Pixel 3 Playground is here!

I’m so pleased to reveal what we’ve been working on for quite some time—the new Playground augmented reality mode on Google Pixel devices!

Playground brings you more powerful AR experiences and uses AI to recommend content for expressing yourself in the moment. You can make your photos and videos come to life with Playmoji—characters that react to each other and to you—and tell a richer story by adding fun captions or animated stickers.

Playground makes real-time suggestions to recommend content based on the scene you’re in. Are you walking your dog? Cooking in the kitchen? Gardening in the backyard? Playground uses advanced computer vision and machine learning to recommend relevant Playmoji, stickers and captions to populate the scene.

My team contributed tech that enables selfie stickers (using realtime segmentation to let characters stand behind you), reactive stickers (those that respond to humans in the frame), object tracking (so that you can attach stickers to moving elements like pets & hands), and glue that helps the pieces communicate. Happily, too, we’re just getting warmed up.

Oh, and stay tuned for Gambeezy!

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[YouTube]

The why behind the how: 5 Classic Hollywood Aerial Shots

One of my favorite creative-learning experiences of the last several years was the Art of Visual Storytelling seminar from SNL director of photography Alex Buono. He pointed out that sure, tech & gear matter—but they’re all in service of more timeless storytelling principles & techniques. Learning those (“the ‘why’ behind the ‘how’”) is far more important and rewarding, at least for me, than any passing piece of kit.

In a similar vein, Stewart from Drone Film Guide covers reviews film history to cover five classic Hollywood aerial shots that drone flyers can incorporate into their work (well, modulo having numerous police cars at your disposal :-)):

[YouTube]

Exploring Indian railways through Google Arts & Culture

Oh man—my little railfan Henry is gonna flip his lid for this immersive project.

The team writes,

Anyone can now explore India’s railways in unprecedented detail with over 100 exhibitions that bring together more than 3,000 images, 150 videos and 150 iconic locations across India. Zoom into ultra-high resolution images made with our Art Camera, like maps of the East Indian Railways that the British used to connect Calcutta with the North West Provinces; get a 360 degree look around the workshops of cardboard rail model enthusiasts; or take a behind the scenes peek at Darjeeling loco shed.

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Lego + kids = a design for autonomous construction vehicles

What started out as a fun, informal team-building event has evolved into both a Lego Technic kit and a full-fledged autonomous concept wheel loader design:

The Volvo team writes,

Together with LEGO® Technic designers and a bunch of amazing kids, we’ve developed the Concept Wheel Loader ZEUX packed with some truly spectacular features.

The result is not only a sneak peak into the future of electro mobility, but also the introduction of a brand new LEGO Technic building kit (available in stores in August).

[YouTube]

Ethereal, drone-lit mountains @ 16,000ft.

If you’ve ever rocked out to Ladytron, you know Reuben Wu’s musical work—but it turns out he’s a helluva photographer, too. Check out his recent drone work in Peru:

For as long as he can remember, Reuben Wu has been obsessed with mountains. […] Wu’s new project uses night drones to illuminate the ice blue walls of the Pastoruri Glacier in Peru, 16,000 feet high in the sky. Taking breaks in between shots to catch his breath and warm his hands, Wu attempts to photograph his vision, painting the landscape with light from his drone, the stars and the moon.

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[YouTube] [Via]

Get fishy with Lego Forma

Hmm—from the look of the skinned models to the project hosting on Indiegogo, I wouldn’t have expected this from Lego—but I can dig it:

LEGO FORMA is a premium LEGO experience designed for adults looking for a fun, engaging way to reconnect with their creative side. LEGO FORMA mechanical models are cleverly designed but simple to assemble. Sturdy rods and parts combine with customizable skins to create a joyful creative challenge. Taking design cues from nature, LEGO FORMA incorporates life-like movement, colors, and patterns. The result is an elegant conversation piece that’s a tasteful addition to any room.

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via GIPHY

[YouTube] [Via Tony Scott]