Indeterminable Frames

A digital humanities + film and media studies project re-examining the moving image.





Works Cited

Methods + Tools

Generating Images From a Digital Video File

To derive a number of still-images from a digital video file, I used FFmpeg(opens in a new tab), an open-source command line tool for multimedia files. Below is the command I entered on the command line interface (CLI) to accomplish the task.

ffmpeg -i inputvideo.mp4 -vf fps=1 directory/outputname_%03d.png

This command can be understood as separate parts:

ffmpeg = tells the CLI we will be entering a command prompt for FFmpeg

-i inputvideo.mp4 = the -i indicates we will be using a file input and then we bring the video file into the command using its exact name and format

-vf fps=1 = the video filter (-vf) tool on FFmpeg will sample 1 image for every second of the file, i.e. fps = "frames per second"

directory/outputname_%03d.png = specifies the directory where the derivative still-images are saved, a numerically ordered naming convention (%03 dictates that the ordinal number of each output will be formatted using 3 digits, e.g. outputname_001, outputname_002, and so on), and the file format for the images (.jpg, .png, etc.).

I was able to find the necessary command thanks to the FFmpeg wiki(opens in a new tab) and ffmprovisr(opens in a new tab), a repository of FFmpeg commands for archivists created by the Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) Open Source Committee.

Image Macroanalysis in Javascript

Image Macroanalysis in Javascript (IMJ)(opens in a new tab) is a web-based tool created by Zach Whalen.

According to Whalen's website, IMJ is a "movie barcode generator, montage generator, and image analyzer/plotter for creating visualizations for your large image sets." Its creation was inspired by ImagePlot(opens in a new tab), a free software tool for visualizing collections and exploring patterns within image collections. However, IMJ's browser-based graphic user interface makes it a more accessible and user-friendly visulization tool. The generator allows users to generate a Barcode, Montage, or Plot visualization style. This project's visualizations utilizes the Barcode setting.

The aesthetic qualities of these images have since been popularized by blogs such as moviebarcode(opens in a new tab) on Tumblr. However, the blog includes primarily feature-length works, features little to no amateur or experimental film/video works, and includes no textual analysis of the generated images.

ImagePlot for ImageJ

ImagePlot(opens in a new tab) is a free software tool that visualizes and explores patterns in large image collections. The software runs as a macro (which, in computer science, is a rule or pattern that specifies how a certain input will be mapped to an output) that works with ImageJ(opens in a new tab). ImageJ is an open source Java-based image processing program developed at the National Institutes of Health, originally created for scientific image analysis.

ImagePlot was developed by the Software Studies Initiative(opens in a new tab), a research lab and design studio working on the analysis of cultural datasets and to advance the theoretical analysis of how software systems shape contemporary cultural and social life.