Monthly Archives: December 2017

BYO dancing hot dog: AR creation tools emerge from Snapchat & Facebook

Wait—I work on augmented reality tech at Google, so why am I mentioning tools from the other guys?

Well, I’m fundamentally interested in any tools that give people creative superpowers. Just as features like semantic segmentation promise to drain the drudgery from traditional imaging work, tools like these promise to deepen the canvas, letting regular people create experiences that only a few years ago were barely imagined. Good times!

  • Facebook Camera Effects platform (which previously required applying for access):
    • “Build augmented reality experiences for the Facebook camera and Live broadcasts with AR Studio, our customizable suite of creative tools for Mac.”
    • “Create stunning effects that respond to motion, gestures, facial expressions, and your surroundings. Develop creative effects that instantly respond to comments and reactions during Live broadcasts. Combine data and design to create new immersive experiences for the audiences that matter to you.”
    • There’s a corresponding FB group.
  • Snapchat Lens Studio:
    • “Everything you need to build and launch immersive Lenses — all in one place.”
    • “Create and publish your Lens in three easy steps: Design your 3D creation in your favorite software, then import the file right into Lens Studio. Bring your creation to life with movement patterns, animations, and interactive triggers! Preview your Lens on your mobile device, then submit it for publication on Snapchat. If approved, you’ll get a unique Snapcode anyone can scan to unlock your Lens. Then, your Lens can be sent directly to friends, and unlocked again!”



Hypnotic photography: A murmuration of starlings

An immense, whooshing kinetic sculpture darts over the Netherlands, brought to you by thousands of beating hearts & flapping wings:

The art of flying is a short film about “murmurations”: the mysterious flights of the Common Starling. It is still unknown how the thousands of birds are able to fly in such dense swarms without colliding. Every night the starlings gather at dusk to perform their stunning air show.

Because of the relatively warm winter of 2014/2015, the starlings stayed in the Netherlands instead of migrating southwards. This gave filmmaker Jan van IJken the opportunity to film one of the most spectacular and amazing natural phenomena on earth.


[Vimeo] [Via]

Try three new experimental photo apps from Google

I’m excited for my teammates & their new launches. The team writes,

  • Storyboard (Android) transforms your videos into single-page comic layouts, entirely on device. Simply shoot a video and load it in Storyboard. The app automatically selects interesting video frames, lays them out, and applies one of six visual styles.
  • Selfissimo! (iOS, Android) is an automated selfie photographer that snaps a stylish black and white photo each time you pose. Tap the screen to start a photoshoot. The app encourages you to pose and captures a photo whenever you stop moving.
  • Scrubbies (iOS) lets you easily manipulate the speed and direction of video playback to produce delightful video loops… Shoot a video in the app and then remix it by scratching it like a DJ. Scrubbing with one finger plays the video. Scrubbing with two fingers captures the playback so you can save or share it.

Please take ‘em for a spin, then tell us what you think using the in-app feedback links. 


A trippy animation made from a cathedral facade

 Animator Ismael Sanz-Pena used a single image to create this mesmerizing animation. He tells Colossal,

The idea behind the film was to find the innate movement inherit in still forms. Every sculpture has movement in it, and it is the task of the animator to discover it. It was through the process of editing my imagery that I discovered that a single image would suffice to create the animation. The film was made by zooming into the image and panning row by row while making sure that different architectural motives aligned in every increment. This also gave a structure to the film.


[Vimeo] [Via]

An overnight Photoshop success, 9 years in the making

“Being early is the same as being wrong,” says Marc Andreessen. True enough.

I have to admit that when I saw Photoshop’s “new” 360º photo-editing feature, I was a little miffed at the positioning: we shipped almost the same exact thing nine years ago. PS has now bolted on a few menu items to make access more obvious, but otherwise the tech appears largely unchanged.

I get it, though. Nine years ago, how would one create such an image (tripod, SLR, stitching package?) and where would one use it? Now the ecosystem is radically different: You can capture an image in an instant via a Theta or similar cam (or even a drone!), or you can capture one with any smartphone, and you can make them interactively explorable by millions of people via Facebook. So yeah, viewed through that lens, I get it, and I hope that orders of magnitude more people find this feature useful this time around. ⚪️💪

Speaking of tech ahead of its time (?), I hope that wearable capture devices will become practical & enable the kind of experience that Googlers Blaise Agüera y Arcas & Noah Snavely pioneered at Microsoft: