Projection … visuals … video … VJs … pixels.
What we’re really talking about is light: light, manipulated in three-dimensions as dynamic digital medium.
So, it’s fitting that as the draft form of educational programming for the Moscow International Festival of Light was being passed around, I noticed the following edit on a panel title:
“Shaping the future – Projection mapping as an expressive artistic medium”
“Shaping the future – Light as an expressive artistic medium.”
The new forms of light intersect art and architecture, physical and urban environments and online realms, animation and performance and environment.
And to deepen our understanding of what that means, it’s vital to listen to one another. In Moscow this weekend, artists from around the world will get to better know their Russian counterparts, in a unique educational collaboration. The event is curated by the creative tech community MIGZ.ru – a platform for work in Moscow and beyond, together with Creative Applications Network (I also helped contribute to the programming with MIGZ), and organised by the Government of Moscow.
CAN’s incomparable curator-founding editor Filip Visnjic has an extensive preview:
Moscow International Festival “Circle of Lights” (5/6 October 2013) Continue reading »
iPhone 5s Test Footage – 120 fps from Rishi Kaneria on Vimeo.
Three words for VJs and visualists: shoot more footage.
You’ll find plenty of reviews of the new iPhone 5S for photography applications, but perhaps most compelling is its impressive 120-fps slow motion, which is stunning for something that’s included in a mobile phone. Overnight, the 5S has become the visualist phone of choice – that is, if you’re investing in a new phone. And I have to say, generally, while other rivals (notably Samsung and Nokia) ship phones with good optics, Apple seems to have the edge in software.
Having access to this all the time in your pocket is invaluable. But fortunately, if you are looking to capture 120 fps footage and you can’t afford a new iPhone out of contract, you have other options.
One is Sony’s latest Action Cam. It’s US$199, you can get a waterproof case for it, and you can strap it to your head – things you can’t easily do with an iPhone. And the footage looks nice enough:
That underwater dunking should yield some nice visual footage.
There are other options, too; The Guardian’s Ask Jack blog offers advice.
Big robots, subtle effects.
That’s the result in “Box,” a mesmerizing set of etudes on three-dimensional projection-mapped illusions. Spun and levitated on two robots – the type you’d normally see in auto manufacturing and the like – rectangular projection surfaces transform into three-dimensional spaces for a wide range of effects.
Each basic element of technique here is familiar, but as we reach an apex of neo-baroque digital experimentation, those techniques fuse into magical illusions, each more dazzling than the last. It’s filmmaking, but everything is captured in-camera. (It should still be reasonably impressive in person, though the parallax effects require a single vantage point of the camera lens.)
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Sound of Threads from Bertrand Lanthiez on Vimeo.
Satisfying multiple senses at once, Paris-based artist Bertrand Lanthiez shares his “Sound of Threads.” It’s a pair of audiovisual installations – and beautiful music – that combines musical elements with frail beams of light across webs of wool and dangling pieces of cloth. The interaction is simple triggering, but the result transforms his delicate sounds into a textile, material reality.
And the music holds up on its own, too – a rarity, to have music from an installation that can also be self-contained.
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Eye Vapor EEG Sonification 1 from Derivative on Vimeo.
Smart. Even smart enough to visualize and sonify EEGs.
TouchDesigner is not well-known in general circles, even after long-running availability. It’s Windows-only software for specialists. But there’s only one thing you need to know about it: it is consistently used in some of the best work artists are doing right now in multimedia.
And in one go, the deceptively-named “088″ is adding some massively-important stuff. Little wonder we’re hearing from a number of readers who are already excited.
And there’s now a non-commercial license, too, fellow impoverished and overworked but lovable artists.
Since you can read the details from the Canadian developers at Derivative, let’s do the executive summary, shall we?
- Smarter mapping. Okay, lots of tools now do mapping. 088 uses the mapamok-based 6=point alignment system to make 3D mapping happen with less work. There’s also a clever 2D system.
- Scripting in Python with full Python library support. (That last bit matters. This isn’t just scripting – it’s the ability to do anything in Python, including connect to other tools and data, which could make TouchDesigner rival dedicated coding environments for many tasks. There’s new C++ support, too.) Speaking of that rivalry…
- 75 examples of generative design, as lifted from the landmark book Generative Gestaltung (its examples originally coded in Processing.
- Crucial sound and music features. ASIO interface drivers (augh, finally), which you can add to an existing component for syncing up to Ableton Live. Done and done.
- Out-of-the-box LEAP and Kinect support.
- Sync multiple GPUs, even across computers. It’s a geeky feature – G-syn from NVIDIA and the 5400 cards from AMD – but it means even more industrial-strength visuals across lots of displays.
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Adding built-in mapping features now is anything but mad. Images courtesy ArKaos.
ArKaos’ GrandVJ live visual software is now in a major upgrade and out of beta, with a companion mapping module alongside.
Some readers – largely those loyal to rival tools – have responded that the number “2″ after GrandVJ left them wanting more substantial changes. But this isn’t a radical update – not in visible ways. Instead, ArKaos are tuning the ways in which you use the software and the performance beneath.
Or another way to look at this – ArKaos are getting rid of some major gripes from users. That includes making sure codecs you want are there, some confusing user interface wrinkles have been ironed out, and that activation works more easily across a couple of computers.
Those nice adjustments, plus some major new improvements, are now available for free to GrandVJ 1 users (nice):
- Updated video processing engine with better multi-threading and playback performance
- New effects (the most useful being a Color Correction effect), new transitions
- Audio file support (as found in rival Resolume Avenue)
- Updated user interface (see below) with color-coded layers and cells, easier panel locks
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A research presentation from SIGGRAPH has been spreading quickly online, demonstrating just how seamlessly we might soon transform two-dimensional photography into three-dimensional objects.
Perhaps what makes the “3-Sweep” technique so impressive is that it doesn’t represent some sort of computational breakthrough, or algorithmic trickery. It’s simply good, inventive design. And it allows human and machine to work hand in hand – rather than try to make the algorithm do everything, humans assist by evaluating where the objects are. And making the user interface tools intuitive for those humans also makes the results more accurate. (As I saw noted by researcher Jeff Kramer on a mailing list, among discussions of this piece, “humans do what they’re good at (judging perspective) and the computer does what it is good at (generating 3D models). “)
That kind of smart, sensible design, and the combination of human and machine techniques, I think are the best of the age in which we currently live.
Oh, the worst is probably YouTube comments, in which punters thought the whole thing was fake. (Hint: it’s not.)
But major kudos to this research team:
Tao Chen · Zhe Zhu · Ariel Shamir · Shi-Min Hu · Daniel Cohen-Or
And impressive as the beginning of the video is, keep watching to the end as it allows the assembly of an entire scene.