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iPhone 4 captures magical guitar string wiggles

The iPhone's rolling shutter camera is used to create a dramatic video of guitar strings oscillating from the inside out.

iPhone 4 captures guitar strings
The video is real, but it's still an optical illusion. Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

Kyle Jones of Nashville, Tenn., stirred up a YouTube comment storm with a recent video showing some wild and wacky guitar string action.

Jones slipped his iPhone 4 into the sound hole of the guitar, arranged it with the tip of a pencil, and recorded video of himself playing from the inside out using the forward-facing camera. The video shows dramatic oscillations of the guitar strings.

Some commentators questioned whether the video was a product of post-production manipulation. The real reason seems to be the way the iPhone's camera works.

The rolling-shutter camera doesn't capture an entire image all at once. Rather, it captures images line by line. That slight time difference can cause the strange oscillation effect seen in the video.

A quick poke around YouTube nets similar videos in which the rolling-shutter effect creates some bizarre-looking videos of propellers and other fast-moving subjects. You can even replicate it just by moving your iPhone back and forth quickly while filming something with distinct lines.

No word on just how long it took Jones to get his iPhone back out of the guitar again.