MovieBarCode, an Entire Film in a Single Frame

Back in freshman year in college I remember an exercise that was shared with us. While I can’t credit an individual person, the task suggested going out and buying a magazine, cutting down the spine, and laying the spreads on the floor or up on the wall. Look at the gestalt of the magazine and the overall colors and patterns used in a particular publication. Do this across a variety of publications and see what the themes are. Some magazines stress reds, others greens. How does that relate to the type of content? Which spreads have more negative space than others? While I no longer have my documentation of this process, I have found the latest incarnation of this task, MovieBarCode.tumblr.com.


MovieBarCode takes every frame from a movie, compresses it into a single pixel, and lays them side by side in a montage. This creates a beautiful spectrum of what the movie looks like. Take the Wizard of Oz for instance (above) and notice the change to color and then the shades of green as the story enters the Emerald City. Similarly, The Matrix, pictured below shows the changes between the green and blue tints of the real world and the Matrix (spoiler alert) in a simple and elegant manner.

Taking the academic exercise of spreading magazines on the floor for visual inspiration and understanding tempo, translating this to film creates impressive yet simple samples of that films theme. How does a movie like Tron, that takes place in multiple planes change view similar to The Matrix? How does the lighting of a film like Rear Window express its mood with the colors throughout the piece? People are always influenced by color and light, and it is the job of too many people in the film crew to tie these themes together. And taking all that work into a single slide, a single frame, helps capture that.

Credit goes to Greg Siegal, @GregCgull for the link

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