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May 8, 2012

The downside of disruptive change

Filed under: doodles,flash,Webcam — Tags: , , , , , , — Brandel Zachernuk @ 9:06 pm

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More webcam effects! This is a glitchy take on a method of diffusion called “Error diffusion.” To use, enable the webcam and point it at your face. Play with the sliders to alter the effect.

Progress is awesome. In computing it means more storage, faster transfer and processing. That opens up new possibilities, and it means that old limitations quickly cease to be an issue.

That’s the thing, though: limitations are interesting. The warm feelings people have for 8-bit imagery is partly nostalgia, but it’s also about the novel solutions that were required to portray things that were beyond the capability of computers to describe.

One such limitation is called ‘colour depth.’ Computers can only display a fixed number of colours – nowadays that number is in the millions but it’s not long since it was only two: black and white. In order to show pictures that were a little more expressive than that, computers used ‘dithering,’ a process of alternating between black and white to make patterns in shades of grey. It’s a fascinating problem that has had a number of brilliant solutions, none of which are of much interest now that computers can display enough colours to avoid it. I was interested in exploring that limitation and I hope you like the result. I’ve also posted some of my favourite results on my tumblr blog.

Since my last post I have delivered my first project at the ever-impressive Resn! It’s really refreshing to be working with so many talented people on interesting gigs. The project was the FedEx Enchanted Forest website, which was designed to accompany their television commercial currently airing in the USA. It was a lot of work but I’m really happy with the results, and I look forward to the future there!


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