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Fun With Transparent Screen Backgrounds 450

Posted by Zonk
from the early-in-the-am-on-easter-morning dept.
herberts writes "Looks like the amusement factor of 'transparent' screen background is getting bigger and bigger. The french Mac fan site Mac Bidouille opened up a dedicated part of their web site where fans can post shots of their transparent backgrounds." Other great transparent background shots can be found at Flickr.
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Fun With Transparent Screen Backgrounds

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  • by Alien54 (180860) on Sunday March 27, 2005 @02:46AM (#12058704) Journal
    when they figure out a pr0n angle for the effects.

    This should take about ten seconds

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 27, 2005 @03:42AM (#12058924)
      This should take about ten seconds

      Well, frankly, that's between you and your girlfriend !

    • by Simonetta (207550) on Sunday March 27, 2005 @01:28PM (#12060483)
      It's a little disconcerting to see that no one has posted that Belgian surrealistic artist Rene Magritte did these type of images (painted canvas displaying background) back in the 1920s.

      Don't you guys ever look through those big books of surrealistic art in bookstores and libraries? Much of the imagery that we consider 'weird' and 'futuristic' now was first conceived and painted back in the 1920s and 30s. Guys like Salvadore Dali, Yves Tanguy, Joan ('Ho-ahn') Miro, Max Ernst, and Rene Magritte created the modern fantasy landscape look.
      Their work was a step beyond the inflamed, blood-soaked, passionate, and sex-obsessed imagery of the 19th century Decadent Romanticists like Gustave Moreau, Klimt, and DeVille. It was this over-stimulated buffoonery led to the disaster of the Great War. Surrealism was an attempt to invoke the primal mental forces that lay beneath duty, religion, and even consciousness.
      Since you'all have broadband you can find this images and paintings easily on the web. They are definitely worth the trouble to find and view them.
      • by bataras (169548) on Sunday March 27, 2005 @04:49PM (#12061468)
        Whew. For a minute there I was getting a little disconcerted that no one would post something saying they were disconcerted that no one posted something about that kind of thing being done many years ago in their posting about that kind of thing being done many years ago.
  • Wow... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mark-t (151149) <markt@lynx . b c.ca> on Sunday March 27, 2005 @02:48AM (#12058712) Journal
    Some people have entirely too much time on their hands.
  • Looks like fun (Score:2, Interesting)

    Would be a fun way to freak out the uninformed and techincally challanged.
  • Very cool (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FuturePastNow (836765) on Sunday March 27, 2005 @02:50AM (#12058725)
    But also very transient- move the computer, or just look at it from another angle, and the effect is destroyed.

    And it has to be said: These people have way too much time on their hands!
    • Re:Very cool (Score:4, Interesting)

      by jez9999 (618189) on Sunday March 27, 2005 @04:48AM (#12059079) Homepage Journal
      The thing is, I presume these background are just still shots. So they're not really that clever at all.

      What if Apple embedded an actual webcam in the back of their laptops, and allowed a live background? Then you'd really have a truly transparent background :-)
      • Re:Very cool (Score:5, Insightful)

        by aurelian (551052) on Sunday March 27, 2005 @07:40AM (#12059374)
        still wouldn't work because the viewpoint would be different. e.g. But I guess you could assume a typical user viewpoint and just try and get it right for that.
  • by Myrmi (730278) on Sunday March 27, 2005 @02:50AM (#12058728)
    I for one can see right through them.
  • by product byproduct (628318) on Sunday March 27, 2005 @02:51AM (#12058732)
    For a CRT could you draw the electron gun and circuits.
  • by filterchild (834960) on Sunday March 27, 2005 @02:53AM (#12058743)
    This just in:

    Microsoft has announced that they will be building technology for Transparent Desktops into their next-generation operating-system, Longhorn. Microsoft representatives report that this technology involves cutting the back out of the monitor to allow the image behind it to show through. When asked whether this would impede the monitor's ability to display images, Microsoft replied that this was an issue that will be addressed in SP1.
  • by lewiz (33370) <<ten.ziwel> <ta> <elprup>> on Sunday March 27, 2005 @02:54AM (#12058744) Homepage
    It looks like these are all staged. They look pretty cool but I'd be a damn site more impressed if if could be done "live" with a webcam behind the monitor... :-)
    • by Ogerman (136333) on Sunday March 27, 2005 @03:01AM (#12058780)
      I was gonna suggest the same thing.. it could be a webcam or a cheapo digicam of similar res to the screen itself. Well, you all heard it here first! So when Apple decides it deserves a design patent for "Technique to Create a Real-Time Illusion of a Transparent Monitor Screen" we can all point to the prior art. :-)
      • Webcam or not, look at it from the side and it will still break the illusion... not that it wouldn't be interesting anyways :)

        I would probably end up turning it off to save CPU cycles or battery life anyways, though.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 27, 2005 @03:21AM (#12058859)
      Following that idea, I want to be able to insert ghosts in relevant locations as I reposition a thusly equipped laptop.

      As in, you walk around the house, and if you hold the laptop screen two feet in front of your face at all times, it blends right in seamlessly. But if you point it at something like a sofa, it looks like someone is sitting on it, when in actuality there is nobody there. Smoothly pan the laptop so that the sofa is out of the shot, and the ghost moves with it. But if you shake the laptop, the "person" on the sofa would visibly respond to the shaking by trying to keep his balance. And then your hard drive would crash.

      Doing this with cheap, amateur-grade equipment would be really cool. Get cracking on it, oh time wasters of the world! And then sell your work to some game/toy company! :)
    • Huh ? Ofcourse they are staged.How it is done is 1)tzoom in on the monitor alone with the camera on a tripod. 2)Then remove the monitor and take a picture. 3)Make that picture the transparent background. 4)Do some final adjustments. Now how will a "live" webcam behind monitor help? PS:The most impressive photo is among them is one with a cat as background.He/she must have done it really fast or the cat is incredibly lazy.
      • PS:The most impressive photo is among them is one with a cat as background.He/she must have done it really fast or the cat is incredibly lazy.

        Hey, does images are staged, and there is more than one way to stage them:

        • Set your screen background a solid color which is not present in your room (blue)
        • Take photo of room with Mac (or better of Mac in a blue room...)
        • Take photo of room without Mac
        • In the Gimp, use photo with Mac, and make surroundings transparent, and everything on screen that is your spec
    • by MikeFM (12491) on Sunday March 27, 2005 @03:39AM (#12058917) Homepage Journal
      I am more amused by putting a camera pointing at my screen over my shoulder and using that as my live wallpaper. That whole endless hall of mirror effect amuses me greatly.

      Usually I'm just happy to play the movie I'm watching on my desktop though. A DVD Jukebox effect that plays nonstop is a great root window IMO. :)
    • Apple could probably do it right away, just put a little cam in where the apple thing is on the top cover. Even if it wasn't lined up, it could just average the color and display it on the desktop (like a chameleon). Thus the laptop would look "good" whereever it sat. Which is why people buy Macs.

  • by Moofie (22272) <lee&ringofsaturn,com> on Sunday March 27, 2005 @02:55AM (#12058751) Homepage
    I downloaded one of the pictures and put it on my desktop, and it totally didn't look transparent at all.

    Lame. And it's probably smaller than a Nomad.
    • But does it include a stopwatch?
    • Well that was silly, you downloaded the mac version. You probably need the pc version, or at a minimum, load it thru a mac emulator.

      You have 2 options at this point, spend the next few hours googling to find the pc version on the net, or, just put your digicam behind the monitor, take a shot, and download a version customized for your computer, directly from your digicam.

  • Do it with an USB camera and you can have an ever changing background. Setup it up to take a snapshot
    every couple of minutes. So it will look right even when you move the computer.

    -M
    • by AvantLegion (595806) on Sunday March 27, 2005 @03:03AM (#12058791) Journal
      An image created by that USB camera would show what's behind the monitor from the camera eye's perspective, not yours.

      • Gee... if you could only... maybe... MOVE THE CAMERA?

  • Built-in Webcam (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fembots (753724) on Sunday March 27, 2005 @02:57AM (#12058761) Homepage
    What they need is a built-in webcam like Sony's Vaio TR3A [bottomdollar.com], a flippable camera in the top centre of the monitor, and do a full screen live-feed.

    Then you'll be able to move the laptop to anywhere and the screen will still look transparent.
  • Not just for macs. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tuba_dude (584287) <tuba.terry@gmail.com> on Sunday March 27, 2005 @02:58AM (#12058766) Homepage Journal
    I did it on my linux machine too! It's nice and transparent, [imagedump.com] although I suck at perspective.
  • by nsaneinside (831846) on Sunday March 27, 2005 @03:00AM (#12058775)
    You posted a friggin' IMAGE GALLERY on the FRONT PAGE of SLASHDOT??
    Whaddaya wanna do, KILL 'EM??
  • by PxM (855264)
    I was hoping that the BGs were inside shots of the CRTs or detailed views of LCD panels rather than illusions of the room which only work from one angle. However, I am reminded of the transparent skirts [snopes.com].

    --
    Want a free iPod? [freeipods.com]
    Or try a free Nintendo DS, GC, PS2, Xbox. [freegamingsystems.com] (you only need 4 referrals)
    Wired article as proof [wired.com]
  • by cliffjumper222 (229876) on Sunday March 27, 2005 @03:09AM (#12058818)
    These look extremely good when you set them up and then snap the result BUT they do not look any good at all or convincing when you try it in real life. I know because I'm so sad I tried it on Friday when this story first came out on gizmodo.com or engadget.com (always get those mixed up). If you really want to have a go remember:
    1) You really need to use a laptop because shifting a CRT monitor or even an LCD panel is tough, flicking it down is easy.
    2) Try to match the resolution of the camera to the screen size otherwise you'll have to stretch it to get it to fit right. Even then it won't look right because it only looks right from one position.
    3) Get a app that lets you tint and alter the gamma of the photos. My digital camera's white balance just didn't create the same yucky yellow tint that my office strip lights have. Couldn't match it at all.
    4) Admit that honestly, if what's behind your PC monitor is a dusty cube wall it's probably not worth looking at anyway, and no, you won't fool anyone.
  • I did it (Score:4, Interesting)

    by adpowers (153922) on Sunday March 27, 2005 @03:16AM (#12058837)
    Here is my quick attempt [andrewhitchcock.org]. Some of the ones out there are really neat, especially the one has three screens overlapping on flickr. I thought it would be fun to do one of these, and then GIMP something into the image. Have my PowerBook looking out the window, and then GIMP a picture of the Eiffel Tower off in the distance. I'm too lazy, but someone else could do it :)
  • by jerdenn (86993) <jerdenn@dennany.org> on Sunday March 27, 2005 @03:19AM (#12058854)
    Great - now I can stare some more at my cubical wall all day long.

    Next, someone will figure out a way to tattoo that image onto the inside of my eyelids.

  • The one with the cat is wicked. I wonder if the color balance changed because of the monitor or because the light in the room changed.
  • by Shag (3737) * on Sunday March 27, 2005 @03:34AM (#12058898) Homepage
    I gave it a try with my PowerBook [hawaii.edu] and it came out not too awfully, although the shelf behind it isn't aligned quite right in this shot - I blame refraction. Or, um... sunspots!

    A few pointers I figured out along the way:

    1. It's very important to keep the camera angle the same. If you've got a tripod, this is a good time to use it.
    2. Shooting perpendicular to the display (i.e. not at any sort of angle) is the simplest way of making things line up properly, since you don't have to stretch the backgrounds for perspective or whatever. (Some of the shots in the gallery are at angles and are very impressive in terms of difficulty.)
    3. Backgrounds with lots of stuff in them look cooler than "gosh, the wall shows behind the computer" in most cases. Elements that extend from behind the screen, or wrap around to the side or front can also be fun.
    Next time I'm really bored, I'll try to work up something that has a mirror in it...
  • by pg133 (307365) on Sunday March 27, 2005 @04:06AM (#12058984)
    People taking photo of their computer screens reminds me of this project.
    Infinite Cat Project [infinitecat.com]

    Some people have way to much time on their hands!

  • this article is 5 days too early
  • Trompe L'oeil (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Detritus (11846) on Sunday March 27, 2005 @04:48AM (#12059081) Homepage
    It looks like a modern version of trompe l'oeil [wikipedia.org], without all the pesky work involved in learning how to paint.
  • by robbarrett (84479) on Sunday March 27, 2005 @05:39AM (#12059181)
    Back a few years, IBM sold a laptop [byte.com] where you could detach the back cover of the lid, exposing the screen so that it could be placed on an overhead projector. I worked with Ted Selker [mit.edu] who invented it, so I had a homemade prototype version. When I presented at conferences and everyone else struggled with F7 and video formats, I just whipped the back off my Thinkpad and put it on top of the overhead projector [heise.de]. I don't think anyone listened to my talk because they were all craning their necks to see what I had done with the display. All of the questions afterward were about where to buy such a nifty device rather than anything about my talk!

    The removable back was also useful for working outdoors. You could put a white reflective surface behind the screen and backlight with sunlight, making it usable no matter how bright it was.
  • Used in our church (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gidds (56397) <slashdot AT gidds DOT me DOT uk> on Sunday March 27, 2005 @07:08AM (#12059324) Homepage
    There's a good use of this at my church.

    It was built before overhead projectors were commonly used for showing the words of songs, so they didn't leave anywhere for a screen. Covering the back wall is a big wooden cross -- we used to project words onto the wall on one side of this, but it was cramped and could only be seen from one side.

    But recently, someone had a bright idea. We now have a video projector, and a large screen which descends to cover the cross and surrounding design -- when it's not being used for words, they project a picture of what's underneath it. It's not perfect (the alignment and colour are very slightly out), but it's a good solution which allows everyone to see the words without getting rid of the focal point.

  • More here (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gallir (171727) on Sunday March 27, 2005 @07:22AM (#12059346) Homepage
  • Better Flickr link (Score:5, Informative)

    by darkpurpleblob (180550) * on Sunday March 27, 2005 @07:26AM (#12059350)

    The Flickr link in the story only links to one person's photoset (no disrespect to that person, w00kie [flickr.com]). The Transparent Screens [flickr.com] group pool is much more interesting as it aggregates everyones transparent screen photos.

  • OK... (Score:3, Funny)

    by dalmiroy2k (768278) on Sunday March 27, 2005 @08:23AM (#12059428)
    I just opened my CRT, removed my monitor screen, tube and back panel.
    It looks dark through... :O
    Now what?

    j/k ;)
  • Ahh, it appears.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Deal-a-Neil (166508) on Sunday March 27, 2005 @09:03AM (#12059505) Homepage Journal
    ..the reason that we haven't yet come up with a cure for AIDS or cancer is that all of our scientific minds are engaged in activities that far more pressing, such as transparent backgrounds. Just joking, this sh*t's important.

    This kind of reminds me of that HP photo/camera commercial, where that fellow snags frames out of the air, capturing screen shots from live motion in the foreground and background with each one he grabs.
  • by RhettLivingston (544140) on Sunday March 27, 2005 @10:23AM (#12059715)
    Am I the only geek that expected to see backgrounds that showed the insides of the monitors? Hardware is much more exciting than the wall or shelves behind the computer. I can think of some good joke possibilities too along the lines of things or statements that would be funny or shocking if they had been hidden inside your monitor.
  • by tootired (91527) on Sunday March 27, 2005 @05:21PM (#12061643) Homepage

    My first try is available at Macbidouille [macbidouille.com] and I wanted to say how these things are TRULY done, not some wild guessing/oversimplification/cheesy head-on way out.

    1. Get a tripod and mount your camera to it.
    2. Set up the scene. It works best if you have things exiting from behind the display.
    3. Shoot 2 shots, one with the display down (or removed depending on your notebook ownership), and one with it up.
    4. Take both shots into Phothsop/Gimp/Whatever.
    5. Copy the screen up (present) shot and paste it into the image with the screen down (missing).
    6. Perspective crop the image to the edges of the visible screen.
    7. Delete the layer with the display.
    8. Resize resulting image to display resolution on laptop (display).
    9. Set resulting image as background. without moving your display.
    10. Shoot scene again and enjoy the magic.

    Depending on your patience level, this technique works for as many levels of transparency as you'd like to fake.

    --

    Great Designers, Great Design. [stundesign.net]

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