Strip-based Slit-scan Reflections

Since developing the strip-based real-time slit-scan technique in Quartz Composer, I have had some time to reflect on its usefulness and potential application. Because the time-delayed strips are essentially rectangular image slices, one idea is to look for a scene I could shoot that would be composed of near-uniformly sized rectangular objects. I could then compose the image slicing effect so that the image slices line up with the boundaries of the objects in view. The objects would obviously have to move or change over time to make the composition visually interesting. If the objects didn’t move quickly enough in real-time, I would also need to consider using time-lapse or some other pre-slit-scan effect to create the movement and/or spatial dynamic necessary for the slit-scan effect to be of interest.

One idea I had come up with is to film the shipping containers at Felixstowe, the largest port in the UK, where these  huge, conveniently rectangular-shaped items, are unloaded from enormous ships and stacked in uniform rows and columns on the dock side. I would probably have to film over several hours, using time-lapse to pre-compose a suitable sequence, to get a suitable ‘run’ of container movement. I imagine the net result may look a little like the Channel Four indents where huge man-made structures are made to  line up (using post-production) in the shape of the number 4, often leaving large parts of the structure apparently hanging in the air.

I did spend a little time researching into a suitable vantage point to shoot from – there is an actual viewing point at the far end of the Felixstowe peninsula, for a start. It’s also possible to shoot from either Shotley (across the Orwell) or Harwich (across the mouth of the harbour).

Looking at You Tube video shot from these locations, it looks like none is perfect in terms of revealing the optimal ‘straight-on’ view of the containers at a reasonably close distance. The best footage I have found is commercially produced by the harbour authority itself and shot from the air or from within the confines of the harbour. There are some decent still images that have been independently published but I suspect these are taken from afloat or using a powerful zoom lens from the Harwich side, both scenarios not lending themselves well to the shooting of decent quality video, especially using the resources I have to hand.


My conclusion so far is that I would need to spend longer reconnoitring the site and probably ultimately seek the permission of the harbour authority to shoot within the complex itself. On this basis, the idea is probably best saving for a future project where lead-in times are greater than half way through a 13 week module. However, I am on the look out for another scene I may be able to use for the same purpose….

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