Film Colour Generator

Film Colour Generator

I had a chat with a friend recently about coming up with a system that drives a lighting rig (more on that another time, hopefully). This system would compliment a music performance, but not in an in-your-face VJ kind of way. It would have more of an abstract, sensory focus and probably be a sit-down kind of gig.

Happening across some Tarkovskiy film today, I instantly noticed the amazing colour palettes found in all his work. Sure, it’s pretty bleak Soviet stuff, but lovely nonetheless. It struck me that using an existing set of colours from a complex work such as film could be an interesting way to generate emotion. Most, if not all, great filmmakers use colour as a key emotional driver; something that could be leveraged as more of an abstract reference, when removed from the other elements of the film.

As a start, I did this by breaking down the video into oversized pixels…

MaxMSP patch to take averaged colours from input video.

It’s pretty straightforward (download patch here), just with some smoothing of values thrown in before getting to what will be the array of 12 lights. Sadly, I don’t have a dozen RGB lights laying around, so for now there’s no need to try outputting DMX values. When I do, I’ll be using David Butler’s excellent IMP.DMX, as I’ve done many times before.

What might be nice to look at in the meantime is how to present the lighting; maybe working with some theatre scrims and thinking about how these abstract film references will connect meaningfully to the audio.

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