The camera is a drum camera, named after the main feature of its design. Instead of pulling film from a supply reel to a take up reel, this camera spins a 90 inch loop of film around in a cylindrical flywheel, or drum. The camera spins the loop of unexposed film up to a constant speed with the shutter closed, and then waits until you are ready to take the shot.
To take a shot, you open the shutter and/or flash the lights. The shot must be limited to a time less than one revolution of the drum to prevent double exposure. To shoot above 5,000 frames per second, the subject is illuminated with special flash lamps which turn on and off much faster than the shutter can open and close.
During exposure, light enters the camera through the objective lens, and then is relayed back through a multi-faceted rotating mirror. As this mirror rotates, it reflects the light back to the film on the drum. Each face of this mirror creates a frame on the film.
Film transport can be done at speeds about five times faster than otherwise possible, and no film is wasted during run up and run down. Also, the camera will wait indefinitely at speed, using no film, until it is time to shoot. Everything in the camera moves at a constant speed, so it is relatively smooth and quiet during operation. Plus the power requirement is low. The camera can be run of standard kitchen current (110VAC, 20A).
During a shot, only this single loop of film is exposed. This means you are limited to a maximum of 120 frames (5 seconds of screen time at 24 fps) but also means that you do not waste any film when taking a shot. The camera system includes sophisticated timing devices to synchronize the camera with the subject.