08 June 2008

Video Compression and Turbulence Don't Mix

At least not well. While trying to re-learn basic fluid mechanics I ran across some mid-60's instructional films made by the National Committee for Fluid Mechanics Films. The excellent material presentation and quality of the experimental setups has helped me regain some intuition. The retro-educational aspects are outstanding: black and white video, coke bottle glasses, professors in full suits, gesturing at concepts with a pipe, etc.

Sadly though, the films have been stored in the usual compressed way. For laminar flow visualization, this works fine. Unfortunately, the film on turbulence suffers from nasty compression artifacts that obscure the time-dependent, chaotic structure this video was designed to illustrate. It'd be interesting to know if there are domain-specific codecs that would adequately capture chaotic motion here, or if all compression approaches would suffer a similar fate. In theory, you probably could capture the isotropic small scale structure and then overlay that atop a normal video codec to get acceptable results.

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