Watch a festive film every second of the day until Christmas

With December 1st on the horizon, I decided I needed to level up my office desk decorations. Last year’s dribble of fairy lights was an embarrassingly poor show and I had no intention of repeating that display of Christmas dispirit. Serendipitously, a joyfully gauche photo frame fell off my wall last week and an idea came to me in which it could be upcycled with a little Raspberry Pi magic. Cue me demanding our Maker in Residence Toby pause all official operations in order to make me an E-paper display which would play a festive film slowly over the Advent period.


Toby also 3D printed this case for the Raspberry Pi and a custom kick-stand so I could display the frame on my desk. Some stiff card made sure everything stayed inside the frame.

Tricky tutorial

Toby followed along with Tom Whitwell‘s super slow e-paper display tutorial, which takes a little under three months to play a 110-minute film, with the terrifying shower scene from Psycho playing out over a day and a half.

Despite the clarity of Tom’s excellent step-by-step guide, Toby did run into some trouble due to his choice to my demand that he use a bigger display than the original project he copied. I require visual impact with my desktop tech and I won’t apologise for it.

The issues arose around installing the EPD (Electronic Paper Displays) drivers and he just couldn’t seem to get Tom’s instructions to work for this part of the build. Ever the patient trooper (he does spend his office time seated next to me, after all) Toby managed to find a workaround. Instead of using Tom’s line:

pip3 install git+

He instead used:

git clone
cd omni-epd
pip3 install --prefer-binary

Then modified the slowmovie.conf file with waveshare_epd.it8951 which is the identification reference for the bigger display.

Christmas calculations

Toby calculated that, if you want to watch the movie Elf in its entirety from the first of December right up until Christmas morning, you’d need to set the device to display every frame from the movie at a rate of one every 15 seconds.

still frame of the movie elf on an e-paper display
Stand by for me to lose it on Threads when I finally get to this frame of Elf

This is a good time to explain that the reason I requested Elf to be used in this project is so I could watch the scene in which Buddy traverses an escalator for the first time and ends up in an impressively deep split. The only thing that can possibly sprinkle more magic on those frames of film is to have them displayed in extreme slow motion.

Buddy the Elf stretching into a split on a moving escalator in black and white on an e paper display
There he goes…

Which Christmas film would you choose to display in slow-motion on your own E-paper display? I was toying with the idea of It’s a Wonderful Life but that is already hella long and would probably run through to Easter.

still frame of it's a wonderful life on an e-paper display
Sorry Jimmy, but you’ve had a good run as the king of Christmas

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Toby Roberts avatar

I wanted Die Hard, because IT’S A CHRISTMAS MOVIE!

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barleyguy avatar

My favorite Christmas movie is Gremlins. ;-)

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Steve avatar

Die Hard indeed — Alan Rickman’s final appearance in that movie would be epic in super-extra-ultra slow motion…

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AndrewS avatar

Yyyy iiii pppp pppp eeee eeeee —- KKKK iiii —- YYYY
aaaa yyyy ………

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Ashley Whittaker avatar

Don’t encourage him

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