Can I Get a Price Check in Theater 3, Please?

Looking for a way to spruce up the décor of your home theater room without relying on those traditional standbys of movie posters, popcorn makers, or the usual memorabilia? Try thinking outside the box a little with these abstract “Movie Bar Code” art prints that each contain an entire movie compressed to be visible in one single glance.

How does it work? The artist takes every frame of a movie, compresses and stretches them into strips, and lines them up into these colorful bar code designs. Any given movie could be around 180,000 frames, give or take. While the patterns they form are not particularly recognizable, the bar codes do provide an interesting overview of the movies’ color palettes.

Take a look at all the greens and blacks in ‘The Matrix’:

The bar code for the original ‘Tron’ very clearly shows off the different sections of the film’s story. The early parts set in the real world are dominated by browns and grays, while those in the virtual computer world shift primarily to blue.

Maybe you prefer something in black & white? Here’s ‘Raging Bull’:

That explosion of candy colors in the banner image for this post? That’s ‘Speed Racer’. (I picked that specially for Dick.)

The Movie Bar Code blog on Tumblr has dozens more, including classics like ‘The Wizard of Oz’, ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, and ‘Apocalypse Now’. Not all of the designs are available for sale yet, but a handful can be purchased using the “Prints” link at the top of the page.

[via Apartment Therapy. Thanks to Mrs. Z for the tip.]


  1. EM

    The barcode for The Wizard of Oz is pretty cool—it’s got the sepia at either end, and it’s pretty obvious which parts of the film are set in the Emerald City. Other parts of the movie are pretty well delineated—somehow the Wicked Witch’s castle is even scarier in this format!

    Josh, there’s a missing closing tag on the EM element in the paragraph acknowledging Mrs. Z’s help—in the browser I’m using, it’s resulting in italics down the rest of the page (not really ideal error-handling, alas).

    • EM

      Yeah, but if she ever got her hands on the right barcode scanner, you might as well have wallpapered your doghouse, for that’s where you’d end up. 😛

  2. EM

    Memento’s barcode is interesting in its alternation between color and black-and-white. The barcode for Hero is gorgeous in its depiction of the various color-coded chapters of the film.

    • Josh Zyber

      Good call on both of those. Traffic is another one where you can see the color coding of the film’s different segments.

      The colors in Kung-Fu Panda are really lovely.

      • EM

        I’d never had any interest in Kung Fu Panda before, but I agree: its barcode is quite easy on the eyes. I never cared for The Matrix either, but its barcode is awesome and it captures my vague memory of the film’s look nicely. I wonder: What truly wretched films produce truly spectacular barcodes?

        Moving along to film classics: If you haven’t already, check out the barcode for Jaws. Its alternating light bands and dark look like a wide maw full of teeth and suggest the alternating notes of John Williams’ classic shark motif. Meanwhile the blues and the fleshtones set the stage for a beach and its bright summer sky and its frolicking swimmers, with dark interruptions for nighttime and murky depths.

        Who would have thought so lossy a format could be so much fun?