MIT Presents High Speed Motion Pictures Taken with Stroboscopic Lights

MIT Department of Electrical Engineering, Cambridge MA
Black & White
Harold E. Edgerton, Kenneth J. Germeshausen, Herbert E. Grier
Film type:
16 mm, b/w print Kodak stock
Run time:
Harold E. Edgerton, Herbert E. Grier, Kenneth J. Germeshausen
Harold E. Edgerton, together with Kenneth J. Germeshauser and Herb Grier (MIT Department of Electrical Engineering), presents a series of demonstrations of high-speed photography conducted in the mid-1930s. Title cards outline basic principles of strobe photography and highlight particular details. Subject examples include birds and insects in flight, falling cats, bursting bubbles, moving fan blades creating vortices, balls being dropped, bounced or kicked, and a variety of shots of milk drops – including the famous “Milk Drop Coronet” images.

Tagged: ball, balloon, bird, canary, cat, commutator, coronet, EG&G, fan blade, football, golf, hammer, high speed photography, light bulb, milk, milk drop, mosquito, pigeon, racket, slow motion, smoke, snake, soap bubble, stroboscope, tennis

00:00:01 Introductory information: film title, synopsis, date, run time.
00:00:14 [Title card] “Massachusetts Institute of Technology Presents”
00:00:22 [Title card] “HIGH SPEED MOTION PICTURES Taken with Stroboscopic Light”
00:00:28 [Title card] “Produced by H. E. Edgerton, K. J. Germeshausen, H. E. Grier, Department of Electrical Engineering”
00:00:38 [Title card] “High-speed motion pictures are used at M.I.T. (1) to slow down rapid actions that are too quick for the eye to see (2) to make accurate measurements of displacements, velocity, and acceleration.”
00:00:55 [Title card] “MIT high-speed camera differs in mechanical construction from ordinary movie cameras.”
00:01:00 A man opens up the MIT camera to illustrate its inner parts.
00:01:07 [Title card] “In the high-speed camera the film doesn’t stop when pictures are exposed.”
00:01:18 [Title card] “The film travels very rapidly through the camera. (75 ft per second)”
00:01:32 [Title card] “Special lighting is required to take pictures with this type of camera.”
00:01:45 [Title card] “Mercury-arc tubes produce flashes of light lasting less than 1/100,000 of a second.”
00:02:00 [Title card] “These flashes resemble bolts of lightning.”
00:02:03 [Title card] “A commutator on the camera causes each flash to occur at the right instant, thus spacing the pictures correctly.”
00:02:10 Close-up view of the camera, with indicated the location of the commutator (a rotary electric switch that periodically reverses the current direction); the flash lamp is shown flashing.
00:02:26 [Title card] “The camera is used to show air flowing through the blades of a fan.”
00:02:32 [Title card] “Smoke is used to identify filaments of air.”
00:02:37 [Title card] “The high-speed pictures slow down the motion and show clearly the action of the blades.”
00:02:42 Demonstration of smoke aimed at revolving fan blades at normal speed,
00:02:47 Demonstration is repeated, shown at slow motion speed.
00:03:11 [Title card] “Notice the formation of a vortex at the tips of the blades.”
00:03:16 Demonstration continues, with fan blade speed apparently slowing down by adjusting the rate of strobe light flashes.
00:03:34 [Title card] “The camera is capable of slowing down the actions of many subjects besides those of engineering and scientific interest.”
00:03:42 [Title card] “A series of interesting subjects follow.”
00:03:46 [Title card] “The bursting of a soap bubble by a small object.”
00:03:51 Demo at normal speed.
00:03:53 [Title card] “The action is too quick to be seen.”
00:03:56 [Title card] “The high-speed camera shows the manner of bursting. (Taken at 1200 pictures per second).”
00:04:01 Demonstration shown at high speed, with close-up of the back-lit bubble.
00:04:13 Harold Edgerton demonstrates by blowing a bubble himself.
00:04:29 [Title card] “A canary dropped from the hand.”
00:04:38 [Title card] “The “take-off” of a homing pigeon.”
00:05:01 [Title card] “Observe the opening of the feathers on the up stroke.”
00:05:26 [Title card] “The feet are tucked out of the way.”
00:05:59 [Title card] “A cat always lands on its feet.”
00:06:12 [Title card] “Watch the cat’s tail.”
00:06:33 [Title card] “A golf ball splashed into a pail of water.”
00:06:49 [Title card] “A hammer striking an electric-light bulb.” Two slow-motion demonstrations are shown.
00:07:08 [Title card] “High-speed motion pictures of a housefly. (Taken at 6000 pictures per second).”
00:07:14 [Title card] “The fly is thrown into the air and turned over when the camera starts.”
00:08:02 [Title card] “It took a minute to show this movie of the fly. The action in life took only one-tenth of a second.”
00:08:10 [Title card] “A mosquito flies like an autogyro.”
00:08:20 [Title card] “The action of a snake’s tongue.”
00:08:38 [Title card] “A football.”
00:09:02 [Title card] “A rubber ball thrown on the floor.”
00:09:15 [Title card] “Splashing of milk drops.”
00:09:43 [Title card] “The drops are made to fall a greater distance.”
00:10:02 [Title card] “Still greater.”
00:10:20 [Title card] “A beautiful crown is formed when a milk drop strikes a plate covered by a thin film of milk.”
00:10:50 [Title card] “FINIS.”
00:10:56 © MIT 2010 credits

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