Monthly Archives: December 2016

Blessings for you in 2017

I’ve hit the road with the fam to recharge the spiritual batteries before heading into the new year, throttling back the blogging just a bit. As we reflect on what’s happened & what’s to come, here’s a traditional Irish blessing I’ve always loved:

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields; and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

My alma mater used it quite nicely in an ad a couple of years back.

Of course, the mordant Irish wit is best expressed in a different toast:

May those that love us, love us.
For those that don’t love us,
May God turn their hearts.
And if He doesn’t turn their hearts,
May He turn their ankles,
So we’ll know them by their limping.


Slainte (cheers),


Photography: A loving portrait of a master camera fixer

I think you’ll enjoy David Drills’s 2-minute glimpse into the world of Gian Luigi Carminati, “a passionate and poetic 76 years old man who spent his entire life repairing cameras.”

In his small workshop in Milan, [Gian Luigi] takes care of old cameras with just a set of screwdrivers and a lot of patience.
We got the chance to spend some time with him and he was happy to share with us topics like why the analog is still better than the digital, his 50 years old long relationship with photography and how technology shaped the approach to this art.
We were deeply touched by these thoughts about photography coming from a self described ‘technician’ instead of a photographer.
With this two minutes video we had the ambition to tell his life through his memories.

Danica McKellar & students do math in VR

 These are wonder years indeed. The Mathematician Formerly Known As Winnie Cooper demonstrates writing equations in virtual reality space:

That’s novel, but is it useful? Apparently so: Using the collaborative mode Tilt Brush, student John Sterling McGregor is learning calculus with others using Tilt Brush in VR with the HTC Vive. Here’s an example:

So, what does all this mean? Will it be useful & transformative, or is it just Centrifugal Bumble-Puppy? I’m eager to see.



An insane human-toting drone

Keep your eyes skyward tonight, children: We just may see Casey Neistat buzz by. 🙂


As they note, no one sells a drone capable of lifting a human, so they built their own. Here’s a peek behind the scenes:

If somehow—somehow—all this gets you thinking, “I wonder what it would look like if a Lego guy hacked his own drone to make it rideable”—well brutha, I’ve got you covered.


Illustration: The UI design of Rogue One

“Do you know how hard it is,” my buddy Phil asked me a few years back while creating on-screen graphics for Episodes II & III, “to use After Effects to exactly match analog graphics from the 70’s?” He noted that back in the day, production designers could literally whack a CRT to generate static, skipping, and other effects that he now had to laboriously recreate using keyframes, expressions, etc.

I’m reminded of this seeing the gritty GUIs that design firm Blind created for Rogue One and The Force Awakens. Super cool (and likely highly under-appreciated) stuff.





Google Motion Stills gets upgraded


  • Motion-tracked text
  • Sharper exports
  • Automatic loop creation

I’m a big fan of Google Motion Stills for iOS, and the team has just added a bunch of awesome, machine-learning-powered tech that you can read about on their blog. It enables stuff like this:

And it lets me easily make stuff like this:


A video posted by John Nack (@jnack) onDec 15, 2016 at 9:25pm PST

And this (by stringing together a bunch of Live Photos, letting me get a movie I’d never otherwise have shot):


Google Photos: Badass in a motorcycle jacket (?)

Heh—I enjoyed this mental image from Fast Company:

With its new Photo Scan (Android, iOS) app, Google basically donned a leather motorcycle jacket, strutted into a party full of regular photo-scanning apps, knocked everyone’s drinks out of their hands, kissed the prettiest one straight on the mouth, and told the DJ to take a hike.

They go on to say,

If you’ve got old photos to digitize, this should be your first stop. The app is fast, accurate, and best of all, free. And it’s a complete no-brainer if you already store your snaps on Google Photos, as it’ll zing all your scans there automatically.



New Snapseed update tweaks Text, Perspective, and more

Just a little sprucing up for the holidays:

Both on iOS and Android, text in the Text tool can now be easily centered vertically and horizontally. Also, we’ve refreshed the presets of the Face filter, giving more options for fast and easy enhancements.

On Android, the Perspective tool brings back the old horizontal and vertical adjustment modes that many users asked for. With this addition, Perspective lets you apply any kind of transformation and perspective adjustment you can think of.

Also on Android, you can now choose the target folder for exporting a photo, allowing you to store it on an SD card or elsewhere. To enable it, just go to the settings menu for exports.



Fascinating: How undersea Internet cables are built & laid

“Envision a blimp flying over the country, and then we’re laying the cable from the blimp.”

I really enjoyed the latest piece from Google’s Nat & Lo, showing how networks are physically connected (interactive map) among continents.

The internet allows us to see videos, photos, and news from anywhere in the world almost instantaneously. But how?! In this video we learn about the hundreds of underwater fiber optic cables that connect continents, cities, and data centers all over the world –– and investigate how these cables are made, how they’re installed, and more.



Come work with my friends at Google & Adobe

Maybe this seems like a long shot, but the amazing Eric Chan (who’s now been a key part of Camera Raw for the better part of a decade) once saw a listing on my blog, so who knows? Good luck!

[Via David Lieb & Jeff Tranberry]


Film: 808s, not heartbreaks

This documentary looks super fun and interesting—and not just for Afrika Bambaataa’s tremendous eye furniture.

808, the heart of the beat that changed music. The acclaimed documentary that chronicles the incredible legacy of the TR808 drum machine will be exclusively available on Apple Music December 9th 2016. Discover the iconic records, artists and producers influenced by the 808’s unique beats and find out the secret behind its sudden discontinuation.



A beautiful 3D visualization of NYC taxi traffic

Check out the latest from all-time great Robert Hodgin (anybody here old enough to remember Flight 404?):

Taxi, Taxi! is 1 of 4 different pieces we created exclusively for the towering video wall. It uses NYC Open Data taxi data plotted against routes created with Open Street Map which is displayed within a 3D model of New York City. It is designed to run in realtime and was created with the Cinder C++ coding framework.



Demo: How computers are learning to be creative

What’s the relationship between perception & creativity?

In this fascinating TED talk, Google’s Blaise Agüera y Arcas talks about everything from the structure of the brain to how the inflow of data can be reversed to synthesize really trippy imagery. Maybe if I watch it a dozen more times I’ll start to grok what’s happening here—but in the meantime, trust me, it’s well worth watching at least once:

We’re on the edge of a new frontier in art and creativity — and it’s not human. Blaise Agüera y Arcas, principal scientist at Google, works with deep neural networks for machine perception and distributed learning. In this captivating demo, he shows how neural nets trained to recognize images can be run in reverse, to generate them. The results: spectacular, hallucinatory collages (and poems!) that defy categorization. “Perception and creativity are very intimately connected,” Agüera y Arcas says. “Any creature, any being that is able to do perceptual acts is also able to create.”



Photography: Once Upon a Time in Cappadocia

Rob Whitworth has returned with another eye-popping hyperlapse of Turkey:

Experience the towering fairy chimney formations, immense subterranean cities, stone-carved mansions, and inimitable cultural energy that make Cappadocia one of the world’s most unforgettable travel destinations.

Shot in the filmmaker’s signature flow motion style, the video takes viewers on a time-distorting, gravity-defying tour of Cappadocia’s unique natural and manmade attractions, while immersed in a lyrical narrative of the region’s cultural and historical pedigree. Filmed in brilliant 4K resolution using cutting-edge hyperlapse techniques, the video presents one of Turkish Airline’s most amazing destinations as it has never been seen before.



New Google apps put beautiful photos on your Mac, Android device

On Mac:

The desktop app works only as a screen saver and features native Mac integration. Once installed, ‘Google Featured’ will appear as an option in the Desktop & Screen Saver preferences window… The 7.8 MB app is free and works with macOS 10.9 Mavericks and above.

And on Android:

Featured Photos can be accessed through the Google Wallpapers app launched with the Pixel. Available for all devices, an update rolling out today will add Google+ as a new source to select for your home or lock screen image. The Wallpapers picker will include attributions to allow for easy following in Google+ and allows for auto updating once a day.