: video toys : Funhouse

One afternoon I was playing with a scanner, scrubbing a drawing back and forth on the platter while the scanner was operating. This is quite fun to do and I recommend it to anyone, as you are nearly 100% guaranteed to create brilliantly twisted images no matter what you do. The only problem is that a scanner only operates for finite period of time, giving you a short window in which to create your distorted masterpiece.

I decided that it would better suit my intentions if the scanning bar of light stayed in one place, constantly writing information to an ever-growing image, while I scrubbed over it to my hearts content. So, I wrote Funhouse to do just that.

Instead of a flatbed scanner, Funhouse uses a video signal to capture one row of pixels at a time and add them to the bottom of an image file. The effect is technically the same, but the use of a video camera allowed for the observing lens to suddenly break out into 3D space.

Rotating the camera slowly can create panoramic images like this:

and this:

The strange warping in these pictures comes from the inconsistent rate at which I rotated the camera. The program is reading from the middle row of pixels of a video sin gal. The user must manually move either the camera or objects in front of the camera to see anything other than straight lines. In a way, the program is creating a derivative of the changes of a single row of pixels. No change = straight lines. If that sounds confusing, ignore it.

In other words, If the camera is sitting still, changes in a single place in front of the camera are reflected along the length of the photo. Here is me spinning my head around, we only see what happened in the middle row of pixels from the video signal. In the course of this 'exposure' my face passed through that row of pixels a few times:

'Up down up down up down up' makes a mouth monster!:

Looking side to side takes a picture of my whole head (notice you can see both ears facing the camera):

I wrote Funhouse in Processing, which is a great programming environment for manipulating images and video. Check it out if you're interested and I'll send my source code to anyone who asks!