-motion video.

Slowing down time with imagery reveal fascinating things we'd normally miss because they happen faster than we can perceive.

One of the first examples of this is the 1878 series of photos called The Horse in Motion by Eadweard Muybridge. It was the first thing to prove scientifically that a horse gets all four hooves off the ground in a gallop.

A four wide by three deep collage of photos showing a horse running that includes one frame where all four of the horse's feet are off the ground

Fast forward 130 years and the technology has, unsurprisingly, improved significantly. Today, anyone can buy a consumer level camera that shoots at 1,000 frames/second. The sample videos I've seen from this camera aren't studio quality, but are certainly an example of how far technology has come. (Update 2022, I'm not sure what camera this was pointed to. I used a link shorter that's dead so I'll have to find another example.)

Professional grade cameras are even more impressive. Take this self-promotion piece created by the production company Action Figure

The video is a series of people getting punched in the face by a boxing glove.

When I was trying to dig up the link for this post, I came across a few supplemental videos on the Action Figure site as well as the main one.

  • Main edited piece with funky track (Dead link)
  • Directory of all clips, including individuals (Dead link)
  • String of the punches with out additional editing or sound (Dead link)

While I like the main video with the tune (Shazam's remix of "Sweaty" by Muscles), I am more mesmerized by the sting of individuals where you see each punch uninterrupted.

Watching the way everything moves provides a glimpse into time that feels almost supernatural.

Also good motivation to try to keep from getting punched in the face.

If you'd like to see some more examples of this, check out Discovery channel's new show "Time Warp" that's centered around high-speed camera work.