Paint on a Speaker

Paint on a speaker

Paint on a speaker

I’ve been fascinated by paint dancing on a speaker photos ever since I saw the “slow motion” videos of it on YouTube.

But not having a $20K phantom slow mo camera in my arsenal, I resorted to trying to capture these photos with an SLR.

The one thing a SLR has over even the most expensive slow motion camera is resolution. They make a 4K phantom now, which equates to an 8 MP image if you freeze one frame if video. If you have a 32 MP Nikon or Sony or one of the new 50 MP Cannons you have a great deal of resolution for detail and cropping power. Plus there is the added flexibility of a raw file verses a still pulled from a video.

This is a great project for rainy days or when you live in an igloo in the great white north.


Paint on a speaker


So You Want To Make A Mess…


You will need the following

  • A speaker
  • An amp
  • A tube with the diameter of the speaker
  • A momentary switch
  • Speaker Wire
  • Paint. The brighter and more varied the color the better. Glitter paint will add interest.
  • A balloon. Get a good sized quality white or black balloon. You are going to have to scrape paint off of it and clean it between shots.
  • A pipe clamp the diameter of the tube
  • A music source or a tone generator
  • Off camera flashes
  • PC Sync Cables and splitters
  • Camera trigger cord

You can source a lot of this at your local “second hand” store. You can get an old stereo and speakers on the cheap. Make sure the system has an audio input and a lot of power, and try to find speakers that look like they can put out some loud sound.

You can find the sync cables cheap on eBay, you may want to buy extra in case some  are defective.

Paint on a speaker

Simple Steps to Make A Paint Slinger

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  1. Hot glue the speaker to the tube. Try to make it as air tight as possible so all the power will be transferred to the balloon.
  2. Cut the nipple off the balloon. Stretch the balloon over the opposite end of the tube. Try to make it tight enough to flatten out the balloon, but not so tight it might break on you.
  3. Secure the balloon with a pipe clamp.


Paint on a speaker

  • Wire the speaker to the output of the stereo. Cut one of the speaker wires and wire in a momentary switch so you can control the speaker with a button press.



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  • Hook a cell phone into one of the stereo inputs if you are not going to use a “Tape Deck” with your stereo from 1992.



Paint on a speaker

  • At this point you may want to cover everything you own in plastic.


Best Dance Music For Paint

Paint on a speaker

Any music will vibrate the balloon membrane. But to get some real paint slinging action, there is no better music then Dubstep. Like it or hate it that ear beating music makes speaker cones go crazy.


Dubstep Avoidance

Dubstep music is an acquired taste. It is also very hard to predict what the paint will do. If the “Song” starts low the paint might mix before it even jumps at the higher beats. And getting a shot of it happening would require you knowing the song better then I’d ever want to. To get around the noise and unpredictability I have found that using a tone generator works best.


Using a Tone Generator

Use your phone for something other then searching for an illusive Pokemon. Whether your an Android user or an Apple fanboy there are a plethora of apps in the app stores that will give complete vibration control of your paint mixer.

Download and install one of the apps and set the tone for around 40Hz, which I think means 40 cycles a second. Hook your phone into the stereo inputs.


Dance Damn You…
Dance Like You’ve Never Danced Before!

Paint on a speaker

Now that you have your ducks in a row and have tested your setup to be sure when your pressing the button your speaker is vibrating, you are ready to mix paint.

To get sharp images you will need to follow the typical rules to use a flash to take high speed photographs.

High Speed Photograhy Tutorial

Trigger your camera with a remote control and trigger the flashes with the camera. Set the camera to its highest burst mode as you will only get a couple of shots off before everything is mixed.

This isn’t usually that messy but if you want to be safe you could always build a paint tent.


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Making Paint spin out of control

You can also get paint to mix with centrifugal force. Instead of a balloon and a stereo, try a drill and a drill bit. This is much messier, but not as messy as exploding paint balloons. It tends to spin the paint 360 degrees from the drill, but in a much more controlled way. You still may want to build a paint tent.


Here photographer Linden Gledhill uses a high speed video camera to get shots I can only dream of.

Unless someone wants to send me a Phantom…


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