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Moviebarcodes condense movies to their colors

A moviebarcode is an entire movie compressed into a horizontal bar of color. Each frame is condensed to a single sliver, and then the slivers are lined up, according to an explanation at FlowingData.

I consider an MBC to be an infographic because it uses a graphic device to convey information. Specifically, it represents the color palette of a whole movie. And remarkably, the colors alone can evoke an entire cinematic mood and visual sensibility. Also, most MBCs represent the sequence of scenes of a movie, the slivers of color changing as scene or point of view does.


The moviebarcode of “The Matrix”

A few that I like are the MBCs of “The Matrix,” “Amélie,” and “A Bug’s Life” (in this one, the slivers are intentionally out of sequence, but the color palette is striking).  (Continued below.)


The moviebarcode of “Amelie”


The moviebarcode of “A Bug’s Life”

  • What works well: The evocation of a movie’s feeling and memory by its colors.
  • What doesn’t work well: Although the colors can tell you a surprising amount about a movie, that surprising amount is still limited. I’m not sure how much any MBC says about character, dialogue, music, or narrative arc, especially if you haven’t seen the actual movie.

Another infographic that reduces visual art to its colors is “Ten Years, Ten Artists,” by Arthur Buxton. It extracts the five most prominent colors from individual paintings and represents them in pie charts. By following these pie charts over time, you can see trends of color use by painters and in this period of art history. You can compare and contrast artists and their contemporaries.

As the Buxton infographic lets you make comparisons, some MBCs are posted near MBCs of their sequels, like these of the three “Jurassic Park” movies. The first “Jurassic Park” looks much lighter and brighter than the second and third.


“Ten Artists, Ten Years” by Arthur Buxton



One thought on “Moviebarcodes condense movies to their colors

  1. These look fantastic! Very creative!

    Posted by qianruisha | October 3, 2012, 8:28 pm

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