Video of a highway color-coded by car

Cy Kuckenbaker took four minutes of video of state highway 163 in San Diego, and reorganized the video by car color – so all the cars of the same color are together.

I’m finding his description a bit confusing, but in essence, he cut and pasted the cars so that all the white cars pass by together (in their original lanes). Then he moves on to blue cars, etc.

It’s interesting. I’m not sure what it tells us, but it’s interesting. (Side note: I’m sick with whatever chest cold is going around, and traveling tomorrow. So expect lighter posting on Wednesday. Thanks.)

car-color

Here’s his description:

Finally! It’s done. In this new video I took a four minute shot of state highway 163, which is San Diego’s first freeway then removed the time between cars passing and reorganized them according to color. I was curious to see what the city’s car color palette looked like when broken down. We are a car culture after all. I was surprised that the vast majority of cars are colorless: white, gray and black. The bigger surprise though was just how many cars passed in four minutes of what looked like light traffic: 462 cars. I invite my fellow arm chair anthropologist to parse out what those car colors say about us. Do tell…me…on twitter if you can. I think what it says about Caltrans is pretty clear. I had never really considered how many cars the freeways have to support but if you do some conservative math – at the rate captured in the raw video (below) you’ll hit 125,000 cars in 18 hours. If I had a nickle…that’s how much I’d need to fix the road.

A quick note on the colors. They’re ordered by prevalence or popularity within the sample: white, silver/gray, black, blue, red/orange/yellow, green. The group that is actually the largest is silver/gray but I put that group second to white because the silver/gray group is really a set of tones and colors that we don’t have language to easily parse but are visually obvious. In other words, it’s the biggest group linguistically but it’s not one discreet color.

There are no CG elements in the video and none of the cars have been moved from their original lanes or had their speeds altered. The gaps in traffic are due to the different volumes in the lanes. For the tech curious the way I did this is conceptually simple but labor intensive. With After Effects I cut out each car frame by frame and saved it as it’s own new video. Then I grabbed a still shot of each lane when it was empty, laid those over the source video, which produces an empty freeway and then put all the cars back in on top of that. Each car took an average of fifteen minutes to cut out and save x 492 cars, which is around 120 hours. I’m not entirely sure how long it took to put it all back together. Here’s the entire raw shot I sourced, which was taken from the Washington St. Bridge in the Hillcrest area of San Diego looking north.

Here’s the color-coordinated video:

And here’s the original video:


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Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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