June 30, 2017
If you gave up trying to understand what rolling shutter is and why it makes fast-moving objects look so weird, then today is your lucky day.
It’s always fun to see someone’s confused face when they check out an image they’ve captured that looks melted, bent, or chopped up in midair. “It’s just rolling shutter, guy,” is what I usually say—other times it’s, “Hide the children. It’s the end of the world.” Rolling shutter, which is a method for capturing images, has a real knack for distorting fast-moving objects in pretty hilarious ways, whether it’s a propeller, speeding car, or even a fidget spinner, but understanding why it distorts them is not quite as hilarious. In fact, it can be pretty difficult to grasp for some people—for me—it’s difficult for me (and hopefully for others).
But Destin Sandlin of Smarter Every Day and Henry Reigh of MinutePhysics joined forces to create a simulation in After Effects that is probably the all-time greatest explanation of how rolling shutter works, as well as how it manages to distort your images.