In a time when you have to go out of your way to buy a new TV with less than 4K resolution, one Redditor has decided that their eyes don’t need such luxuries as 4K, 2K, HD, or even standard def videos, and have created a custom VCR that plays full-length movies on floppy disks with just 1.44 MB of storage.
For comparison, an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc has a dual-layer capacity of 66 GB for storing movies at 4K resolutions, while a single layer Blu-ray disc can hold 25 GB which is enough to hold a movie at HD resolutions. DVDs, which store videos at standard definition resolutions, have a storage capacity of 4.7 GB, or 4,700 MB, and even stills shot in the ProRAW format on an iPhone 12 Pro take up anywhere from 25 to 40 MB in size. Trying to squeeze a movie that runs 90 minutes into just 1.44 MB seems like an act of futility, but when has that ever stopped anyone on the internet from doing anything?
GreedyPaint’s accomplishment, if you want to call it that, is actually a two-part hack. The most important piece is a custom x265 video codec that crushes video files down to resolutions of 120 x 96 pixels running at four frames per second. Shrek, as featured in a video they shared on Reddit, actually compressed down to just 1.37 MB, including the film’s audio which, as you can probably expect, is as much a chore for the viewer’s ears as the compressed video is for their eyes.
The other part of this hack is a custom VCR built around a Raspberry Pi with a floppy drive in lieu of a VHS cassette slot. The LimaTek Diskmaster even starts up with a splash screen with the player’s made up corporate branding, and it’s programmed to automatically play the video file stored on an inserted floppy disk. Instead of a modern flat screen TV, the Diskmaster was connected to a tiny old-school CRT TV which probably helped to soften and hide a lot of the video file’s ugliest compression artifacts, but watching the entire movie this way would be considerably worse than watching it in full HD — which is already kind of a chore.
While GreedyPaint has no intentions of trying to put the LimaTek Diskmaster into production (they’ve clearly done their market research and realised few people would even consider spending money on this) there are some interesting ways it could be enhanced, including passing the tiny video signal through a machine-learning algorithm to see if the image quality and frame rate could be increased and enhanced to resolutions that won’t leave a viewer’s eyes in agony.