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.
Imagine a structure 164 feet tall, that uses 120 trucks to move and several days to assemble. Now imagine that same structure surrounded by 50,000 to 300,000 people per tour stop; pretty impressive, right?
June 29th U2 landed their space ship like stage in Sun Life Stadium. This monster stage – the largest touring stage ever built – looks like a giant claw or a structure built by NASA. The stage has four legs that support a center column of LCD screens, speaker stacks, and even four aerial lighting platforms that 12 crew strap in to and get hoisted into positions within the legs. A giant spire looks as though it’s been thrust through the whole apparatus, and the stage has two concentric circles of performance platforms. There was a lot of buzz about both the stage and the tour when I went to LDI in 2009, but even with the advanced knowledge I couldn’t grasp the magnitude of this concert.
The idea of the stage, as the “360” tour name suggests, is a concert in the round. Instead of the traditional stage flanked by speaker stacks and fans only concentrated in one direction, the fans literally surround the stage. This stage did everything functionally and SFX wise that I was hoping for. Whenever I’d say “it would be cool if…” all of sudden that very thing would happen – smoke, LCD screens moving, elevator systems for bringing equipment on stage, even the ramps that span from the inner circle to the outer circle moved! With 432 speakers distributed between eight speakers stacks the sound quality was excellent no matter where you sat. This was truly a feast for the eyes and a massage for the ear drums.
U2s songs reverberated through the stadium and the crowd was so in tune to it that you could feel it. Yes in the way you do at a normal concert where you feel the bass and the music, but there was more than that. As people were clapping, stomping, and jumping I could actually feel the vibrations through the steel of the prestressed concrete of the stadium. This was both really cool, and a little disconcerting all at the same time. My mind kept bouncing between enjoying the show and worrying about the stadiums mechanical resonance and how that affected the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Obviously the fans did not cause the stadium to shake itself apart, or you would be reading about somewhere else than my blog.
This was one impressive concert. We left the stadium visually stimulated, physically resonated, and all over tired. If you want to check the tour out, there are only 10 stops left of the 109 scheduled on the tour. So get your tickets or watch it online!
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.
Although a few years old, this always makes me laugh. This version has pop-ups from the creator. …And I love that it has the original imac in it!
Could this be the future of your computer interface experience?
Check out more here
Live Design International invaded the Orange County Convention Center from November 16th through November 22. The show provides professionals from entertainment industries such as stage performing, theater, concerts, and any other live performance a chance to learn knew techniques, sharpen their skills, and see the latest technologies for live design.
At 10 am on Friday, November 20th the ribbon was cut and the show floor opened. The floor showcases products for any type of live event production. Vendors carry everything from truss and rigging equipment to special effects gear. If you need extension cords, custom fabrics, staging, safety devices, or AV equipment, then the show floor was the place to be. Some exciting new products were on hand this year including VER’s 3D LED screen – this was a surprisingly smooth portable 3D display, flexible LED panels in a variety of resolutions, and battery operated, DMX controllable, LED theatrical lighting elements. One of my favorite new products, though ultimately unnecessary, was the DMX512 controllable blender presented by Doug Fleenor Design (apparently Doug just built a house that is fully DMX controllable). Some of the most notable projects from this year were the lighting for the U2 360 tour and Jimmy Fallon’s stage for eco-friendly design.
Rose Brand hosted a great presentation by Martin Valentine and Herrick Goldman called Creative Influences in Design. The two Lighting Design Directors shared their film inspirations (of course Blade Runner made it onto both lists) and how films have effected the way light used in their respective medium – architectural lighting and theatrical lighting respectively.
Some of the most important and useful information came through the ESTA classes on rigging safety; it’s good to be reminded that the entertainment industry is (probably) the only industry in the world who suspends temporary structures with moving parts into the air, and asks people to work on top and walk underneath these structures while someone operates them in the dark. We viewed structural failures, fires, and other mishaps within our industry from the last 100 years, and discussed how to prevent them.
Social media has even creped it’s way into LDI. 4Wall Entertainment Lighting set up #LDIHunt – in order to win a prize from the company you had to complete a photo scavenger hunt and post the pictures to twitter. There was even a tweetup over the weekend (though I found out about it afterward).
The funniest part of LDI this year happened at the New Technology Breakfast on Friday morning. In a space filled with entertainment techs, lighting designers, and AV gurus one of the four projectors failed to work. By the next day it was fixed, but the humor was apparent.
The weekend was a great learning experience and a good time for all involved. Next year’s LDI show will be held from October 18th through the 24th in Las Vegas. I hope to see you there.
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.
Carbonated beverages are no stranger to outlandish and controversial behavior, however this might be new terrain for the non-alcoholic variety. Pepsi owned energy drink Amp has released an iphone app to give anyone in need of a female companion a competitive edge, it’s been nicknamed the iFornicate.
The app, Amp Up Before You Score, has been the topic of much controversy the last few days. In fact the twitter hashtag #pepsifail is a virtual cornucopia of comments ranging from support to disgust. My favorite blog post title so far is: Douchebaggery: There’s an App for That. Here are some tweets from both sides of the aisle:
“Can’t even believe how amazing the Amp App is… Now I know why I prefer Pepsi to Coke”
“Pepsi scores plenty of buzz by offending 50% of the population with new app. No such thing as bad press?”
“Interesting article abt #mobilemarketing gone wrong great app tho LOL! #Pepsifail apology does more harm than good”
Here’ a another fun tweet, and corresponding blog post, by @laureni “#Pepsi suffers memory lapse, forgets it’s not Burger King: [link]” The post points out that this kind of stunt would be expected by CP+B not R/GA, who designed the app.
So what would an app do that causes such controversy? I mean its not shaking babies. The app allows the user to determine which type of female he will be targeting that evening; he has 24 to choose from. After her denomination has been determined – sorority girl, twins, Out-Of-Your-League Girl, etc – you can find out what that person might be in to, what to talk about, how to approach her, pick-up lines, and whatnot. After you finish the evening you can add her name to a list and broadcast the details out through twitter or facebook.
This app oddly reminds me of last weeks episode of The Big Bang Theory where Howard and Raj decide to dress Goth and go to a Goth Club to pick up women. They even checked wikipedia for information – ahh, how art parallels life.
Although Amp apologized through its twitter page by saying “Our app tried 2 show the humorous lengths guys go 2 pick up women. We apologize if it’s in bad taste & appreciate your feedback.” many people feel this apology wasn’t enough. In the course of all this publicity, negative or otherwise, the app is remaining available for download – at least for now. I’m sure there will be more news on this in the following days, I here NPR has even picked it up.
A brave new frontier is making its way from science fiction to science fact – 3-D TV, interactive holograms, and even altering reality as we see it.
Wired magazine produced a piece today about 3-D technology that explores the pros and cons of past, present, and future 3-D viewers. The article divides the technologies down by viewing mechanism – Color Filter Glasses, Shutter Glasses, Polarized Glasses, and No Glasses. No glasses?!? That’s right, the article mentions that LG, Sharp, and Phillips are all looking, or have looked, at creating a 3-D viewing experience in your home. This concept is by no means new to the television viewing audience. Home Improvement had an episode back in May of 1997 with portions of Tool Time, the show within the show, in 3-D. Most recently During SB 43 a trailer ran for Dreamworks Monsters vs Aliens and an ad for Sobe Lifewater. The week of the big game NBC’s show, Chuck, became the first TV show episode to be entirely done in 3-D. While we praise them for trying the effect was less three dimensional and more nauseating due to the color filter glasses, among other things.
There are some other technologies out that can give a more holographic effect rather than 3-D. Adaptations of the pepper’s ghost effect are being seen more frequently like Musion Eyeliner 3D, which has been used at the Grammy Awards. Holographic effects have even entered the realm of a truer three-dimensional walk around display, think of Darth Sidious’ hologram in Star Wars, or Tony Stark trying on parts of the Iron Man suit in 3-D real-time space. Two technologies making this kind of action happen are Cheoptics360 by viZoo and an “Interactive 360˚ Light Field Display” developed by The Graphics Lab at USC back in 2007. This last technology has been developed further since 2007 and can now provide real-time teleconference capabilities, though the result reminds me of the home videos Chief Anderton watches in Minority Report.
Yes, kids, the world around us is becoming more interactive. Before you know it television won’t just be High Definition, it will be Three Dimension High Definition. Designers will be able to show their designs as actual 3-D objects, and through augmented reality we will be able to bring our new found 3-Dimensionalisation into the real world. Who knows, all we need is an omni-directional treadmill and maybe one day holodecks will be a reality.