Friday, August 29, 2008


Something I liked a lot.

Eden from Justin Kane on Vimeo.

Just seeing how things work and trying to provide another insight to the present status quo (which is so not quo...)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

This is fast becoming a video blog

The following video leads to other interesting exercises in video based on still images or other approaches not necessarily stuck in the mode of "hi def" makes everything beautiful in a sort of homogeneous fashion.

FOTOFILM 7 from TRISTÁN on Vimeo.

Not really sure that period belongs there at the end of the html squib. Apparently it did, since that was the "caption" you should see below the video screen itself.

I'll have to remember that in the future. Hard to remember things in the past like this, unless one happens to be Dr. Manhattan. Beware, Watchmen references are likely to become annoyingly omnipresent.

Friday, August 15, 2008

More about video than it is about Second Life

This is somewhat related to the posts below. Maybe it's just that I'm spending a lot more time lately on video projects than I am in Second Life. Anyway, this is still something of a spanner post, but again, it's a technique that has a lot more video applications than it has anything really direct to say about Second Life, where photosourcing has something of a bad name.

Using Photographs to Enhance Videos of a Static Scene from pro on Vimeo.

The video pasted above here spells out a way to use photos to compensate for poorly shot video, or video that comes from a substandard source. At present I'm not sure the technique is commercially available, and it's not clear from what I've seen so far whether the grad student whose project it is has a plan to release this code into the cultural commons in a way that will make it widely accessible or a matter of open source.

There are weaknesses to this approach, foremost among which would be that I'd imagine using this method would require one to become extremely well organized with one's footage and the still that should, by all rights, be taken more or less at the same time as the video, unless one wants to wind up with some jarring mismatching of lighting conditions.

It may also require more sophistication about shooting technique than one can reasonably expect from most people likely to be drawn to the technique. Or perhaps not... only someone pretty obsessed is likely to take all the steps needed to use this method, as I see things.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Techniques to Acquire, Render, and Display Human Figures

Presenting recent work for acquiring, rendering, and displaying photo-real models of people, objects, and dynamic performances. The presentation in the video provides an overview of a fairly efficient means of recording ambient lighting information for a given location at a given time, and combining that information with a 360-degree photo capture of a real-world environment that can, at least in theory, be used to recreated in the studio or in composited video or film a realistic approximation of a location that might not be available for an extended location shoot.

Whether practical for low-budget productions, this technique is almost certainly going to be applied in larger-budget commercial films where practical concerns prevent a live shoot in the desired location.

The gist is that these techniques offer some image-based "replacement" lighting techniques for photo-realistic compositing and reflectance acquisition which have been used to create realistic digital actors

read more | digg story

Too much for skin makers?

Someone in FashCon Cafe last night asked me to take a look at a couple of skins she'd made and it had me thinking again about how to get more realistic skin detail in Second Life. This technique may be beyond the capacity of Second Life but it's still very fascinating.

Comments are more than welcome.

vimeo rocks

I can't say I've often found a site that draws me the way this one does. Granted, the "Lays Potato Chip" effect of YouTube isn't really there, and so I'm sure I'll continue to upload at least most of my public videos there as well, but the quality is so much better, and the creativity of the user base is also incredible, in part, no doubt, because the site is limited to videos that the uploaders had an active part in making.

I've started a channel there for the various Camp Albemarle Chorus videos. Once I have more of other types there I'm sure I'll add more channels.

It's hard to describe just how good much of the work there is, and it's far more rewarding for anything that's not a retaping of the Daily Show or some other item. Granted, YouTube is still a fantastic place for finding obscure and largely non-commercial documentary clips and other rarities. There's nothing that wrong with YouTube unless your a bit of a perfectionist and want to have things stream at the best quality practically achievable given the newer codecs (such as H.264)

Sunday, August 3, 2008

YouTube Alternatives

Partly it's the result of seemingly increasing issues like this one, pointed out by Torley Linden, slashdot and many others, especially the tech geek perfectionist (well, perhaps just adequateist) denizens of YouTube. Partly it's the low profile of any video on YouTube that does not involve suggestions of nudity or dismemberment.

Whatever the real reasons might be, I've been thinking about giving up YouTube or at least finding a main place for uploads that doesn't destroy quality so consistently and further fuel my own sense of hopelessness and learned powerlessness. Maybe I should be thinking of the same things where Second Life is concerned, but in Second Life's favor, at least there is an active and engaged user base that share knowledge in many different ways and forms.

Here's a Vimeo widget -- and it seems to have worked quite well on first attempt. It has certainly been far better than my usual zero-feedback experience with YouTube. Given the vast number of uploaders and watchers of YouTube it is reasonable to expect that they would make direct contact and support a very low priority, and put their efforts instead towards making the upload process fairly simple and foolproof in at least the broadest terms, meaning, "Yes, your video uploaded. It looks like crap? Well that's probably because it is crap." A one-size-fits-all answer will cover a multitude of sins, and YouTube is all about the eyeballs. It's not that reasonable to expect it to operate differently and still support the massive traffic load and bandwidth that it does sustain. Both of the videos presently available in this viewer are also available in some form on YouTube. That's likely to remain the case, as there's really no point in taking them down from YouTube.

Please note: as with YouTube's blog widgets, the best quality rendering is available if you click through to the site rather than view directly from the widget. At the same time, the quality of the view here in the widget is at least as good and likely a good deal more clean than even the best quality rendering that YouTube presently supports.

These will be my follow on notes about this site (Vimeo). So far I'm favorably impressed. The user community there is a lot more focussed and able to communicate than many others I've seen. The quality of some videos is incredible. Then again, the site does seem to attract a fair number of people who shoot film and video for a living.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Prepping for the show tonight (and afternoon). I spent so much time on this one "quickie" video. I feel like such a shmoe.

Okay, stream of consciousness here maybe? I've seen several movies and they shaped the playlist a lot.

It started with Dans Paris and went on to Be Kind, Rewind, King of California, and the ever popular Idiocracy.

Oddly enough, Be Kind, Rewind probably triggered this whole Situationist obsession I've been having, as well as causing me to stumble upon a speech by Lewis Hyde at Harvard Law's Berkman Center. This is mainly because both items dealt with the idea of a creative commons, in the second case, drawing on research Hyde has been doing to clarify Benjamin Franklin's stated attitudes toward intellectual property, and how in some ways it was radically different from the current environment where patents and accusations of intellectual property theft are rife, even in a place like SecondLife. Or perhaps that would be especially in a place like SecondLife.

I'm still digesting the hour-and-a-half of history and discussion that appears in the Berkman Center lunchtime seminar.

There was a lot more, maybe too much for my kind of blog entry of late. Anyway, the set promises to have a but of everything thrown in, including bits from Bernard Herrmann from throughout his career.

Driving While Black (and Pregnant)

Watch the video below and be the judge -- that phrase is like fingernails across a blackboard to me -- but you probably will judge, it's only human.

If so, though, if you might want to be responsible about it, and if you try, you'll need to sift through a lot of conflicting stories, rumors and innuendos. Especially if you're gathering your "facts" here on the internet.

And just in case you've never come across the term "Driving While Black" just click the link there for a primer. A personal account of experiences of DWB also appears on at least one woman's blog. Elsewhere on a blog, a pastor who investigated the story further found that the outstanding warrants that are made so much of by those wishing to demonize Sofia Salva were in fact all poverty related. The most serious charges of child endangerment stemmed from her difficult but reasonable choice to leave her children unattended as she went out to get food.

The officers involved have since been fired on charges related directly to this event and Sofia Salva's miscarriage which took place immediately after her release from jail -- the release was precipitated when Salva passed a large blood clot.

The charges against the officers can be read for Officers Schell and Spencer at the links under their names.

What I find particularly of interest here is the third count in Officer Schell's charge sheet, where he failed to take the allegedly "fake" tag into evidence. I find myself remembering the stories my mother once told me about riding through Salt Lake City with hispanic work associates, and getting a first-hand taste of what it's like to be pulled over for "driving while non-white."

I'll be expanding this when I learn more details.

And while I agree with Midtown Miscreant that the officers should be (and now have been) fired, I think he missed the boat by a step or two. If you read the charges against these officers, they were fired for violating at least three specific departmental policies, not for racial profiling per se, or anything explicitly tied to the race of Ms. Salva.

I haven't found a copy of the referenced policy manual (yet) but, for those un-inclined to read the charges, they appear to have been:

1. Despite repeated statements (clear on the video) both officers failed to arrange for Ms. Salva to receive medical attention for her bleeding and suspected miscarriage;

2. Both officers treated her in a generally disrespectful and unprofessional manner;

3. Neither officer managed to take into evidence the alleged proof of the cause of their apprehension of Ms. Salva, leaving in doubt whether or not the tags were indeed "fake." We have only the officers' word, therefore that the tags were in fact a problem.

True, there are many possible scenarios that could be used to excuse the officers' behavior, but in essence they were operating under the assumption she was guilty of "something" and their subsequent behavior seems just as likely to have been an attempt to create probable cause for the stop as it does anything else. Then again, I do not have before me any of evidence against Salva, such as alleged warrants. But, warrants were never mentioned during the run of the tape, so far as I could make out -- there are, though many statements on the tape that are less than crystal clear.

While it seems likely that Salva is no angel, it also seems clear that she was distressed at the time, quite possibly due to the bleeding and her own stated concerns that she could be in the process of miscarrying. I've yet to see actual evidence and documentation of any wrongdoing on Salva's part which does not come from hearsay on some blogger's site, or derisive comments posted to various versions of the YouTube-d copy of the officers' dash cam.

Whatever her own issues and imperfections might be, it is not the business of police to play at judge or jury during an initial pull-over. Equal protection under the law must extend to all U.S. persons, not just those an officer assumes are being duly respectful, coherent, articulate, likely to know a good lawyer, and whose skin is an acceptable shade of pink.

détourne, détourne, détourne...

This is sort of fascinating.

There's also a much longer video that breaks all the "rules" of YouTube but is an amazing discourse on the uses of anonymity, and the late 18th century nature of the anonymous author. I know that sounds elitist and such, but give it a few minutes at least before you change the channel.

See, that wasn't so bad. I've long been fascinated with Lewis Hyde's writings on property and creativity. Take a look at his books where you can find them. Especially, The Gift: Creativity and the Erotic Life of Property.