Converting DVD to MP4
In order to create the movie montage, you need to have a feature length film in a format that you can watch in VLC. If you have a DVD player in your laptop or desktop, you can skip this step and just open the DVD in VLC. Otherwise, you’ll need to rip the DVD to MP4, which you can do at the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship (ECDS).
ECDS is located on the third floor of the Woodruff library. They are open from 9-5, Monday through Friday.
1. Put your disc in the black Asus drives on one of the 2 ECDS video editing machines. If you don’t see it immediately, ask the student working at the front.
2. The disc will automatically open, but exit out of the DVD player application as soon as you can. The disc will likely be copy-protected, so we’ll need to disable that. Go into the Applications folder and open Fairmount. Fairmount will disable all copy protections and allow us to work with the disc.
3. Open the resulting DVD files from the desktop. The disc will be mounted similarly to how a USB drive mounts. Copy the VIDEO_TS folder to your desktop.
4. The file copy will take a little while. Be patient. Don’t ask why it is taking so long or if there something you can do to make it go faster or if it really means it will take X minutes to copy. Just wait until it finishes.
5. Once the files finish copying, eject your disc.
6. Open Handbrake from the Applications folder. It will automatically ask what to open when it launches. Choose the VIDEO_TS folder we copied earlier.
7. Handbrake will scan the files and choose the longest video as the video to process. This will almost certainly be the video you want to work with. If not, choose the proper video using the Title dropdown menu.
8. Open Legacy in the presents menu on the right and choose Normal.
9. Change your frame rate to Constant Framerate.
10. Click Browse beside the File menu and give your movie an appropriate name with the extension “.m4v” and save it to the desktop.
11. Click Start and watch your video encode.
12. Once done, you’ll have a video file on your desktop you can open up with VLC. Copy that video to Box or your preferred storage.
First, you need to download and install the VLC media player. Then configure the settings in VLC so that it extracts a screenshot once every 50 or 100 frames and saves those screenshots in a folder you create just for this assignment.
Then watch the movie you have chosen using VLC. After the first minute or two, double check that there are screenshot images showing up in the folder as they are supposed to.
As you watch, take notes along the way in which you make observations about the visual style(s) present in the film. Note when you see significant shifts in the color schemes or in the aesthetics of the film. What are the dominant colors? Are there clear shifts to the color scheme, and do those shifts connect to character or narrative shifts? Are there discernible visual patterns? How do those patterns emphasize, shape, or interact with the plot and characters of the movie?
Making the movie montage
Once you have finished watching the movie and you have a folder full of screenshot images, it’s time to create a single montage image with all those screenshots. We will be using a web-based tool created by Zach Whalen called IMJ for this process.
Go to the webpage for the IMJ tool. In step 1, select the folder where you have stored all your screenshot images (or you can choose the images, if necessary). Then in step 2, switch to the Montage visualization style. You might need to play around with the number of rows and the size of the thumbnails in order to get everything in — I recommend starting at 20×16 with 80 columns, then adjusting from there if necessary.
Once you’ve got a final image that you’re happy with, save the image to your computer. If you’d like, you can submit your visualization to the IMJ tumblr (but you certainly don’t have to).
Once you’ve got your montage image, publish it to your class site as a post — publish the image in a large or original format inside the body of your post so we can all get the full effect of the image you’ve created.
Spend a few minutes looking at your montage image and the notes you took as you watched the movie. Is there anything surprising that emerges from the montage image that you hadn’t observed when you were watching the movie in real time? Are the patterns you observed in your notes apparent in the montage image? Are there other patterns in the montage image that you didn’t put into your notes?
Write a post to accompany your image in which you address these questions (aim for a long paragraph). You might also address any other observations from the entire process — what is worthwhile about this sort of macroanalysis of visual images? If you started creating visualizations like this for lots of movies that you watch, would you watch or analyze movies differently from how you do now?
More on visual macroanalysis
Check out the website for Lev Manovich, probably the foremost critic doing this sort of a data analysis of visual images. He’s written numerous books on new media, but maybe more interesting are some of his data analysis projects. If you have time, check out these two projects, which connect in interesting ways with these movie montage images:
- selfiecity investigates the style of thousands of self-portraits from five different cities around the world. Especially interesting are the interactive image plots from the data set, as well as the discussion of exactly how the researchers went about gathering and sorting their data set.
- The Exceptional and the Everyday: 144 Hours in Kyiv is a project looking at Instagram posts from Kiev during the revolution that went on there in February 2014, attempting to understand a fuller picture of what was going on in the city than what got represented in the media. Check out the single image incorporating all 13,208 Instagram photos they collected for this project and the different ways of sorting and analyzing those images.
see also: Movie Bar Codes tumblr