Ramsey Nasser

555µhz

@555µhz is a Twitter bot tweeting every 24th frame of the 1986 film Top Gun with subtitles every thirty minutes. The result is a communal viewing of a silent, slowed down version of the classic action film. The project was run anonymously with no description or link back to my own Twitter account or site. 555µhz is written in Ruby with the film processing done using ffmpeg.

On Febuary 21, 2014, the law offices of Kilpatrick, Townsend & Stockton issued a DMCA Takedown Notice to Twitter on behalf of Paramount Pictures claiming that the user @555uhz was “distributing the Top Gun film, frame by frame.” A list of URLs of infinging tweets was provided by the lawyers as well.

The account was suspended temporarily, and reenstated only once I promised to stop tweeting new images. 555µhz’s timeline remains available in a paralyzed and decaying state, with no new tweets since Febuary 25, 2014 and an increasing number of images missing as they get taken down one by one. The code behind the bot is still active, and awakens on a timer once every thirty minutes only to decide to go back to sleep. 555µhz’s final words were “your friend was magnificent.”

Due to the slow nature of the tweets and the social aspect of Twitter, the community of followers of 555µhz would take time to comment on individual frames, sharing inside jokes or reflecting on the beauty of the cinematography. The combination of the bot’s popularity and the absurdity of the takedown was documented by media outlets including Vice, Mashable, Hollywood Reporter, Business Insider, and NY Daily News among others.