Monday, February 16, 2009

Seattle film production company offers view of the world as a cat sees it

ABC "Good Morning America" this morning introduced a family-owned Seattle film production company, Cross Films, through the work the couple did with its “self-adopted” male cat, Cooper. The Crosses attacked a miniature digital camera to Cooper’s collar and let him roam, taking stills every few seconds and getting hundred of ground level pictures of a cat’s view of the world. Cooper would return home through the cat door.

The pictures appear in natural color, available along with a video at the Cross Films sublink. However, a cat (its retina has more rods than cones compared to humans) is partially color-blind, not able to see the red end of the spectrum. This site has some pictures adjusted to what a cat really sees. In film, it’s common, however, to use filters to show specialized color schemes or simulate “color blindness”. (Remember the sepia in “Reflections in a Golden Eye”?, or even “Letters from Iwo Jima”?)

The Crosses say that cats have been domesticated (actually, they domesticated themselves) about 7000 years, and have not lost their wild habits. Probably, almost any carnivore is capable of domestication. Why? It tales intelligence and cunning to hunt for a living, and hunting is hard work. It’s easier to get fed (although not necessarily more healthful) by behaving well around someone benevolent who will feed you for companionship. Any carnivore is intelligent enough to figure this out. Domestication has given smaller carnivores (that is, domestic dogs and cats) enormous reproductive advantage in evolutionary terms.

The cat pictures were shown on a December 2008 episode of The Learning Channel’s “Animal Planet.”

The Crosses offer the camera for sale on their site.

It’s important to note that Cross has a full service production company, explained on the main site. There is a seven minute video showing interesting commercial and humanitarian interests including the Mercy Corps, Health Talk, and Microsoft Office Developer. I’ve never seem Visual Basic code made to look interesting on film.

The website for Cooper films reminds me of my interaction with IFPMSP from 1997-2003 when I lived in Minneapolis (from 1997-2003). IFP has chapters in New York, Phoenix, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Chicago, and Seattle. The main IFP site is starting to offer some specialized “social networking” and offers a lookup of companies, and I could not find this company on its database. I was surprised, but maybe I looked it up wrong (I’d appreciate a comment if Cross Films is there).

Let me suggest a great book for a film from a cat’s viewpoint: Allan W. Eckert’s novel “The Crossbreed” (1968), which may take more resources that independent film usually has (maybe Disney would look at it).

Picture: from a cat show, Sept. 2008, near Dulles Airport, Virginia

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