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Measuring Motion with Imaging Software

We have all seen slow-motion replays in sports broadcast, as well as on TV commercials and popular YouTube channels. Myths have been debunked; water balloons popped, and bullets shot. Watching slow-motion replay of very fast phenomena has led to deeper scientific understanding and breakthrough discoveries. But, there is more to high-speed imaging that slow-motion playback. Camera systems can be integrated with data acquisition to allow the correlation of external measurements to visual feedback; motion analysis tools in playback software can use data in the image to calculate speed, acceleration, angles, and more. And, tracking points in a slow-motion playback can lead to additional visual insights.

For decades, high-speed photography has been used as an engineering tool in the same way as an oscilloscope, spectrum analyzer or logic analyzer. Scientists and engineers in the defense, research and industrial communities use high-speed digital video files to extract motion and measure moving objects. They get both qualitative as well as quantitative views of their experiment. This technique enables us to visualize and analyze motion, especially motion that is too fast for the human eye or conventional cameras to perceive.

Of course, extracting the information from a digital high-speed video is only as good as the tools used to accomplish it. With today’s 2-D motion analysis tools, such as Vision Research PCC (Phantom Camera Control) software, the end-user can perform timing, position, distance, velocity, angle, and angular speed measurements, and track multiple points or objects to compute and graph their XY-coordinates, speed, or acceleration.

PCC is a basic tool that will meet most needs, but for more advanced requirements there are third party software products, such as Image Systems, AB, who specialize in the technology.

The motion analysis system harmonizes measured data with images. In this article, we will review the various measurement capabilities.

Download our Phantom Note article on motion analysis.

Download a detailed article on Measuring Motion with Imaging Software from NASA Tech Briefs

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