How to Create Water Illusions Using a Camera

Here’s a fun little 7-minute video tutorial on how you can create interesting water illusions using an ordinary camera and some sound. It has to do with syncing the water drops to your camera’s frame rate.

What you’ll need is some running water, a digital camera, a speaker, and a tone generator app. By sending a bass tone through the speaker at a frequency that matches up with the frame rate of your camera (e.g. 24hz bass tone and your camera recording at 24fps), the water will look like it’s frozen in time as it travels through the air.

The effect is something known as “Temporal Aliasing” or “the Wagon Wheel effect.”

“A 24 hz bass tone is sent through a speaker making the water vibrate 24 times a second, in a circular motion,” writes Joey Shanks of Shanks FX, the creator of the video. “With a fast enough shutter, the camera captures the same image frame after frame.”

This trick lets you make streams of water take on crazy shapes and patterns in a video. Here are some examples: