July 29, 2003

Natural-motion tracking

I've recently started working with Julie Freeman on a NESTA-funded natural-motion tracking project. Julie is aiming to produce several installations that feature generative sound and visuals over the next two years.

Julie's family runs a commercial fishery and her intention is to create a permanent lakeside installation, Fishal Life.

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July 28, 2003

FreeWRL release

Version 1.0 of the VRML/X3D open source browser FreeWRL has been released for Linux and OSX.

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Applying the 12 Principles to 3D Animation

CGNetworks - Applying the 12 Principles to 3D Computer Animation by Disney's Isaac Kerlow is a presentation by the Director of Digital Animation at The Walt Disney Company.

The twelve principles of animation were created in the early 1930s by animators at the Walt Disney Studios.

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Teach 3D characters to walk

Teach a Character Studio biped to walk from first principles. A genetic algorithm for walking is written up in Darwin in a Box.
http://www.naturalmotion.com/pages/technology_hiw.htm has the videos.

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July 22, 2003

Hulk as live action comic

Ang Lee's Hulk turned out to be just as memorable for its use of comic panel styling as for the big green guy himself. Interestingly, all the promotional material for the film seems to carefully avoid showing this (dominant) visual aesthetic. Comic book fans will love it.

I, for one, found the constant movement between panels annoying in the first half of the movie where the story was slow moving. Some effects came across as gimmicky. Some of the 3D transitions (like screen images twisting and rotating like a cube in time to laboratory equipment) were distracting.

However, as the fast-paced second half kicked in, the panelling approach worked a treat. The Hulk leaps from panel to panel in spectacular fashion. In a manner reminiscent of Timecode and 24, the parallel viewpoints increase the tension.

Today's audience is too sophisticated for all this to be dismissed as sensory overloading. Panelling is clearly a technique we are going to see a whole lot more of, and one too easy to misuse.

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July 21, 2003

Freenet Philosophy

A recent announcement about a new Freenet release prompted another look at the controversial P2P project and the philosophy behind it.

Ian Clarke's little project, conceived in 1999 and set up to allow Chinese dissidents to publish without fear of recriminations, has big ambitions.

"Freenet is free software which lets you publish and obtain information on the Internet without fear of censorship"

Another soundbite, this one from a debate between Ian Clark (Freenet) and Matt Oppenheim (RIAA):
"Just as the motor car replaced the horse and cart, so will the Internet replace most of the roles performed by today's recording industry."

As an open source evangelist, my first instinct is to agree. Collaborative filtering, trust networks, semantic web technologies all point to a future where the best middlemen are software.

However what Ian and other technologists tend to overlook is that the creative development process is not a state machine. Art is not something we would ever want to be able to validate against an XML schema. For many artists, the most repugnant feature of the creative industries is the requisite formulaic approach.

Of course there is an ever increasing role for the Internet in media industries but the changes afoot may be more about realignment then revolution. Marginal though it may be, a percentage of the Industries is made up of creative and passionate people. How are the Freenet node owners in a better position to provide support?

"freedom is more important than having professional artists"

This is the nub of the conflict between P2P networking and full-time artists. Professional artists and freedom are not exclusive. I for one want the freedom to create my work and live off the results. So how much money is a living? Enough to simply live or a whole lot more? Art been rarely been about restraint.

The Freenet philosophy espouses a return to patronage and donations as a way for artists to survive. Worthy suggestions but I suspect Elton John may need to revise his flower budget. Metalica certainly did not waste much time in condemning Napter. The result? The pros at Camp Chaoshad a field day.

No easy answers but easy enough to look hypocritical.

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Batman reclaimed by fans

Fans of the Dark Knight have been raving about a Batman short film shot quietly in LA by fans and which was supposed to be unveiled at ComicCon this weekend in LA. Ain't It Cool has the story and some intriguing stills. Very buff. Rumour has it that this is the best onscreen portrayal of the superhero yet.

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July 07, 2003


Europrix Top Talent winner, Last.fm, gets a good write-up in Wired for its collabarative filtering mechanism, similar to the one in use on Amazon, that customises your playlist.

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Europrix Top Talent winner, Last.fm, gets a good write-up in Wired for its collabarative filtering mechanism, similar to the one in use on Amazon, that customises your playlist.

Posted by .M. at 03:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Open source SMIL from Real Networks release

Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language (SMIL) gets a boost with a recent announcement that Real Networks are releasing the code to their SMIL 2.0 implementation to the Helix open source media community.

"The industry needs a standardized media platform to enables applications development that doesn't require porting to support multiple media delivery and playback platforms."

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Film's not dead, damn it!

Good reality check on Salon.com, Film's not dead, damn it!. Why cinematographers are suspicious of the digital cinema "revolution".

"Sony and Panasonic both manufacture high-definition cameras, and have a stake in getting their products used and accepted (not to mention plugged by Lucas), whether they produce satisfactory results or not."

It is really the same argument as the one urging caution with regards to human cloning, genetically modified foods, hell any high technology area. There is no need to rush into a new framework when technology is moving so fast, leaving last year's products obsolete? Who wants to raise a family where each child reflects the technology of his or her day. Obsolete kids? "My big sister was Win95, I was XP. We always had a few issues."

I can relate to the argument that creative technology vendors are not to be trusted. My last (digital) film "Horses for Courses" relied on proprietary software that (two years later) is no longer supported (although the cheeky sods still sell it). In hindsight, digital technology could have served the story much better.

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July 03, 2003

Emotive Virtual Actors

Ken Perlin has been playing around with Emotive Virtual Actors in his Java playground. Bring on the Perlin noise! Ken is also a keynote speaker at the upcoming International Conference on Virtual Story-telling.

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Tools and tutorials for HDRI (High Dynamic Range Images) are appearing.

HDR Shop by Paul Debevec (free for non-commercial use).

Splutterfish's 3DS Max plugin for OpenEXR (free)

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V-Man consortium

The VMan - Autonomous characters project is an EC Framework 6 programme which "aims to develop an intuitive system allowing non-computer specialists to create, animate, control and interact with a new generation of 3D virtual characters: the V-Men. These autonomous characters are intended for use in interactive media such as games and virtual reality as well as for special effects in film and television.

The V-Man consortium is composed of six complementary organisations among the top-ranking ones in their respective fields of activity and based in five different European countries, thereby securing the dissemination and penetration of the project results across Europe."

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July 01, 2003

Star Wars Galaxies has launched

But only for players in the US. Star Wars Galaxies

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Cross-cultural rhythm games

Japanese traditional drumming in a Shibuya game arcade. grandtextauto: Beyond Beatmaster

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