The Search for a Text Mosaic Effect

I’m working on visuals for a couple electro house tracks that will be used on the tour of an act I’m not sure I can mention. I was given 2 tracks to work with and some reference and loose direction. Which is good, and bad. One of them I just ran with and came up with some good ideas and motion to go with it. The other, not so much.

The reference I was given was of text mosaics that make up faces. Its a cool look but I’ve been struggling on where to take it with motion and how to get that effect. To my knowledge, there are no plugins that do this for video. I found a cool application (windows only) called Textaizer Pro that creates a similar effect in static form. There’s plenty of control for tweaking and getting a specific look. The output is pretty cool and the app works well. The best part, its free. It’s shareware ( I haven’t heard or used that word in years ) from APP Helmond which is awesome. I definitely appreciate the time put into it.

The bonus is that it has video capabilities which is exactly what I was looking for. The problem is, it just doesn’t quite have the power I need. It only allows export to AVI with Microsoft, Cinepak and Intel codecs without any compression options. And if the look I want to achieve got too complex, it crashed during video export. I tried many different settings. When there’s a lot of text on screen, it just can’t do it. Back to the drawing board I guess. I may still use it for some static imagery that gets animated in After Effects.

I found another resource that looked like another good resource. A tutorial from Daniel Shiffman and his book “Learning Processing” called TEXT BRIGHTNESS MIRROR. This is darn close to the effect I need. I played with it a bit and tweaked the code to use a video file rather than a capture card. I was close but sort of stumbling around. I just don’t know processing well enough yet to get the exact look I want. I decided to port the script over to ActionScript 3.0 instead as I know I’ll be able to move much faster and get closer to my end goal.

I started with simple geometry and a static image first. It didn’t take too long to get something put together. This feels like a step in the right direction. Now I just need to swap out the box with text and test it out with video.

Here’s the effect so far:

Obviously there’s more to work on. I’ll post an update with code once I’ve got something I’m happy with.

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