What happens when you want to interchange time and space in a video? Watch and find out.

I was sitting in a train traveling through The Netherlands recently when for some odd reason I decided I had to take a video of the landscape passing by. I had no real use for it but decided to try and make something of it. I remembered slit-scan photography, a method where a slit is moved across the picture plane essentially taking a temporal image, where different times of the scene are captured on different parts of the film.

Replicating this from a video meant taking the same column of pixels from each frame of the video and putting them next to each other. Then I decided that a still image was kind of boring really, and I explored what would happen if I took another pixel column and repeated the process. The result was a wonderful kind of movement where the far away objects would move across the width of the image faster than the ones in front. A kind of inverse parallax movement really.

To accomplish all this I saved the video as an image sequence, then I wrote a few scripts, the first of which took each frame and extracted every pixel column writing them into separate files. After ending up with about 8.7 Million one pixel wide images I took the second script to recombine them again, making as many images as the footage was pixels wide and making them as wide as the footage had frames, thus essentially interchanging time and space. After a few days I ended up with 720 images, each 12121 pixels wide and 1280 pixels high which I then loaded back in as an image sequence and performed some retiming magic on.

I'll retry the same thing soon with something better than an iPhone. This is merely a proof of concept. With a steadier vehicle and a better camera (one with AE lock and higher fps for example) this could produce pretty stunning results that would be free of the squiggly shakes and the flashy exposure adjustments.

These are my first steps in Final Cut Pro and Motion, please excuse any video editing mistakes I might have overlooked. I gave my best.

There's also the experiment video in its full length without the making of in the beginning. vimeo.com/26076063

Music: lastfuture - Enigma
Album: reverse kill

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