Monthly Archives: May 2016

“What if we made a keyboard out of tiny drums?”

Clearly my neighbors are having way too much fun exploring the future of VR by rapidly creating tons of little apps:

PM Andrey Doronichev writes,

We were initially skeptical that drumsticks could be more efficient than direct hand interaction, but the result surprised us. Not only was typing with drumsticks faster than with a laser pointer, it was really fun! We even built a game that lets you track your words per minute (mine was 50 wpm!)

Now I just have to brave the egret stench to walk over and tell them to keep down the drumming noise already!


Old McPhotos had some shortcuts, E-I-E-I-O…

In Google Photos for Web, I fly through editing my images by using a few quick keyboard shortcuts. I click to open an image, tap E to open the editor, tap A to apply (or reset) Auto Enhance, press O to see before/after, and tap the arrow keys to move among images. This might help your memory:

  • A: Auto Enhance (first press toggles it on; second in sequence resets sliders to zero)
  • E: Edit (press it in lightbox to jump into the editor)
  • I: Info (press it in lightbox to show/hide the Info panel)
  • O: Original (press & hold it while editing to toggle between original & edited)
  • U: You (know I’ve run out of steam with this mnemonic ;-p)

If nothing else, remember that you can Press Shift-? to see all the shortcuts with which you can edit, enhance, delete, download, search, and more.


Adobe to power tonight’s live Simpsons episode

I’m so excited to see my old friends & teammates’ work get to step into the spotlight! The WSJ writes,

[Al] Jean and his team of animators are using software called Adobe Character Animator that will capture Castellaneta’s voice and then translate that in real time to Homer’s mouth, which will sync the movements. The animators will be able to control Homer’s movements, too, utilizing the software.

“It’s not a computer drawing; it’s animation we’ve put in there that will be activated by these buttons, these triggers,” says producer and animator David Silverman. […]

The number to call on Sunday night is 1-888-726-6660. The few fans lucky enough to get through should come prepared with something sharp.


Snapchat = Photoshop x Tenacious D

Power to the people—that’s always been my jam. Instagram made photo adjustment mainstream. Now Snapchat is making photo manipulation mainstream.

Don’t believe me? On May 5 alone, 224 million people saw pictures of each other turned into taco-heads (below), each with a Taco Bell ad attached. Per AdWeek:

The average user played with Taco Bell’s ad for 24 seconds before sending it as a “snap.” In terms of unique plays—or the number of times individual people interacted with the ad—the campaign generated 12.5 years’ worth of play in a day.

Prior to that, on Super Bowl Sunday alone 165 million people saw images featuring a Gatorade dump. One can only guess how many swap faces, add masks, and share the results each day.

It makes me think of absurdist rock duo Tenacious D. Realizing that straight-faced metal can get only so hard (it eventually tops out with Norwegian cookie-monster vocals, etc.), they mastered that idiom, then busted right through the limits by making it insanely funny (and just insane). In the same way Snapchat combines technical excellence with a playful context. As a Taco Bell manager says,

“The content is expected to be lightweight and humorous, and the platform empowers you to be nimble and efficient in creation… That doesn’t mean it’s not an artful craft, however.”

 Earlier this year I wrote,

The genius of Instagram was in helping regular people be better. The genius of Snapchat was in letting people not care

 But that undersells their accomplishment. Context (expectations) + Power catalyzes creative output.

It’s very easy to look down one’s nose (“oh, it’s not really creative, you can do just whatever they spoon-feed you, disposible ≠ valuable”) and not be wholly wrong. Yet Snapchat has gotten hundreds of millions of people creating, and at a visual level that otherwise would have been completely out of reach. And that is power to the people.


The New Yorker cover goes augmented reality

Having made an animated GIF raindrop cover for the magazine a couple of years back (and my kid into a lion via his Petting Zoo app), Christoph Niemann has outdone himself to create a 3D AR experience that one can view by pointing a tablet at the magazine. Behold:

The mag writes,

According to the illustrator, the animated version is embedded with hidden surprise details that viewers can discover by moving and tilting their device. The free app, created for The New Yorker by London studio Nexus Interactive Arts, also allows full-page Qualcomm adverts on the inside covers to become interactive.