Can we film a stroboscopic helicopter?

  • Published: 12 August 2019
  • Do check out Captain Disillusion's video "Quick D: Static Helicopter Blades".

    Thanks to Polina for flying the helicopter all day. We hired the helicopter from VVB Aviation who were awesome.

    My old video about the rolling shutter effect "Rolling Shutter Explained on the Cheap".

    Footage of stage coach from "The Lye Green Miniature Stagecoach"

    Footage of the five-blade helicopter from "camera shutter speed matches helicopter`s rotor"

    We have Think Maths "Floating Helicopter" resources for maths teachers.

    - We did also mess around with multiples of the required frame rate (53.5 fps being twice 26.75 fps) which gives a ‘choppy’ version of the stroboscopic effect with twice as many rotors appearing. But I should have taken this out of the edit as I present it as a valid solution. Sorry! First noticed by Alnakar.
    - Let me know if you spot anything else!

    Thanks as always for Jane Street being my principal sponsor.

    Thanks to my Patreon supporters who help make these videos possible. Here is a random subset:

    Wouter Dijkslag
    Laurus Schluep
    Lucas Werkmeister
    Greg Holmes
    Eric Sexton
    Lucie Roux
    Simon Hutchings

    Support my channel and I can make more maths videos:

    Directed by Ben Woolf
    Filming and editing by Trunkman Productions (
    Extra cameras and filming by Andrew Mickelburgh
    Running about by Marius Ulevicius and Melinda Burton
    Helicoptering by Polina Harkin
    Music by Howard Carter
    Audio by Peter Doggart
    Design by Simon Wright

    MATT PARKER: Stand-up Mathematician
    Maths book:
    Nerdy maths toys:
  • Entertainment Entertainment

Comments • 782

  • SmarterEveryDay
    SmarterEveryDay  4 months back

    Looking forward to redoing this in a snarky way for less than $10 worth of gear. 😉

    • peteMickeal33
      peteMickeal33  2 months back

      the part that I don't understand is that for every frame of the camera the blades spin around many times, therefore I would assume that the sensor in the camera registers light coming from the blades from all the way around. How do they not look blurred then?

    • Freedom
      Freedom  3 months back

      Captain disillusion did, sorry smarter every day person guy.

    • waptek0
      waptek0  3 months back


    • Jonathan Pearce
      Jonathan Pearce  4 months back

      Paper propellor blade on a drill. Ideally wants a global shutter camera though - perhaps a stills camera in timelapse mode?

    • Micetticat
      Micetticat  4 months back

      Smarter Every Day, yep now it is your turn!

  • Crazy Ivan
    Crazy Ivan  1 weeks back

    This crossovers with CD are great :) greetings from Poland :)

    • Russell Eldridge
      Russell Eldridge  3 weeks back

      Captain sent me.

      • Steve Vernon
        Steve Vernon  4 weeks back

        Can we film a "stroboscopic helicopter?'
        can we show it on YouTube for more than 2 seconds in a row?
        NO! why not?

        • FurkanSE
          FurkanSE  4 weeks back

          Thats a very complicated camera. Who would want to use it?

          • Michał Kuliński
            Michał Kuliński  1 months back

            Captain Disillusion

            • Capo J
              Capo J  2 months back

              8:49 Top of the blade on the right hand side...

              • Thomas Jefferson
                Thomas Jefferson  2 months back

                Captain Dissilusion brought me here

                • Brains techKnowlogy
                  Brains techKnowlogy  2 months back

                  Wow. Amazing! I just watched Captain dslusions video and recommended this video. Pretty cool!

                  • standupmaths
                    standupmaths   2 months back

                    Good ol’ Captain D. They’re amazing.

                • Ace Rms
                  Ace Rms  2 months back

                  *_Captain Disillusion_*

                  • Warren Garabrandt
                    Warren Garabrandt  3 months back

                    This is an amazing use of modern technology.

                    • Matthew Ellisor
                      Matthew Ellisor  3 months back

                      180hr at balancing a bowling ball on a straight pin. Looking good there! I'd fly with you any day.

                      • Kommo-o UlTrAz
                        Kommo-o UlTrAz  3 months back

                        You should talk about the Facebook 8/2(2+2)

                        • L. Merbecks
                          L. Merbecks  3 months back

                          5:07 Did anyone notice that the swashplate's control arms were not affected by the effect?

                          • L. Merbecks
                            L. Merbecks  3 months back

                            Can this happen to humans? Or do our rods and cones trigger randomly i.e. we don't process images one frame at a time?

                            • encoded
                              encoded  3 months back

                              Please unbox more calculators

                              • WolfGirl29
                                WolfGirl29  3 months back

                                That's what Captain D gets for hanging up on him!

                                • drania76
                                  drania76  3 months back

                                  Matt I missed your show on Fringe this year, you have to come over more often.

                                  • slothfulcobra
                                    slothfulcobra  3 months back

                                    They use that effect to test record players to see if they have the rpm set right. They got test discs with dotted lines on them

                                    • Aways
                                      Aways  3 months back

                                      from cd

                                      • N VDL
                                        N VDL  3 months back

                                        That's some mad maths, Matt.

                                        • Wirel2049
                                          Wirel2049  3 months back

                                          Тяжело долбоёбам, приходится использовать вертолёт и дорогущую камеру.

                                          • Arvin Mahey
                                            Arvin Mahey  3 months back

                                            do it in real life stroboscope

                                            • Mike Bauer
                                              Mike Bauer  3 months back

                                              Related to information theory and sampling bias?

                                              • Jayson Black
                                                Jayson Black  3 months back

                                                Cheezus, how much did this cost you guys? :P

                                                • Edward Hall
                                                  Edward Hall  3 months back

                                                  This is cool as hell

                                                  • Charles Lovell
                                                    Charles Lovell  3 months back

                                                    ‘SO I HIRED A HELICOPTER’ vs ‘I SAWED A BOAT IN HALF’

                                                    • Herbert The Duck
                                                      Herbert The Duck  3 months back

                                                      I'm pretty sure I already heard that ending music before, what is it please ?

                                                      • zeitgeist909
                                                        zeitgeist909  3 months back

                                                        If I had a gun I would shoot myself. In the head. How is this a channel?

                                                        • Tim Denhard
                                                          Tim Denhard  3 months back

                                                          Here is a prime number I discovered today 92486151821184974824001971297439146870807955323846823016490054573067816073491213874088234923371143096571965965166225947769421734740394967547892028459414966352406008900054274104941030743004093772503121564148665372728613467377836541724670787711973058012657743071603587661665270113028451916447793184581727796999

                                                          I think it is a thing of beauty so I have preserved it in your comments section. Hope you don't mind.

                                                          • BooktuberViv
                                                            BooktuberViv  3 months back

                                                            i was wondering if you'd do a darts probability video. i know loads of other people have done it but I'd love to see it in the way you did the monopoly video, if that makes sense. also just an internal nagging question. why do a majority of dart players try to hit treble 20 when its bordered with 5 and 1. why not 19 when its borders are 7 and 3?

                                                            • Sam Cox
                                                              Sam Cox  3 months back

                                                              Fun fact: helicopter blades rotate at constant speed and they adjust the lift they produce by adjusting the angle of the blades.
                                                              So even when they've landed the blades still spin at full speed.
                                                              I used to believe they went up and down using the throttle.
                                                              Which is actually what toy helicopters and quadcopters do.

                                                              • KeppyKep
                                                                KeppyKep  3 months back

                                                                You should have called this "Stroboscopic Effect Explained on the Expensive"

                                                                • rachelledeleon
                                                                  rachelledeleon  3 months back

                                                                  Kid: hey teacher 2xf?
                                                                  Teacher: you cant do math with a letter
                                                                  standupmaths: Really?

                                                                  • waptek0
                                                                    waptek0  3 months back


                                                                    • CapitalGearGaming
                                                                      CapitalGearGaming  3 months back

                                                                      Might have earned a new sub from Captain Disillusion! :D

                                                                      • Thierry Ohlmann
                                                                        Thierry Ohlmann  3 months back

                                                                        Hi, Gavin "Slow-mo Guy" Free twitted me here....nice video btw...

                                                                        • TURST67 / Zäa
                                                                          TURST67 / Zäa  3 months back

                                                                          I skipped the math part because I am not smart.

                                                                          • Thomas Bergel
                                                                            Thomas Bergel  3 months back

                                                                            Parker‘s hair became a parker square of hair...

                                                                            • Patrick Demko
                                                                              Patrick Demko  3 months back

                                                                              I think the weirdest part about this I'd that if someone stuck their hand between where the blades appear, it would be chopped up by nothing

                                                                              • GERG to
                                                                                GERG to  3 months back

                                                                                Actually not 100% right. You can have 24 frames per second with nearly 1/24 sec between them and you can have no time between every frame. It depends on the duration of the exposure. If you have like 100% exposure than the effect is gone. Only blurry ...

                                                                                Nevertheless nice video

                                                                                • Sathvick Satish
                                                                                  Sathvick Satish  4 months back

                                                                                  OMG I never knew anyone knew this phenomena and thought only my eyes saw fast rotating objects like this.

                                                                                  • Agent К_видео
                                                                                    Agent К_видео  4 months back

                                                                                    Captain D sent me. It's nice over here.

                                                                                    • Steven Vacher
                                                                                      Steven Vacher  4 months back

                                                                                      Amazing coincidence. I shot this today on my flight back from Manchester. I posted it to my Facebook and a friend of mine who also subscribes to you linked you 👍

                                                                                      • Robbie Callaghan
                                                                                        Robbie Callaghan  4 months back

                                                                                        Whats really cool about this specific video is:
                                                                                        because of how close the chopper is to the camera, you can clearly see the swashplate (more accurately the control arm) rotations while the blade is stationary. 8:08 is a perfect shot of this, where the blade itself and the supporting arms seem to be stationary, but the inner arm still clearly looks like it is spinning.

                                                                                        • Tim Kelly
                                                                                          Tim Kelly  4 months back

                                                                                          Should apply some Nyquist filtering half the sample rate stopping the aliasing.. oh wait

                                                                                          • Facehunter2003
                                                                                            Facehunter2003  4 months back

                                                                                            Came from cpt dissilusion

                                                                                            • L Dewey
                                                                                              L Dewey  4 months back

                                                                                              ROFL! Great video! Love the humor! 😄