Stainless: Mesmerizing Super Slow-Motion Footage of People Waiting for the Subway

Slow motion video is often mesmerizing, whether it shows creamer being poured ever so luxuriously into coffee, or a dog shaking off water. But the super slow motion series Stainless by photographer Adam Magyar put all of those to shame.

For this series, which is actually a video version of a stills series of his by the same name, Magyar boarded the subway and rode it into Grand Central station in New York, the Alexanderplatz station in Berlin, and the Shinjuku station in Tokyo with a slow motion camera in tow.

As he pulled into the station, Magyar shot slow motion footage of the people sitting in wait for their train. The resulting video shows, in Magyar’s words:

An endless row of living sculptures brought together by the same subway line, the same direction, the same intention of taking the train to get caught and carried away by the urban flow. All their motions slowed down, they are graceful and stainless, holding their breath waiting for their train to pull into the station.

Here’s another excerpt, followed by one of the full 11 minute videos from the stainless series:

If ever a video series deserved the title of mesmerizing, this is probably it. To see more of Magyar’s work, both still and motion, head over to his website by clicking here.

(via PetaPixel Reader Tip)

Update: As several readers astutely pointed out, it’s impossible that this video was shot at 720p and 50fps. We reached out to Mr. Magyar for clarification and he emailed us back to confirm that 720p and 50fps was the frame rate of the original video vs the Vimeo version. The footage above, he explained, was shot using a customized Optronis high-speed camera at 56 times normal speed.

He was also kind enough to point us to this Medium article, in which he details exactly how the videos are shot and all the challenges he had to overcome (he spent two years writing custom software to improve image quality and reduce noise). It’s an incredible read and well worth the time to check out!

  • Joe Harrington

    Makes me want to get right into Boston and do the same, that’s inspiration, but it’s also then unoriginal and borderline stealing, but isn’t most photography…

  • 4dmaze

    This is really cool. For me it actually lives up to the ‘Mesmerizing’ title. Was hard to believe it was really only 50fps though. 12 seconds of video stretched to 8 mins. is slowing it down 40 times and there is still no jumping between frames and no blurred images which you would expect from the camera moving so fast. Amazing.

    Apparently he build a special slit camera apparatus to do this project. That would be a great article on it’s own.. .

  • BDWT

    Hey DL, I know you grabbed the technical info from the dudes Vimeo page but out of curiosity did you reach out to him at all? I feel like the shots are over cranked more than 50fps, I would have suspected it was closer to 120fps based on how frozen the people look. I find it particularly suspect, because the owner has disable comments on his Vimeo page, as if he didn’t want people to pose questions about the shots.

  • thunander

    im sure its more than that. This is 200fps (not my video) and it has to be more than that.

  • whoopn

    The video was not SHOT at 50FPS, the creator gave no notion on their Vimeo page of that being the case.

    “High speed video recording in Tokyo at Shinjuku station.

    full video: 11min. 11sec. 720p 50fps”

    That is the video’s playback framerate, not the recording frame rate.

    I would peg this at around 5000 FPS, likely shot on one of the Phantom cameras? Maybe…

  • BDWT

    I threw 120fps out to give the benefit of the doubt because to keep a slow motion shot from having too much motion blur your shutter speed has to be double what your frame rate is so at 50fps, the shutter would have to be 1/100th, and at 120fps it needs to be bumped up to 1/240th, 200fps would need to be 1/400th and so on… Even if it was shot fully open on a fast lens, and even with a ridiculously high ISO, can you imagine how bright that subway stop would need to be if the frame rate was any higher? All that being said, I definitely doubt it was actually 50fps.

  • BDWT

    Well…the timecode in the corner of the video shows 0-30 frames, not 0-50 frames I also doubt Vimeo is capable of playing back the extra frames… but yeah, nothing about this video makes sense.

  • Erik Lauri Kulo

    There is a looooong article about this, just google Einstein’s Camera (first hit from Medium) and you’ll find the article about him and his life as a photographer.

  • Marvin Heiferman

    James Nares’ spectacular video installation “Street,” shown at museums including the Metropolitan in NYC in 2012, is worth noting, too, on this slo- mo front.

  • Maay

    This is really beautiful. I really enjoyed it.

    The only thing I found distracting was the way lights flicker. Particularily obvious on the Shinjuku short, when looking at the train in the background. This is to be expected given the high speed used to shoot the film, and I have absolutely no idea how you could prevent it from happening (short of asking Japan Rail to change all lights in the train and plateform to higher frequency, if that is even possible)

  • spiralphoto

    Assuming you want to stick with the 180ยบ shutter concept, you mean. The shutter speed doesn’t HAVE to be double the frame rate.

  • Kelvin

    Wow. In this page we have a great work of art, but in the comments section people are arguing about framerates.
    Makes me question where we as a whole are taking photography. Is it still considered as an artistic endeavour, or a technological exercise?

  • Eric

    This could be the opening scene of a movie.

  • Renato Murakami

    Hollywood ruined it. You keep expecting a terrorist bombing, shooting, natural disaster, flooding, or something. :P
    Seriously though, it’s pretty neat, genious idea. The kids running on the second excerpt made it all the more interesting too.

  • BDWT

    Your shutter does have to be double if you want to capture the right amount of motion blur for the human eye to register the movement properly. If it’s less than double then you’ll see too much motion blur on moving subjects and it looks plain awful. If it’s more than double you’ll see some very heavy strobing and I understand when sometimes a strobing effect can be desired, it’s used quite often in narrative cinema (most notably Saving Private Ryan and 28 Days Later) to convey panic and energy in certain scenes but whenever I see shots with too much or too little motion blur and no reason for it, that tells me right away that the dop doesn’t understand shutter speeds and their relation to frame rates (which is taught in any basic first year film production class). Many experienced shooters are familiar with these concepts but time and time again I see newcomers who don’t understand the settings on their camera. I’ve seen people who look at their shot that was too bright and instead of turning down their iso or closing down the fstop, they bump up their shutter speed thus introducing a strobing effect (or the opposite with a dark shot, they turn up their iso instead of shooting at the proper shutter speed or fstop that the shot requires). There’s a plague of uneducated people who think they’re cinematographers just because they’ve saved up for a DSLR.

  • Bob Mataranglo

    How did he get release statements from all these people to use their images?

  • Joshua Tobias George Barrett


  • Woody ONeal

    not sure that’s possible…practical…necessary?

  • Bob Mataranglo

    It can be a problem. If someone takes exception to their image being used. It’s one thing to use images for personal use but once you go public it can be a legal matter. That’s why extras are used in movies.

  • p.rock

    I believe as long as it’s used for non-commercial purposes i.e., art or editorial work, he’d be safe.

  • Pasha C

    what a cool idea!

  • Andrew Doran

    Almost certainly an (improved) imitation of something Trey Ratcliff from Stuck in Customs did about 2 years ago with a 300fps point an shoot.

  • dugongian

    Considering the author of the article put in a correctional update but obviously has no technical knowledge of what they’re actually talking about… stating 56 times normal frame rate (depending on normal being anywhere between 24 to 30fps) then the images would have been captured anywhere between 1344 to 1680fps.

  • whoopn

    Agreed, my math was off.

  • Pirate’s Rum

    I KNEW IT!
    a man with the finger in the nose couldn’t be missed in a video like this.
    Other than that,the first thing that catches my eye is all that serious faces,there’s none or a few that seems relaxed at thinking about something happy. After seeing this video,I think I’ll smile more to life from now on,thanks Mr.Magyar

  • sam

    It’s clear from the article that this was shot at 100,000 fps

  • Shawn Brown

    50fps? please. . . . There’s people BARELY blinking. That 240fps AT LEAST. And the 720p is laughable. No wonder you can’t post comments on his Vimeo

  • pez shafto

    dude i totally schat a donkey out my arse and a guy filmed it with his phone and we slowed it down check it out here you fuccin dikhed.