Extend WebCam class. Make a Camera for taking still photos of a space. What spaces are interesting to capture buildings doorways, skies, rooms, highways, power pants, your neighbors apartments, moutains of afganistan, every possible perspective in the world. How is it triggered, timelapse, sound, movement, physcomp rig, or mouse clicks of unemployed peopler. How are they displayed, a sequence, a blending, acollage of sub images and master images, a panorama, or a cubist assembly of many people’s perspectives of the same thing. Where are they published, back in the space, on the web, on a phone or on the wall.


It has been my experience that most instances of interactive video and “webcam” projects deal primarily within the realm of the event: capturing an event / an event triggering and event / an event intitiating the action. In todays media-saturated and hyper-everythinged world blah blah blah it is a rare public event when things become still.

For my first webcam project I have decided to explore the notion of the non-event: stagnation.

Extending the WebCam Class, I came up with the StagnantCam. StagnantCam uses methods implemented in MotionDetectorCam and WebCam. The basic logic used: Measure the percentage of change between the previous frame and this frame. If that percentage of change is below a certain threshold start a timer and begin the process again where we grab a new frame of video and the old “this frame” frame becomes the old frame. If the percentage of change is below a certain threshold keep the timer running. If the timer has timed long enough, take a picture and start over. If the timer has not timed long enough, keep the timer running and start over. If the percentage of change is now above the threshold, reset the timer and start over. This pseudo-code assured “stillness” before the taking of a picture as opposed to other incarnations of the code which would merely take stillness across two frames of video (about 1/15th of a second).

In this way, a picture will only be taken during moments of extreme stillness, stagnation. With moderate fine tuning, the code can be adapted to any environment.

Running the code on the floor of ITP, I’ve noticed that the camera doesn’t neccessarily trip only when there are no individuals in the frame. The camera trips most often when the things in the frame are at lease semi-permanent fixtures in that environment. Where as an individual passing down a hallway at a distance of 100 feet will probably not be captured, an individual who passes down the hallway, stops to get a drink at the drinking fountain, and moves on probably will be captured.

Other ideas for multiple iterations of this project include an interface which fades slowly between the display of the second to last captured frame and the display of the last captured frame.

A link to the StagnantCam code can also be found here.