June 14, 2017

The World's Fastest Camera Shoots 5 Trillion Frames Per Second

Need a camera fast enough to watch light move? Scientists in Sweden have got you covered.

While we all love the 240fps spec of the new EVA1, and rent when we need the 1,000 fps 4K of the Phantom Flex, scientists in Sweden are pushing the outer boundaries of image capture with a system designed for grabbing up to five trillion frames per second. Put another way, that's five thousand billion frames per second. 

Called Frequency Recognition Algorithm for Multiple Exposures (FRAME), this system is a bit more complicated than a normal slow motion camera.  It takes advantage of femtosecond lasers, or lasers that are capable of firing very, very short bursts, measured in femtoseconds, which are one quintillionth of a second. Each time the laser fires, it does so with a unique signature baked into it that can be read by the system. Thus, while the capturing camera isn't capable of achieving 5 trillion fps, information down to that level can be extracted by analyzing the capture image and looking at the signature that is applied to each laser exposure. An algorithm processes the image data captured and extrapolates to create the final video result. This enables scientists to study phenonmena at a 5 THz scale, which is so slow that even light appears to be basically static. Thus, it's not really a "camera" so much as a system that works together to create the extreme results.

For more information, you can check out the manuscript from Nature, or this video further breaks down how it works:

Cinema applications for this are probably limited, since no matter how fast Tom Cruise can run, no actor can run fast enough to be anything but standing still at 5 trillion frames per second. However, some version of the application will likely show up in a music video, commercial, or VFX setting soon, and if nothing else, the next time a producer blanches at the price of renting a Phantom Flex you can always say, "be glad the Flex has us covered at 1,000fps and we don't have to rent femtosecond FRAME system out of Sweden. You don't even want to know how much those cost."

Tech Specs:

  • 5 trillion fps
  •  1002×1004 sensor
  •  Ti:Sapphire laser 

Your Comment

4 Comments

I had the pleasure of meeting Ramesh Raskar (the MIT guy who pioneered the trillion fps camera) back in 2010 and it led me to make this short film exploring what light 'could' look like if you could see it traveling through space.. https://vimeo.com/72720085

Its great to see things are still moving forward with the visualisation of light!

June 14, 2017 at 4:15PM, Edited June 14, 4:15PM

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Thomas Hogben
Director / Cinematographer
91

That's great and all, but does it even 4k, bro?

June 14, 2017 at 11:48PM, Edited June 14, 11:48PM

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bp
250

I think this might have been posted here at NFS before, but it's a video with Ramesh Raskar (nod to Thomas Hogben) that shows pulses light traveling through bottles and across fruit - the same thing you mentioned Thomas. (EDIT: But this isn't nearly as impressive - it's only ONE trillion frames per second, like molasses.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtsXgODHMWk

June 16, 2017 at 1:52PM, Edited June 16, 1:53PM

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I have the suspicion that those cameras are some kind of scientific trolling:

How can you film the light if

1-to print any image you need the light itself (or any kind of wave and/or particle) and

2-if is written that nothing can beat light speed. That includes visualization, writing images...

June 19, 2017 at 7:32PM, Edited June 19, 7:32PM

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Carlos Luis Pujol
Director of Photography
211