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Subwoofer Has So Much Bass It Freaks The Camera Out… Looks WIld!

I would love to hear all of the theories about what exactly is going on in this video from all of the know-it-all’s on Facebook. While I’m hardly an authority on strange camera effects, I happen to know exactly what’s going on here thanks to my background in photography and understanding of how things work inside a camera.

The phenomenon is caused by the use of what is known as a rolling shutter. To explain it as briefly as I can, most modern video cameras, especially those intended for the consumer market, use a rolling shutter. Instead of an actual shutter mechanism that opens and closes a couple of dozen times per second like most of us think of when we think of a video camera, the digital sensor is exposed at all time and the software simply scans up and down the sensor repeatedly, recording the information the same way as a copying machine or scanner instead of recording what the whole sensor “sees” at one time.

For just about every possible subject matter, this works just fine and never causes any problems. However, for things that are moving really fast, such as car wheels at highway speed and, as you can see, stereo speakers that are pumping out a ton of bass, the shutter can’t quite keep up with the ultra-quick changes of direction.

This leads to some unique phenomena when you record things changing direction at a really high frequency, especially an insanely high powered speaker like this subwoofer. The rolling shutter is doing the best it can to keep up with the intense pulses of the giant speaker, but it just makes it look like it’s caught in some strange state of being between solid and liquid, with slow waves moving across the cone of the speaker instead of it bouncing up and down rapidly like we all know is really happening.

You can capture this phenomenon yourself using your cell phone and a speaker, or just record the wheels of cars driving beside you (preferably while you’re not driving yourself) on the road.

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