Remember floppy disks? The little disks that could store a whopping 1.44 MB of data were the ubiquitous choice for portable data storage for decades until faster and (much) higher-capacity options came along. Still, that did not stop a clever and nostalgic tinkerer from managing to compress an entire feature-length film enough to fit it on a single floppy disk.
Modern 4K Blu Ray films can easily push past 50 GB for just a few hours of footage. Even DVDs, which hold 480p video, are 4.7 GB. Keep jumping down the ladder, and you will next stop at CDs, which typically hold 700 MB, just 15% of their DVD counterparts and less than 2% of their distant Blu Ray cousins. We’ll skip past Zip disks at 100 MB and make our way down to the humble 3.5-inch floppy disk with its 1.44 MB capacity, less than 1% of even a CD.
And so, the thought of compressing all of “Shrek” onto a floppy seems almost delusional, when such a disk couldn’t even store a single modern JPEG image. But that’s just what one clever Redditor, u/GreedyPaint did. Using a custom x265 codec, they compressed the film to a resolution of 120 by 96 pixels, playing at four frames per second. And while that sounds slow, they actually quadrupled the frame rate; originally, the codec could only fit a frame per second on the disk. What’s even more impressive is that the audio track is still there as well. The floppy is actually played using a custom-built “VCR” featuring a Raspberry Pi named the LimaTek Diskmaster. It’s quite the neat and nostalgic accomplishment!
Check out the video of the setup in action here.
Lead image by Antoine Taveneaux, used under Creative Commons.