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A Whole New World Visualized

posted Mar 4, 2013, 4:15 PM by Ellen Pearlman

The devil is in the details - except in this case the details, when magnified now reveal a whole new world. At MIT scientists are working with ‘motion magnification’ which uses an algorithm to see how things move in ways the eye can not easily detect called The Eulerian Video Magnification System.

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A subject breathing with blood flow rushing to the face - image from Quanta Research

An image is looked at and a spatial average is made of the color information. From that starting point small variations in color can be tracked over time. The color variations are then amplified, and added back into the video to create a “colored magnified video” of the same subject.

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This is the base color - image from The New York Times

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This is a variation in tone - image from The New York Times

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This is the image composited and amplified with color tone - image from The New York Times

The first thing that happens in humans is you can see actual blood flow coursing underneath the skin - almost like Superman’s fabled ‘x-ray vision.’ This allows scientists and others to visualize tiny motions instead of just discuss them. 

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In this video you can see a pulse beating quite strongly - image from Quanta Research

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You can also use it to monitor something really important like a premature baby’s heart rate - image from Quanta Research

To see it actually at work, the scientists have posted a video on Youtubehere from CSAIL the MIT Computer Science Artificial Intelligence Lab. With the software program a user can ‘bend’ the high and low cut temporal frequency producing some pretty weird effects.

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Bending and augmenting the effects from a normal video - image from Quanta Research

This could make for some really amazing new video techniques, and add mightily to the language of visual culture.

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