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Table

Table Mountain (Cape Town, South Africa)

Gists

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Teaching yourself to code can sometimes feel like a daunting task (that’s extremely rewarding). If it weren’t for the internet (trolls and all), this would feel almost insurmountable. Thanks to helpful coding communities, well-documented references, and some google-fu – you can break down any challenges into solvable bits.

As I work on my own creative coding projects, I’ve started saving useful snippets of code that I’ve been able to put together. I hope they’re useful to others. I know that I’ll be referencing them frequently and hopefully improving on them as well.

If you’d like to check them out, they’re available as Gists through Github.

 

Sundance 2016 — New Media

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I was really looking forward to experiencing the new media installations at Sundance this year. In my way: ridiculously long wait times. First, there was a 20 minute wait line to get onto a 120 minute waiting list for ONE installation. The most popular experience by far, Escape Rooms, had a wait time of 4+ hours. Fortunately, we could roam about Park City while waiting for the text message invitation to the installation.

There was an abundance of interactive, non-narrative experiences. The game-like installations were definitely fun, but it was a little disappointing that I didn’t see more VR short films/documentaries.

Here’s a few of what I did experience:

Irrational Exuberance (Artist: Ben Vance)

This was a fantastic HTC Vive experience that worked really well with & took advantage of the medium. It’s very much an introduction-to-vr demo in an abstract, intentionally low-poly sci fi world. Because of the nature of the Vive, it allows you to physically walk around and feel immersed in the CG world. There’s a lot of moments carefully built into it that, like any good game, reward your exploration by revealing the multiple ways you’re able to interact with the different elements. It’s not classically narrative driven but it’s also a good two steps above being just a VR gimmick.

The Treachery of Sanctuary (Artist: Chris Milk)

The Treachery of Sanctuary

Source: Chris Milk

A large, interactive triptych installation using the Kinect & Unity that’s been touring since 2012. It transforms your real-time silhouette in three phases of “birth, death and transfiguration” as a metaphor of the creative process. Your silhouette gets broken apart into hundreds of birds then reassembled into something completely new and unique, a birdman. It’s a really fun, short experience but feels a bit dated at Sundance (and if you’ve experienced any other similar projects like Philip Worthington’s Shadow Monsters).

Giant (Artists: Milica Zec & Winslow Porter)

Giant

Source: Sundance

A really brief, personal narrative based on a childhood experience of the Serbian director. You’re omnisciently present inside a basement shelter as a couple consoles their young daughter during a war-time emergency. It’s a powerful moment that I feel deserved more development. The actor’s are on green screen and composited into a CG environment in real-time with Unity, giving it some depth through real-time parallax.

Holo-Cinema (Artists: ILMx)

Holo-Cinema

Source: Sundance

An underwhelming, real-time tracking demo that uses modified 3d glasses with tracking markers on them to give you parallax on a large screen projection. I was really excited after seeing this video that talked about the new ILMx lab and showcased an interaction with Jurassic Park dinosaurs. Sorely disappointed, but it seems as if we weren’t presented the full experience.

Bonus: Local Murmurs (Artist: Brendan Dawes) @ AirBnB Haus

A neat installation by Brendan Dawes, who I discovered thanks to the Sundance trip, that invites people to text in stories from their hometowns. Twelve mini-printers print out a random story for each visitor at the press of a button that then gets attached back to the installation. Each seemed to be driven by a microcontroller with a thermal receipt printer encased in a 3d print (EDIT: Here’s an awesome writeup from Brendan about the tech behind the project). Mr. Dawes is my latest favorite artist — check out more of his work.

Things I am sad I missed out on: Escape Rooms, The Martian Experience, Dear Angelica, In The Eyes Of The Animal

Knockout

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Discovering features in the software I use daily always makes me smile. Photoshop’s Advanced Blending options are already an awesome part of my workflow: see Blend If for quickly keying out luminance from an image (like the Extract effect in AE). A while back, I came across the perfect use of another feature — Knockout — while working on a fun illustration for a short film poster.

Swan Song Of The Skunk Ape

An illustrated poster I made for the short film Swan Song Of The Skunkape directed by Brad Abrahams.

I needed a way to quickly “punch out” the painted elements from the base “ink plate” layer of my single color print. This way I could separate the “inked” artwork for the printer and easily get different single ink prints on different paper stocks. Fortunately I’m already in the habit of working with layer groups as I work, so once I found the Knockout feature it was a simple process.

Setting the Knockout to Deep & the Fill to 0, I was able to selectively stencil these layers down through the entire stack. No worrying about layer masks or additional channels. If want to limit the effect to certain layers, I can just group them & set the Knockout to Shallow instead so it doesn’t cut through past the group folder.

Swan Song Of The Skunk Ape Photo

TIL (Things I Learned)

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My OCD-like curiosity across different mediums of storytelling has me constantly learning new and useful techniques and tools… that I promptly forget when I spend too much time outside of one of the many concurrent projects I keep.

Yesterday, I came across a neat idea for keeping a useful repository of these newly learned tidbits in tidy categories.

Ironically, this also meant that I needed to learn the basics of Git — which I had been aware of (apparently since 2011 according to my GitHub profile!) and avoiding for a long, long, long time. Well, I decided that this was the perfect situation to learn Git as  I had planned on using it to keep track of an upcoming code-based project.

So, for my first repo, I’m shamelessly stealing the idea and have started a personal TIL clone. The first TIL is about some barebones Git Basics that I’m already constantly referencing. Now, I’d just love to figure out how to automate a #TIL-tagged post from this blog into the appropriate folder in the repo.