We live in a time when 4K video is rapidly becoming commonplace and anything less than 1080p is nearly unwatchable to our pampered eyes. That fidelity is only practical because of advanced display technology, fast internet connections, and dirt cheap storage. Just one minute of 4K video consumes around 350MB of storage, while a standard 3.5” floppy disk has a storage capacity of just 1.44MB, which is practically useless these days. You’d have a hard time fitting even one decent photo of a floppy disk onto a floppy disk. That’s what makes Redditor GreedyPaint’s video compression so amazing, because it is able to cram a full-length movie onto a single floppy disk.
GreedyPaint’s LimaTek Diskmaster isn’t just an insane video codec; it is a full video player system built around a Raspberry Pi. Think of it as a VCR that accepts floppy disks. Those floppies are conventional 3.5” 1.44MB floppies and there is no hidden storage trickery going on here. GreedyPaint’s custom x265 video codec is able to compress a feature-length movie down to a file size small enough to fit onto a floppy. Shrek, as explained in the Reddit post, was compressed down to a mere 1.37MB. That is mind-boggling when you consider that the movie is 90 minutes long. Even more impressively, the compressed file contains audio, so you could actually watch the movie using this technology.
Obviously this can’t provide anything close to 4K 60FPS video. The codec compresses video down to a resolution of 120x96 at only 4 frames-per-second. For comparison, NTSC VHS video is something like 480x333 at 24FPS. But for 90 minutes of video, this codec still yields 21,600 individual frames. Those are fit into a small space by only encoding changes between frames, which is a standard video compression technique. The resolution and framerate are so low that several frames can pass with significant portions of screen remaining unchanged. If every frame was completely unique, a full-length movie could never fit on a floppy disk even at this low resolution.
To watch the videos, GreedyPaint built a dedicated player around a Raspberry Pi with a standard floppy drive connected. Those are housed within a simple, but attractive, case. The Raspberry Pi is programmed to automatically start playing the video on whatever floppy disk is inserted. As it should be, the player was paired with a vintage CRT TV. GreedyPaint even created a retro-style boot-up screen that is reminiscent of the RCA SelectaVision, which was a quirky video player that worked using special vinyl record-like disks. No, you probably won’t have a reason to use GreedyPaint’s codec, but it really puts into perspective how much storage space and bandwidth we use for video these days.