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Do you like Billie Jean?
October 9, 2009 2:18 PM   Subscribe

He wasn't even supposed to perform, but when Michael Jackson took the stage solo at the Motown 25 in 1983, magic. Billie Jean. The moonwalk. The glove. It was one of those moments to remember. So a few years ago a coupla data dancers started The White Glove Tracking Project to commemorate the performance by analyzing the height and size of MJ's iconic white glove throughout, crowdsourcing the project frame by frame for 10,060 frames. Now the dataset is complete, and the Proce55ed magic is thrilling:
Slinky (75mb QT), Stretchy (45mb QT), and Shapely (33mb QT) by MeFi's own James Seo
Speed=Height (QT) by Zach Lieberman
Giant White Glove by Tim Knapen
and more in the gallery.
posted by carsonb (28 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
I started with the Giant White Glove video, and for quite a while I really didn't understand what was going on here, and then he raised his hand up for a moment, and I've been giggling ever since.
posted by davejay at 2:24 PM on October 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


I know a bit about the technology, so I have some appreciation for a technical achievement, but the results here are mostly...meh.

Ok - Giant White Glove got me, gotta admit.
posted by Artful Codger at 2:42 PM on October 9, 2009


I liked Speed=Height, but the speed is dictated by the position of the glove on the screen. What would have made it even more interesting is to adjust speed based on the position of the glove relative to MJ's calculated height in the frame at the time. Although that would probably have required a separate scope and analysis of MJ's height in every frame.
posted by ardgedee at 2:59 PM on October 9, 2009


Quicktime makes the baby Jesus cry.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:12 PM on October 9, 2009 [5 favorites]


> Giant White Glove

Dear Michael Jackson,

How do you sing with boxing gloves on?

The Lurkers Support Me in Email,
MetaFilter
posted by The Lurkers Support Me in Email at 3:14 PM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


I liked the "Paul Pfeiffer Tribute" version best.
posted by orme at 3:16 PM on October 9, 2009


Am I mean if I think that Giant White Glove is nowhere near as cool as Little Red Corvette?
posted by Nick Verstayne at 3:20 PM on October 9, 2009


Internet plus = all kinds of whimsical fanboy achievements to marvel at

Internet minus = too much petty crap to really give a shit about
posted by squeakyfromme at 3:37 PM on October 9, 2009


Sys Rq: "Quicktime makes the baby Jesus cry."

bullshit, the baby Jesus works in Final Cut.
posted by shmegegge at 3:39 PM on October 9, 2009 [4 favorites]


Pffft. Never really thought that MJ's "moonwalk" was that impressive. Turbo (and Ozone!) could out-dance MJ any day.
posted by davidmsc at 4:00 PM on October 9, 2009


I dunno. I was impressed with Turbo in this scene from Breakin', but if I saw someone dance like MJ in a club I would be dragging people over to watch. There's just a compelling quality to his dancing that independently accompanies the virtuosity.
posted by winna at 4:06 PM on October 9, 2009


Hmm. That last Youtube video is from January 2008?
posted by smackfu at 4:07 PM on October 9, 2009


(Previously)
posted by gwint at 4:33 PM on October 9, 2009


(ah, I see the link is up there)
posted by gwint at 4:34 PM on October 9, 2009


When he grabs his crotch with the giant white glove...well that's entertainment right there buddy!
posted by Eclipsante at 4:40 PM on October 9, 2009


The Giant White Glove video looks like Michael Jackson doing a duet with the Hamburger Helper.
posted by hincandenza at 4:41 PM on October 9, 2009 [10 favorites]


Wait, data dancers?
posted by tommasz at 4:48 PM on October 9, 2009


the baby Jesus works in Final Cut

Cults are all the same.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:22 PM on October 9, 2009


The giant white glove was cool. The rest were quicktime, which I haven't had installed in a long time (ever since that bug where when you closed a page with an embedded quicktime video, Firefox would shut down, closing every open window. That was fun)
posted by delmoi at 5:42 PM on October 9, 2009


Using the Coral Cache on the gallery page puts Coral Cache on the Quicktime files - I'm loading them now.
posted by Pronoiac at 6:41 PM on October 9, 2009


When I heard the learn'd astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts, the diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the learned astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander'd off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look'd up in perfect silence at the stars.
- Walt Whitman
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:27 PM on October 9, 2009


Giant White Glove makes me laugh. I like the Paul Pfeiffer one most.

Pardon my large QT files. They were supposed to be hi-res alternatives to their YouTube counterparts, but 2/3 of the latter clips got pulled pretty quickly by lawyers. (Shapely is still up on YT.) I'll upload to Vimeo someday.
posted by shortfuse at 8:07 PM on October 9, 2009


I wholeheartedly endorse Slinky.
posted by Bokononist at 8:17 PM on October 9, 2009


if I saw someone dance like MJ in a club I would be dragging people over to watch. There's just a compelling quality to his dancing that independently accompanies the virtuosity.

That particular dance is almost entirely ripped off from this movie. (start at around 2:30)
posted by empath at 11:01 PM on October 9, 2009


The Speed=Height one is great. I wish I saw it without knowing beforehand the title and that it was based on data about the screen position of the white glove. I would have liked to see if I could have figured out what was controlling the video speed. It could have made a fun puzzle.
posted by painquale at 1:11 AM on October 10, 2009


Pffft. Never really thought that MJ's "moonwalk" was that impressive. Turbo (and Ozone!) could out-dance MJ any day.

Oh, please.

MJ did something that very few dancers and artists can do--he developed his own distinct style, something instantly recognizable as "Michael Jackson." He was influenced by great artists and took what he learned and made it something of his own. He never claimed he invented the moonwalk, for one thing--he was always very clear that his inspiration came from breakdancing, James Brown, Fred Astaire, Jackie Wilson, etc. He did what great creative people do; he learned from the best and then put his own spin on it, so to speak. The moonwalk is an excellent dance and it is associated with this one person all over the world, as it has been for over two decades, and probably will be for many more decades to come.
posted by girlmightlive at 6:54 AM on October 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


Slinky is awesome. Can anyone get a quick read on frame rate vs. frame length for that? (is there a particular ratio for how wide the frames have to be to get it to scroll in real time?).

The ones that seem to work best are those that keep the song intact, while recontextualizing the dance / motion. Watching the high kicks and the camera pans on Slinky, for instance, rather than just focusing on the glove. Neat stuff!
posted by puckish at 9:26 AM on October 10, 2009


Can anyone get a quick read on frame rate vs. frame length for that? (is there a particular ratio for how wide the frames have to be to get it to scroll in real time?).

The output frame rate was 29.97. The overall visual frame's width is 640, the same as the input source clip of the performance that was provided by the WGT project originators. Or maybe you're referring to the "frames" as in the subdivided columns within each frame. The dimensions for those were determined by the input glove data alone.

I made a version where the output frame was 1280 wide: the glove would move around in the central 640x480 space (as dictated by the input clip), but we would see more of the past + the present for each moment in time, flowing into and out of the central rect. (Frame rate was kept the same.) The effect was to lessen the sense of surprise that comes with each move of the glove and his body.

Watching the high kicks and the camera pans on Slinky, for instance, rather than just focusing on the glove.

Yes, I was happy with this result - revealing something of the dance and movements beyond the glove alone.
posted by shortfuse at 12:41 PM on October 10, 2009


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