Cirque Eloize iD

September 5, 2011 at 11:13 pm (Art, Miami, performing arts, technology, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

The final South Florida performance of Cirque Eloize iD was a visual feast. The technical direction and set design of the show are flawless. As for the story, I’m not sure I followed it. In fact, I’m not sure there is one. The show begins with a love scene that involves some very nice floor based gymnastics and lifts along with an act on a Chinese Pole and some break dance fighting. After that the plot is not really present and seems to be a jumbled mess of incongruent story lines. The only way that I  picked up on this being like West Side Story is that it says so in the promo: West Side Story Meets Hip Hop. I definitely got the hip hop vibe. Although it added to the story, they used break dancing for filler every chance they got, sometimes needlessly. I personally think that their “fights” would be much more dynamic if they incorporated more capoeira techniques instead of trying to make break dancing look like fighting.

Story aside it was a beautiful show. The acts included traditional Cirque performances – aerial lyra, strength acts mixed with choreography, balancing acts, juggling, a contortionist, Cyr wheel and aerial silks. Newer performances were incorporated like jump rope, rollerblading, powerskips and BMX stunts (including audience participation). The one act that really seemed to impress the audience was the trampo-wall act, which involved the entire troupe. This act worked seamlessly with the stage decor, which incorporated trap doors, moving platforms, and digital imagery across it’s various surfaces as each performer did tricks and stunts up the many surfaces of the wall. Throughout the show I could pick up that the performers were tired – and rightfully so, they’ve been performing a rigorous schedule over the last month plus here in South Florida.

Coming from more of a backstage and technical background, the set design is what really impressed me. At any given time nearly every face of the stage design had digital imagery on it. This was accomplished through 9 projectors that must have overlapped with seamless edge-blending or overlapping projection and some major keystoning. The effect allowed for scenes to change while keeping the projection from being fully eclipsed by a performer’s body or other set piece. This is quite an accomplishment as the performers were up against the projection surface for much of the show.

Miami was the last leg of the US tour schedule, but if you have a chance to Cirque Eloise iD, I would take it. The visual experience of the technology behind the show along with the cirque acts is worth it. They even encourage audience participation through live lobby and house video along with constantly updated twitter and text feeds projected on stage.

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Refocusing the Light Field

June 24, 2011 at 9:58 am (photography, technology, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Imagine being able to truly refocus your pictures after they have been taken. Imagine a day when you never have to complain that the auto focus captured the wrong part of a picture. Imagine a single image where everything is simultaneously in focus and out of focus. You probably won’t have to image for much longer.

Mountain View, California based Lytro is claiming to refocus the photography market with cutting edge light field technology. This new technology captures the entire light field upon snapping a photo allowing the photographer or viewer to manipulate the focus and other dynamics of the photo after the picture has been taken.

I’ll be interested to see how the technology progresses and what the consumer response is. The interactive samples that they have on the website are fun to play with, but I see a little bit of odd artifacting between the in focus parts of the images and the bokeh. This is something that the everyday consumer may not mind or even notice, but for professional applications it could be a problem. I’m sure this is an issue that will be worked out in subsequent generations of the technology.

I definitely see potential for this technology not only in the civilian market, but also in the military, intelligence, and police sectors. Nearly every CSI type of cop show has the squints manipulate some ridiculously out-of-focus or damaged photo into some crystal clear image. Being a design professional with nearly 8 years of professional digital image manipulation experience I used to scoff at the ability to enhance a photo that much with so little information, but now it seems possible in the not so distant future. If security and surveillance systems were outfitted with the technology they could really analyze the subject matter to it’s fullest. The technology of this camera may even go a step further from the omni-focus video cameras introduced last year.

This will be an interesting camera system to watch. I can guarantee I won’t be trading in my Nikon anytime soon, but I might pick up a Lytro lens if one comes out with a Nikon mount.

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Making Desktops More Like Desktops

April 29, 2010 at 8:39 pm (Design, News, technology, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Could this be the future of your computer interface experience?

Check out more here

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Going Postal – There’s a (Lame) App For That

October 27, 2009 at 9:30 pm (technology, Video Game) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

You ever thought about going postal, but didn’t because of the whole moral, ethical, and legal ramifications of it? Apparently there’s an app for that, and congratulations, you’re fairly sane. The Firepower iphone app, created by Magnificent Library (makers of Shotgun Infinity and iVomit), lets you shoot anyone, or anything for that matter, with a gatling gun – Dr Richard Gatling has never been prouder, I’m sure.

The gun barrel, cross hairs, and firing mechanism all appear on screen and as you fire blood sprays from your target. They’re toting the app as a form of augmented reality, but since it does not really interact with anything I think it’s stretching the term. I do, however, like Wired Magazine’s definition: Augmented Stupidity. I think this app would engage me for 5 minutes – tops. The best, or worst …yeah lets go with lamest; part of this whole application is the YouTube video put up by the developer. One would think that if you invested the time to develop the graphics and code for said app that you would at least make an attempt at an interesting video to market such genius. No? Wrong again! As you can see from the video above the promotional material is a little rough. If you need more intellectual stimulus, check out this video of the developer’s 3-year-old learning to count his ammo while playing Shotgun Infinity.

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The Emperor Workstation – How Geeks with Money Get Things Done

October 2, 2009 at 11:51 pm (Design, technology, Uncategorized, Video Game) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

This video is of the Emperor Workstation being exhibited at the International Consumer Electoronics Show earlier in the year. I must say it is an impressive display, and somewhat familiar. I, like many of those who commented on the video, thought of doing a similar set up. I had the whole thing sketched out to be built in the closet of my room in college, but laziness took over and it never made it to fruition …Not that it would have been nearly as cool or finished looking as this beast of a workstation.

The Emperor Workstation has 3 monitors, but can be upgraded to include 5. You can get it in different colors and with different features, and it can be run through a desktop or notebook; it has built in speakers and a sub woofer, a power seat, and even rotates! The only unattractive part of this workstation is the price; weighing in at $40K I think I would want more that just a cool looking apparatus to sit in. It is an interesting concept with a nice execution; I really like the scorpion’s tail mechanism along back, but I don’t think I’ll be running out to purchase one anytime soon.

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Augmented Reality – The Birth of a New Age

July 27, 2009 at 1:44 pm (Branding, Design, marketing, News, package design, print media, Video Game) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Today we can augment ourselves, use augmentation ideals in math, and augment pharmaceuticals – but augment reality? Augmented reality (AR) is a field of computer research that combines the real-world and a computer-generated world into one. We’ve seen the technology through Hollywood’s eyes for years – think of the holodeck from Star Trek: The Next Generation, the display in Ironman’s helmet, or the singing and dancing graphics on the cereal box in Minority Report.

AR has been around for years and in the past was mostly used by techies for fun and entertainment, but now augmented reality is becoming a tangible, fiscal reality for the consumer-based market. At the forefront of this new frontier is a company named Total Immersion, who has been developing the field since 1999, and publicly showing the technology since at least 2004. Total Immersion has adapted the concept of AR into several markets including: amusement parks, digital marketing, event and exhibits, and retail environments.

The yellow “first down” lines seen in recent televised NFL seasons are the result of AR. Companies like Doritos are cashing in on the idea, too. They recently launched a campaign by placing AR symbols on the back of Doritos Late Night bags. By visiting their website you unlock video concerts by Blink 182 and Big Boi.

Doritos

Even the everyday designer is getting in on the action. James Alliban created a business card with an augmented reality symbol on the back. When you visit his website you can hold the symbol up to your web cam and watch a short video – the symbol can also be printed out from your computer.

The possibilities are endless, and exciting, with this technology. Virtual onsite walk-throughs for architectural projects, self-guided walking tours with customizable points of interest, information and visitor tracking at exhibitions – could it even save print newspapers and magazines? I can’t wait to see what this technology holds in the future! I know I plan on using it, if I can find the right project.

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Beating the Message into People

July 2, 2009 at 10:02 am (advertising, Environmental Graphic Design, marketing, News, print media) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

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Amnesty international is known for making alarming ads – the 2006 Swiss “It’s not happening here but it’s happening now” campaign ranks among my all time favorites. This time they’ve really pushed the envelope in regards to what a shocking ad is, how it’s made, and what it does. Their latest bus stop poster, introduced as a single display last month in Hamburg, Germany, uses an eye-tracking camera to gauge when it’s being looked at.

While the viewer is not looking directly at it, the poster features a couple that appears to be a nice, friendly, average couple posing for a picture. If a viewer is not looking directly at the poster the image changes to “a dude punchin’ a lady.” When the viewer turns to confirm their suspicions, the image changes back to the afore mentioned smiling picture of the couple. This change occurs after a slight pre-programmed delay allowing the viewer to see the beating for a split second.

The message “It happens when nobody is watching.”

The poster has been the cause for much controversy, but it has definitely raised awareness. It does not sound like there will be many more versions of this poster around, though there has been plenty of third-party publicity for the one incarnation.

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Michael Jackson Breaks Internet

June 27, 2009 at 2:29 pm (Branding, News) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

michael_jackson_1As word spread about Michael Jackson’s hospitalize and death millions of people reached out to the Internet to get the latest reports. So much so that many sites ran slow or completely froze. The Chicago Tribune reported “when the first reports of Jackson’s death emerged, the average speed for downloading major news sites doubled to almost 9 seconds from less than 4 seconds.”

At the peak of Internet queries 3,566,495 visitors per minute visited news sites in search of updates, as reported by the LA Times. Twitter reached over 100,000 references to Michael Jackson per hour, and Wikipedia editors debated the accuracy of death reports so much that administrators decided to lock down the page. The last time such a major and nearly instantaneous Internet response occurred about an event was the inauguration of President Obama.

All this activity cements my belief that Michael Jackson was not only the King of Pop, but the King of Branding.

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