Stuck In Motion: a cool video technique

Trey Ratcliff generously describes the technique he uses to create this cool video effect, in which people appear to be moving very slowly in time while the rest of the world passes by at normal speed. He calls in "stuck in motion," and is forthright about making it clear that this is not a new technique, but rather, his way of doing it.

He has other videos that make more use of the effect on his site.

1) MOVE THE CAMERA 10X AS FAST AS YOU THINK YOU NEED TO This is a counter-intuitive technique. You'll stop doubting when you see your results. Now, you are going to look like a damned fool doing this, so get ready! When you are shooting, you need to move the camera 10x faster than you think you need to! We are all used to seeing video cameras making nice, smooth pans. Forget that! Keep it non-shaky, but move it 10x as fast as you think!
Trey also has an HDR tutorial

Stuck In Motion: a cool video technique



  1. I don’t really see what the “effect” is. It just looks like he is taking footage at a high frame rate and then slowing it down to 24 or 30fps.

    The only time when it appears that people are in still when anything is passing by at normal speed is when he is on a moving train shooting people on a platform. It’s the same technique employed in a video posted by Cory Doctorow a while back.

    Granted his video was uploaded before the one Cory posted, it’s not doing anything different or new.

  2. The video’s quite nice, but, appart from a couple scenes when the camera was on a fast-moving vehicle, it all just looked like regular slow-motion to me. I don’t see how it ever looks like “the rest of the world passes by at normal speed.” Perhaps I’m missing something.

  3. Ditto to the first two posters. the train platform stuff is interesting, but most of this is just some slow mo shots interspersed in regular shots.

    Why is this news?

  4. It’s possible that Mark was blinded by that guy’s ridiculous hyperbolic dribble.

    Trey Ratcliff sez:

    One, the video is shot at 10x time, and the camera itself moves at 10x the human head. When the two are juxtaposed, it creates something gripping that can hit the viewer on a deeper level.

    First of all, it’s actually shot at 7x regular speed. He says it’s shot at 210 frame per second and then slowed down to 30fps. Secondly; How fast, exactly, does the human head move? I guess shaking a camera around like a loon can be called 10x the speed the human head as much as sprinting down the street is like running “100 miles an hour”. Sheesh :-\

  5. The technique is nice, but the explanation quote above is very confusing out of context since it implies one should just shoot regular video at the regular rate but just move the camera “faster.” That does nothing. The key is the fact the video is being shot at a 10 times normal rate (aka: 300 fps) THEN slowed down to normal (aka: 30 fps) for playback.

    The fact is hidden inside the piles of barely comprehensible purple prose that surround the videos on this guy’s page.

    One, the video is shot at 10x time, and the camera itself moves at 10x the human head.

    Still a really nice technique if your camera can shoot video 10x the rate of normal. Is that a feature on cameras other than the Casio EX-FC100 that the creator mentions using in his posts?

  6. Nice videos. I particularly liked the shot of the monkeys in the hot pool in his “The Moments Between”. If I ever get a camera that can overcrank the fps, I’ll make use of his shooting techniques, I’m sure.

  7. I guess it’s just me that gets a black box and audio only, then? I wouldn’t bother to mention it at all, except that I can play the video fine on Vimeo’s site.

    +1 for “this is just slow motion”. Pretty, though.

  8. Er, when Mark says that “Trey also has an HDR tutorial,” he doesn’t mention that Trey actually has a short teaser of an HDR tutorial, which he uses to get you to pay $379 for his real tutorial, or $100-odd for his “top ten HDR mistakes” pdf… I don’t begrudge the guy for trying to make a living, but it seems a bit steep…

  9. I’m not really a fan of this guy’s work. He’s quite prominent and I’ve seen his site several times before, but I can’t quite understand why – the photography is “decent” as far as HDR goes, and the videos are nice but not outrageously special.

    What makes this guy interesting to people, I think, is the way he writes (and the fact that it’s daily), and his attitude of sharing everything. His linked HDR guide is one of the most popular and well-written around, for example, and now he’s extending information about video techniques. Really I guess it’s just the fact that he’s actually doing something, rather than talking about doing something (yes, many of us *could* do the same thing…), and is good at updating daily.

    I have to say though that I am a fan of the *idea* of this guy – he’s a self-promoting travel photographer and blogger who apparently makes a living from traveling around the world. I hope he’s independently wealthy, because how unfair is that! ;)

  10. I like how he talks about the low/artificial lighting causing issues, like flicker. How it’s something magical that a fluorescent flickers because it’s being run off 50/60 Hz AC power…

    Perhaps he doesn’t realize some people (like myself) can easily see beyond 30fps. LED Christmas lights drive me up a wall, all blinky and shit. BMW LED tail lights the same. Put a capacitor on it for the love of god… I occasionally see standard tube fluorescent lights do it as well. I can thank the nystagmus/saccade for that ability.

    1. LED Christmas lights drive me up a wall, all blinky and shit. BMW LED tail lights the same.

      I ride a bicycle and I make my own lighting gear. I run the LEDs on DC at the rated current. If you want to pulse LEDs there is no real reason not to do it above 1khz or so.

  11. Check out the pan shots in Koyaanisqatsi and in Baraka. Really.

    Try to find a 70mm version of Baraka. Your children and your grandchildren will thank me.

    As for Koyaanisqatsi, I think the TV-frame version is better.

  12. “people appear to be moving very slowly in time while the rest of the world passes by at normal speed…”

    huh? That’s not what’s happening in the video. Everyone is moving slowly. Not hard to do with a camera that shoots 300 fps.

    And! Why! Does!! THIS GUY!! Use so! Many! Exclamation!!!! Marks????

    mark- you’ve been bamboozled by a blabbering buffoon…

  13. Ditto #1, #2, #16, etc. Panning quickly while shooting at high speed creates this effect, and it gets pretty boring after the first couple examples. Nothing is moving at a normal speed in these videos.

  14. What is novel to me is capturing slow-motion of “slice-of-life” type footage, where most slow-motion I’ve seen has been staged things like shattering eggs and bullets-through-jello.

  15. Don’t you get it? Everything shot in Japan is cooool :D

    I actually found that high FPS feature on a new camera I bought recently (in Tokyo) … the Canon 30HS or so … and until now I had no real use for that feature …

    Now I will stalk Japanese school girls and very quickly (moving 10x my regular speed) film their socks !!!

  16. I always felt if you could slow down your perception of time enuff (think traffic accident moments when everyone acknowledges this phenomena) — you could travel in between the spaces. This seems to be a visual interp of that theory …

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