Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Synchrony in Slow Motion

One of they key issues in making Video Art is how to synchronise the video track with the audio track. This is particularly important in music videos. And it is particularly difficult when the audio is slow.
This short video loop illustrates some of the problems. The audio is very slow and the events in the audio are separated by unequal intervals.

There are events in both the audio and the video that I wanted to synchronise. Since both tracks are generated, I was able to choose the durations of the intervals between events to some extent.

The outcome is that the events (attack in the audio, change of motion in the video) have been adjusted so that they happen with satisfying juxtaposition. They don't exactly happen at the same time but at clearly related (ie adjacent) times.

Cage and Cunningham noted that it wasn't necessary to synchronise dance movements and music, for a satisfying performance to be achieved. The extreme of this is when they composed their separate performances without contact with each other and where Cunningham hadn't heard (or studied) the music before dancing to it. The audience would see relationships between the events in the music and dance that were not designed.

I haven't gone that far. But I have relied on  the fact that precise alignment is not necessary, and probably isn't even desirable.

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Abstract Video from Still Images

I want to look at my own attempts to be abstract in the medium of video. Many of the techniques that I use have a close relationship with abstract painting: collage, masking, blending etc. It makes me wonder why abstract painters don't venture into this medium more often.

Many abstract artists have been influenced by music and see a close relationship between music and painting. Music is the most abstract of the arts, in that it makes no attempt at representation. Abstract painting, on the other hand, is often seen to be representational. So it is with Abstract Video. What it means to be abstract has been endlessly discussed, so I don't intend to join that discussion here.

There is also a close relationship between video and music, both being time-based media. This is particularly apparent when editing video or audio on a computer. Both media use sequential composition in their construction. The difference between abstract video and abstract painting is primarily just this additional dimension of time. At its lowest level a video is just a sequence of images.

Let's look at how we can make videos from paintings or from other still images.

Obviously you can make a video that was just an image of a painting, perhaps with a bit of pan and zoom to show details. This is what an observer would do for themselves in a gallery, look at the painting as a whole and then concentrate on various details. Nothing wrong with that, but it isn't using the video medium to its best advantage, which is to make abstraction in the time dimension as well as the space dimension.

All the examples used here are built from still images (photographs or computer generated graphics) that could be thought of as the video equivalent of still life. Let's look at some examples.

This first example of abstraction in video uses a collage technique. The images collaged together are mainly photographs, although some of them are photographs of paintings. The sequence of image changes has been synchronised to the soundtrack. There are not as many different images as one might expect. There are around thirty different images and at any point in time there will be three of them on the screen. One of the three is used as a mask. The other two are printed through the mask. The changes (on each beat) are either to the foreground image, the background image or to the mask. There are altogether around one thousand distinct images.

This second example is even more elementary. It is simply a slide show with a spoken track. The voice on the track has been edited to have precise time changes and the slideshow has been synchronised to those changes. Synchronised slideshows have endless possibilities.

Finally, this third example combines the techniques of collage, masking and synchronisation. This time all the images used are photographs of the same painting. This is a technique that can be used of many paintings and does, I think, show an artist's work in a different light. Used as an adjunct to an actual image of the original painting, this can be a great way of showing an image in a gallery.

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Comparison of embedded code

This page is being used temporarily to compare the merits of different video embed codes.

There have been significant improvements to the way that various platforms support video and in particular allow its embedding in other platforms. Not being clear about which is the best platform to support video I have been experimenting with Twitter, FaceBook, Instagram, YouTube and Vimeo. Below you can see the same video supported on each of these platforms and see how it performs on your device. Older phones, especially those with fewer pixels and lower performance, struggle with video.

I have followed the instructions from each of the platforms (Twitter, FaceBook, Instagram, YouTube and Vimeo) on how to embed video in this page, in order to see which ones render best on various phones.

I have copied the embed code exactly as suggested by the corresponding platform, rather than tidying it up.

This is Twitter

This is Instagram

This is Vimeo

Sunset - Imaginary Landscape from Peter Henderson @ Systems Art on Vimeo.

This is YouTube

This is Facebook

These embeds render differently on each browser and each phone/tablet that I have tried. some render more slowly than others, some play in place and some don't, some go on to offer alternative viewing which may not be what is required.

I assume most of the viewers of my stuff are using a phone and some of them are on 3G, so speed of starting is probably the most important criterion at the moment.

I was motivated to carry out this test because I noticed that some links in legacy posts on this blog (from 2015) were broken. This was because they used embed code that was no longer valid. I am assuming that if I stick to major platforms this problem will not arise in future.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017