On lo-fi landscapes

HD video is all well and good, but lo-fi digital video has a charm all of its own:

Camera phone technology moves fast. You can get full HD, 240 frames per second on an iPhone 6 but the above was shot using a 7 years old Samsung D600 camera phone. The Samsung lets you record in lo-fi Common Intermediate Format (CIF) at 352 x 288 pixels but also, and much more interestingly, at Sub-quarter CIF format: 128 x 96 pixels.1 This is what the above was shot using. The phone was blue-tacked to a tripod. The battery died quickly.

If the camera moves then you get to see the picture constantly being broken down and remade as the camera tries to keep up.2 That’s mainly why I adopted the pan and tilt approach, but I was slightly riffing on Michael Snow’s La Region Centrale.

HD video tries to break down the gulf between the viewer and the viewed but this low-res video, straining to create a coherent series of images out of data, shows clearly that this is a piece of technology rather than a window onto the world. I wonder if this allows it to achieve a level of authenticity that HD video lacks. Either way, I think that there’s a lot of scope for obtaining lovely effects from somewhat unloved and unlovely “old” camera phones. Next up will be my old Sony Ericsson w810i…


1. This is the end of the technical stuff, mainly because it’s the end of my understanding of the technical stuff.

2. This is not a technical explanation.

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