Ethical photojournalism and Glyph

I used to joke that there is a “1 in 100 chance of a severe allergic reaction” to Glyph, referring to the rare response I’d get from someone that Glyph could be used to easily create misleading, exaggerated, or entirely falsified images from the news. For some reason, it’s always the image above (from this video) that provokes this occasional response. I usually point out the effects placed on this video clip via Glyph– extending the march smoothly and indefinitely with a progressive fade + masking out the extraneous motion in the windows above to give visual focus to the protest. Once at a talk, an audience member interrupted this explanation to tell me that this image “is a lie. It looks like this protest involved thousands of people, went on for hours into the night, was a national movement….”  Since his impression from that image describes the #Blacklivesmatter protests pretty well, I’m going to say that although this image is stylized, this manipulation is responsible in that it gives the impression of the intensity and ongoingness of these national demonstrations. Putting that aside, since he clearly didn’t intend his comments to be complimentary, I think I get the point he was going for: Glyph could be used to apply the same manipulations to inflect a clip with exaggerated or fabricated affective information. But so can many journalistic tools– like photoshop, or the typewriter. Still, there’s something here that might need further unpacking. Today, an article in the Times approached some of these issues around image manipulation software and photojournalism. It’s definitely worth a read if you’re interested in this topic. 

Glyph’s sandbox videos

One suggestion I got a lot in the last few weeks if that I should list a few sandbox videos on the Glyph homepage so people can play around the tool before hunting down something perfect on YouTube. As you’ll see in the first release, I went with three beautiful videos that I think are produce gorgeous GIFs:

1. Mediated Matter’s Silk Pavilion: This is the test video I developed Glyph with. I’ve probably produced a hundred thousand zillion gifs with this video. It seemed like a fair candidate. Plus it showcases one of my favorite Media Lab projects.

2. This Apple video I found two days ago: I’ve never watched to this one with sound to be honest. I think it’s probably an awful video, but it has all these amazing images of stabilized city shots that make some beautiful loops. 

3. Love and Fungus: I love Leandra Medine, and the interactions between her and her husband in this video make for some cute, silly cinemagraphs. 

Glyph set-up: Make sure you have ImageMagick installed.

Glyph uses MoviePy to transform videos into looping GIFs. MoviePy has some dependencies that can’t be installed with pip, but it does what it can with what’s on your computer when you’re using it. I find that GIFs made with Glyph look best when they’re processed by MoviePy with help from an image manipulation program called ImageMagick. Go ahead and just install ImageMagick unless you have some reason why you really don’t want to. Install here.

Using Format