High-Speed Imaging for Motion Analysis: Systems and Techniques

This program is designed for scientists, engineers, and imaging specialists who need to gather data on rapidly moving subjects and events for study, motion analysis, and trouble-shooting. Mornings are spent in the lecture hall learning the fundamentals of lighting, imaging technologies, and motion analysis. Afternoons are spent making high-speed images in the laboratory. In addition to carrying out the standard techniques, attendees will try out the latest in high-speed-imaging equipment, with the manufacturer's representatives there to provide hands-on education and experience with the systems. The course is held at the Edgerton Center at MIT — the home of Doc Edgerton's Stroboscopic Light Laboratory, where much of the history of the field was written.

With support from the leading manufacturers and consultants, this program features the broadest experience available anywhere in high-speed electronic imaging and image analysis. The scope of the program should make it invaluable to anyone who wishes to broaden their capabilities in the field of high-speed imaging.


Hands-on experience: This course emphasizes hands-on experience! Approximately 50% of our time is devoted to intensively immersing each attendee in practical laboratory work. Lectures by experts in their fields and study materials help attendees prepare for laboratory work by providing the requisite theoretical and practical insights.

Use the techniques you study: All attendees participate in lab experiments selected from an unparalleled variety of topics. Experiments include high-speed cameras, lenses and lighting, the latest imaging technologies, motion analysis software, as well as specialized techniques such as Schlieren imaging, streak cameras, and pulsed laser illumination.

Learn the details through experiments: Experiments are performed in small working groups, with experts in that technique on hand to answer questions and enter into extensive discussions. The lab experiences are structured to encourage participants to use their imaginations and to experiment with the technique under study. Attendees may bring with them work-related problems that will make suitable experimental subjects to be shared with the class, but please consult with the course staff in advance.

MIT Edgerton Center: The MIT Edgerton Center was created in 1992 to carry on the legacy of the late Professor Edgerton. Its three-fold mission is to be a center of excellence in high-speed imaging within MIT, to provide students at MIT with opportunities for hands-on learning, and to continue Edgerton's legacy of communicating the importance and excitement of science and technology to the larger community.

To view pictures from prior courses, please visit our Flickr album.

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Earn a Professional Certificate

This course may be taken individually or as part of the Professional Certificate Program in Design & Manufacturing.


Lead Instructor(s): 

James W. Bales


Jun 8, 2020 - Jun 11, 2020

Course Length: 

4 Days

Course Fee: 





  • Open

It is highly recommended that you apply for a course at least 6-8 weeks before the start date to guarantee there will be space available. After that date you may be placed on a waitlist. Courses with low enrollment may be cancelled up to 4 weeks before start date if sufficient enrollments are not met. If you are able to access the online application form, then registration for that particular course is still open.

Registration will close by May 15.

Participant Takeaways: 

Takeaways from this course include:

  • Defining the fundamental principles of high-speed photography and videography, both for human interpretation and for motion analysis with a computer.
  • Making the trade-off between depth-of-field, field-of-view, resolution, and lighting requirements by selecting the appropriate lens(es) to capture clear, crisp, images of the event under study.
  • Selecting the correct lighting technologies and design the lighting arrangements for an experiment.
  • Analyzing the resulting images to get a real world understanding of how a specific technology may apply to an application.
  • Assessing methods of merging high-speed electronic images and instrumentation data for in-depth analysis of mechanical events.

Who Should Attend: 

This course is aimed at all professionals, and is applicable to any individual in an industry, academic, or government sector who must:

  • Test, maintain, or troubleshoot high-speed manufacturing equipment
  • Evaluate how products withstand impacts
  • Observe projectiles in flight or upon impact
  • Visualize flows in aerosols, liquids, or granular materials
  • Capture the motions of people, animals, and objects
  • Study crash tests
  • Understand any actions that occur too fast for the eye to follow

Relevant industry sectors include manufacturing, academic research, energy, biotech, aerospace, and ballistics.


Computer requirements:

Because course materials will be distributed electronically, laptops or tablets with the ability to display PDF files are required for this course.

Program Outline: 


  • Introduction to High-Speed Photography and Videography: Fundamentals of exposure, lighting, and lenses. Overview of the various methods we will cover, with particular emphasis on the pros and cons of the various methods.
  • Lighting for High-Speed Imaging: Detailed descriptions of lighting options. Discussion of advantages and disadvantages of continuous and intermittent lighting with film and with video. Presentation of advanced lighting techniques.
  • State of the Art in High-Speed Imaging: In-depth discussion of current products in film and video systems. Topics include gated imaging, image intensifiers for low-light applications, high-speed video (color and black and white), imaging for machine vision applications, and evaluating cost-performance tradeoffs.
  • Data Analysis: Introduction to the analysis of high-speed film and electronic images. Also, the latest trends in integrating high-speed imaging with electronic data acquisition systems. Discussion of commercial motion analysis packages.


Dr. James W. Bales, Instructor, Edgerton Center
Mr. Don Thomas, Industry Advisory Committee, Edgerton Center
Ms. Sandi Lipnoski, Edgerton Center
Prof. J. Kim Vandiver, Director, Edgerton Center    

Additional lectures and laboratory experiences will be presented by experts from the high-speed imaging industry.

Course Schedule: 

View 2020 Schedule (pdf). This schedule is subject to change and a revised version will be provided soon.

Class begins at 9:00 am every day and ends between 5:00 and 5:45 pm except Thursday when it ends at 9:00 pm.    

Special events include a dinner and presentations of case studies by course participants on Thursday evening.

Participants are encouraged to present their own high-speed imaging and motion-analysis applications to the course. The staff will, where practical, use these applications to illustrate the advantages and drawbacks of the techniques being taught.

Mornings are spent in the lecture hall learning the fundamentals, while afternoons are spent in the laboratory. In addition to carrying out the standard techniques, attendees will try out the latest in high-speed-imaging equipment, with the manufacturer's representatives there to provide hands-on education and experience with the systems. Attendees will work in small teams applying their learning to create solutions to case studies posed at the start of the program.

Participants’ Comments: 


"This is complete coverage of high speed photography, from lens and lighting basics to the latest technologies being produced by the motion analysis industry."


"The lectures were taught by professionals that have real-world experience. The lectures were very insightful and the labs were extremely informative."


"Instructors knew their topic and presented well. Good balance between theory and practical. I would certainly recommend this course."


"Incredible! It truly exceeded my expectations. I felt both awed and inspired by the staff. Their knowledge is quite extensive and they enjoy sharing it; it's very obvious how passionate they are about what they do."


"Exceeded the description. This was more than just lecture and academics. Hands-on was GREAT!"


"Very informative, fast-paced, covered vital points with good examples. Ended up like drinking from Niagara Falls than from a firehose."



This course takes place on the MIT campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts. We can also offer this course for groups of employees at your location. Please complete the Custom Programs request form for further details.


Fundamentals: Core concepts, understandings, and tools (50%) 50
Latest Developments: Recent advances and future trends (35%) 35
Industry Applications: Linking theory and real-world (15%) 15

Delivery Methods: 

Lecture: Delivery of material in a lecture format (45%) 45
Discussion or Groupwork: Participatory learning (10%) 10
Labs: Demonstrations, experiments, simulations (45%) 45


Introductory: Appropriate for a general audience (50%) 50
Specialized: Assumes experience in practice area or field (35%) 35
Advanced: In-depth explorations at the graduate level (15%) 15