Advanced Imaging

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Advanced Imaging Magazine

Updated: July 8th, 2008 05:26 PM CDT

Capturing the Action for the Fan

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By Keith Reid

In the blink of an eye ... far too much time where the demands of high-speed imaging are concerned. In June of 1878 equestrian enthusiast Leland Stanford, with the assistance of photographer Eadweard Muybridge, set out to test his belief that a horse would have all hooves off of the ground at various points during a gallop. There had been some polite debate, and the unaided human eye promised no answer.

The solution was to arrange 12 cameras along a run of race track with a wire from each crossing the track. A horse, pulling a cart, would trip each wire in sequence in less than 0.5 seconds as the horse galloped by, thus capturing the horse's gait in slow motion. This, the first known application of high-speed imaging, proved Stanford correct when the images were developed and laid out in order. It would not be long before this technology found itself put to more practical sports entertainment purposes where horses were concerned, as the "photo finish" decided winners and losers "... by a nose!"

Slow-motion video has been around for a while in sports and entertainment, but there is an increasing desire to take such technology to the next level. Viewers of more mainstream real-time entertainment are looking to replicate the type of experience that can be enjoyed in the artificial environment of the video game or the meticulous special effects of a screenplay. For example, some of the new flying camera angles that are common in today's professional sports coverage came directly from the viewing experience in common console sports games.

Then there is the "bullet time" effect made popular by the Matrix movie series, where slow motion becomes far slower and a hero in midair can dodge individual bullets moving at "seconds per foot" speeds. Transition this movie experience into capturing the impact of a club on a golf ball, at 12,500 frames per second, to provide viewers with a new insight into the sports action they see on TV. Contributing Editor Lee Nelson explores a variety of areas in which high-speed imaging technology is today being applied in sports and entertainment applications.

Moving to the medical front, Contributing Editor Len Hindus covers the imaging intensive process of stereotactic radiosurgery. Basically, a variety of medical imaging data is churned to provide an accurate 3D map of a patient's brain to include both the tumor and critical, healthy structures. A dose plan is then generated to deliver high energy photons with surgical precision by rotating the pencil beams around the point to be treated. Each beam carries a minimal amount of radiation, but the targeted tumor gets a cumulative, concentrated dose of radiation.

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