Slitscan Experiment

August 17, 2019

For a bit of fun, I thought I’d try and recreate the Stargate sequence from 2001: A Space Odyssey, using only code and algorithms (using the Processing programming language).

The first task was understanding Douglass Trumbull’s complex Slitscan camera rig.

“Using a technique of image scanning as used in scientific and industrial photography, this device could produce two seemingly infinite planes of exposure while holding depth-of-field from a distance of fifteen feet to one and one-half inches from the lens at an aperture of F/1.8 with exposures of approximately one minute per frame using a standard 65mm Mitchell camera.”
Douglas Trumbull.

I tried to faithfully recreate this setup as close as possible, here’s show the slit actually appears on camera. The artwork (moving horizontally) is illuminated though this slit while the camera dollies forwards with an open shutter creating a single frame / long exposure. This process is repeated again and again to create a sequence.

The next task was to create the artwork projected through the slot.
What’s unique about how I can do this, is using generative art. Tumbull used collages of coloured gels and transparencies made up of blueprints, photographs of random geometry and magzane cutouts.
What caught my attention was the very opening shot were it clearly looks like blueprint styles of artwork was used.
I thought this a perfect opportunity to use something like recursive subdivision to generate this style.

Recursive subdivision.

With a little tweaking, layering, and some other random effects, heres the artwork my code generated, which resembles the artwork used for two of the shots from the first part of the stargate sequence.




And here’s the final results from my video…




For comparison here’s the original two shots from the actual movie..

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