JPEG compression 600 times over


49 Responses to “JPEG compression 600 times over”

  1. sethco says:

    #22, Alvin Lucier was my first thought as well. He did it back in 1969 which at least pre-dates all the other examples of playing with jpeg & mp3 compression artifacts :)

  2. IWood says:

    How else are you supposed to fit the Universe on an SD card?

  3. kaini says:

    #12: some physicists now think that the universe is “grainy”:

    it would be amusing and hugely unscientific if consciousness were a byproduct of some vast, universal compression algorithm

  4. padster123 says:

    I did something like this with photocopiers as an art student, back in the mid 80′s.

    The analog nature of the process produced MUCH more interesting results!

    Re-Photocopy something enough times and you end up with something that looks like sand dunes.

  5. Kieran O'Neill says:

    This should also be a lesson to people in the difference between lossy and lossless compression. (Or why you shouldn’t use JPG for crisp, spot-colour images like logos.)

  6. Daemon says:

    #14 – it would be great for that if they didn’t increase the compression each time they resaved it. it’ll still get the idea across, but they cheated.

  7. jso says:

    #3 KAINI

    I really liked that! Compression, you say? It seemed that looking at the results there are definitely some very trackable markers in that image. I’m interested in seeing from what they drop out of.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I am sitting in a room….

  9. Anonymous says:

    #42: you’re looking at it wrong. Yes you decrease the information content, but jpeg uses a DFT so the basis of information is a (co)sine series. So look closely and see how the picture turns into basically a superposition of a few 2-D sinusoids.

  10. Snig says:

    The sky’s resolution is falling, the sky’s resolution is falling!

  11. Anonymous says:

    #9 Ãœbertragung, now I’m going to have to try that, you big jerk.

    Of course, it will take a clever input source, because an mp3 has the time dimension.

    Om? Famous statement? Famous sung phrase? Opening chord to Help? Tell me what you want what you really really want? It’s got to be short, iconic, and demonstrate the artifacting in an interesting way.

    It’s a tougher choice and if it’s too long the effect won’t work, and hurrying up the effect by crappy compression could ruin it as well.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Neat, but what happened to the file size? I have to know!

  13. singrum says:

    Can someone remind me why the final image has a smaller file size? I took the advanced mathematical theory in college- but, it’s been (more than a) few year, and I’m kind of a glutton for math theory.

  14. brettholomew says:

    well that was pretty much the definition of ‘mildly interesting’

  15. kaini says:

    #16: i don’t know what sort of video compression was used. it looks like the technique employed was to deliberately drop keyframes all over the bloody place. one thing the maker did comment on is the fact that different codecs produce different results. avi is ‘glitchy’ whilst wmv produces ‘more organic results’ (probably the only thing wmv is good for).

  16. acheslow says:

    This artist must have been sitting in a room with Alvin Lucier.

  17. Scuba SM says:

    @Anon 18,

    Something short, iconic, and demonstrates the compression in an interesting way?

    How about Sean Connery saying “One ping only” followed by the ping from “The Hunt for Red October?”

  18. Torley says:

    Degradefully beautiful.

  19. Shelby Davis says:

    Nifty. I once did something along these lines for an animated film–I “zoomed in” on the compression fuzz by cropping an image, resizing it to the original size, saving as jpeg, and repeating ad nauseum. The artifacts assumed their own substance as apparent objects in the “zoom.”

  20. sabik says:

    This looks like it should play nicely backwards…

  21. Anonymous says:

    Here’s a short film I made in 2005 using reiterative photocopying – It was about 4,600 copies total.

  22. LeavingHalfway says:

    Re: MP3 equivalent- Instead, just take a medium song (say, 5ish minutes) with a reasonable amount of repetition (say, anything by U2), perform the repeat compressions. (MP3->WAV->MP3, &c) and gradually fade to the more highly compressed version as the song progresses.

  23. Chris Tucker says:

    Looks like an error in the Matrix.

  24. prodigous says:

    I swear that’s one of the evilest things Ive ever seen. They should put that in the dictionary next to Entropy.

  25. ghstpg says:

    #9 & #11: Yup, Cory Arcangel did this with an MP3, 666 times:

  26. Kieran O'Neill says:

    I do hope they did this with a shell script, or something similar, and not by manually opening and saving a jpeg in some GUI software 600 times over.

    @Daemon: Didn’t notice that. It’s a bit silly – the effect would be the same if they left the compression constant, though it would take longer. (That would be a more controlled experiment, too.)

  27. Anonymous says:

    This is NOT generation loss. This is increased loss due to increased compression. I would expect the same result when saving the original image 600 times with increasing compression level.

  28. treq says:

    @ghstpg: perfect.

    @Anon, et al: Here’s an MP3 attempt FWIW-

    The windows XP start theme iteratively degraded 42 times (666 times was way too long, 42 the next best number):

    It has struck me that this could be an evil prank to play on someone… switching with the usual wav file. A startup that never ends.

    (An odd artifact from using the LAME backend for encoding was a gradual increase of silent padding fore and aft of the original waveform…no clue why this occurred, but it winds up lending a sense of hope that it is over, which then is crushed by another, more degraded rendition of the sound. enjoy.)

  29. pra says:

    I once tried a similar thing using recursive photocopying. A bad use of paper, but an interesting experiment.

  30. Richard Kirk says:

    Prior art:

    The original ‘Doctor Who’ titles had a weird-looking set of blobs that moved out from the center of the screen. That was ‘video howl-round’ – you pointed a TV camera at a TV screen, and vary carefully twiddled the gain. The usual result is either black or white, but it is possible to get a set of randomly moving blobs.

    I think Douglas (oh it’s not Martin Gardner) Hofstader refers to something similar in Metamagical Themas.

    I always meant to try the same sort of thing using a photocopier.

    You have to change the JPEG compression, or shift the origin, or the image does not continue degrading.

  31. spazzm says:

    Nifty. Wish I’d thought of that.

  32. Alex_M says:

    Well, if you repeated the compression of an unaltered image with the same program at the same compression, you may not see any degradation at all.

    Depends on the code, but I’d say it’s more likely than not you won’t see any.

  33. Nadreck says:

    Takun (#4): Surely only 66 more repetitions would be required?!

  34. ViolettVerq says:

    And HELLO van Gogh.

  35. kaini says:

    some more (very creepy) messing with compression:

  36. Takuan says:

    do it 600 more times and the visage of our Dark Overlord will be revealed.

  37. zikman says:

    dare I watch it in HD?

  38. tehloki says:

    I did a similar thing, in which I used photoshop to resize a .jpeg of the OLPC to 1/2 size, and then back again, thousands of times.

    The resulting animation:

  39. MattF says:

    Uh, no, wait a minute. When you increase the compression, you decrease the number of available states, so you decrease the entropy. The over-compressed images should look less detailed and less random. Something is amiss in my understanding.

  40. jphilby says:

    gOSH … that’s not so bad at all. My Sony Mavica camera (with a mighty 0.300 Megapixels) used to do that much damage to a scene in *one* jpeg compression!

    Happily, tech has advanced so that RAW/TIFF formats can be supported … no compression!

  41. Big Ed Dunkel says:

    If this were a virtual Rorschach test, that stuck me as the plaques, tangles, and misshapes of the affected Alzheimer’s brain.

  42. sleze says:

    This would have been a great way to explain lossy compression back at school. I am forwarding this to my old professors.

  43. Vlasta says:

    Hm, slightly more compression is the key. At the end the compression setting must have been unrealisticly low to get these results.

    Anyway, if you are worried about losing quality when editing .jpgs, check out RealWorld Photos.

  44. Boeotian says:

    36 Jphilby: I know exactly what you mean, I still have one of those old Sony Mavica around here somewhere. And to think they meant you to use a 3 1/2 floppy in the camera. Even at the time, I thought it was really awkward.

  45. uebertragung says:

    Did someone try this game with .mp3 instead of .jpg?

  46. airship says:

    I did this when the JPEG standard first came out, but as a series of three images printed in a magazine article. While JPEG artifacts are annoying at just about any level, for casual viewing they really aren’t much of a problem until you get to very high rates of compression, or if you have details that need to be very clear, such as small text.

  47. Sceadugenga says:

    I kept expecting a scary face and a loud scream at the very end.

  48. brainpuddl3 says:

    @#4 Takuan – that’d take 666 compressions. With any luck you’d come up with a Jesus or Mary eBay bonanza image before that. Start with a grilled cheese pic :-)

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