Monthly Archives: January 2015

“Lightspeed”: Stop-motion light painting

Enormously patient photographer Darren Pearson spent a year journeying around California to create his latest film:

Each of the 1,000 frames in it is a separate light-painted photograph that was captured in various locations across California. […]

“I’ve spent many nights in the middle of nowhere with coyotes howling in the distance while I look like some idiot at a rave waving around an LED,” he says.


Google Fiber is coming to 18 new cities

Bringin’ the fast:

Now, Google Fiber is live in Kansas City, Provo and Austin, and we’ve started to see how gigabit Internet, with speeds up to 100 times faster than today’s basic broadband, can transform cities […]

[T]oday, we’re happy to announce that Google Fiber is coming to 18 cities across four new metro areas: Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville, and Raleigh-Durham. We can’t wait to see what people and businesses across the Southeast U.S. do with gigabit speeds.

We’re also continuing to explore bringing fiber to five additional metro areas—Phoenix, Portland, Salt Lake City, San Antonio and San Jose, and will have updates on these potential Fiber cities later this year. 

Now, excuse me while I go try to cut in line—I mean, generously offer my testing services—to get access in San Jose… 😉

“520 Teleporter”: Immersive photography atop the Space Needle

Seattle’s Stimulant teamed up with Microsoft to offer a novel way to explore Seattle landmarks via Photosynth technology:

This giant interactive photo wall also looks interesting:

The SkyPad’s 20’ x 8’ high-definition touchscreen helps you explore the Needle’s past, present and future like never before. Make your mark on the global guest book or upload your Needle memories to share with the world.

[Vimeo 1 & 2] [Via Dave Cohen]

Call for submissions: White House Student Film Festival

I wish I’d known about this project & could have promoted it sooner, but I mention it now in case you are/know a kid who’d like to participate:

The theme of this year’s festival is “The Impact of Giving Back”, and it’s open to U.S. students, grades K-12. So tell a story about paying it forward, about community service, or what making a difference looks like in your eyes and through your lens.


  • All films must be shorter than 3 minutes.
  • All films must be made by students in grades K-12.
  • No film may use copyrighted material including music, TV shows, or movies.
  • All films must be uploaded to YouTube.
  • All film submissions must be received by 11:59 p.m. EST on February 2, 2015.

[YouTube] [Via]

Yo dawg, I heard you like some hair in your hair…

Hair Highway is a gorgeous, if slightly icky, look at how human hair can be used to make artwork & tools:

Investigating the global hair industry in the Shandong province of China, Studio Swine followed the journey of the material from the people who sell their hair through to the hair merchants, markets and factories. The project documents this journey in a film and a collection of highly decorative objects.

The resulting pieces are rather terrific, as is the rationale for their creation:

China is both the largest importer of tropical hardwood and the biggest exporter of human hair. By combining hair with a natural resin, Studio Swine has created a composite material that provides a sustainable alternative to the planet’s diminishing natural resources with an aesthetic that evokes the palettes of tortoiseshell and a grain resembling that of polished horn or exotic hardwoods. The result is a unique collection of exquisite objects inspired by the 1930’s Shanghai-deco style.

As the world’s population rises, human hair is one natural resource that is increasing. Asian hair regenerates the fastest, growing 16 times more rapidly than tropical hardwoods; it is also incredibly strong – a single strand can take up to 100 grams. Hair Highway reflects on China’s relationship with the rest of the world, while exploring the idea that trade has the ability to not only transport products but also values and perceptions.

Watching this with Finn let me explain the concept of hair extensions. He now wants a lion’s mane!

[Vimeo] [Via]

“Mac to the Future”: The original Mac, reimagined for 2015

Super fun stuff from Curved Labs. Khoi Vinh writes,

This concept design from Curved Labs pays tribute to the original 1984 Macintosh design by reconfiguring a MacBook Air into a novel, beautiful new form factor. […]

I particularly like the way these product photos are shot with a gauzy, full-color sheen and dark background that’s very reminiscent of similar commercial photography from the 1980s. That’s follow-through.

Check out the whole story. I still want to hug that original Mac, built as it is like my little fireplug of a son.


“Why Skeuomorphism Is Like a Classic Car”

Enjoy two and a half thoughtful, beautifully produced minutes of Neven Mrgan’s observations about design evolution:

As it happens, I first got to know Neven after he knocked Photoshop for its unruly sprawl of UI elements (specifically, lots of arbitrarily different sliders). I was stung as by then I’d been writing about and fighting to address this phenomenon for years. We had so many good intentions & false starts trying to re-wing that old plane in flight, and I was sick to death of hearing Apple zealots (not Neven) say, “Just use the standard Mac elements”—when in practice no such standards existed. In any case, Neven’s post broke the ice, and we ended up dropping in on the Panic team a couple of times over the years. Their ideas on how to evolve PS were always helpful—and I was deeply gratified to rationalize a bunch of those slider types in CS5 and beyond. [Vimeo]

With Google your camera can now translate the world in realtime

Per PetaPixel:

Google has updated its Translate app to include real-time on-screen translations of text you point your camera at.

Even more amazingly, this stuff all happens natively on device—no network connection required (F off, ridonkulous international roaming fees). And according to the team blog:

Starting today, simply tap the mic to start speaking in a selected language, then tap the mic again, and the Google Translate app will automatically recognize which of the two languages are being spoken, letting you have a more fluid conversation. For the rest of the conversation, you won’t need to tap the mic again—it’ll be ready as you need it.

Days of miracles & wonder, man.

“Enhance!” Check out Google’s “motion microscope” for video

Michael Rubinstein & team have developed tech that can “track an individual’s pulse and heartbeat simply from a piece of footage” and “recreate a conversation by amplifying the movements from sound waves bouncing off a bag of chips.”

And it’s not just Google, of course:”Identifiable Images of Bystanders [Can Be] Extracted from Corneal Reflections.”

Jeez—just when Hollywood was starting to acknowledge the limits of “Enhance!”…

[Via James Morehead & Bill Roberts]

A quick demo showing the power of color grading

Color expert Patrick Palmer of the Adobe SpeedGrade team once showed me two wildly different scenes from a movie (one balmy & sunlit, the other shivering & wet) and asked how many color looks I thought were involved in telling the story. The answer turned out to be “one,” and the changes came simply from adjusting the color temperature. The example drove home the storytelling power of even simple tweaks to color.

This example from Grade in Kansas City demonstrates the impact color can have:

The colorist has shared some technical details via Reddit. [Vimeo] [Via Aravind Krishnaswamy]

Photography: “Bioluminescent Forest”

To create the delicate Bioluminescent Forest, artists Friedrich van Schoor and Tarek Mawad “spent six weeks in the forest fascinated by the silence and natural occurrences in nature, especially the phenomenon bioluminescence.”

They personified the forest to accentuate the natural beauty by creating luring luminescent plants and glowing magical mushrooms that speaks volumes to any visitor that enters the minds of the artists through viewing “bioluminescent forest”.

Behind the scenes, you can watch these guys patiently try to coax frogs, caterpillars, and spiders to play well with digital projection:

[Vimeo 1 & 2] [Via]

Disney builds an autonomous beach-drawing robot

From the “You Know You’re Living In A Late Culture When…” Department: The Disney Research Beachbot drags a variable set of pins through sand to create drawings.


TechCrunch notes,

The artist behind the robot starts a canvas by setting down poles, which the robot uses as markers to finely calculate its position. At that point, the robot can be passed an image file to draw automatically, or the artists can steer it manually. […]

Disney has beach resorts. People would flip out to wake up in the morning and see their favorite characters drawn in the sand outside of their room — and by lunch, high tide would come in and wash it away, prepping the canvas for a new drawing the next day.


A better way to fix white balance?

My old Adobe friend Sylvain Paris & some university collaborators have proposed a nice-looking approach to fixing mixed lighting.

“Unfortunately,” they write, “many scenes contain multiple light sources such as an indoor scene with a window, or when a flash is used in a tungsten-lit room.” In the proposed solution, “Users scribble on a few regions that should have the same color, indicate one or more regions of neutral color (i.e., white or gray), and select regions where the current color looks correct.” Check out the project PDF for more details.

Source image:


User scribbles:


Output image


[Via John Schlag]

Kaleidoscopic bullet time

If Busby Berkley dropped acid, he might make “Fear & Delight”:

PetaPixel writes,

Photographer and film director Naren Wilks created this mind-bending music video by arranging DSLRs around a circular green screen room. When the perspectives of the cameras are combined and synchronized, a “rotationally symmetric, kaleidoscopic world” is created. The song is “Fear & Delight” from the album Puppet Loosely Strung by The Correspondents.

As you’d expect, the making-of is really interesting, especially given the tiny team involved:


[YouTube] [Via]

So, what do you want to see from Google Photos in 2015?

I’d love to hear your thoughts, requests, rants, raves, etc. on Snapseed, Auto Awesome Movies & Stories,, and more.

People were so kind & full of excitement when I announced my move from Adobe to this team, and I know you haven’t yet gotten to see a lot of results. Stay tuned, though: I’m so excited for what this new year will bring—and I’d love to have your help in shaping it.

When will wearable cameras be a thing?

Vacationing with my family last week, I found myself wishing I was wearing a camera that could capture images as I walked around, then let me smoothly fly through the results (e.g. as Microsoft’s Photosynth does):

Now the startup Narrative (née Memoto) is releasing a second version of their tiny clip-on cam:


Would I pay $200 for it? Hmm—I don’t think I would yet, at least without an ultra-slick way to create fly-throughs.

Still, this all strikes me as a when, not an if. Expect people to keep dismissing it as they did Twitter (“It’s for navel-gazers who just want to tell me what they had for breakfast”) and calling it creepy (“I don’t want a camera staring at me while I’m talking to you in a meeting”), until somebody (GoPro?) devises a killer travel application. And good Lord, might we someday see people actually experiencing their experiences with their eyeballs instead of through a little screen, knowing that recording duties are being taken care of? Nah—that’s probably crazy talk.

Beautifully unusual carvings

  • Chris Maynards shapes birds’ feathers into intricate little sculptures.
  • Li Hongbo’s Shadow Knives slice shapes out of butcher knives. According to Colossal, “Hongbo says the pieces are meant as a warning, that ‘human beings will eventually destroy themselves because of their gluttony and their abuse of animals.’”
  • Peter Callesen likewise works with positive & negative space, creating juxtaposed images from a single piece of paper.

Feathers 4


Looking forward, looking back: Rephotography

Rephotography is, per Wikipedia, “the act of repeat photography of the same site, with a time lag between the two images; a ‘then and now’ view of a particular area.”


Some interesting examples:

  • FILMography is an ongoing art project by Canadian photographer Christopher Moloney that matches scenes from movies with their real-life, present-day locations. He has recreated film scenes in New York City, Los Angeles, Toronto, Chicago, San Antonio, Orlando, Rome, Naples, Ischia and Ho Chi Minh City.”
  • Dear Photograph is Taylor Jones’s comparative effort.
  • Project rePhoto is an iOS & Android app that facilitates creating these compositions (see video below), though no one seems to have taken notice.
  • Damien Hypolite printed out screenshots from Assassin’s Creed, then held them up against modern Paris. [Via]
  • Nearby, Pierre Folk has created interesting juxtapositions in documenting an abandoned Parisian railway.