The First Prime Motion Picture


Every frame of this video is a prime number with 3100 digits. Additionally, this video is a recreation of the first ever motion picture, created by Eadweard Muybridge in 1878 at Stanford to study a horse’s gallop.

The inspiration to create this motion picture came from a video on Numberphile I watched a few months ago about a very special prime: in 1996, James McKee was a mathematician departing Trinity Hall at Cambridge and wanted to honor the tradition of bestowing a farewell gift on the college, he devised a prime number that also depicted the University logo. After seeing the video I wrote a short python script to turn images into primes. The script takes an image and converts it into a sequence of 1’s and 8’s (1’s for the lighter parts of the image and 8’s for the darker parts). It then randomly changes a few digits in the image and tests for primality using the Miller-Rabin test. This test quickly excludes numbers that are not prime and finds out the ones that are more likely to be prime. Finally, you just need a method to verify the numbers that are actually prime in the group that was pre-selected using the Miller-Rabin test.

If you want to create your own prime images the code is available here.

A few open questions worth exploring later:

  • Are there any special compression/encryption properties for a video where every frame is a prime?

  • Would it be possible to have a similar video but in which if we join every frame one after the other into a single number, it would also result in a prime?