Movie Barcode Compresses Entire Movies into A Single Image

Just by looking at this “bar code”, can you tell what animated movie this is? Go on, take a guess:

Give up?

It’s Bambi.

For a few years now, MovieBarcode has been one of my regular stops on Tumblr. The moderator (who prefers to remain anonymous) takes every frame from a movie, skews it to be only a pixel wide and lines them up in a row, creating a barcode-like image of the entire film. While many live-action films don’t necessarily need color to help tell the story, the majority of animated productions go to great lengths to plan out a clear color script. In many ways, the color is as vital to a movie as the characters and story. Color can set the mood, intensify the drama or action, clarify with contrast, and even define a character. Just pick up any Pixar “Art of” book and you’ll see how much thought is put into the color and lighting of a movie, through the use of color scripts, color keys and color association.

Take a closer look at the Bambi barcode again. For those who are familiar with the movie, can you tell just by looking at the colors what sequences are taking place? The light blue for the ice skating sequence? Deep red for the forest fire? Desaturated grays and blues for the death of Bambi’s mother?  And what about the color of the characters themselves? How well does the black and white skunk stand out when Bambi first meets him in the predominantly yellow flowerbed? Or Bambi’s bright orangey hue against the pale greens of the forest behind him? All these things are planned out to the most minute detail to make sure that the viewer can clearly see what is happening on screen.

Let’s make things fun by testing your animation knowledge. Here’s a few more animation barcodes, now try and guess what movies they are from. Some are pretty clear, and some might be a little tricky. For those that are stumped, click on the images to see which movie it is.

How’d you do?


  • Sean Vecchione

    Very very cool. Sort of reminds me of the interludes in Punch Drunk Love by Jeremy Blake. These are beautiful images, anonymous.

  • schwarzgrau

    Aladdin got a little bit of this mid-ninties AirMax color palette I really like.

  • SarahJesness

    Oy, yeah. A lot of CG movies tend to go for realistic color palettes, so their barcodes look a bit more bland.

  • Jen Hurler

    It would be interesting to see a barcode version of a film’s color script and compare it to the barcode of the actual film. I’m thinking of Toy Story 3 in particular, as it has very complete color scripts.