26 October 2009

People Playing

Video games are the first stage in a plan for machines to help the human race, the only plan that offers a future for intelligence.

— Chris Marker, Sans Soleil 






16 October 2009

Tesseracting in Action



Now let's see them grab the sound too!
Thanks to notthisbody for the link.

08 October 2009

PhotoSketch: Another Tool for Atomizing the Frame



There's some great controversy stirred up over on Vimeo about whether this is fake or not. Regardless of whether it's legitimate science or great science fiction, this video is another beautifully clear example of how we are moving towards an object-oriented image making paradigm.

07 October 2009

Volumetrically Enhanced Dance Performance from United Visual Artists



This subtle and elegant dance performance from United Visual Artists uses some type of volumetric recording technique to generate a real-time object-oriented video backdrop. It's not surprising that the data points are being displayed in a similar aesthetic to the House of Cards video which I love talking about so much; photo-realistic data sets would be a burdensome load for a real-time or even non-real-time process.

Anyone have a prediction on how soon we'll see photo-realistic real-time volumetrics? Let's start a wager! ;)

Thanks to my friend and colleague Carsten Goertz for the link to the video!

04 October 2009

Object-Oriented Byproducts of Image/Video Manipulation





These technologies will simultaneously help increase the demand for volumetric cinematography while being made obsolete by its widespread arrival.

01 October 2009

Open Indie



Arin Crumley's new project OpenIndie.com looks like a great idea!

29 September 2009

Time Traveler Through Title Graphics: Dan Black's "Symphonies"



I am too busy at the moment to post another videoblog so I thought I would share this beautiful new music video which features Dan Black as a kind of time traveler through various genres and graphic styles from title sequences of very well known films. Amongst many well-known others, we get glimpses of the essence of Lost Highway, Tron, and James Bond.

If film title sequences are your thing, you should also check out Submarine Channel's excellently curated site Forget the Film, Watch the Titles.

20 September 2009

A Rubric for Open Source Cinema (beta)



I am very excited to publish my very first videoblog entry to Quantum Cinema in which I give my candid reactions to RiP: a remix manifesto as well as the website Open Source Cinema. Sorry in advance for the somewhat noisy audio; next time I'll see to it that the audio is better quality.

A Rubric for Open Source Cinema (beta)
  1. Identification of Objects in the Frame
  2. Universal Editing Timeline Metadata
  3. Timecoded Text Transcription
Sample-Based vs. Hypercubist Audiovisual Culture

Eclectic Method remix the Colbert Report:



Memo Akten performs mathematical transformations on Radiohead's data:



Ian Mackinnon interprets Radiohead's data with Lego stop-motion:



As we can see, Radiohead's data is a far more transformable medium than the clip from the Colbert Report. Hypercubist aesthetics are characterized by this fluidity.

PS: I have setup the domain www.hypercubist.com to redirect to Quantum Cinema so if you feel like sharing the blog with your friends, now you can remember the URL just a little bit easier ;)

Quantinuity: Towards a Theory of Continuity for Hypercubist Cinema

Updated 20 September 2009: an excerpt of the lecture is now available!



This is a summary and expansion of ideas originally delivered as a lecture at Perestroika
12 November 2008 – Porto Alegre, Brazil

HYPERCUBISM

Hypercubism is an attempt to define a movement that can encompass and surpass postmodernist theory by demanding a new language for describing the zeitgeist of contemporary media. It is in recognition of a new constructive tendency which unites the particles created in postmodernist deconstructionist analysis. In this sense hypercubism can be said to be a synthetic, associative movement. It is a movement for the 21st century although its roots can be traced back to the early 20th century.

We can see the new structure of knowledge as the primary driving force behind the need for this new language. The continuum which passed through agriculture and books in the form of an ever-broader branching Tree of Knowledge is slowly coming to an end, as the internet reshapes human knowledge into a Data Cloud. This restructuring of knowledge has profound ramifications, from the way people learn to the way governments govern and companies conduct business. The principle transformation is from hierarchies which favor a single vantage points to a plurality which favors the wisdom of crowds. [1]

The Dawn of the Cloud Era

For a long time it made sense to model the world in tree-based structures. The tendency of tree-based thought is to divide things into smaller and smaller pieces, creating a branching structure.

When this vector of inquiry reached its peak, humans split the atom. This development literally blew apart most people's notions of the world of human knowledge when atom-splitting technology manifested itself in the massive, cataclysmic destruction of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.


This marked the first visualization on a global scale of the new cloud of human knowledge and symbolized the beginning of a new era of human civilization. Incidentally, to this day we are not sure how far you can go in splitting matter into tiny bits. Just this year CERN inaugurated the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest and most complex scientific instrument. So the search for smaller particles is still alive and well.

Incidentally, CERN would be the site of the technological innovation that actually transformed the cloud into a metaphor with positive potential: the internet. With the birth of the internet, humanity embraced knowledge as a data cloud, unbounded by the physical world of books.

This new cloud of knowledge is ever-changing. With smug certainty we can already predict that the internet as we know it today in 2008 will be radically different in another five to ten years. Evidence comes in the rapid spread of phenomenon like Wikipedia, YouTube, Skype and Facebook; services which are simultaneously extremely new and yet need no introduction due to their immense popularity and widespread mass adoption.

With the advent of mobile internet the cloud based consciousness is starting to transform not only the spaces of offices and bedrooms, but also the public commons. Many of us walk around with radical spacetime portals capable of siphoning knowledge from the data cloud right in our pockets – smart phones. The 1990s critique that surfing the internet made people lazy and detached from society is giving way to the present critique that people are more and more distracted when you meet them in person. An individual constantly being interrupted by their smart phone is a person caught between various conflicting spacetimes.

Ostensibly the physical interface of smart phones will ultimately implode so that our access to the data cloud is a seamless part of everyday reality. Perhaps one step forward will be miniature displays embedded onto the surfaces of contact lenses.

The internet may not be worth calling the internet in the future; it might indeed be better to call it the Metaverse. As reality changes and accquires this layer of metadata, our day to day lives change. One way to think of it is that the rate of coincidence is on the rise. With more access to metadata our decisions will be better informed in regard to naturally occurring patterns in our social, professional, creative and civic spheres. Patterns that used to be invisible. Instead of making plans with your friends you might prefer to have your proximity-based services module alert you when your friends are in your vacinity. A natural result of this changes in reality will be a change in how we tell stories.

QUANTINUITY

Splitting the Pixel


Quantinuity (quantum + continuity) is a theory which attempts to create grammar of a particlized cinema much like the dueling theories of Hollywood Continuity and Soviet Montage attempted to describe the grammar of celluloid cinema. Cinema has followed the same progression that matter has undertaken in the world of particle physics. We have seen a medium born in transparent plastics evolve into a magnetic signal to eventually become pixels.

Finally, in this year of 2008, new efforts to "split the pixel" have finally resulted in the cinematic equivalent of splitting the atom: Radiohead's groundbreaking music video "House of Cards" created together with Google using 3D laser plotting technologies; instruments normally used to study car crashes or rainfall from satellites. This collaboration is of fundamental significance because of the stature of the band and the technology company and their combined undeniable influence on popular culture and technology respectively.



The effect of "splitting the pixel" has not been particularly dramatic or intense, and it could very well be because "House of Cards" does not surpass the aesthetics of the signal based analog video medium; the Rutt Etra video synthesizer produced similar visual results with waves. As recently as 2004, New York band TV on the Radio has revived the Rutt Etra ghost in its music video "Staring at the Sun".



It will take a fully rendered, photo-realistic 3D holographic feature-length movie to drop the cinematic atom bomb. It will take a hypercubist narrative that surpasses the tired tropes of singers, landscapes and party scenes of music videos and proves that you can do more with all this particlization than just nifty special effects, for instance Trinity's jumpkick in the first Matrix movie. Despite this shot being composed of many shots, it is wholly insufficient to describe the process as "photo stitching" or special effects. The characteristic quality of such a cinematic moment is the particlization of the celluloid frame and the resulting simultaneous visualization of multiple spacetimes. It is adding dimension and depth to the frame and creating a hypercube.

Recognizing the hypercube as the new unit of cinematic reality – as the particle left behind after the "splitting of the pixel" – demands a new terminology to describe the process formerly called editing or cutting. As a hypercube can also be called a Tesseract (its mathematical name) we arrive at the term tesseracting – manipulating the new spacetime of hypercubist cinema.



Standard moving image technologies do not capture depth because of an inherent celluloid bias towards flatness. Furthermore, these same technologies tend towards low frame rates which hover around multiples of 24 due to the high expense of celluloid and the engineering challenge of projecting film at high speeds at low cost (even IMAX HD only runs at 48 frames per second). Meanwhile we have amazing multi-channel surround sound systems and the capacity to sample audio at incredibly high resolutions of 48,000 samples (and significantly higher) per second. Surely our visual perception is not at the same degree of resolution as our hearing, but it is in the hypercubist reality of video games, which accelerate frame rates into the hundreds for high speed animations of gunfire and race cars, where we can finally find a commercially viable precedent for higher temporal resolution in moving images.

Marketplace pressure will also spur the development of affordable holographic systems. Evidence can already be found at MIT's Center for Future Storytelling in its Holographic TV project, as well as the Musion Eyeliner holographic projection system.

Hypernarrative


Until now this discussion has been focused on the hypercube, the microscopic level of Quantinuity. As we take a broader perspective we can observe in the postmodern deconstruction of the narrative a universe consisting of larger chunks of information; characters, scenes, episodes and sequels.

At this level of Quantinuity we again find a lack of adequate terminology to describe contemporary cultural phenomena. This time the problem stems primarily from the critical postmodernist vocabulary of samples, remixes, mashups, remakes and fakes – techniques which had their roots in Dada that gained widespread acceptance due to the influence of Hiphop, eventually reaching their summit in micro house and glitch pop via the work of musicians such as Akufen and Girl Talk. The expression in moving images takes the form of narrative mashups in which characters serve as the linking element (a trailer for Titanic 2 hinges on a myriad of Leonard DiCaprio performances) or mere titles of pieces clash worlds (Fellini's "8 ½" and Eminem's "8 Mile" converge to become "8 ½ Mile").





The work of these artists addresses all of the content of pop culture as a cloud of data; of influence. Like the surrealists, this work is associative. You surf Wikipedia in a similar manner, jumping subjects from Africa to South America to Japanese to Pets to Protests. The process conjures a series of associated forms that haunt a Dalí painting.

Postmodernist sampling is the "lumberjacking" of narrative trees and the re-contextualization of the samples (lumber) into other structures. It is taking pieces of discrete narrative works and combining them in a time-based collage process. How then can we reconcile the characters who appear in the Weezer music video for "Pork and Beans" – a video which the Süddeutsche Zeitung inaccurately described as the "ultimate mashup" – since they are transported into Weezer's story world wholly intact. These characters are not references to other media, they are the other media, exhibiting a friendly alliance or association with Weezer in which they have "re-contextualized" themselves into another reality on their own, sans lumberjack.

These characters are a subset of the growing pantheon of hyperheros; certain members of the first global generation who have achieved fame by transcending the monopoly of the major media outlets through their own perseverance. They have successfully imprinted themselves on our global culture as memes, often using very simple humor to transcend nationality. Weezer's video represents an instance of the metanarrative cloud discharging a lightning bolt of charged story quanta.

As the network grows and interconnects, the metanarrative cloud gets more and more dense. The likelihood of associative coincidence increases and global culture materializes around these "lightning bolts" the more we tag, link, wiki and blog. This is something that could not happen in traditional libraries; books would collect dust – they wouldn’t get progressively more cross-referenced. Knowledge is getting more integrated and refined than ever before in the history of human civilization, and as regular people acquire more knowledge (not to mention ever-cheaper means of digital video production) they exhibit a growing desire to participate in the creation of cinema.

Participatory Cinema

Lightning is "an atmospheric discharge of electricity". Metanarrative lightning can in this way be viewed as the spontaneous result of the right story elements overflowing together. For these manifestations of culture to take on forms which resemble cinema, certain people (we'll call them Tesseractors) are stepping forward to channel this energy into the form of specific narrative projects. We can think of these participatory cinematic projects as lightning rods; engineered structures specially designed to attract these discharges of metanarrative culture.

Some of the more successful participatory cinematic projects have tapped into this lightning rod tendency; Matt Hanson's project A Swarm of Angels uses the power of crowdsourcing to write, crew, cast, produce and finance an entirely emergent £1 million movie. Big Buck Bunny is an open source 3D animated short movie produced entirely by volunteers at the Blender Foundation on free software via collaborations enabled over the internet. Artists Arin Crumley and Susan Buice document their romantic relationship via podcasts and their experimental feature "Four Eyed Monsters" while using a customized Google Map to enable fans to request local theater screenings.



These are just a few examples of a rapidly increasing trend of hypercubist cinema to incorporate social networks which accelerate the implosion of the entire celluloid film making apparatus, from writing through production all the way to distribution and merchandising.

Conclusion

Quantinuity and Hypercubism are works in progress. I am eager for all feedback and comments, recommended readings and new sources, refutations and alternate terminologies.

Footnote

[1] Many of my ideas about the structure of knowledge are inspired by David Weinberger. View his presentation on why Everything is Miscellaneous to better understand where our views intersect.

31 August 2009

Peaches "Take You On" vs. "Neurosonics Audiomedical Labs Inc."

Two new videos revisit the aesthetics of an object-oriented moving image paradigm, this time in addressing the age-old dilemma of how to get more characters than usually physically possible into the same virtual space. For more background on my thoughts about object-oriented images, see this post from January where I discuss it with some other nifty examples.



Continuing a tradition of blue screen music videos reminiscent of the works of Zbig Rybczynski, the latest Peaches music video produced by Angie Reed is a sarcastic and entertaining solution to the puzzle created when a musician has multiple visual identities and a treasure trove of wacky costumes. The simulated 3D of the video allows us to access Peaches in all the glory of her various selves in the same Tron-inspired virtual space.

On a more hi-fi tip, utilizing Soho's best and brightest to do some super cool compositing and motion capture, Partizan and Chris Cairns present us the highly entertaining and vaguely Cunningham-ish "Neurosonics Audiomedical Labs Inc.". This videomusical composition also solves a similar 'how to get enough characters in the same space' dilemma, this time by removing their bodies and just leaving their heads!



Be sure to check out the Neurosonics Microsite for some behind-the-scenes photos.

05 August 2009

Soon Your Computer Will See You Always



This little demo of some webcam background removal and face tracking trickery from Chris Harrison is auspicious of things to come for the future of viewing moving images. As long as our viewing devices are flat we'll have these slightly compromised aesthetics. Reminiscent of the previously posted DIY Nintendo Wii 3D Tracking Hack.

Time Travel is Possible, Even in China



Christoph Rehage continues the infoviz practice of stopmotion time travel with his walk across China captured in poetic HD resolution photos. It would be cool if the text subtitles were optional like a DVD, the music were less goofy and the ending less schmalzy. But there is still something alluring about this guy's examination of self.

01 August 2009

Visions of Singularity

This Kevin Kelly TED talk has been a point of inspiration for me for several months. He outlines some paradigm shifting statistics that point towards a future with ever greater potential for disruptively unexpected events to occur.



How refreshingly sweet and optimistic, then, to see this lighthearted and hypernostalgic vision of a Singularity from the adorable video hipsters from Chicago, Grocerybag TV:



Full Text of the voiceover:

My life is an integrated circuit.
I am inside of my human body, but I don't feel it yet.
We all thought 2012 would be so much more dramatic...
Something religious... or sacred.
Things were more laughable back then.
Back when I was a text message.
We're going to be plugging in our brains soon and nothing will stop the human race from racing.
We'll all be inside containers chasing everything they put in front of us with a pretty logo on it.
It's the internet.
It exists and people are not going insane.

04 June 2009

X-BOX Project Natal



Would love to see this working on the movie-theater scale.

26 May 2009

Stories Cull Writers from the World

"Writers imagine that they cull stories from the world. I'm beginning to believe that vanity makes them think so. That it's actually the other way around. Stories cull writers from the world. Stories reveal themselves to us. The public narrative, the private narrative - they colonize us. They commission us. They insist on being told. Fiction and nonfiction are only different techniques of story telling. For reasons that I don't fully understand, fiction dances out of me, and nonfiction is wrenched out by the aching, broken world I wake up to every morning.

The theme of much of what I write, fiction as well as nonfiction, is the relationship between power and powerlessness and the endless, circular conflict they're engaged in. John Berger, that most wonderful writer, once wrote: "Never again will a single story be told as though it's the only one." There can never be a single story. There are only ways of seeing."

Arundhati Roy
18 September 2002
Santa Fe, New Mexico

11 May 2009

Atomized Brazilian Literature



The easy-to-use interface of this project really can't be underestimated in terms of its importance in making the project a success. It is a good example of how designers will continue to play a bigger role in storytelling as narratives become byproducts of participatory frameworks.

04 March 2009

Hypercubist Romantic Comedy



What a lovely short Hypercubist video! This gives great visual presence to ideas of time travel and teleportation within photo-realistic aesthetics. Bravo!

02 March 2009

Hypercubism makes friends with its French cousin Altermodernism



Consider the following manifesto, written by French art critic and curator Nicolas Bourriaud, upon his curation of last year's Tate Triennial:
Altermodern - Manifesto

Travel, cultural exchanges and examination of history are not merely fashionable themes, but markers of a profound evolution in our vision of the world and our way of inhabiting it.

More generally, our globalised perception calls for new types of representation: our daily lives are played out against a more enormous backdrop than ever before, and depend now on trans-national entities, short or long-distance journeys in a chaotic and teeming universe.

Many signs suggest that the historical period defined by postmodernism is coming to an end: multiculturalism and the discourse of identity is being overtaken by a planetary movement of creolisation; cultural relativism and deconstruction, substituted for modernist universalism, give us no weapons against the twofold threat of uniformity and mass culture and traditionalist, far-right, withdrawal.

The times seem propitious for the recomposition of a modernity in the present, reconfigured according to the specific context within which we live – crucially in the age of globalisation – understood in its economic, political and cultural aspects: an altermodernity.

If twentieth-century modernism was above all a western cultural phenomenon, altermodernity arises out of planetary negotiations, discussions between agents from different cultures. Stripped of a centre, it can only be polyglot. Altermodernity is characterised by translation, unlike the modernism of the twentieth century which spoke the abstract language of the colonial west, and postmodernism, which encloses artistic phenomena in origins and identities.

We are entering the era of universal subtitling, of generalised dubbing. Today’s art explores the bonds that text and image weave between themselves. Artists traverse a cultural landscape saturated with signs, creating new pathways between multiple formats of expression and communication.

The artist becomes ‘homo viator’, the prototype of the contemporary traveller whose passage through signs and formats refers to a contemporary experience of mobility, travel and transpassing. This evolution can be seen in the way works are made: a new type of form is appearing, the journey-form, made of lines drawn both in space and time, materialising trajectories rather than destinations. The form of the work expresses a course, a wandering, rather than a fixed space-time.

Altermodern art is thus read as a hypertext; artists translate and transcode information from one format to another, and wander in geography as well as in history. This gives rise to practices which might be referred to as ‘time-specific’, in response to the ‘site-specific’ work of the 1960s. Flight-lines, translation programmes and chains of heterogeneous elements articulate each other. Our universe becomes a territory all dimensions of which may be travelled both in time and space.

The Tate Triennial 2009 presents itself as a collective discussion around this hypothesis of the end of postmodernism, and the emergence of a global altermodernity.
Bourriaud's conclusion that Altermodernism is giving rise to ‘time-specific’ artistic practices is a very resonant idea with my notion of Hypercubism. As I see Hypercubism as an inclusive theory that is not contradicted by other similar theories, but rather strengthened, I have no desire nor need to rebut or extensively qualify what I think of Altermodernism. I can simply say that the two movements are highly interrelated, and it is perhaps quintessentially Hypercubist/Altermodern that no one label for this phenomenon is agreed upon. Multiple names can comfortably co-exist.

Nonetheless, I will admit that I find the language being used here to characterize Altermodernism is of an all-too-familiar French intellectual style which reminds me of classic postmodernist works such as A Thousand Plateaus. For me there is something very attractive about being able to talk about such a fundamental shift in aesthetics in a more accessible language, given the fact that popular culture has had such a profound influence in bringing this Hypercubist era into being.

27 February 2009

Panel Discussion: Audience Building for Digital Films



"The future of independent film is not in content aggregation, which is quickly becoming commoditized, but in audience aggregation. Sustainability for filmmakers lies directly in the hands of the audience. Direct to audience models have shaken the core of the music industry. But the power of Kevin Kelly’s “1,000 true fans” seems good in theory but where do you start? What are the steps to building an audience around your work and most importantly how do you keep the conversation going? Discussion Leader: Saskia Wilson-Brown (Current TV) - Arin Crumley (Four Eyed Monsters) - Micki Krimmel (expert in social media and online community) - Alex Johnson (digital media strategist / filmmaker) - Lance Weiler (The Last Broadcast, Head Trauma)"

Reposted from DIY Days

27 January 2009

DIY Nintendo Wii 3D Tracking Hack



Seems to me after watching this video that widespread 3D holographic effects are just around the corner. I wonder how difficult it would be to get this working with most webcams in most laptops, or if the necessary sensor technology could be embedded easily.

Thanks to Rigo for showing me this video :)

22 January 2009

Cubism vs. Hypercubism

I thought I would take a stab at a concise definition of Hypercubism, a word I use quite often and have until now perhaps not defined so exactly. For the sake of reference, here is an excerpt of Wikipedia's definition for Cubism:
In cubist artworks, objects are broken up, analyzed, and re-assembled in an abstracted form — instead of depicting objects from one viewpoint, the artist depicts the subject from a multitude of viewpoints to represent the subject in a greater context. Often the surfaces intersect at seemingly random angles, removing a coherent sense of depth. The background and object planes interpenetrate one another to create the shallow ambiguous space, one of cubism's distinct characteristics.

In contrast we might consider this summation of Hypercubism:
In hypercubist artworks, objects are particlized, analyzed and synthesized in a realistic form — instead of depicting all objects from one temporal perspective, the artist (or artists) depict the subject from a multitude of temporal perspectives to represent the subject in a greater temporality. Often the surfaces of intersect seamlessly, creating a coherent four-dimensional spacetime illusion. The background and object planes are always distinct to create deep concrete space, one of hypercubism's distinct characteristics

Besides being a bit of encyclopedic revisionism, these two definitions set up a useful theoretical dichotomy between Cubism and Hypercubism. Simply put:

Cubism shows multiple spaces in the same time while Hypercubism shows multiple times in the same space.

Microsoft's C-Dragon and Video Synth



I thought I would resurrect this post and talk a little bit more about what I think the implications are for Hypercubist Cinema with technologies like C-Dragon and Photosynth.

These technologies illustrate perhaps the most fundamental aspect of my theory of hypercubism, namely, an aesthetics in which multiple times are visible in the same space.

If the set of a fictional movie were photographed using such technology in concert with some of the multi-camera object-oriented methods and/or scanners, I imagine a robust hybrid system could emerge which would realistically texture map the photos onto detailed clouds of spatial data. The implications for the editing (read: tesseracting) afterward would be tremendous, allowing granularization of every object and every word, every facial expression or movement.

I predict that the difficulty will be in recording sound in such an environment. In a way, we might see a second era of silent films with the emergence of early hypercubist systems. My hunch is that commercial pressure will force new innovations in multi-track recording to the degree that individual sound sources in the same acoustic space will be able to be mixed independently of one another as if they'd been recorded in separate isolation booths. This theme of hypercubist synchronous sound deserves its own post in the future.

PS: sorry for the long BMW advertisement at the end of this video; BMW sponsor the TED talks...

18 January 2009

200 Cameras, 2.5 million frames and 20,000 Gigabytes worth of Toshiba Magic





Although we've seen this effect used since The Matrix in numerous advertisements, films and spoofs, this example reveals in its reduced, contemporary aesthetics the object-oriented nature of the hypercubist revolution on its way. The subtle interplay of the different players in this "time sculpture" (as the ad agency people call it) reveals the short-comings of 2D compositing while also hinting at an entirely different image world.

Of course my contention is that the methodology used in this process is already theoretically obsolete. I predict that the scanning technologies of the future should be able to yield clouds of photo-realistic data without the necessity of 200 distinct video cameras. Nonetheless, state-of-the-art Californian motion capture company MOVA is also using a highly complex strobing multi-camera system together with phosphorescent makeup.



Their white paper on volumetric cinematography is a great quick read, written in accessible, non-scientific language, and resonates strongly with my own hypercubist theory.

These developments surely must be fascinating for the early pioneer of blue-screen proto-hypercubism, Zbig Rybczynski. His 1980 film Tango was an essential forerunner of such object oriented imagery.

The concept sketches, diagrams and film still from the finished composite of Tango reveal a direct hand-crafted analog predecessor of the Toshiba spot;

01 January 2009

The Explosion of Cinematic Time



This coy video from Dan Goldman of Adobe Systems alludes to some pretty fundamental concepts of what an object-oriented cinema might entail;
  • Drawing on Objects
    (making graphic changes to objects which stay with the object in time, as opposed to simulating object-oriented change by altering every frame)

  • Delineating Paths of Objects
    (tracking and displaying an objects path through space)

  • Attaching Visual Metadata to Objects
    (text annotations in the form of cartoon speech bubbles)

  • Object Timeline Scrubbing
    (using a "click and drag"approach to scrub the timeline)

  • "Throwing" Objects
    (giving objects the ability to be manipulated using analog velocity controls)

  • Segmentation of Objects
    (enabling puppet-like effects)

  • Hypercubist Time
    ("drag and drop" manipulation of individual objects through their own timelines to create composite hypercubist time)
Dan explains that his software system analyzes the movement of points and allows the system to recognize moving objects. The video also demonstrates how algorithmic analysis will be able to accurately calculate hypercubist compositing to eliminate visual artifacts.

The curious and persistent question in my mind is: when will this hypercubist vision for moving images be embraced by the video camera manufacturers? Why not displace some of the processing power needed to identify the objects into the camera system itself? There are certainly high-end special effects tracking systems for the commercial industry to do all kinds of compositing and layering of 3D and real images, but I think lower price point systems have a genuine appeal for numerous less glossy applications. It seems like Dan is already on this tip in his experiments with puppets.

The Dynamic Graphics Project at the University of Toronto has also been contributing to this field with its Dimp video player prototype which allows to browse video clips by directly dragging their content.



These interface prototypes are a great step forward in establishing hypercubist video aesthetics. I think 2009 looks auspicious for these projects. With YouTube's recent launch of annotations even with a silly example like this its not hard to imagine more and more regular consumers demanding sophisticated object-oriented video tools.