Insane trains
May 11th, 2016 by Red Lion

On the hack day I first worked with Meena trying to fetch some train data from the web and apply them to some graphic effects. We did find an API source for train timetables at Newcastle Central Station, and while we were thinking about how to use these data, Ilya showed up and joined us. He said rather than fetching data from the web, why not just fetch data from the videos which I shot at Central Station a few weeks ago. And that lead to a play with background subtraction and interesting results.

Before Ilya joined in, I was playing around with video transparency. I shot several trains from the same spot, with a tripod, so I was thinking whether I could change the transparency of the videos so they would look like ghost trains crashing into each other. We asked John for a bit of help on video addition, and we learned about blend() and tint(). Here’s the screenshot of ghost trains.

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While working on ghost trains I have discovered a quite interesting that Processing can create if we draw a half-transparent image on every loop and do not redraw the background. In fact I used to use this to create an afterimage effect for moving objects, but I didn’t realise this effect can be put on videos and create a fake motion blur. Below is a screenshot. Looks like the train is travelling pretty fast huh? Actually it’s on about 10km/h.

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Then Ilya joined in and wanted to play with pixel data. So we started looking at a background subtraction example in Processing and wanted to apply that to our train videos. We had a pretty hard time doing that, and Tom spent ages fixing our problem (thanks a lot!). At least it’s finally done, turning my children, I mean my trains, into a rather…punky style? It was a pretty surprising result though, and I might use this visual effect and combine it with crazy train sounds for my DMS8012 assignment. The screeshot:

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 And here is the video consisting all of the above.

PS Although we did not use train timetable data in the end, those data are really useful to railway enthusiasts like me *lol* at least now I know the abbreviations for train operators. GR, NT, XC, TP *lol*

PPS John was really obessed with playing with the train sounds at the end of the hack session. I would say Chinese train sounds are way better than UK train sounds. They are more rhythmic and they are pounding like heartbeats. I guess it’s because Chinese trains are longer and heavier. If you are interested in hearing the sound check this video I shot: Put on headphones for best experience. @John Bowers

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