Ambient Video Works
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Significant advances in the technologically-based arts are the result of complicated intersections of diverse yet inter-related dynamic processes. These processes include artist explorations, mainstream marketplace developments in content and hardware, scientific and engineering research, popular criticism, curatorial discourse and humanities-based academic scholarship. The convergent research directions within Simon Fraser University's Advanced Television Research Group (ATRG) model a coherent cross-domain media research agenda that includes and harmonizes differing research approaches. ATRG researchers combine methodologies of humanities scholarship, creative artistic exploration, and basic scientific and engineering research.
Simon Fraser University researcher Jim Bizzocchi examines how these emergent video technologies are changing the televisual experience and the creative work of moving image artists and producers. His work in this direction is deeply rooted in the tradition of humanities scholarship, yet looks both forward and back in time. His research combines the awareness of current and impending developments in video and related technologies with an understanding of the history of moving image art and mainstream film and television productions. His aim is to identify, understand, and describe current and emergent creative trends in the production of the moving image. At the same time, he is a practicing video artist, working on a series of video art pieces in the new genre of Ambient Video. His creative video art has an intimate relationship with his scholarly work. The video productions both instantiate and test his academic predictions for fruitful new directions in video practice and televisual experience. His video work also functions as research in its own right. The process of video creation reveals unanticipated new directions in moving image art, which are then used to guide and modify the academic scholarship. At the same time, his colleague Dr. Belgacem Ben Youssef is engaged in a parallel program of basic engineering research. In conjunction with Bizzocchi, he identifies new technologies that will support the needs of video artists and producers. He then proceeds to develop prototype technology that meets those needs.
Slow-motion is central to the aesthetics of ambient video, but is also extremely important in a wide range of other moving image genres. Unfortunately, there are practical limits to the creation of video slow-motion. Unlike film, it is not easy to create slow-motion in the video camera, so video slow-motion has traditionally been achieved in post-production. There are limitations to this practice. A simple half-speed slow-motion can be created in post-production through the duplication of each frame of the original video. However, more drastic slow-motion relying on further duplication of existing frames can result in unnaturally jerky and staccato playback motion. The solution is to use algorithmic techniques to construct artificial “in-between” video frames. These computational “in-betweens” have the potential to drastically increase the intensity and the quality of the slow-motion effect. Theoretically, such an approach can yield an illusion of slow motion that is far more effective than a simple duplication of existing frames. However, effective implementation of this frame interpolation is a non-trivial problem, due to frame-by-frame complications such as visual occlusion or the effects of acceleration-deceleration and other variations in subject motion vectors. Ben Youssef addresses this problem directly in his scientific research. He has developed an algorithm that improves on motion estimation and motion-compensated frame interpolation techniques for the creation of post-production slow-motion.