Charlie Cardinal Video Analysis: Real World Investigations for Physics and Mathematics


This web page contains short video clips that may be used in teaching and learning physics concepts using any one of several video analysis software programs.  The video clips linked to this page are also useful in algebra, trigonometry, and calculus studies by providing "real world" examples of many common mathematical relationships. 

Physics and physical science teachers of students from all education levels will find that this technology makes possible an in-depth analysis of some physical situations that would not normally be possible because of measurement difficulties, time, expense, and/or safety considerations.  Mathematics teachers should also discover that video analysis is a relatively inexpensive and worthwhile method of studying "real world" examples of phenomena that are described by linear, quadratic, hyperbolic, square root, and sinusoidal relationships and graphs.

What software programs are used?

A number of relatively inexpensive video analysis programs may be purchased for this purpose, including VideoPoint (PC and Mac), Measurement-in-Motion (PC and Mac), and Vernier's Logger Pro 3 (PC and Mac) video analysis feature that supplements their existing probes and software.  These programs allow the user to "mark" the position of an object in each frame of a video clip and will make relevant calculations to produce informative graphs with just a click of the mouse button.  Position, velocity, acceleration, force, momentum, and energy graphs, among others, can all be quickly produced.  Users may analyze video clips that are supplied by these programs, may import video clips from other sources (such as this web site), or make and analyze their own video clips.  To download an instructional video demonstrating how to use the VideoPoint video analysis program, click here*. A brief tutorial on using the video analysis features of Logger Pro 3 may be downloaded by clicking here.

Several video analysis programs may be downloaded free of charge from the web. Tracker, a free program developed by Doug Brown, contains many of the same features contained in the commercial programs described above. Users “mark” video frames, set the origin to the desired location, and calibrate the video for real world measurement values; Tracker then calculates motion values, constructs graphs, and draws velocity and acceleration vectors. Users can also draw forces or other vectors and add or compare vectors graphically. The Tracker web page contains links to tutorials and several video clips ready for analysis. Tracker also has the capability of creating a line profile tool that “measures the brightness of the image pixels it lies on” in order to generate spectral line profiles and analyze diffraction and interference patterns, a feature not currently available with other video analysis programs. Tracker can be customized with a configuration file that enables only those features needed for a given class or experiment.

Physics ToolKit (PC only) is a simple to use program that includes many video clips and other supplementary materials that teachers should find useful.

KCS Motion is another free motion analysis software package developed for physics and engineering education.  The software uses splines to track the location and orientation of an object in a video clip using just a few user identified points. Once objects are tracked, the software can be used to analyze objects position, velocity, acceleration, energy and momentum through graphs or calculations. KCS Motion calculates motion values for individual masses or CG's of combined masses with respect to fixed and moving coordinate systems. 

CameraScope is a freely available Windows application developed at the University of Virginia to make digital visualization more accessible for K-12 students. It allows for still, real-time and time-lapse digital capture of images from web-cams, the Digital Blue QX5 computer microscope, and Canon digital cameras. These stills and movies can be easily measured, analyzed, and graphed.

If instructors desire that their students take more control of manipulating data obtained through video analysis, a free program called DataPoint may be of interest. Like the other video analysis programs, DataPoint expects users to “mark” video frames in order to obtain pixel locations of an object with time. However, DataPoint then requires students to paste the "marked data" into a spreadsheet and manipulate the data to produce the relevant information.  This program was developed by Glenn A. Carlson and "is copyrighted software," but he is "currently offering it to Physics students and the Physics education community free of charge."  All he asks is that you notify him that you are using the software and let him know how it serves your needs and how it can be improved.  In order to obtain more meaningful results, students using this program will need to convert their data sets, which contain x and y pixel positions of the location of the object with time, to appropriate position units using proportions and a known measurement standard.  Users may also need to make linear translation manipulations to move the origins to desired locations.  To download an instructional video demonstrating how to collect data using the DataPoint program and import it into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet for graphing and analysis purposes, click here*.  To download an instructional video demonstrating how to manipulate data in the spreadsheet for analysis and graphing purposes, click here*.

The video analysis program(s) you choose to use with your students will naturally depend upon the nature and sophistication of the investigations you plan to undertake, the technological abilities of your students, specific program features that are necessary for your investigations, and of course, costs involved. Regardless of which video analysis program you use with your students, this recently developed technology gives physics and mathematics students of all levels the ability to conduct motion investigations with precision and detail that would not be possible otherwise, except perhaps at a much greater expense.


The following table lists various physics topics and gives a brief description of the related video clip:

1. Click on the "Video Download" link to open and/or save the video. 

2. Click on the "Analysis Suggestions" links to open either a MS Word or pdf document outlining suggestions for laboratory analysis, including procedures for using a spreadsheet to manipulate the data, rather than letting the software perform the calculations and automatically produce graphs and best fit equations.

NOTE*: Video clips may be analyzed using any of the commercially available analysis programs.  These video clips were filmed at 29.97 frames/second with a JVC mini-digital video camera  and edited with Pinnacle Studio DV software.  All video clips (including the three instructional videos linked in the preceding paragraphs that were made using Camtasia Studio screen capture software) are in ".avi" format and may take considerable time to download when using a dial-up modem. 

In order to view the three instructional videos linked to this site, you must have "permission" to install the TSCC Codec on the computer (built into these three videos), which should install automatically if such permission is granted.  You may also download the free Camtasia Player from  in order to view these instructional videos.


Physics Topic Video Description Video Download Analysis Suggestions Functions/Graphs Produced
Constant Velocity
Relative Velocity I
Relative Velocity II
Free Fall I (insignificant air resistance)
Free Fall II (significant air resistance)
Free Fall III (less significant air resistance)
Vertical Motion
Projectile Motion I
Projectile Motion II
Circular Motion I
Circular Motion II
Conservation of Energy I (bouncing ball)
Conservation of Energy II (pendulum)
Conservation of Energy III (rolling ball)
Conservation of Energy IV (rolling ball)
Conservation of Energy V (mass on a spring)
Inelastic Collisions I
Inelastic Collisions II
Elastic Collisions I
Elastic Collisions II


Research and publications related to video analysis investigations:

Bryan, J. A. (2010). Investigating the conservation of mechanical energy using video analysis: Four cases. Physics Education, 45(1), 50–57. (article link)

Bryan, J. (2006). Technology for physics instruction. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education [Online serial], 6(2), 230245. Available:

Bryan, J. (2005). Video analysis: Real-world explorations for secondary mathematics. Learning and Leading with Technology, 32(6), 22–24. (article link)

Bryan, J. (2005). Physics instruction using video analysis technology. College Board AP Central® Feature Article.  Available to registered members: 

Bryan, J. (2004). Video analysis software and the investigation of the conservation of mechanical energy.  Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher  Education [Online serial], 4(3), 284298. Available:


Comments or Questions Regarding This Site:

For questions or comments regarding the use of these videos, to suggest other video analysis lab activities, or to request a professional development session on the use of video analysis for teaching physics, physical science, and/or mathematics, please contact:

Joel A. Bryan, Ph.D.
Department of Physics and Astronomy
Ball State University
Muncie, IN 47306-0505
(765) 285-4718