Convert Black/White footage to thermographic-like video

I am doing some really cool research lately concerning video conversion and one of the issues I ran into concerns infrared imaging. In short: all the ‘cool’ thermographic (colour is dependent on radiated temperature) images are in color, and the images you get from cheap IR cameras is black and white. How do you convert the B/W into colour?

First of all: we’re talking about two different imaging technologies: the ‘real’ thermographic cameras measure only infra-red (not visible) light, are very precise, expensive and are created by companies like FLIR. They make the cameras that you might have seen in CSI.

On the other hand, you have the cheaper webcam/IP-cam devices that have ‘night-vision’. This means that, in addition to all visible light, the cameras are also sensitive to a part of the IR spectrum, and with some additional IR-lighting, one is capable of seeing in very dark places. They produce B/W images or colour, but then sometimes they show green grass as a bit purple/pink.

What I was trying to do is convert a ‘cheap’ B/W video into the coloured thermographic equivalent, but without expecting that e.g. orange will always mean 38°-39°. Since we start from a mixed visible/IR light video, brightness does not correlate perfectly with temperature. Still, the end result might be easier to interpret.

So this is my source material: a Foscam FI8918W video from Youtube: two cats playing in a kitchen.

I find some inspiration from a guy who did something similar with ImageMagick. The dark/cold areas are supposed to be black/blue, the medium areas more green, then going to yellow, orange, red and white. This seems like a job for the FFMPEG video filter.

I use the ‘curves’ filter and try first with really strong contrast colours:

The color scheme is kind of OK, but we lose a lot of detail (the cats become hard to distinguish). So then I try a more gradual approach:

And this is rather OK. I like it. The cats come out nice.

For the record: the curves used are approximately this:

curves=r='0.4/0 0.6/1':g='.25/1 .75/.5 .9/0 1/1':b='0/1 .25/0 .75/0 1/1'

All scripts and parameters are on my GitHub account:


Don’t send me a video, send me a link

I know, there are so many ‘funny’ videos you just have to share with your friends. So you send them an email. But for god’s sake, not with a 5MB movie in attachment! For all you know, he/she might not even be able to play that MOV/WMV/XVid movie anyway. Don’t send a movie, send a link!


  1. Email makes big files bigger
    Binary files (like videos) are encoded, or rather exploded, by your email program (Outlook/Hotmail/Gmail/…) as text-only Base64 MIME attachments. Your 5MB file is transformed into a 6.85MB text file before is sent. Email is a very inefficient way to share videos with several other people.
  2. You hurt the recipients
    Your email will have to be downloaded before the recipient can see it. If he is on a slow connection, this might mean 15 minutes of obnoxious delay before he can continue working, start receiving the emails that arrived after your ‘cute puppy’ movie. The movie, if it is not deleted, will add 5 MB of storage to the Inbox. If his Outlook/Exchange quota is 100MB (not uncommon on corporate email systems), you just ate 5% of all the place he has to store contracts, meeting reports and office gossip.
  3. You hurt yourself
    By sending a 5MB video, you force your email program to upload a 6.85 MB file to your mail server. If you’re on a basic DSL line, this will easily take up to 10 minutes, during which all your other Internet activity will go very slow. You also add a big chunk to your “Sent Items” folder, bringing you closer to your quota limit.
  4. You hurt the Internet
    All those forwarded videos make for a huge amount of unnecessary traffic that eats up bandwidth at ISPs and inspire them to keep prices high. Not that they needed the extra inspiration.
  5. It’s force-feeding-video, not video on demand
    You are forcing people to download the whole file before they can decide whether they want to see it now, or ever at all. Youtube and the other sites have a very easy-to-use ‘Send video link’ form that will give the receipient the link, with a screenshot and the description text. Then he/she can decide when, where, how and *IF* to watch the video.
    (Yes, this is less a problem with web-based mail like Gmail or Hotmail)


  1. public, popular movie
    Don’t think you’re the first one to have seen this movie. Chances are it’s featured on Youtube, Google Video, DailyMotion, Vimeo, in multiple versions (FR subtitles if that’s what you like), in a format everyone can view, available to send as just a link ““. Less that 50 characters for a full 1:14 of hilarious time loss.
  2. private, ‘secret’ movie
    Even if you have a movie you recorded/made yourself and want to show only to a limited number of people (“OMG, Britney, you were, like, *so* drunk!!“), then upload it yourself to Youtube, Flickr or Vimeo, put a password on it and send link+ password to those recipients. It will be so much easier for everyone to forward that secret video that no one was supposed to see (“788 views just yesterday? How’s that possible?“).

We thank you.


Cloverfield (released in Feb 2008)

“Five young New Yorkers throw their friend a going-away party the night that a monster the size of a skyscraper descends upon the city. Told from the point of view of their video camera, the film is a document of their attempt to survive the most surreal, horrifying event of their lives.”
from Wikipedia

Produced by J.J. Abrams (from Lost/Alias).

At least this time, they’re telling the story in less than 3 hours, instead of four or more consecutive seasons.

Ghost Rider: fire and cleavage

Eva Mendes I wanted to see a movie this weekend and when I discovered at the counter that my first choice “Night at the museum” was dubbed in French, the only other option was “Ghost Rider“. That’s how I ended up in a movie that I actually hadn’t planned on seeing. The movie features Nicholas Cage and Eva Mendes and can be summarized in two words: fire and cleavage. Cage plays a Marvel Comics superhero on a seriously pimped up bike, who’s main characteristics would be superforce, a really low voice and being on fire. Mendes plays the girlfriend, with seriously pimped up boobs.

“The original Roxanne was blonde and blue-eyed, but she also had huge bajoongas… I figured since I can’t be blond and blue-eyed, I’ll at least have her bra size. So the bajoongas got big: they were out of control.”
from Mendes perks up for new role

If you’re a demanding movie-goer, don’t see this one. The bad acting is not fully evened out by the abundant cleavage. But try to use the word “Bajoongas” at least once in the next week. You’ll love the way it bounces in your mouth.

Hollywood movie studios

I see a lot of movies, and that means that for me some names of Hollywood studios are household names. Still, ever since reading “Easy Riders, Raging Bulls“, I’m also curious about the stories behind those companies: who started them, what kind of movies did they make in the past. Some of that information can be found on Wikipedia. Here’s a first batch (I’ve not included the really big ones like MGM, Paramount, just some of the ‘smaller’ names I recognize):
Hollywood studios

  • Lions Gate Entertainment (Canada): originally founded by Robert Altman. During the 90s known as Cinépix Film Properties. Revived as Lionsgate in 1997 by Frank Guistra. Have bought Artisan Entertainment in 2003 (The Blair Witch Project, Requiem for a Dream …) which also owned Vestron Pictures (Dirty Dancing). Bring out ‘daring’ movies: Fahrenheit 9/11, Irreversible, Saw, Hostel.
  • Touchstone Pictures (USA): started in 1984 as division of Disney in order to bring movies that were for more mature audiences. First release: Splash! Last year’s releases: The Guardian, The Prestige and Deja Vu. Also has TV division: ABC Television Studio (Desperate Housewives, Lost and Grey’s Anatomy)
  • Focus Features (USA): art house films division of Universal Studios (since 2002). Produced recent gems like Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Motorcycle Diaries, The Constant Gardener and Brokeback Mountain. Also does action/horror movies under the brand Rogue Films: Assault on Precinct 13, Shaun Of The Dead …
  • Castle Rock Entertainment: started by Rob Reiner (Spinal Tap, When Harry Met Sally) et al in 1987 with funding from Columbia Pictures (Sony). Name inspired by “The Dead Zone” by Stephen King. Apart from Reiners films, not very successful. Sold in 1994 to Turner Broadcasting, later Time/Warner. Biggest success: animation movie Polar Express (2004).
  • Miramax films: started in 1987 by the Weinstein brothers. Sold in 1993 to Disney. Under the Weinsteins, Miramax had a history of buying the rights to Asian films (e.g. Hero), only to sit on them without releasing them for some years. The Weinsteins left in 2005. Famous movies: The Crying Game, Sex, Lies and Videotape, Pulp Fiction, Chicago.
  • The Weinstein Company: founded in 2005 by the above cited Harvey and Bob Weinstein. First release: Derailed. Most recent release: Hannibal Rising. Next Release: Grind House (Tarantino). They also have a subsiduary Dimension Films: Scary Movie 4.
  • New Line Cinema: founded in 1967 by Robert Shaye and Michael Lynne. Sold in 1994 to Turner Broadcast, later Time/Warner. First hit movie: A Nightmare on Elm Street. Lots of good movies: Lord of The Rings trilogy, Austin Powers, Magnolia, The Mask. Recent hits: Snakes on a Plane and Wedding Crashers.
  • TriStar Pictures: founded in 1982 as joint-venture of Columbia (then a subsidiary of Coca-Cola), HBO, and CBS. When the latter 2 dropped out, became Columbia Pictures in 1987, which was taken over by Sony in 1989. Famous movies: Terminator 2, Basic Instinct, Jerry Maguire, Seven Years in Tibet. Not making very successful movies last couple of years.
  • United Artists: found in 1919(!!) by Charles Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, and D. W. Griffith. The company did not do too well and was almost dead in the late 1940s. In 1951 Arthur Krim and Robert Benjamin offered to run the company for 5 years and if profitable, buy it. That worked and they went public in 1956. They releases the Beatles’ movies in 1964/1965 and also backed the first James Bond movie. The company was sold to TransAmerica in 1967 and continued to prosper, working with Woody Allen, Robert Altman and Brian De Palma. Krim and Benjamin left in 1978, and the first project by the new management, Heaven’s Gate, completely bombed. It was sold to Kirk Kerkorian (MGM). In 1990 it was sold to Giancarlo Parretti, who went bankrupt within the year. Taken over by Credit Lyonnais, it was sold again in 1997, again to Kerkorian. MGM took over most of its titles and franchises. In 2005 it was bought (along with MGM) by a consortium including Sony and Comcast. On November 2, 2006, MGM announced that actor Tom Cruise and his long-time production partner Paula Wagner were resurrecting United Artists. Some famous movies (and this is really a hard choice): the Rocky series, the Bond series, the Pink Panter series, The Graduate, Apocalypse Now, Bowling for Columbine, Capote.
  • Orion Pictures: founded in 1978 by the above mentioned ex-management of UA together with Warners Bros. While it started out strong (10, Life of Brian) and did well in the 80s (Terminator, Amadeus, Platoon), it went into bankruptcy from 1992 till 1996 and was sold to MGM in 1998.

Who are the voices from The Simpsons?

Simpsons voices
Did you know that the voices from Homer Simpson, Grampa Abraham Simpson, Barney Gumble, Krusty the Clown, Groundskeeper Willie, Mayor Quimby, Sideshow Mel, Itchy and still half a dozen others are all done by the same man?

Check out the following interview with six of the main voice actors from The Simpsons: Dan Castellaneta (the voice behind all the characters cited above), Julie Kavner (Marge Simpson and Patty/Selma), Yeardley Smith (Lisa Simpson, but also played in As Good As It Gets), Nancy Cartwright (Bart Simpson – is actually a woman!!), Hank Azaria (Moe Szyslak, Chief Wiggum/Carl Carlson, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon …, but also known as an actor in Mad about you, Along came Polly and Quiz Show) and Harry Shearer (Mr Burns/Mr Smithers/Ned Flanders/Kent Brockman/Rev. Lovejoy/Principal Skinner … but also the bass player in Spinal Tap – cucumber … pants … remember?).
Continue reading Who are the voices from The Simpsons?

Babel: Japanese “September” remix

Babel: japanese girl
Babel” links up three stories on three continents in a clever way. Mexican director Iñárritu has probably made one of the best movies of 2006. I’m not gonna tell anything more about the plot (but girls: it features Brad Pitt and Gael García Bernal). Just go and see it!

One very pleasant discovery halfway was the excellent Japanese remix of “September” (Earth Wind and Fire). It starts off all sampled and cut up, but I recognized it quite fast (I have a thing for sampling). So who was responsible for this funky rework of an already fabulous original?
Continue reading Babel: Japanese “September” remix