The Physics of Giants: Why They Seem to Move in Slow Motion

Oliver Brown

Updated Tuesday, April 16, 2024 at 8:45 AM CDT

The Physics of Giants: Why They Seem to Move in Slow Motion

The Impact of Gravity on Giant Movements

Have you ever wondered why giants in movies seem to move in slow motion? It's not just a creative choice by filmmakers, but rather a result of the laws of physics. Forces like gravity remain consistent, regardless of the size of an object. Let's delve into the fascinating world of giant movements and the science behind their seemingly sluggish pace.

When a human jumps off a platform as high as themselves, it takes about half a second for them to hit the ground. However, if a giant were to do the same, it would take much longer for them to fall their own height. This is because gravity pulls both the giant and the human at the same rate, but the giant covers a much larger distance with each slow movement.

Walking is another aspect where giants face unique challenges. Due to their towering height, giants have to cover a larger distance with each step. When a giant raises a leg into the air, it comes down either by gravity or their own muscle power. If they were to use their muscles to put it down faster than gravity, the physics would respond by lifting the rest of their body. This makes their movements appear slower and more laborious compared to a regular-sized human.

In movies, filmmakers often design sets to make humans seem huge. However, this design choice can create inconsistencies in the physics of the movie world. To make the movements look more realistic, the footage is often slowed down, giving the impression that gravity is at the correct strength for the giant. This manipulation of time helps bridge the gap between the physics of giants and our own perception of reality.

The issue with giant things in movies moving in slow motion is ultimately a matter of perspective. Big things in movies look like small things we have seen before, so it seems strange when they move slowly. However, they are actually moving at the correct speed for their size, but covering a much larger distance with each slow movement. It's all about adjusting our perception to the scale of the giant.

To better understand this concept, let's imagine a 100-yard long football field that needs to be crossed in 5 seconds. A 6ft tall man would need to take 20 steps per second, which would look incredibly fast. On the other hand, a 600ft tall giant who can move 100 yards per step would only need to make one stride, which would appear slow and laborious to us.

Interestingly, the speed-size illusion is a phenomenon that occurs in our brains. Our brains naturally assume that larger things are moving slower, even if they are actually moving at the same speed as a smaller object. This illusion is related to how our retina processes information and can greatly influence our perception of giant movements.

Moreover, perspective plays a significant role in how we perceive the movement of giant things in movies. When we see a passenger jet flying high overhead, it appears to be moving slowly due to the perspective. Similarly, giant things in movies, which have the same shape as small things, are expected to move like small things relative to their environment. This further enhances the perception of slow motion.

The physics behind giant movements in movies is a fascinating subject. Forces like gravity remain consistent, but the scale at which giants operate makes their movements appear slower and more laborious. Filmmakers use various techniques, such as slowing down footage, to bridge the gap between the physics of giants and our perception of reality. So, the next time you watch a giant on the big screen, remember that their seemingly slow motion movements are a result of the laws of physics and the tricks of perspective.

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