Monday, November 14, 2011

High-Speed *Imaging* Seminar

Well....turns out this seminar covers a whole lot more ground than I was told.
You know that great footage you see on TV showing a bullet coming out of the barrel at, oh, 5000 frames-per-second?
HAH! That stuff is downright SLOW compared to what I saw today, and we're just getting started!
Some of the systems on display here are easily capable of doing ONE-HUNDRED THOUSAND frames-per-second. We set one up and watched a strobe tube fire, and then watched the images. From the initial trigger pulse, to the gas starting to ionize, to the initiation of the main discharge, and this thing didn't even break a sweat.
We also have systems on display here that can do well over ONE MILLION frames-per-second, and one of the companies presenting here has a system that can do ONE BILLION fps!
Astounding stuff, that was "undreamable" just a few short years ago.
And of course, we had footage of APFSDS projectiles coming out of the barrel, the sabot petals peeling back, and the round hitting the target.
And the images are so clear you can read the information printed on the round as it travels downrange.
Kinda makes the 400 fps Milliken camera I brought with me look like a real antique! is still unsurpassed for certain applications, and ours is one of them. We simply don't need the ability to record at a frame rate that's high enough to watch a block of TNT detonate, and accurate color rendition, from a well understood media, is essential for our application.
Still, it's absolutely staggering what these imaging system can do.

And as a preview of what we're going to do Thursday after class concludes, I heard several sonic booms today while I was outside during lunch.

ba-BOOM.....Edwards AFB is only about 20 miles from here, and from the looks of the contrails up there today, our flyboys were out playing.


  1. A million fps?? Wow ... just wow, that's cool.

  2. OK, that is just cool. I was invited back to RSA this year, so I'll get some geeky fun, but that is wayyyy too much fun you are having.

  3. Yeah, it's definitely "Bleeding Edge" stuff.
    And it looks like we'll have no choice in whether we upgrade to digital. Kodak is going to stop producing the 16mm Ektachrome film we use.
    The new owners are NOT going to enjoy hearing this, and it wouldn't surprise me if they made a massive End-Of-Life buy of the film to avoid having to spend $300~$400k to replace all the cameras and lenses.

  4. LOL, and what is the STORAGE requirement? Pentabytes???

  5. No, they don't need petabytes of storage.....;-)
    Keep in mind that these are NOT recording "Broadcast Quality Full HD" video. There are some cameras out there that will do 1920x1080, but it's only at 10-bit color depth.
    A lot of the "high resolution" cameras will do 1024x768 pixels, or 1000x1000 pixels, but even those will start reducing the resolution after about 50~75000 frames-per-second. They have built-in data storage up to 64GB, mostly for buffering, and stream the data out in uncompressed, linear format, kinda like shooting "RAW" with a Digital SLR camera like a lot of us have.
    And the cameras that can do one-billion frames-per-second can only capture up to 64 frames, so your event timing has to be pretty damn good.
    Spent the day in the factory/shop of the company that hosted the seminar learning about the proper care and feeding of the Milliken cameras we have. Ektachrome is no longer available in any way, shape, or form, so after our supply is gone (and probably before!) we'll have to transition to the Kodak "Vision3" film, which will be available for the forseeable future, but 16mm will be special order, minimum buy only.
    And I'm sure our new owners will insist on getting every last frame possible from our cameras, as to transition to the digital systems we need will cost anywhere from $350,000 to over $500,000!


Keep it civil, please....