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Camera Technique Captures New View of Space & Time

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the sll-at-one-time dept.

Science 75

kkleiner writes "What if you could compress a video clip into a single image? That's what Jay Mark Johnson, an artist and visual effects director, has accomplished through the use of a special camera technique. He calls the images 'photographic timelines,' and his collected works offer quite a shift to conventional perception. Slices of photos are strung together in progression to make a single composite image of a sliver of space spread over an extended period of time."

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GIF (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41810375)

"What if you could compress a video clip into a single image? "

you get a GIF.

Re:GIF (0)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 2 years ago | (#41810777)

An animated GIF is a single file made up of several images... not a single image

Re:GIF (1)

dmbasso (1052166) | about 2 years ago | (#41811851)

It is strange how terminology is formed... now 'image' is synonymous to 'static visual image' in computational contexts. In neurosciences it may refer to other modalities, such as 'sound images', or 'tactile images'.
But that's the beauty of language, it is alive.

Re:GIF (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#41817193)

But that's the beauty of language, it is alive.

Aw, man, you missed the opportunity for a joke. Tomorrow's Halloween. It's.... aliiiiIIIIIVE!!!!

Re:GIF (1)

SuperMooCow (2739821) | about 2 years ago | (#41810805)

Why was PNG finally able to replace GIF but MNG failed to replace the animated GIF?

Re:GIF (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41811739)

Because there was an MNG of a donkey ramming the a**hole of the prophet Mohammad, so Allah decided to censor the whole format.
Who cares about ICANN or the ITU, Allah is powerful! He can destroy the internet with His mighty!!!

Re:GIF (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41812141)

Because ping offers much better colour than gif, while people stopped using animated gif for anything that didn't involve cats or dancing hamsters.

Re:GIF (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41812651)

browser support.

Re:GIF (1)

Jarik C-Bol (894741) | about 2 years ago | (#41813533)

because animated .PNG is a thing, and people are to lazy to change the way the do things.

Re:GIF (1)

Teancum (67324) | about 2 years ago | (#41814259)

The early animated GIF images really was the only way to effectively perform any sort of animation when they originally came out, thus they got widespread browser and editor support. The MNG file format instead came much later... after there were other alternatives such as motion JPEG, and especially the ubiquitous Microsoft AVI format not to mention Quicktime, Real Media, and MPEG that were all coming out at about the same time. While MNG wasn't really trying to get into the video format business (IMHO a failure of imagination of the group putting together MNG too) those alternate video formats really ended up taking over what niches were left for the MNG format.

And then ultimately by the time MNG was finalized and in a position to be readily accepted, the LZW patent (or at least the one being pushed by Unisys) expired so people who really wanted to use the GIF file format could do so without worrying about royalty payments... the thing that really pushed the PNG file format forward in a huge way.

The one niche application that MNG could have done is video (with multiplexed audio), but that "open source and royalty free" application has been taken over by the Ogg file format and thus is relegated to the file format backwater. Some web browsers do support MNG files and some of the chunks can be read by software supporting the PNG format, so it isn't a total waste. Still, it is only a niche application that doesn't offer much of an improvement over other competing animation file formats.

Re:GIF (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41816931)

Er, like this:

$85000 camera? (3, Insightful)

dalias (1978986) | about 2 years ago | (#41810395)

Pretty sad that it took an $85000 camera to do the same thing you could do with any video camera and a few hundred lines of code...

Re:$85000 camera? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41810455)

85000-500 = 84500 / 200 = $422.5 per line of code. I want that gig.

Re:$85000 camera? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41810495)

Looks like the same technique they use to take horse race photo finishes.

Re:$85000 camera? (1)

tsa (15680) | about 2 years ago | (#41811509)

Yes, I also don't see what's new here.

Re:$85000 camera? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41814725)

Available on a $500 open source camera:

Re:$85000 camera? (1)

Rotaluclac (561178) | about 2 years ago | (#41815085)

And photo finishes of a rowing race.

As far as I know, this type of equipment exists for at least 30 years. It's called a line camera.

Re:$85000 camera? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41810549)

What's even sadder is that this technique has been done with film around at least 30 years ago. I don't even know why he's being featured. It's like saying, "man discovers cross-processing with digital cameras" (it's Instagram if you don't get it).

If I recall correctly, they used to do this for horse races.

Re:$85000 camera? (1)

bandy (99800) | about 2 years ago | (#41811687)

Because people have no sense of history. Instagram isn't (necessarily) cross-processing. Most of the effects just make photos look as if you've stored them in sunlight for a few years. Photos back then didn't look like that - they were a bit grainier than what we expect now, but they certainly didn't look washed out.

Re:$85000 camera? (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 2 years ago | (#41810699)

OK, you first.

Re:$85000 camera? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41811135)

I have done something similar, and it was four lines of code: load data into array, for loop, copy column into output array, end for loop. Although to be fair, that was with a camera intended for scientific use that saved video as a giant, uncompressed array of values. With a consumer camera, you might need a line to convert the video into an array of values... which probably is a single extra line in python.

Re:$85000 camera? (1)

fragfoo (2018548) | about 2 years ago | (#41810747)

Pretty sad that it took an $85000 camera to do the same thing you could do with any video camera and a few hundred lines of code...

Or about 3 lines if you use OpenCV.

Re:$85000 camera? (1)

kramulous (977841) | about 2 years ago | (#41815267)

Yeah? What would those three lines of code be exactly? Time to put your money where your mouth is.

Re:$85000 camera? (1)

Pedant (75947) | about 2 years ago | (#41810783)

With a cheap video camera, he could make videos with the space and time axes swapped.

Re:$85000 camera? (1)

JazzHarper (745403) | about 2 years ago | (#41810871)

There's an app for that. $1.99 at iTunes.

Re:$85000 camera? (4, Interesting)

grumbel (592662) | about 2 years ago | (#41811505)

Hundred? Try two:

mplayer -vo jpeg -vf "crop=$WIDTH:$HEIGHT:$X:$Y" -ss "$STARTPOS" -endpos "$DURATION" "$VIDEOFILE"
montage -geometry "${WIDTH}x${HEIGHT}" -tile x1 *.jpg "$OUTFILE"

Set WIDTH to 1 and HEIGHT to the size of the video file. (Warning: will spam the current directory with a whole bunch of jpegs).

Re:$85000 camera? (1)

Ford Prefect (8777) | about 2 years ago | (#41814647)


I wrote a slightly longer script to do the same (in PHP, stop laughing) to do some large-scale 'scanning' from public transit in Seattle. Firstly, I need a camera with a higher framerate (60fps isn't really enough) and secondly, I need to lock exposure, white balance and so on. But the very first attempt [] turned out quite well.

Re:$85000 camera? (1)

dalias (1978986) | about 2 years ago | (#41826621)

No need for ImageMagick. MPlayer has its own tile filter.

Not New (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41810425)

They have been doing this for years... Go look at the "photo finish" of any horse race to see the same effect.

Re:Not New (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 2 years ago | (#41810791)

Even worse, it shows that many people aren't actually exposed to x-t diagrams in high school physics, otherwise they wouldn't be able to come up with the silly idea that they actually invented something new.

Re:Not New (1)

Kjellander (163404) | about 2 years ago | (#41814609)

Totally Agree. Also, my students used to do this as an art project 7 years ago. They did nice slices through a whole football (non-american) game.

Re:Not New (1)

Sqr(twg) (2126054) | about 2 years ago | (#41815399)

...or Google "slit scan camera". There's a smartphone app for this.

It's not the size that matters, (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41810447)

It's the velocity of the ocean.

A movie (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41810471)

We already have things that show timeline in images, they are called 'movies', but the pictures that are shown in the linked story do not look like they are actually conveying a time line, they look like they are pieces of different images spliced together somehow, it's not clear how they represent a 'timeline'.

That picture with a woman [] (or whatever it is) being split into pieces, it doesn't look like a timeline, looks like a broken mosaic.

Re:A movie (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41810501)

She's split into pieces because she was in different places at different times when the vertical line was being sampled. Sometimes she was moving through that slit, and sometimes she was not.

Slit Scan Photography (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41810477)

I believe we've called this "slit-scan" photography and it's been in use for just about as long as there have been cameras. In fact, this can be seen as an undesired effect called "rolling shutter" in CMOS cameras, just taken to an extreme.

Anyone interested in this topic should really check out the work done by Amnon Owed and Processing (

Re:Slit Scan Photography (1)

MangoCats (2757129) | about 2 years ago | (#41812061)

But, the point is, he's an artist and his stuff looks cool... it's not his fault he was raised under a rock and rediscovered the wheel a century after its invention.

Re:Slit Scan Photography (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41817987)

Not really.The whole point of this technique is that the slit *doesn't* scan--it repeatedly take pictures of a single vertical slice,then stitches the slices together into a horizontal panorama, The result is that only objects which move horizontally across the vertical slit form resolvable images. It;s closely related to slit-scan photography but the results have noticeable differences.

Photo Finish (5, Informative)

Lev13than (581686) | about 2 years ago | (#41810529)

In other words, he's using a slit camera to make photo finish [] images (but with the subject something other than finish lines). Technology is being repurposed for a potentially interesting effect, but not technically revolutionary.

Re:Photo Finish (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41810615)

I've seen this being re-purposed for "art" before too, and even back then the artist/ audience realized it wasn't that great. This guy hasn't done anything innovative since then....other than with digital gear?

The images are still uninspiring. I wish I could name the artist who did this in the 70s.... maybe he was a photojournalist for the AP.

Re:Photo Finish (1)

jovius (974690) | about 2 years ago | (#41810807)

Yeah, an interesting and unique artistic application of the tech. There's a preset example in Processing (Library/Capture/SlitScan) which one can use to create custom slit scans from live video or movement. It's widely used as the basis for such projects, and there are many examples [] on YouTube.

I've seen one piece where the slit scan was created in sort of 3D and the depth of the image captured the different time frames. The frames could be revealed at any point and sort of dug and sliced into, but that was many years ago and can't remember who it was...

Re:Photo Finish (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41810901)

Technology re-purposed for interesting effect? Sounds like they deserve a patent on it!

old hat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41810533)

This technique is commonly used in science, usually referred to as a kinogram where each row of pixels (or each set of rows) is a line-scan taken at successive time-points.

This is NOT new. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41810539)

This is what photo finish cameras at horse racetracks have done since the 1930s. It's been used on nearly every race at every racetrack, at least in the US, since (IIRC) the 1950s. It's been used for countless other sporting events.

He could have saved himself a lot of "research" by just buying what he spent so long trying to invent.

Old News from 1992 or earlier (4, Interesting)

Culture20 (968837) | about 2 years ago | (#41810541) []
"A route panorama captures and displays miles of scenes along a route optimized to use as little data as possible. It captures scenes with a slit in the frame of a camera moving along a certain route. This presentation details new techniques which do not require image stitching and thus simplifies the input process."

Old News from 1912 or earlier (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41810619)

Marcel Duchamp was exploring this idea one hundred years ago [] .

Re:Old News from 1912 or earlier (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | about 2 years ago | (#41811593)

This painting, and the photo/video by which it was inspired, were my first thoughts as well.

Re:Old News from 1912 or earlier (1)

grumbel (592662) | about 2 years ago | (#41811635)

That's different, as that's just overlapping all the frames. The fun part with slitscan is that you only expose a single vertical line and don't overlap anything. That way the x-axis ends up capturing time, not space, which leads to quite a few interesting and unintuitive results.

Arrrgggg Old (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41810561)

Ancient technique.
I offer up my humble slit scan movie

The only way I can look at these (1)

istartedi (132515) | about 2 years ago | (#41810567)

The only way I can look at these is to think, "what moves is what matters", and "what matters most gets squished". There's some aesthetic amusement when I don't think about it too. The chopped up dancer is... well... interesting. I'm not ready to order framed prints though. It might be interesting to play with the "what matters" and "what matters most gets... " parameters. Oh, and the first one is confusing until you realize it's not a short movie taken at one time. It had to be at least two short movies, because of the way the shadows are.... right?

Re:The only way I can look at these (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41810739)

What the fuck are you talking about?

Been done (1)

stewsters (1406737) | about 2 years ago | (#41810571)

What if you could compress a video clip into a single image? - Animated Gif.

What's "news" about this? (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 2 years ago | (#41810577)

It's called a streak camera and it has been done for decades. It's used not only for photo finishes of almost every race that has a photo-finish capability, but it was done decades ago in atomic spectroscopy as a detector for spark and arc spectrometers. And it's done on a daily basis for many other sciences, like studying waves running up the beach. (I'd give a link but I don't want to /. the site.)

Hell, there's even an app for that on the new iphone. All it takes is a simple video camera and a few lines (not even hundreds) of code (pull the middle five columns out of a video stream and put them next to each other in a bigger image. Rotate the camera at some rate. Or move the object past the camera. Streak cameras move the film to do the same thing with a fixed camera position.)

The image never lies (-1, Flamebait)

OzPeter (195038) | about 2 years ago | (#41810649)

/. is dying a slow and painful death

Re:The image never lies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41810847)

But has Netcraft confirmed it?

its called slit scan and its not at all new (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41810681)

Astronomy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41810723)

Before I clicked, I'd hoped TFA was on a new astronomy technique.

We've got plenty of space-heads here -- how about it? Can you do something like this as another way to process the incredible amount of data you're pulling in?

I don't get it? (1)

gth740k (1167237) | about 2 years ago | (#41810877)

To me, the images seem more like abstract art (which I generally don't connect with) than a revolutionary camera technique.

Re:I don't get it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41811195)

To me, the images seem more like abstract art (which I generally don't connect with) than a revolutionary camera technique.

It is definitely "figurative" since it depicts existing things, such as humans & cars.

Here's a clue: Picasso never made abstract art, Kandinsky did.

does anyone else think... (3, Interesting)

roc97007 (608802) | about 2 years ago | (#41811117)

...that some of the images look like an updated game of Frogger?

Post Processing (1)

Dan East (318230) | about 2 years ago | (#41811129)

I don't see why this can't be done by post-processing a video (as long as the camera doesn't move, pan or zoom). It's unique that it can be done with a specialized camera, but I don't think that is necessary.

David Hockney (1)

GrahamCox (741991) | about 2 years ago | (#41811501)

David Hockney has been making art by slicing together stills to create the impression of a motion event for years. And frankly, his results are a lot more "artistic" that this mechanised and rather dull-lloking technique.

Not new at all (2)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 2 years ago | (#41811603)

This isn't new. And it's also not as interesting as this [] .

Re:Not new at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41819323)

I believe the masturbating circle of snobby art critics in the vimeo video would find an excuse to disagree with you, not me though, that's badass. wonder if this could be applied as a special effect in gaming, messing with time is always good for gameplay and sci fi effect. :D

Science? (1)

nekad (1901086) | about 2 years ago | (#41811775)

Why is this article tagged as science? An attempt at shoehorning general relativity is made in the article. Other than that, it is not news worthy under the umbrella of science.


Tastecicles (1153671) | about 2 years ago | (#41812589)

This. I had this down pat with my Kodak Brownie 110 in 1982! Fuck's sake...!


Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41819523)

*in hedonism bot voice*

When you did it it was a failure,
When a rich man did it with overpriced, unnecessary equipment, it's art

ooh truffles!


Tastecicles (1153671) | about 2 years ago | (#41820971)

mod parent up, that's just too damn funny! Extra karma for a Groening reference. Oh, shame, you posted AC! :D

It's an old story in Art too (1)

Kittenman (971447) | about 2 years ago | (#41812841)

A few years back I was in the Sistine chapel (I'm an art-lover: so shoot me). There's some stuff on the wall that tells bible stories in art. Example (I'm making this up, as I can't remember but do remember the technique) Moses on the mountain, getting the commandments from the man upstairs. Moses coming down the mountain, seeing the wild party, Moses smashing the tablets... each vignette has Moses in in at a different time in the story, but in the same painting. He's dressed identically, surrounded by the same people. He might be on the road, top right, then on the same road, middle centre.

So yeah, done before - in the renaissance.

Thank horses (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41812945)

Movies were invented to prove horses had all 4 feet off the ground at times when they ran using a series of still cameras. "The Matrix" then used the exact same technique to "invent" it's most notable special effect.
Slit scan photography was developed in the 1930's to determine not only which horse won a race, but how far back in time the other horses were. This guy "invented" the exact same technique.

If you think you've come up with a new technique for imaging a moving object, make sure it hasn't already been invented decades ago to image a horse.

This might not be new! (3)

dohzer (867770) | about 2 years ago | (#41813273)

Hey guys, I think this technique may already exist.
I'm just going by the fact that fifteen other people have independently pointed out the same thing.

Re:This might not be new! (1)

ishmaiel (2763513) | about 2 years ago | (#41822045)

I've been doing it for a large number of seconds - HDTR []

Could this Headline be any more gay? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41813811)

What a bunch of bullshit. This is quite possibly the stupidest headline derived from a story since Obama claimed the Video was the cause....

reply (-1)

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