Film/Digital: Retina Display [Eye Scan Stereo Transition]

by Beauchamp Art

Retina Display [Eye Scan Stereo Transition]

This short film is an initial attempt at transforming the photographs of my retinas into a short video piece. In this, I places the two images side-by side, and made both images transform into the other image but mirrored, so the single panel video image reflects the viewer’s gaze; as they look into the video, it looks back at them, projected its light from a luminescent screen.

The source material is rich in optical connotations and saturated in self-reflection, and rife with gaze analysis. The piece looks at looking, and the mechanics of producing an image in the eye and in software.

‘Retina Display’ is a double meaning phrase when used as the title of the video, as what is being shown is a video display of the an person’s retinas, but also ‘Retina Display’ is a term used by Apple to describe there HD screens with a high pixel density, and have since trademarked the use of the word ‘Retina’ in reference to screen displays.

This was created by creating a 2 frame clip, going from the image of the right eye to that of the left, then importing this into Final Cut, and elongating, applying the optical flow effect, so the program would algorithmically fill in the blanks between the two images, creating the morphing effect. This was then duplicated, with the video split in two, with the two videos displayed along side one another, reversing and mirroring one of the clips, then repeating this sequence in reverse (so the film would play the R-L-R clip next to the L-R-L [mirrored] clip) in order for the sequence to loop.

Retina Display [Stills] - 04

Retina Display [Stills]

Due to the camera that took the images, there was also a small notch at the top of the two images at either side, which had to be keyed out for the transition to be seamless, and so the rectangular borders of the images would not overlap when places together. As the pictures used were fairly high resolution, and the images were being multiplied, the video could also be produced at a much higher resolution (4K/2160p), which is no especially necessary for most media players (as they only go up to HD/1080p) but for online video players that support higher resolution files, in this case YouTube, this would reduce the visible compression on the clip when it is uploaded.

However, Vimeo’s 720p is a encoded with a higher quality codec than YouTube’s 1080p, so when working at HD then using Vimeo is preferable, however, Vimeo does not support generally support 4K for non-subscribed users, and has a 500MB weekly upload limit, and only 1HD clip per month, which is generally less practical. Moreover, YouTube also offers some interesting 3D conversion features, that are not very effective at creating a 3D effect, but do produce some interesting visualizations nevertheless.

Retina Display Youtube 3D Settings

However, as the final video was only 13 seconds long (constituting approximately 325 frames) and currently has no audio, it almost would be worth considering making a GIF version of the video. However, even though the clip is brief, 325 4K frames would be demanding for the software, and Photoshop’s Web Image (GIF) exporter is notoriously limited in its capacity to handle large files (even 2 or 3 seconds at photographic resolution can result in an unavoidable line of problems, and the program crashing repeatedly.) Moreover, specialist animation software, such as After Effects, lacks the capacity to export as a GIF, or other image format that can be animated and embed easily without the use of 3rd-party software, for example, having a FlashPlayer window within the website; the GIF is a useful format because of its simplicity and versatility.

 Retina GIFS



Using the two images, a pair of GIFs were made, though not using the gradual transition of the video frames as a reference, but rather they alternate between the two images rapidly, with each lasting 1-frame, so the display rate is dependent on the computer’s performance, but should typically run at around 25fps. By having the pictures together at so rapidly, they effectively become one image before the eye, much as they are fused in file compression. These were made as a preamble to the video, but are an interesting experiment nonetheless.

The first image shows the two images alternating with no manipulation to the pictures, besides the alignment of the circles being made to be the exact same location. Because the images are of opposite eyes, then the image seems to mirror, with the optic disc (the white blob) flipping sides, and the macula lutea (the dark spot) going from either side of the center.

The second GIF features the left and right images on top of each other, with one of the images mirror, so the optic disk and macula lutea stay in nearly the same position, with the differences between the two images becoming accentuated by the process; the blood vessels (red lines) and overall tonality jittering manically. However, I did not crop the images to fit within a perfect circle, so the notch at the top of the picture alternates to-and-fro, revealing the mirroring effect.