Movement in Time, Part 1 (2014)

100 classic Hollywood films version

The work is a generative animation/painting with sources taken from one hundred classic Hollywood film sequences. I based on the selection of the most popular film moments from the IGN database. From the digitized film sequences, I investigated if I could develop a visual signature for each popular film sequence that registered the aesthetic decisions that the directors, cinematographers, editors and actors/actresses made in producing the sequence. The software I have written based on OpenCV and openFrameworks. It made use of optical flow analysis to visualize the unique motion patterns with each film sequences. The patterns were the creative outputs of the human actions, camera movements and editing efforts. The animations thus generated resembled much the action paintings in art history.

To illustrate the ideas, I divide the screen into four sections. The top left one is the original footage. I play back all the 100 film sequences in chronological order. The top right one is the motion flow in the current moment. The character’s movement, camera pan, tilt, and zoom are easy to recognize by using the optical flow data. The bottom right one is the accumulated flow information together with the colour picked up from the region where the motion happens. As a result, this corner will generate a unique animated painting for each film sequence that identifies it with the colour and motion details. In the last bottom left corner, I further visualize the motion details with 20 consecutive frames. The major motion regions are connected together across all the frames to highlight them.

I also appropriated the ideas of movement image and time image from Deleuze. Hollywood films are mainly structured through movements. The classic sequences contain signature movements that all audience can recall. I want to investigate if I can, through this software, convert the movement sequences into a visualisation of time through the use of the continuous flow of painting brush strokes. It is also an attempt to unify a spatial medium such as painting by going back to its process oriented idea in action painting, and a time-based medium such as cinema by archiving and accumulating the movement information as painting.

For more detailed rationale and description, please check out this post.

Here is the full playlist of the artwork in YouTube. Some of the clips are masked due to copyright concerns.

Each of the film clip will generate a unique signature. The following gallery contains all the 100 snapshots of the animation captured at the end of each clip.