Perception and reality

The program Science Friday looks at what happens when we are placed in a situation where reality is at odds with what we see. Even when we know exactly what is causing the discrepancy, a sense of disturbing disorientation sets in.

It is clear that one has to actually experience these things first hand to get the full effect and I would love to enter one of those rooms myself if I ever get the chance.

In this famous scene from the 1951 film Royal Wedding, the great Fred Astaire had the required sense of balance to overcome the disorientation and keep dancing fluidly even as the floor was shifting under him. On the left you see what filmgoers saw and on the right was how it was done.

The clip also reminded me of something that comedian Ernie Kovacs did on his old TV show, where he explored the comic possibilities of that new mass medium.


  1. says

    I grew up near the Mystery Spot mentioned in the vid. The best tour guides were the ones that would give true replies, but make it sound mysterious:

    “It’s due to a force that has physicists mystified. Planes flying over this spot have reported the effects of the force, so it goes up quite a ways.”

    Perfectly true. The force is gravity.

  2. kyoseki says

    I wonder what the camera rig was like for the shot, because it must have been connected to the rotating set, but I don’t see much in the way of camera shake going on when the entire thing rotates.

    The camera men must have gone with it as well since we’re not dealing with locked off cameras, someone is clearly operating them, were they strapped into chairs connected to the rig?

    More recently, it’s probably worth pointing out that Inception used the same technique during the freefall gunfight in the hotel corridor.

  3. Kilian Hekhuis says

    Ah the merits of the internet: “The scene featuring the song “You’re All The World To Me” was filmed by building a set inside a revolving barrel and mounting the camera and its operator to an ironing board which could be rotated along with the room” “the furniture and fixtures were all nailed down, and the room was placed in the middle of a rotating barrel. Cameraman Robert Planck was strapped to a large ironing board, along with his camera, so he could rotate with the room.”

  4. morsgotha says

    Wow, nice Fred Astaire video clip. And here I was thinking the rotating hallway fight scene in Inception was original.

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