Project IV Proposal
There were several things I wanted to do with my final project.
First of all, I wanted to do something a bit more "interactive" than anything we'd done in the past. I wanted to do something that wasn't just a static piece, but would change in response to people and how they interacted with it. The shadow screens done by one of the artists shown in class (whose name I've forgotten) gave me the idea that I might be able to use a camera to get video of people near my project, then use that to display something interesting. Since I've noticed people using Photo Booth on iMacs as a mirror, I thought it might be interesting to make a "mirror" using a camera and a computer.
My second source of inspiration for this project goes back to a project I did when I was in high school. For a (digital) photography course, I wrote a computer program to patch together many small photos to make one large photo. (you've probably seen similar photos before.) I've always liked photos like these. I think it's an interesting concept because you can show an image of something that's literally made out of some other type of thing.
For my final project, I would like to combine these two ideas. This implies transforming the "combine photos to make one big photo" technique into "combine videos to make one big video." This is a more difficult problem; I've never seen it done before, but I think it should be possible.
I plan to set up a camera and a computer. Right now, I think I'd prefer to use an iMac and its built-in iSight, but I haven't decided against using my laptop tethered to a camcorder and a screen yet; I'd like to see how it looks on an iMac first before I decide. The computer will contain a large library of very short (absolutely no more than 2 seconds) video clips. After collecting video for a period of time equal to the longest video clip, the computer will decide, for each region of the video, which clip best matches the color and motion in that region. It will then play the best matching video in each region. When each video ends, it will select a new video. To avoid making these transitions jarring, I want to make the clips of different lengths so that all the clips don't change at the same time.
I'd like to do it without the delay, of course, but predicting the future is impossible in general, and very difficult and complicated to do with any acceptable level of accuracy. (Though I do have an idea of how I could do it reasonably well as an extension of this project at some later time.)
For the library of short videos, I plan to shoot a lot of videos around my apartment, around campus, and pretty much anyplace I am over the next few weeks. I don't know how many I'll need, or how many it will possible to use. I'll need a lot of different videos in order to make a good enough match against arbitrary video so that it will work. At the same time, having too many videos will make it too difficult for the computer to figure out which of the videos to use, which could make the entire thing fall apart. I will need to experiment to see what I can do. My feeling is that it should be possible to do something that will look decent, though I don't know how difficult it will be to actually get this to work.
I think it would be a lot of fun to use only a certain type of item in the videos, but because I'm not sure how easy it will be to make a coherent image from videos, I don't want to limit myself right now.