A couple of days ago we shared Adam Magyar’s incredible Stainless video series, shot from a moving subway train using a customized slow-motion video camera that captures something truly mesmerizing to watch. After sharing those videos, many of the commenters asked for and linked away to more details about the camera he used, and the slit-scan photography that Magyar had been doing for many years.
The video above is for those people who love Magyar’s work and want to know the technical detail behind it, but don’t want to dig through and read the detailed interviews and descriptions of the gear he uses — a 20 minute presentation for PopTech in which Magyar talks about the purpose of his projects, the technology used to capture them, and the myriad challenges he’s run into (e.g. the police…) over the years.
If you have the time and you found Magyar’s photography fascinating, this video is well-worth 20 minutes of your day.
Slit-scan imaging can make for some pretty trippy photos and videos. The technique involves capturing (or displaying) one “slit” at a time through a frame, causing motion to take on a bizarre appearance as each line in the image shows a slightly different moment in time. French filmmakers Adrien Mondot and Claire Bardainne used the technique a couple of years ago for the video above, which makes two dancers look like human Slinkys. Read more…
Slit-scan cameras are used to shoot finish line photos due to the fact that recording a moving subject along a strip of film makes it impossible to miss any frames. Engineer and photographer James Guerin was interested in the distinctive look, so he went about building his own slit-scan film camera using an old Pentax SLR.
He ended up with the heavily modified camera seen above: a Pentax ME Super SLR that’s equipped with a special winding system that automatically moves film across a narrow slit as the photos are being exposed. Read more…
Yesterday we reported on how US Track and Field saw its first “photo finish” tie this past weekend in an Olympic qualifying race. If you thought the finish line photo looked strange, it’s not just you: it’s not an ordinary photo. Journalist Daniel Rutter has written up a great article on how finish line cameras work:
[...] most finish-line cameras aren’t super-high-speed movie cameras, but instead a kind of slit camera. A slit camera has a line-shaped lens, which exposes the film or electronic sensor line by line or column by column, not unlike the way a rolling shutter works. The critical difference, though, is that a slit camera can keep on going past the lens indefinitely. You can keep collecting image data, or keep spooling film past the slit, for as long as you have memory or film. The shutter never closes as long as the film or memory lasts, so it’s impossible to miss any action between the frames.
[...] imagine taking a flatbed scanner sensor and setting it up vertically, looking across a racetrack at the finish line. Start a “scan”, and it’ll authoritatively tell you when every body-part of every runner makes it to the finish, by simply showing that part of that person before any part of anyone else. The speed of the scan should be set to roughly match the speed of the runners, so they look generally the right shape, but any part of any runner that stays stationary relative to the scan rate – a foot on the ground, for instance – will seem long. Any part that’s moving forward relative to the scan rate – a hand or foot coming forward, for instance – will seem short. Even if you mess up the scan rate so everyone looks wide or narrow, whatever part of whatever runner shows up first in the scan is the first to cross the finish line.
Slit-Scan Camera is a new app for the iPhone that lets you shoot trippy slit-scan photographs. Rather than capture a whole image at once, the slit-scan app exposes each scene through a “sliding slit”, giving anything moving within the frame a strange, warped look. Read more…