Making paint move with sound

Published on November 22, 2015

This weekend I teamed up with my good friend Magnus Walander to do another creative photo project. We wanted to try to make paint move using an old speaker. The idea has been around for a while and was most notably used in a commercial for Canon’s PIXMA ink a few years ago.

Realizing a project like this turned out to be fairly straightforward and can be summarized in a six step list:

  1. Put a black plastic bag over an old speaker
  2. Add suitable paint (we used acrylic paint thinned with water)
  3. Place said speaker in any bathroom you feel comfortable using
  4. Put up a black background (or not, if you have gloriously photogenic bathroom tiles)
  5. Set up some flashes in suitable positions. Make sure they are set to low power to get a short flash duration
  6. Simultaneously turn on the music and start shooting. Continue until your patience runs out or the neighbors start complaining

This is what it looked like for us. Results may vary.


Here is Magnus editing one of the first really good shots we got.


Any music will make the paint bounce but lower frequencies are preferred. After some experimenting we settled for a 70 Hz tone. Since the paint starts to mix very quickly after the sound is turned on the best photos are almost always the first two.