General Question

Ltryptophan's avatar

Could a video recording ever create a true reflection?

Asked by Ltryptophan (12091points) July 8th, 2019 from iPhone

If I video myself in front of a mirror waving with my right hand, on playback the video can show my right hand just in front of the camera and again in the mirror image.

Although I will have captured the nature of how a mirror works by doing that, I will not have captured the mirrors true reflective nature.

Can any recording ever show a reflection when observed in the present.

Thanks in advance for not dismissing the question.

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9 Answers

Zaku's avatar

I don’t get what you’re asking. What do you mean by “true reflective nature”?

Do you mean like if you hold your hand further in front of you, near the mirror, and then hold your camera near the mirror surface and point the video camera at your hand and your mirror, so you can see both of them from the same side in the same mirror?

Ltryptophan's avatar


Let me clarify. You video a mirror. Then you play the video. In the video the mirror shows whatever it was reflecting at the time the video was recorded. It will not suddenly reflect you as you watch the recording. It’s reflective nature is locked in to the time of the recording.

But, could a video ever display a reflection that still functions? That keeps its mirror effect. A display showing such a video would reflect the viewer.

Yellowdog's avatar

All you would really need is a teleprompter-type setup with the camera behind and reflects the video—the video reflected would be in reverse because it would be projected onto teleprompter glass.

But here’s the problem—it still requires glass (a two-way mirror) and a reflection. To look straight on, as you would in a mirror, requires the camera be behind the display screen. So the only way to do this is set it up like a telepropmter so that you can look straight on.

Which begs the question—since an on-glass reflection is required anyway, why not just use the glass reflection? That’‘s kinda like “instant water—just add water.”

Ltryptophan's avatar

@Yellowdog Sorry, I don’t follow.

Imagine looking into a video and seeing yourself reflected in the screen. Not on the glass over the video, or some trick display. For instance, a display could be made that video tapes you and through special lighting displays your “reflection” into any chosen surface designated a mirror. That’s not it.

I am saying, can a reflection be recorded in a way that the reflections reflective quality survives.

Yellowdog's avatar

I don’t follow, either.

If you make a video to be like a reflection, you have to look straight on into it.

If I’m overthinking it, yes, I think we already have the technology that could make an image better than reflected in a mirror. Except maybe good scientific mirrors. Even mirrors distort somewhat—maybe 2–5 percent.

Ltryptophan's avatar

@Yellowdog recording a mirror using existing physical limitations seems to prohibit what I am suggesting.

A recording of any reflection is not itself capable of any future reflections. Only a real, physical mirror has the reflective properties to repeatedly reflect light.

No quality of present time, can ‘jump’ into a video recorded in the past.

But, maybe there is some surface that could remain reflective even in a recording in defiance of known physics, and logic.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

If you are talking about making a perfect reproduction in audio you can as long as you sample at more than double the Nyquist rate. Not sure what you are asking with the mirror though.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

I think I understand the question now: Can a video recording of mirror act like a mirror. Not with current display technology that I’m aware of. I think it’s possible if a display were able to project a reflective surface.

Zaku's avatar

@Ltryptophan Thanks for your clarification of what you meant.

No, a video recording is fundamentally a recording of light input from the past. There is no way it could ever show what a mirror photographed is currently reflecting.

That would require a change in what a video recording fundamentally is. It could happen in a dream, a story, or a video game, but it would be about a different thing than a recording.

You could program software that seems to do this, for one specific place, by setting up a real-time video recorder recording the same place, and then using software to map the current real-time present recording onto the surface of the mirror in the past recording, but that would be an illusion combining a live feed with a past recording.

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