Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Fireflies Days Update 1

Hi everyone, well, i'm still here, alive and kicking. It's been two days and we've encountered some pretty big old mountains.

After arriving on Monday and managing to put our bikes together, we went for little leg-stretcher of 20km, to help prepare us for the next day, i'm glad to say that so far the bike has behaved itself, which is testament to my engineering skills.... either that or the talented Italian men that put it together in the first place.

Tuesday was our first day in the saddle and we were to cover 95km over the course of the day and climb two mountains. The first was 'Les Gets', which was kind enough and involved a climb of 1170M. It all seemed rather pleasant and it appeared the training had paid off.... However the second mountain 'Colombiere' proved a stiffer challenge, with a climb of 1613m over 14km. This was a toughy, but i'm glad to say i made it up to the summit, enabling me to drink in the amazing views and take a stack of photos of everyone who completed the climb, which was 42 of us.

I've loaded all the (decent) photos of Tuesdays summit onto my Flicker account here, there's more to come from Wednesday's 3 (yes, 3) mountains, including the awesome 'Cormet De Roseland', suffice to say, cycling up nearly 2000m over 23km to end up above the snow line is something i shall remember for ever.... I'll keep you posted.

PS: Yes, i've got the helmet cam, and yes i have some footage, but its proving tricky to edit, i haven't given up, so hopefully i will load something up soon. Watch this space.

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Drag and drop video is here, nearly...

its going to be made available as an application or package, but if you were able to build it into an The DIMP (Direct Manipulation Video Player) software allows you to move through a video timeline, by dragging certain tagged objects within the film itself. Does look pretty neat and seems like it could have quite a few applications, although, if I'm honest i reckon the actual act of using looks like the best thing about it. It's built within C+ and I'm yet to find out as to whetherMPU, that would be very cool indeed.

Check out their website for more info and a cool 1 min teaser film.

Animated John Lennon Interview

In 1969, a young boy snuck into John Lennon’s hotel room with his tape recorder and persuaded him to do an interview. Good old John, always prepared to talk about peace to anyone who'd listen.

Josh Raskin turned the interview into an animation and it was nominated for the best Short Film at the 2008 Oscars. Check out his website here. The animation was done by an artist called James Braithwaite who you can see more of him here.

Thanks to Fresh Creation for giving me a heads up.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

DIY Adverts in Watchmen Movie

Zak Snyder (director of Dawn of the Dead & 300) has just finished shooting Watchmen, a movie based on one of the best comic books around (Time magazine has it in their top 100 books of all time). The movie is based in an alternate 1985, where super heroes are illegal and the world stands on the edge of nuclear war with Russia. One major company called 'Veidt' seems to be the dominant producer of almost everything from Trainers to Holidays and this is where it gets interesting....

Via YouTube, people can download various product demos and are invited to create a 15/30/60sec advert that if selected, will feature on the numerous televisions that pepper the Watchmen set. The top 20 have a chance of making it, with a few other prizes thrown in for good measure.

I love the idea of giving Watch-Fans a creative input into a movie that is regularly thought of as un-filmable and has a lot of fans very nervous. Plus, it's nice to see that the movie hasn't lost its integrity and tried to shoe horn in real life products, keeping its feet firmly routed in Alan Moores world.

I wonder how much input advertisers have when their clients product is being used in a movie, for example, did AMV have anything to do with the Guinness spot in Minority Report? Or was that driven by Spielberg?

Either way, UGC in a movie is a great idea and gets the thumbs up from me.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Animated Street Art

MUTO a wall-painted animation by BLU from blu on Vimeo.
This is quite something to behold and i can't imagine how long it took. Blu, a street artist who seems to have painted walls all over the globe, has produced an animated film, set on the streets of Buenos Aires and southwest Germany. Its pretty freaky, some of his images are bonkers and a little disturbing, but they're strangely delicious at the same time.

Check out some of his static wall art at his website, i'm a big fan of the spikey giant in Verona.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Go on, I Dan Dare you...

The Science Museum in London is currently hosting a temporary exhibition (Wed 30 Apr 2008 - Sun 25 Oct 2009) demonstrating Britain's post war technological boom.

"After 1945, though war-weary and broke, Britain found huge pride in wartime advances such as radar, penicillin and the jet engine. Discoveries like these were now tipped to kick-start world-beating industries, bring prosperity and bankroll the emerging welfare state.

In an age before globalisation, products from rockets to radios sprang from local roots. Together they reveal a fascinating ‘lost world’ of British design and invention – a glimpse of a time when the TV in the corner was a Murphy, not a Sony."

I've been a firm believer in Comics leading the way in technology for sometime (I have my name down for trials of Captain America super soldier serum, still waiting for the phone call), so I'll be right down there, quick smart. Let me know any feedback you might have.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

GTA sales hit £40 million

Frankly i'm surprised. I'd like to think i'm fairly 'finger on the pulse' with tech and stuff, but for GTA IV to hit £40 million, not dollars but pounds, in its first week of sales! Thats staggering, i mean thats movie cash. Take Two, who own Rockstar Games must be pleased as punch and soon they're rumoured to announce it's sold its 6 millionth copy worldwide.

Chart Track issued figures for first day sales for GTA IV saying the title sold 631,000 copies by close of business. This single day figure is almost as much as the previous sales record holder, GTA: San Andreas, managed in its first week - 677,000 units. Seeing as my co-worker was prepared to set his recently sick mother the task of calling every shop in the south london area in search of a copy, i'm not surprised. My dept is rife with the kind of banter you would expect after an episode of Mighty Boosh and frankly i'm curious, but i've caught my flatmate slumped, asleep infront of our widescreen TV, Xbox remote in hand, with the pause screen flashing, at 4am and i know that i dare not that way go.

Sales are apparently split nearly 50% across consoles which i find surprsing, considering the Xbox sales lead, but i guess that its one of the few genuinely awesome titles available for the PS3 (disclaimer) so people have probably been chewing their nails....

It's fascinating to think that Ironman was set to break the $90 million mark for its opening weekend in the US, and you just think how much PR was involved and what it cost to produce. Rockstar's advertising for GTA IV was minimal in comparison and soon they hope to anounce global profits of $500 million off the back of 6 million copies sold.


Wii TV is live and curious...

Nintendo have finally released their Wii TV channel to the US as of last night, to mostly promising feedback. In Japan, where the channel was released last November, it offers streaming web video with content such as interviews with Wii game designers. In one video feature, Nintendo legend Shigeru Miyamoto describes the company's upcoming exercise game, Wii Fit.

The service has a selection of features that mostly seem to work so far. The channel features promotional videos and an index of Wii and DS games to help the Nintendo nerd make essential purchasing decisions. It also allows demos of DS games to be sent to your handheld. The 8 titles available for temporary download have already been released, which is a bit poor, but i guess it's a start

They haven't supplied an online store for download, but once you select a game you're keen on, it will only provide you with a recommendation of outlet stores such as Amazon or Wal-Mart, which seems a shame. You'd like to think there was an online purchase , but it would seem the amount of memory required (126 blocks of system memory to download, plus another 126 blocks for temporary data storage) to run Nintendo TV, negates the 'click and play option'.

Other features include monitoring what games you play and when, which, before you renegade Orson Wells 1984 style, is optional. This info is stored and used to help suggest titles that you may be interested in, nice to see that you can manually rate games though, prohibiting too much AI forcing your hand.

It also monitors the TV you use, possibly to check who's doing HD tech, and it seems pretty bias towards recommending Nintendo titles, but that's to be expected i guess.

All round though it seems like a good start, and now they've joined forces with the BBC iPlayer, it would seem like Nintendo have moved one more step ahead of the XBox and the lumbering PS3.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

CALM attempt to break records and save lives

The charity CALM is trying to raise £50,000 by attempting to break a world record, twice. Two young guys have been asked to try to wear a total of 250 T-Shirts each. The current record is 224 you can watch it here on YouTube. The idea behind the 500/100 campaign, which will be supported by local London paper The Metro and MTV amongst others, is to ask companies to pay £100 to have their company logo on one T-Shirt. Hopefully, this will result in CALM reaching their target (500 T-Shirts=£50,000) and be world beaters at the same time. Check out the teaser film below.



It's quite amazing what you can do if you've got a few weeks and A LOT of spare Danish building bricks.... Kudos to YouTube user 'Keshen8' who has matched the trailer for The Dark Knight trailer shot for shot, watch out for the truck flipping over, its priceless.

How to give yourself hand cramp...

I’m currently learning After Effects and I’ve noticed that you can achieve pretty impressive results with even a limited ability but it would never cross my mind to export my movie as an image sequence, print out every single frame (that’s 25 frames per second my friend) cut out all the images by hand and then stitch it back together in the striking way in which Javan Ivey has done.

Pretty awesome.

There's a whole lot of good in those little O's!

Otello, is not just a great name for a breakfast cereal, it’s what Vodafone hope to be a revolution in the way we search for content on mobile devices. The idea is that you could see a poster or read something in a national newspaper, photograph it with your camera phone and then search via the captured image. You would then receive related content via MMS.

This is an exciting prospect and could mark a whole new wave of advertising, that the consumer actually chooses to seek out rather than avoid. Sadly the technology is still very much in its infancy.

Still, to end on an optimistic note, some genius has already cracked it with regards to searching for music . A similar application currently comes as standard on Sony Ericsson handsets.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Emulation is the highest form of flattery...

...Or so it would seem, as some young scamp has created a SNES emulator for their iPhone. By sneakily coding an ap which allows you to use the bottom part of the touchscreen as a SNES remote, with the top part of the phone in 32,768 glorious colours (a la Gameboy advance) allowing us all to Tiger Uppercut our way home on the tube via Streetfighter 2.

Check out the Beta test video, and thanks to Engadget for the heads up.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Become a 3D genius in minutes!

I once tried to teach myself 3D animation, waaaaaaaaay back in University, suffice to say, we didn't get along and i spent the next two and a half years hunched over a light box drawing frame after frame after frame, desperately trying to be the next Matt Groening.

Well now it would seem my months of tracing may finally come in handy. Those crafty antipodeans at ACVT have whipped up some software that allows the user to trace real objects within video footage:

"The user interacts with VideoTrace by tracing the shape of the object to be modelled over one or more frames of the video. By interpreting the sketch drawn by the user in light of 3D information obtained from computer vision techniques, a small number of simple 2D interactions can be used to generate a realistic 3D model."

If it's half as quick as the video demonstrates, then it could really help revolutionise small to medium budget 3D projects. No more painful building in Maya, just film it and rotoscope it, job done!

I'd love to know if anyone has used it, please let me know your thoughts.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Jonathan Harris's Whale Hunt

Jonathan Harris is an artist who works out of Brooklyn, New York. He combines anthropology and computer science to tell stories and explore human experiences. He recently went to Alaska to document the hunt of Bowhead Whales by Inupiat Eskimos, by taking photographs at specific times throughout the trip:

"I documented the entire experience with a plodding sequence of 3,214 photographs, beginning with the taxi ride to Newark airport, and ending with the butchering of the second whale, seven days later. The photographs were taken at five-minute intervals, even while sleeping (using a chronometer), establishing a constant “photographic heartbeat”. In moments of high adrenaline, this photographic heartbeat would quicken (to a maximum rate of 37 pictures in five minutes while the first whale was being cut up), mimicking the changing pace of my own heartbeat."

The photos themselves are fantastic, however its the system that he has designed for us to view his trip that is most special. You can choose 3 different ways of navigating the story (the mosaic version is really satisfying as a user) and the timeline that has been put in place manages to heighten the experience.

Go to and a good old look, its really well thought out project and i for one have found myself drifting back more than once. Johnathan also has his own site which has details of his previous work.

Something for the weekend sir?

My crazy Italian friend sent me this first thing yesterday and it wasn't until i obeyed his instructions of "You must listen with headphones" that i understood the slightly unnerving chaotic look in his eye that he gets when he's found something cool.

Over at Gustavo Moura, who from what i gather is a designer/blogger has come across an awesome demonstration of sound design. I couldn't download the audio, so i urge you to pop over to here, and check it out. Its set in a barber shop and uses a host of different sounds to help your brain create a 3D space, its really freaky and i'll give five English pounds to anyone who doesn't either turn around when someone clicks their fingers or doesn't feel slightly odd when the bag goes over your head.... you'll know what i mean.

Its been a while....

Welcome back Fishtankers, and firstly, massive apologies for any lack of interesting or indeed dull news, the run up to last year was fairly hectic and my geek-news fest had to be put on the back burner. Anyhoo, hopefully this will be the beginning of more regular updates so lets get started shall we.....