Monthly Archives: January 2018

Demo: Holographic graffiti

Judith Amores Fernandez is pursuing her PhD at MIT Media Lab & exploring new UX possibilities using Microsoft Holo Lens. Here she presents on her work with HoloARt.

This is a new media of art that explores the use of the holograms in a mixed reality, for creative self-expression. Amores Fernandez shows a video of herself using a Hololens to creates her works of art and then performs a live demonstration.

Check it out:



VFX: Inside The Shape of Water

I’ve yet to see Guillermo del Toro’s watery creation, and though this 5-minute peek into its making seems to include some spoilers, I have every intention of doing so. Enjoy:

CG supervisor Trey Harrell shared some of the team’s thinking with TechCrunch:

“We weren’t going for a hyperreal, CG creature,” he said. “We wanted it to be something that plausibly looked like foam latex and silicon prosthetics, a performance that could plausibly be shot on the day.” […]

That doesn’t mean Harrell is always in favor of practical, or practical-looking, effects: “You’re starting to see smaller, more personal projects take the best of both worlds. I personally don’t think it’s a binary argument. I’ve also got a background in practical prosthetics and makeup. I’m a fan of having a big toolbox.”



Sculpting in VR, casting in bronze

Artist Jonathan Yeo used Google Tilt Brush + 3D scanning to create his latest self-portrait, which he then cast in bronze. He tells Wired,

“It’s an incredible 3D sketch book,” says Yeo, 46. “The thing about VR that I think is really powerful is that you can draw freely in space. You don’t have to shape things like stone or clay. You can make these sweeping movements, like painting. It’s a hybrid of painting and sculpture, which is something that would have been impossible to do before.”

In this behind-the-scenes video, he explains how he used these new tools to create the sculpture.



Brian Eno on the beauty of constraint

I stumbled across this weirdly charming account of how Brian Eno wrote the 3.25-second Windows 95 startup sound:

The idea came up at the time when I was completely bereft of ideas. I’d been working on my own music for a while and was quite lost, actually. And I really appreciated someone coming along and saying, “Here’s a specific problem – solve it.”

The thing from the agency said, “We want a piece of music that is inspiring, universal, blah-blah, da-da-da, optimistic, futuristic, sentimental, emotional,” this whole list of adjectives, and then at the bottom it said “and it must be 3 1⁄4 seconds long.”

I thought this was so funny and an amazing thought to actually try to make a little piece of music. It’s like making a tiny little jewel.

In fact, I made eighty-four pieces. I got completely into this world of tiny, tiny little pieces of music. I was so sensitive to microseconds at the end of this that it really broke a logjam in my own work. Then when I’d finished that and I went back to working with pieces that were like three minutes long, it seemed like oceans of time.

Oh, and he wrote it on a Mac.



Remembering our friend Winston

“Impedance mismatch.” It’s a funny little phrase to hear in everyday conversation, but one that Winston Hendrickson—longtime VP of engineering for Photoshop and many other Adobe efforts, friend and mentor to more people than I could possibly count—liked to sprinkle into chats. He’d use it to flag things that just didn’t make sense, little disconnects in the universe.

I’ve been thinking of it ever since learning yesterday that Winston had passed away following a long illness. I still can’t believe I’m typing these words. Something in the universe feels disconnected, out of phase.


As the dozens of remembrances now flooding Facebook can tell you, Winston was a beloved dad, respected leader, and passionate photographer. After years at Apple leading teams that began the Mac OS turnaround, he’d spent more than 17 years driving development at Adobe. We worked closely together to launch Adobe Bridge, helping tie together the very first version of Creative Suite.

I was a bit surprised later when Winston came over to lead Adobe’s digital imaging teams. I hadn’t realized that on any given weekend you’d likely find him lugging a 600mm lens & big SLR to his daughters’ softball games, an auto race at Laguna Seca, or a photo walk up California’s coastline. Photography took him from Tasmania to Antarctica and beyond, shooting everything from modern dance to SWAT teams in training. (See more here & here.) Winston had that special quality that distinguishes many key leaders at Adobe—a deep and passionate connection to the work, the tools, and most importantly the fellow practitioners we felt privileged to call customers.

I haven’t seen Winston in just over a year, since the day he dropped by to help my kids and many others explore some new Adobe augmented reality tools. He was exactly as he’d always been, looking good & always ready to share a salty joke. (Whenever we’d hear self-congratulation getting a little thick over the years, we loved deflating it by invoking Pulp Fiction’s Winston Wolf: “Well, let’s not start…” I’ve gotta think he’d laugh out loud hearing that reference stuck in a eulogy.)


Therefore yesterday’s news came as a shock. “The only easy day was yesterday,” said a sign on Winston’s door. Well, yesterday wasn’t.

I’ve struggled to write any kind of worthwhile tribute, to find some Big & Meaningful Theme. Listening to colleagues’ and friends’ remembrances, though, I’ve started to think more in terms of a mosaic: we all reach back across time, pulling up whatever bunch of shining fragments we can, and we lay them together to draw the outlines of a life.

“Should you live for your résumé or your eulogy?” Winston’s life showed how one can serve both, and we’re all blessed for it. Thanks for everything, big guy, and safe travels. —J.


A mathy intro to photography from Google/Stanford’s Marc Levoy

Marc Levoy has been one of the key leaders behind Google’s recent advances in computational photography, including portrait mode & HDR+. He’s also a professor emeritus at Stanford, and in this lecture series, he offers a very thorough, technical education in digital photography—for free.

The only knowledge I assume is enough facility and comfort with mathematics that you’re not afraid to see the depth-of-field formula in all its glory, and an integral sign here or there won’t send you running for the hills. Some topics will require concepts from elementary probability and statistics (like mean and variance), but I define these concepts in lecture. I also make use of matrix algebra, but only at the level of matrix multiplication. Finally, an exposure to digital signal processing or Fourier analysis will give you a better intuition for some topics, but it is not required.


[YouTube] [Via]

Photography: Microscopic landscapes in 4K

Drew Geraci takes us on a beautiful, 1000x-closer tour of the not-so-ordinary world:

 Drew writes,

Since I was capturing motion now everything needed to be 100% completely still. This was the hard part at 1000x magnification. I must have filmed the same sequence 10 or 20 times before I got a completely still and usable shot. The slightest vibration could easily ruin the scene.

The next challenge was lightning. Capturing video via a microscope requires a ton of light and the microscope’s light is only so powerful. Each bulb only lasted for up to 3 hours at max power before they would die. I must have gone through 8 or 9 bulbs during the course of filming (and they’re not cheap bulbs!). Because of this, I needed to rig up external lightning that could help illuminate the scene. I ended up using a small Manfrotto Lykos light which did the trick.



[Vimeo] [Via]

Now showing: Documentary about DeepMind’s “AlphaGo”

AlphaGo” looks really interesting:

The documentary, which currently has a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 100% and an IMDb score of 8.5, sees South Korea’s Lee Sedol (a Go world champion) take on an algorithm in a five match tournament in Seoul. He expects to beat the machine 5-0 or 4-1 at the very least but he loses every game of the match but one, leaving him completely bewildered.

On a related note, DeepMind founder Demis Hassabis was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for “services to science and technology”:

He said he was “very proud” of his team at DeepMind.

Earlier this month DeepMind software beat other programmes in chess within hours of teaching itself the game from scratch.



[YouTube] [Via John Lin]

Holographic memories?

“Have you children play in well-lit places.” It’s pretty good, if wildly impractical, advice for capturing good shots of one’s kids. I think of it now seeing this tech demo and wondering if/when/how we’ll go from capturing still images to gathering holographic captures for viewing in AR and VR.

This may be less far-fetched than it seems: A pair of ordinary cellphones might be enough to capture animated 3D representations of people.




“Heeey, Googoo!” An Italian Grandma talks to Google Home

Heh—a Googler gave her boyfriend’s 85-year-old Italian grandma a Google Home Mini for Christmas, with charming results:

Having spent December in a Sisyphean struggle alongside my brother to drag my mom up the learning curve of having her first iPhone, I’m heartened by bits like this. My boss runs a wing of Google Research, and yet even he has to battle his parents’ confusion with their new phones. Hopefully they won’t repay his kindness by being annoying with WhatsApp. 😜

And all this brings to mind Alexa Silver:


[YouTube 1 & 2]