Prisma Filter

Time for Something a Little Different…

Perspective, point of view, is everything, isn’t it. Ideologically to be sure, but I’m speaking from a purely visual standpoint. For all of the visual information we perceive, we are really very constrained in what we experience through our eyes.

We almost always see things from the same height, in a limited color pallet (granted its millions of colors) compared to what is probably actually displayed before us, and we interpret this visual information from a cognitive framework that rarely changes. We are at least as limited by our senses as we are empowered by them. We can’t see magnetism or gravity or heat… for example.

And these limitations form and constrain our awareness and our very consciousness.

But what happens when we play with the perceptual norms we can experience rather than accept and conform to them? What happens when we structurally shift our visual space in unexpected ways?

I’ve been exploring these possibilities of late. I’ve become fascinated with spherical imagery (well, more than usual). Here is an example of a perspective change—a bit of an unexpected structural shift in how we see repeating architectural patterns.

We actually love repeating patterns; don’t we. Let’s play with that for a moment, well, for just a few seconds.

This photo was shot with a special anamorphic iPhone lens that brings in more light from both sides. It produces an image in the iPhone that is actually wider than the iPhone sensor/lens can see; so, the image has to be compressed from side to side. Software is then used to stretch the visual information the lens saw and presented to the camera lens. The software returns the image back to how we normally would see it. This is how directors of photography often film wide, expansive spaces that would just completely allude our camera lens.

So, I decided to crop the horizontally compressed image, which actually removes a lot of the side to side visual compression. I placed the anamorphic image into a 1:1 frame. Then, I ran the image through a filter in one of my favorite iPhone apps: Prisma. The filter altered the color of the image and reduced some of the image detail.

Anamorphic image
The original anamorphic image before being cropped
Prisma Filter
After a Prisma filter is applied to the image. (This image has been stretched to its proper aspect ratio.)

I then took the image into the RollWorld iOS app. This app is typically used to create little planets, some of which you see from time to time on my blog. I created 2 different perceptual distortions of the 1:1 image and then morphed from one into the other.

RollWorld Image A
RollWorld Image A
RollWorld Image B
RollWorld Image B: The exact same image as Image A, just from a different perspective

I took the resulting short video into the iOS LumaFusion app to add royalty-free music to it. And this is what the short completed project is.

I’m fascinated that this was created entirely, from start to finish, on my iPhone 6s+. The LumaFusion app is a powerful movie-making app, and it runs on your iPhone or iPad. It’s astonishingly powerful. The RollWorld app (also iOS) is very specific and very fun, again, normally used to create Little Planets, spherical images, and image distortions for rectilinear images.

Here’s a spherical image of the San Francisco Symphony warming up for a concert.

San Francisco Symphony Spherical Image
San Francisco Symphony Spherical Image

And the Moondog Anamorphic Lens captures astonishing images on an iPhone. The 2015 Sundance Film Festival movie, Tangerine (Whoa! Now, you want to talk about perspective?!), which was acquired  by Magnolias Pictures for worldwide theatrical distribution, was actually shot on the iPhone using this lens! (And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the awesome Filmic Pro iOS app that, at the touch of a onscreen button, has live software decompression built into it specifically for this lens. It rocks beyond belief!

Astonishingly, “FiLMiC Pro is the 2x Video Camera App of the Year that beat the $5000 Sony FS100 and tied the $13,000 Canon C300 in blind audience testing at the Zacuto: Revenge of the Great Camera Shoot Out.” Now, granted, it wasn’t just the software. It was the phone and the lenses on the phone that captured the image through the software.

Anyway: perception. I suspect we will see a broadened range of perceptual possibilities in movie-making and experience sharing as 360º technology image acquisition continues to soar in quality and affordability. Facebook, YouTube (Google), and Vimeo are certainly pushing it.

One final note: I’ve been working feverishly behind the scenes learning how to present 360º video and 360º VR video through my blog. I’ve made some huge strides. Expect to see some crazy perceptual shifting in the not too distant future. I’ve had to learn a whale of a lot!