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The Physics of Baseball in Super Slo Mo

J.B. TexasEx

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Basic video is shot at 30 frames per second. In other words, there is one-thirtieth of a second between individual frames. In this time, a thrown ball travels about four feet. A well-hit ball leaving the bat covers a slightly larger distance, while the bat itself moves slightly less. A runner sprinting toward first advances about one foot.
To see the ball colliding with the bat, you would need to shoot at least one thousand frames per second so each frame happens in one-thousandth of a second. The super slow motion we see in broadcasts is shot at five thousand frames per second, so we should be able to see the spin on a curveball, the vibrations of the bat, and even the ball-bat collision.






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Actually it's ten thousand frames per second now. We struck a deal with Photron to use one of their spec cameras. We called it Swingvision. I got to play around with it one rainy day throwing pebbles in the pools of water around the compound and capturing the images at that ten thousand frames per second. Created some really cool images. One in particular where Gary McCord was walking straight into frame while someone tossed the stones into the water. It gave the impression he was causing these gigantic splashes that engulfed the whole world all in super slow motion. We played around with making the camera mobile for us handheld guys but ultimately scraped the idea. Power was one issue but really the camera has to be in a secure lock down to get a clear image. Stabilization won't work either so those cameras will always be preset.

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