Highway Based Soundtrack Recordings

[Urpo Lankinen] has a father who is a huge movie buff, and once you care deeply about something it begins appearing everywhere you look. While driving on a back-country road one day, [Urpo]’s dad noticed that the shadows of the trees on the road looked like an optical film soundtrack, so it was up to the son to make it happen.

Early sound-on-film technologies like the RCA Photophone, and Movietone recorded audio onto the film stock with a variable area exposure. This exposure corresponds to the waveform of the audio signal. [Urpo] figured that his small digital video camera served the same purpose as the audio sensors inside the projector, so he put a piece of tissue paper over the lens and wound up with a video that was just frames of gray.

[Urpo] built an app in Processing that averages the pixels in each frame of the video. Of course, recording at 30 frames/second won’t produce any audio this way, so he modulated a triangle wave with this data in Audacity. In the end it really doesn’t sound like much, but it’s great to see such a geeky build.

We’d love to post the video after a break but [Urpo] doesn’t believe in YouTube embeds. We’ll honor his wishes, so you can check out the video here.