High-Speed Motion Pictures With Stroboscopic Light

1936 ±
MIT laboratory, Electrical Engineering Department, Cambridge MA
Black & White
Harold E. Edgerton
Film type:
16 mm Kodak positive print
Run time:
Harold E. Edgerton, Kenneth Germeshausen
Harold E. Edgerton put together a series of demonstrations of high-speed photography research conducted at MIT’s Electrical Engineering Department in the mid-1930s. With detailed title cards explaining each example, he illustrates the use of stroboscopic light to study machinery and the use of high-speed photography to capture movement too fast to be seen with the naked eye. The compilation includes high-speed (slow motion) footage of smoke moving though fan blades, spring vibrations, gasoline engine springs, machinery oscillations, the bursting of a soap bubble, a canary in flight, multiple objects being dropped into milk, a cat falling, fighting roosters, a snake's tongue, breaking light bulbs and water leaving a spout.

Tagged: bird, blade, bubble, canary, cat, drop, droplet, fan, hexagon nut, high speed photography, light bulb, machinery, milk, milk drop, rooster, slow motion, smoke, snake, soap, spout, stroboscope, valve spring, water

00:00:01 Introductory information: film title, synopsis, date, run time.
00:00:08 Film begins.
00:00:11 [Title card, shown against a night image of the Great Dome of MIT] “Taken at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Electrical Engineering Dept.) by means of Stroboscopic Light”
00:00:16 [Title card] “An electric fan observed with a Stroboscope”
00:00:19 Footage of a spinning electrical fan, filmed at regular speed.
00:00:26 [Title card] “Smoke shows the passage of air through the blades.”
00:00:31 Slow motion film of moving fan blades and curling eddies of air revealed by smoke blown against blade ends.
00:00:43 [Title card] “A closer view.”
00:00:45 A closer image of smoke passing through the fan blades.
00:01:01 [Title card] “The vibrations of springs are usually so rapid that they appear as a blur.”
00:01:07 A spring mechanism is set into motion.
00:01:12 [Title card] “Stroboscopic light apparently slows down the motion.”
00:01:15 The vibrations of springs are shown under stroboscopic light.
00:01:28 [Title card] “A spring has many modes of vibration.”
00:01:32 Slow motion film reveals the apparent changes in vibration of a spring shown under different frequencies of stroboscopic light.
00:01:37 [Title card] “The valve springs of a gasoline engine.”
00:01:42 Film at regular speed shows the movements of springs in a gasoline engine.
00:01:45 [Title card] “The stroboscope shows surges.”
00:01:47 Slow motion film shows the movement of gasoline engine springs, under stroboscopic light.
00:02:11 [Title card] “The stroboscope is useful for studying electrical machinery.”
00:02:16 Moving heavy machinery is observed by placing a stroboscopic light near the moving parts.
00:02:25 [Title card] “Oscillations are evident when the motor is synchronized.”
00:02:29 A man (likely Kenneth Germeshausen) adjusts machinery at a large control panel.
00:02:32 The man again holds a strobe light near the machine and adjusts the flash rate to show the change in oscillations on the machine.
00:02:44 [Title card] “The flashes of light from the stroboscope are so quick that they "stop" all motion.”
00:02:52 [Title card] “This property permits photographs to be taken upon a moving film.”
00:02:59 [Title card] “A camera utilizing this principle has been constructed at M.I.T.”
00:03:05 An unidentified man prepares and adjusts a high-speed camera.
00:03:14 [Title card] “The film races by the lens at a speed of 75 feet per second.”
00:03:20 A demonstration of how quickly the film moves through the high-speed camera.
00:03:26 [Title card] “A commutator controls the instant of flashing so that the pictures are framed for projection.”
00:03:33 Demonstration of a commutator (a rotary electrical switch that periodically reverses the current) hooked to the camera; a man points out features of the mechanism.
00:03:40 [Title card] “The high-speed camera is capable of slowing down the fast motions of many subjects besides those of engineering and scientific interest.”
00:03:51 [Title card] “A series of interesting subjects follow-”
00:03:55 [Title card] “The bursting of a soap bubble by a small object.”
00:04:00 A man sets up equipment to film the bursting of a soap bubble.
00:04:10 [Title card] “The collapse of a soap bubble is too quick to be seen.”
00:04:16 A soap bubble is burst, shown at regular speed.
00:04:18 [Title card] “The high-speed camera shows the manner of bursting. (Taken at 1200 pictures per second)”
00:04:31 High-speed film footage of a soap bubble bursting.
00:04:38 [Title card] “A canary dropped from the hand.”
00:04:40 A canary is dropped, filmed at regular speed.
00:04:45 [Title card] “As photographed by the high-speed camera.”
00:04:46 The canary is dropped, as captured in slow motion by high-speed camera.
00:04:50 [Title card] “Ball bearing dropped into a glass of milk.”
00:04:55 High-speed (slow motion) footage of a ball bearing being dropped into milk.
00:05:10 [Title card] “Hexagon nut dropped into a glass of milk. Notice the first splash coming up through the hole in the nut.”
00:05:15 High-speed footage of a hexagon nut being dropped into a glass of milk.
00:05:38 [Title card] “A cat always lands on its feet.”
00:05:42 High-speed (slow motion) footage of a cat being dropped onto a tabletop.
00:06:11 [Title card] “Fighting Cocks”
00:06:13 High-speed footage of roosters fighting.
00:06:59 [Title card] “A golf ball splashed into a pail of water.”
00:07:03 High-speed footage of a golf ball being dropped into water.
00:07:18 [Title card] “Hammer Striking An Electric Light Bulb.”
00:07:21 High-speed footage of a hammer striking a light bulb.
00:07:36 [Title card] “Jets of Water in Slow Motion”
00:07:40 A man sets up the water jet device for high-speed capture.
00:07:45 A stream of water is shown moving in slow motion, back-lit, separating into individual droplets.
00:08:05 The stream of water shown in slow motion, with normal light, on the verge of separating into droplets.
00:08:20 [Title card] “Motion pictures showing the action of a snake's tongue.”
00:08:24 High-speed footage of a flickering snake tongue.
00:08:38 [Title card] “The splashing of milk drops.”
00:08:41 Footage of milk drops taken at regular speed.
00:08:54 [Title card] “The splash as seen by the high-speed camera.”
00:08:59 Footage of milk drops dropping into milk, filmed with a high-speed camera.
00:09:18 [Title card] “The drops are made to fall a greater distance.”
00:09:23 The milk dropper device is raised higher.
00:09:30 Slow motion footage of milk drops falling into milk from a greater height.
00:09:45 [Title card] “Still greater.”
00:09:47 High-speed footage of milk drops falling an even greater distance.
00:10:14 [Title card] “A beautiful crown is formed when a milk drop strikes a plate covered by a thin film of milk.”
00:10:24 High-speed footage of a milk drop falling into a thin layer of milk, creating a coronet of droplets; the process is repeated several times.
00:10:48 [Title] “Finis”
00:10:54 © 2010 MIT credits.

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