Like the animated portraits and paintings hanging in Hogwarts and the rest of the Harry Potter world, Jeff Lieberman’s Slow Dance picture frame appears to rely on magic to make time run more slowly. But it’s science that gets all the credit here, cleverly manipulating what your eyes see.
Lieberman is no amateur when it comes to slowing down time, or at least creating the illusion of that effect. During his stint completing four degrees at MIT, he developed an expertise at high-speed photography and slo-mo video. He even hosted the series Time Warp on the Discovery Channel. But the Slow Dance frame is undoubtedly one of his most impressive creations since the effect happens right before your eyes—not on a screen.
So how does the Slow Dance make objects appear to move in slow motion? It’s actually a rather simple design. At the bottom of the frame is a simple electromagnetic mechanism that causes a lightweight object—think feathers, leaves, small plants—to vibrate at high speed. They normally appear as just a blur to the human eye, but within the Slow Dance’s frame are a series of LEDs that turn off and on 80 times every second, fast enough for the strobing to be invisible to anything but a video camera.
When it’s all working together, the vibrating objects inside the frame look like they’re slowly waving back and forth, appear to have a ghostly double, or seem like they’re randomly popping in and out of our reality with stuttered movements. It’s remarkable to see it in action, especially since you can reach out and interact with the objects during the effect. And while the original Slow Dance was created as a one-off wedding gift, enough people have asked for one of their own that Lieberman has turned to Kickstarter to put the magical frame into production.
You no longer need to fake a wedding, and know Lieberman personally, to get a Slow Dance of your own. Nor do you need to mortgage your home to afford one. Because the technology used in the magical frame is pretty basic, early bird donators to the Slow Dance Kickstarter campaign can pre-order one for just $199—although you’ll need to wait until March of next year for delivery.
If waiting that long will make it feel like time has slowed down, you can also get a Slow Dance frame a month earlier than March 17 if you opt for the limited edition, hand-made, walnut wood version, of which only ten are being produced, for $800 instead. But for that price, most of us are probably more than happy to wait an extra few weeks.