Making Instagram with an old CRT

If you’re not familiar with Instagram, it’s a mobile app that takes pictures, applies low-fi ‘lomographic’ digital filters, and shares them on the Internet. For reasons we can’t comprehend, Instagram has been wildly successful as of late and was recently purchased by Facebook for a Billion dollars. [Martin Ström] figured he could do something much cooler than applying digital filters to a cell phone picture, so he built InstaCRT, an app that turns your pictures into grainy CRT images and satiates the geek and hipster in everyone.

From [Martin]‘s project page, InstaCRT uses a small black and white CRT from an old camcorder and a Canon 7D to apply real-world analog filters to all the uploaded pictures. Once the pictures are uploaded to the MacBook Pro server, they’re displayed on the CRT and a picture is taken with the 7D. Once an Android/iOS device sends a picture to the server, it’s displayed on the CRT, the 7D snaps a picture, and the resulting ‘filtered’ picture is sent back to the mobile device.

While we’re sure a few Hackaday commentors are going to ask ‘why’, it’s still a very cool build that is the first real world digital camera filter we’ve seen. You can check out the video demo of InstaCRT after the break.

Comments

  1. Johnny O. Farnen says:

    Very cool project. Too bad Instagram is a prime example of everything that is wrong with digital photography for the masses. I really, really hate Instagram.

    • James says:

      I disagree. As an amateur photographer I can totally see the motivation to hate Instagram, where all these kids and hipsters suddenly think they’re artistic photographers because they can snap grainy pics with their cellphones. I’m an artistic photographer, not those wannabes!

      But I see a lot of young people going really crazy with the app, and you can see how it’s a very low barrier to entry for anybody with a cellphone to try their hand at more stylized photography, admire the cool looking snaps that come out of it, and get drawn into that world. I think many more people will actually pick up a book, learn about photography, and get into the art because of Instagram.

      • The “low barrier” comment is an EXCELLENT point. It is always good to provide tools that can turn consumers into producers. Even though the “value” of the Instagram “product” seems ridiculous, it is actually the popularity of it that gives it value, and that very popularity is what attracts newcomers to even WANT to product artistic photographs.

        Artistic and productive stimulation is always good.

      • I agree about the low entry and high reward part. What I like about Instagram is that it lets people identify a quality about the photo like a mood that they felt with it or some other element they want to draw attention to by selectively obscuring other parts by darkening, blurring, re-sizing or re-coloring. I can see more about the meaning of the photo to them than if it were at full resolution with perfect color balance. It’s not going to substitute for a well composed shot with set up lighting and proper exposure and timing, but it is way better than just the fixed scope cell phone pictures and digital flash on everything default for consumer cameras.

  2. A billion bucks for an app that destroys most of your image quality? Then an app that deletes all your photos should be worth two billion bucks…

    But according to wikipedia, facebook is in the habbit of buying successful companies and trashing their product, keeping only the staff.

    I suppose it makes sense that facebook should be interested in employees who can take a piece of worthless crap and make it extremely successful.

  3. Ryan says:

    Sweet pictures! The dogs at the urinals is the background on my PC here at the lab at work right now! Cool project!
    Oh, and for stylized pics with no effort…. I like my “vingette” program on android. ;)

  4. Regarding the HACK, just connecting an old camcorder viewfinder CRT to a computer is a cool hack. Using it to make a parody of the recent facebook purchase of Instagram justs makes it cooler. :-)

  5. Chris says:

    This makes me want to go watch old Scanimate videos.

  6. Robot says:

    InstaCRT has it all. Neat “retro” display technology, smartphone interface, web-server, etc. This is a great bit of computational photography. My favorite part is that it’s not just some image processing trick. Well done.

    – Robot

  7. gbsd says:

    “For reasons we can’t comprehend, Instagram has been wildly successful as of late and was recently purchased by Facebook for a Billion dollars”

    yeah, incomprehensible, to both you guys AND potential Facebook shareholders it seems :)

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