On the visual miracle of "slit-scan" video

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/05/24/cross-sectioned-time-dimension.html


Not sure if this is the same thing, but they used slit photography for horse racing photo finish before digital cameras. You can see this in action in a behind the scenes video I did in 1995 at Calder Race Track: https://vimeo.com/334314945


Wants to be Cyriak.


Perhaps wants to be Whitney/Trumbull/Kubrick?


and this:


What a treat!


Camille Utterback’s Liquid Time installations create a kind of interactive variation on this effect, letting you stretch and squash time in a video through your proximity to the screen.


My cell phone has a panorama mode that stitches the images continuously as I turn. Except Ive noticed I dont need to turn, I can srart the picture looking out a car window, and I get some version of the slit scan process as I pass landmarks on the street. Its a weird sort of guessing game to imagine which plane of objects the camera will decide are continuous, and which are too close or too far to survive parallax. Big fun!


Fun fact: Movie of the Week Second Chance was reworked slightly and turned into the 70s TV series Fantasy Island.


Seriously, Internet: WTF.

This is one of my favourite photos. I think that the effect is caused by a vertical shutter.


The music on that title sequence actually made me want to vomit. Weird.

General George Wiilliam Goddard also used slit cameras for aerial photos as planes got faster. I remember reading his book when I was a kid. I checked it out from the library thinking it was about the rocket Goddard, lol I read every word of that book…


What the photo doesn’t show is what happens in the next frames, where the back wheels catch up to the front wheels with a profoundly satisfying “BOING!!!” noise.

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I was involved in the first mobile roll-out of ePhoto, used for harness racing in rural tracks.

Each time I had to do tests with the mirror to get it lined up perfectly, adjust the timing (not short horses, not long horses, but normal length horses) and focus… not the easiest bit of hardware to use. You would hold down a plunger just before the first horse crossed to start the scan… the end picture was very, very wide.

Minus the bugs and setup effort, it worked very well for something quickly deployed in the field.

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Was I wrong about the film going in the opposite direction of the horses?

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I never did film photo-finishing, not sure how the film moved. I do know our photo gear was ancient & huge and I always made comments that they pulled it from the belly of a WWII bomber, as much of our gear seemed to be (and so ePhoto was a huge change).

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