This project aims to explore the use of coding for creating visual transformations. Transformations in images can be broadly categorized into geometric and numerical transformations. Geometric transformations involve changes in position, rotation, scale, stretching, shearing, and wrapping of objects and coordinates by changing the object’s coordinate system. Numerical transformations require mathematical formulas to alter pixel values and include various effects, such as sharpening, blurring, and color conversion. Transcoding is another type of numerical transformation that involves converting one data type to another.
Additionally, the digitalization process can be considered a form of transformation, transforming one data type into another. The critical aspect of transformation is that it retains its connection to the original. Moreover, transformation can also be a gradual development rather than a sudden change, offering an alternative perspective on the process.
This project started by using a time-lapse video that I recorded during my quarantine period from my view. Upon analyzing the time-lapse video in conjunction with a track by Nosaj Thing, I discovered synchronicities between the transformations in the street and the music. In an effort to enhance this synchronization throughout the entire video, I decided to utilize digital transformation.
I chose TouchDesigner, a visual programming environment, as my tool of choice for this project due to its exceptional capabilities in working with video. Although I had a basic understanding of TouchDesigner’s logic and primitive tasks, I was not proficient in the software and utilized the process of learning through creation. That allowed me to increase my knowledge and proficiency in TouchDesigner while also achieving my project goals.
Inpisred by the physical world
In the process of creating the final video, I underwent several rounds of close examination and listening to the music track to identify the changes in the video and augment them to enhance the level of synchronization with the music. The physical world is constantly changing, with transformations such as the progression from day to night, the movement of cars and trains, the shifting of clouds, and the changing of lights. Through careful observation, I discovered that there were small moments in which these changes coincided with elements of the music. To intensify the transformation, I sought to creatively amplify these existing changes without adding any new elements that were not already present in the video. The challenge was to make use of the existing elements in the video to heighten the transformation
Frames and time
The concept of change over time led me to investigate another form of transformation through the manipulation of the video’s frames. This process involved accessing and extracting the frames, followed by reorganizing them in a different order. This approach to transformation allows for a more dynamic and creative exploration of the medium, enabling the artist or designer to manipulate time and visual information in new and innovative ways. I employed various techniques, such as slit-scanning, to reorganize the frames, which involved scanning a narrow section of the video over time to generate a unique visual representation of the information. Another technique was the creation of an infinite loop, where a segment of the video was repeatedly played to create a seamless and cyclical pattern.
transformation methods, I focused on pixel manipulation. This involved accessing and manipulating the raw data of the pixels in the video, such as the color values represented in RGB or HSL, as well as the coordinates of each pixel in the image. I utilized different algorithms to transform the video in new and creative ways.
This approach to transformation allowed for a higher level of expressiveness compared to simply applying pre-made effects or filters, as I was able to manipulate the pixel data in greater detail. However, this method required a significant investment of time, as the process of accessing and manipulating the raw pixel data was more complex than using software-based tools with pre-made effects.
Transcoding for Synchronization
As mentioned earlier, transcoding is another type of transformation. It entails the conversion of a digital media file from one format to another. In the field of digital art, transcoding can be utilized as a means of creative expression by converting the original media into new and unique forms. For instance, the transformation of textual data into light.
In the context of digital art, transcoding was utilized to extract audio data and convert it into modifications within the image, resulting in a high level of synchronization. This method proved to be a more efficient and effective approach in comparison to traditional keyframing techniques.
In the realm of motion graphics, it is widely acknowledged that transformations serve as a key aspect of the medium. During my examination of this field, I observed that the transformations in motion graphics typically focus on modifying geometric attributes such as position, rotation, and scale. Traditional animation software, such as Adobe After Effects, are well equipped to handle these types of transformations, offering various tools and techniques such as keyframe animation and morphing.
Through working with TouchDesigner, I discovered that numerical transformations, which deal with the underlying numerical data of an image, offer a deeper level of control and manipulation. While traditional animation software provide limited support for numerical transformations through filters, they can be achieved and explored in more detail using programming-based tools like TouchDesigner. In TouchDesigner, the numerical data of each pixel in an image can be accessed and manipulated directly, allowing for a broader range of transformations and a greater level of control over the outcome.
Overall, my exploration of motion graphics transformations revealed that while geometric transformations remain a crucial aspect of the medium, the potential for further creativity and control through numerical transformations should not be overlooked.
In my experience working with TouchDesigner, I was impressed by the increased level of control I had over the video medium compared to what I was used to with After Effects. Instead of only having access to elements through filters, I was able to manipulate individual frames and pixels directly. This gave me a feeling of working with the video as a malleable material, similar to sculpting with clay.
While software-based tools, like After Effects, offer filters and effects for video manipulation, they often leave a stylistic footprint and have limited expressive possibilities. On the other hand, TouchDesigner’s reliance on coding provides a more extensive range of expression. The core power of a computer can only be genuinely harnessed through programming.
Additionally, the ability to modify individual frames, control the flow of information and create custom transformations in real-time further enhanced my relationship with the medium. This direct access to the video elements allowed for a more intimate and transformative approach, resulting in a deeper understanding of the medium I was working with.
While using TouchDesigner, I experienced its flexible and customizable interface that can be tailored to the unique needs of a project. The setup process of creating a new project requires some initial time investment to set up the environment, but the result is a dynamic and efficient design environment. In addition, the real-time capabilities of TouchDesigner make it a highly effective tool for testing ideas and seeing immediate results. That allows for a more fluid and adaptive design process, where changes can be made on the fly.
The node-based system in TouchDesigner is particularly noteworthy, as it allows for endless experimentation and customization. This system can be compared to playing with lego blocks, as the modular components can be connected in countless ways to create custom tools. In addition, the ability to package networks into a single component provides even greater flexibility and the ability to build customized processes.
My experience with TouchDesigner in the realm of motion graphics has opened up a world of possibilities for transformation. However, it should be noted that this approach to motion graphics is more technical and can be time-consuming and complex compared to more straightforward tools such as After Effects.
Working with programming tools like TouchDesigner has also allowed me to expand my technical knowledge and lexicon related to digital media, such as video, image, and audio. As a result, I have expanded the scope of my visual and movement creations. For example, through learning different techniques for manipulating pixels, I came across pixel moshing, slit-scanning, and more. While some techniques, such as pixel displacement, are also feasible in tools like After Effects, in a lesser degree of possibilities, they usually remain unexplored because of the lack of knowledge; others can only be achieved within a programming environment.