Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Waxing Poetic About Rolling Shutter Problems

On another late night walk around the Village, I started thinking about the whole problem of rolling shutters. For those that don't know, rolling shutter refers to a problem with the way a lot of cameras, DSLR's like the canon T2i, and 7D included capture video frames. I can't explain in great detail, but essentially, the censor in the camera doesn't do a uniform scan of the image projected through the lens. Rather, it scans it from the top to bottom, or the bottom to the top, or side to side. I'm not really sure on that. What this adds up to is a bluring or distortion of images moving quickly past the camera, particularly vertical lines.

I've seen people test this "rolling shutter" effect with the T2i by rapidly panning the camera back and forth while aimed at a building, and yes, the building seems to bend and flex, kind of like that silly magic trick with the pencil that was really amazing in kindergarden.

Here's my arguement for those who really complain about the rolling shutter. Who films like that? In what movie have you ever seen someone jerk the camera from side to side? I've never seen it done. What about whip pans? Well my thinking is that a whip pan doesn't really need to be crystal clear until you land on the object of interest. As long as he, she or it is clear when the pan stops, does the rest matter? If all of the scenary between point A and B does matter, are you really going to do a whip pan? Maybe just a smooth pan will work fine.

Furthermore, I think the rolling shutter might become an audience accepted film technique, because honestly, the few times I've seen it in films, it just seems to enhance the feeling of movie at great speeds.

In conclusion, it would be nice if the sensor scanning could be corrected to prevent rolling shutter effect, HOWEVER, I don't think it's as a big a deal as everyone makes it out to be. If you don't believe me, watch 2012, and see if you can spot the rolling shutter in the film.

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