If you've ever wondered how movies vary in color and motion, scene-by-scence, don't worry any more. Cinemetrics is a project that's decoding and visualizing films, and you can see it in action here.

The brainchild of graphic designer Frederic Brodbeck, Cinemetrics is an attempt to to create a visual "fingerprint" for films. He analyzes the editing structure, color, speech and motion of movies, then transforms them into graphic representations that can be compared side by side.

He strips data out of DVDs — video, audio, subtitles — and then processes them, frame-by-frame. It's a time consuming business, but the results are fascinating. The fingerprints that Brodbeck creates look a bit like pie charts, but don't be deceived. The length of the broken ring represents the duration of the film, and the segments that make it up are separate shots.

The motion of the segments represents in-frame movement, and the hues represent the palette of colors that make up the scene. I find the variation of color with time particularly interesting, especially when you see different films next to each other. The Simpsons Movie stands out as being a bit odd, for instance.

On his website, Brodbeck explains:

"Not only cinema enthusiasts and people doing film studies might benefit, but also for regular people an alternative way of looking at movies could provide an interesting new way of choosing movies based on formal criteria. For instance: ‘I don't want to see the dark one with lots of motion, that colorful one with the great amount of spoken words looks much more interesting to me.'"

Whatever they're used for, I just like the fact they exist. [Frederic Brodbeck via Flowing Data]