If you’ve seen a Darren Aronofsky movie, you’re probably familiar with the Snorricam, a type of camera mount that straps the camera directly to the subject so that they’re always in the center of the frame, no matter what happens. It can be disorienting, to say the least, but it’s also our only metaphor for what a Japanese university is perfecting a technique to put it in consumer video cameras!
How, precisely, does it do this? Mirrors!
No, seriously, they use mirrors. The system is actually a very complex way of implementing a surprisingly simple solution; two mirrors are placed in such a way that they directly reflect the image into the camera, while keeping said image centered no matter how it moves.
Honestly, it’s easy to explain by looking at it, so here’s a video of the system in action:
Neat, huh? Notice that no matter how the subject moves, the camera tracks it, keeping it absolutely center. Even better, it works with HD video and will even work when you take it outdoors, a stumbling block for many camera technologies.
It’s not quite ready to be stuffed into your junky camcorder, however. As you might have noticed, the current system is rather large, and it’s also crammed with specialized optics and other tools in order to get the whole “tracking the subject” thing to work. There’s also the question of just what it will be like when released into the wild. While filming a tennis ball is all well and good, what happens when the subject, like, say, a deer or a baby, rockets off the frame faster than the operator can follow?
Either way, it’s still an amazing look into the future of videography. Hopefully, though, it won’t mean more Snorricam shots in wedding videos.
Dan Seitz is an obsessive nerd living in New England. He lives in the Boston area with a fiancee, a dog, a cat, and far too many objects with processors.