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The Slow Mo Guys Used Arcade Machines To Prove Nothing You See Is Real

Gavin Free of The Slow Mo Guys standing next to a 'Tempest' arcade cabinet
The Slow Mo Guys

The Slow Mo Guys are back with another stellar video—this time showing off how weird arcade machines look in slow motion. If you’ve ever wondered what one of those retro arcade machines looks like at a whopping 28,500 frames per second, this video will sate your curiosity.

We’re giant fans of the British buds and we expected yet another phenomenal video, just like the one with slow-motion footage of mechanical pinball machines, but this video just knocked our socks off! To our eyes, arcade machines simply display a game, and we respond in real-time while playing it. But as it turns out, there is so much more going on that our eyes can’t see:

Gavin starts off by discussing how he’s fascinated by how different types of displays—like plasmas, LCDs, and OLEDs—work in slow motion. They use raster scanning, with a grid of pixels that’s progressive scanned from top to bottom, and with each line shot on screen from left to right. He also discusses the CRT screen, which uses an electron gun to steer across the screen building the picture line by line top to bottom (but never actually displays the entire image at once, due to decay, and relies on your brain filling out the whole picture).

He dives into arcade screen technology by grabbing the Phantom v25-11 camera and saddling up to a cabinet featuring Atari’s Tempest, which uses vector graphics. This is technically still a CRT display but it draws each frame differently using Atari’s color qadri-scan vector display (a la Asteroids. With this machine, an X/Y plotting electron beam arbitrarily moves around the screen, drawing lines between different coordinates and controlling both color and brightness.

The beam moves far too fast for our eyes (and even Gavin’s Phantom at lower frame-rates) to catch everything that’s happening, but in this case, that’s a good thing. All we get to see is the fireworks-like display image our brain processes, which is all we need to blast away enemies!

The really cool take away from this is that, realistically, this process applies to a lot of what we see. It’s worth noting that some of the devices we spend so much time in front of work in a way we never actually perceive. And it’s worthwhile to take a moment to appreciate all this technology and how it actually works.

Source: The Slow Mo Guys

Suzanne Humphries Suzanne Humphries
Suzanne Humphries was a Commerce Editor for Review Geek. She has over seven years of experience across multiple publications researching and testing products, as well as writing and editing news, reviews, and how-to articles covering software, hardware, entertainment, networking, electronics, gaming, apps, security, finance, and small business. Read Full Bio »