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Blog posts tagged as 'light'

Friday Links: Light with character, some graphic design, and music videos

Sticky Light is an installation that projects a laser that sticks to lines and solid objects. There’s no camera – just a laser and a photodector. It’s incredibly responsive, and completely captivating. The dot of light takes on a surprising amount of personality, darting around, occasionally getting lost and confused, and then suddenly slipping away to explore its surroundings when released.

That such a nuanced impression of character could be formed from such a seemingly simple actor reminded me of Ken Perlin’s Polly: a prism that walks around a surface. That may not sound like much, but once you start playing with the various animation loops programmed into it, you might well change your mind. “Dejected” is heartbreaking. And yet: it’s a triangular prism. Marvellous.

Two pieces of graphic design that caught my eye. First, via Paul Mison, a spread from Marie Neurath’s Railways Under London. There’s a bit more on the output of the Isotype Institute, and some lovely examples of their work for children, over at the Science Project blog.


Secondly, via Frank Chimero, this lovely selection of covers for Kafka’s books by Peter Mendelsund. Mendelsund has a great blogpost on the design of the covers for publisher Shocken.

Finally, two music videos with interesting visual treatments. Firstly, Echo Lake’s Young Silence, which used a Kinect’s depth camera to film the band. It’s not a raw output, of course. There’s a lot of visual processing, and compositing of co-ordinates that’s followed up, but it makes the video very striking – and much like a low-budget take on Radiohead’s House Of Cards video, filmed on LIDAR.

And, to end, Chairlift’s Evident Utensil. This came up in discussion in the studio when we were talking about the aesthetics unique to video in the digital age, such as stabilisation, or as in these videos, what happens when keyframe data goes missing. The answer to the latter can be seen in the Chairlift video – and in several other examples of Datamoshing.

Making Future Magic: light painting with the iPad

“Making Future Magic” is the goal of Dentsu London, the creative communications agency. We made this film with them to explore this statement.

(Click through to Vimeo to watch in HD!)

We’re working with Beeker Northam at Dentsu, using their strategy to explore how the media landscape is changing. From Beeker’s correspondence with us during development:

“…what might a magical version of the future of media look like?”


…we [Dentsu] are interested in the future, but not so much in science fiction – more in possible or invisible magic

We have chosen to interpret that brief by exploring how surfaces and screens look and work in the world. We’re finding playful uses for the increasingly ubiquitous ‘glowing rectangles’ that inhabit the world.

iPad light painting with painter

This film is a literal, aesthetic interpretation of those ideas. We like typography in the world, we like inventing new techniques for making media, we want to explore characters and movement, we like light painting, we like photography and cinematography as methods to explore and represent the physical world of stuff.

We made this film with the brilliant Timo Arnall (who we’ve worked with extensively on the Touch project) and videographer extraordinaire Campbell Orme. Our very own Matt Brown composed the music.

Light painting meets stop-motion

We developed a specific photographic technique for this film. Through long exposures we record an iPad moving through space to make three-dimensional forms in light.

First we create software models of three-dimensional typography, objects and animations. We render cross sections of these models, like a virtual CAT scan, making a series of outlines of slices of each form. We play these back on the surface of the iPad as movies, and drag the iPad through the air to extrude shapes captured in long exposure photographs. Each 3D form is itself a single frame of a 3D animation, so each long exposure still is only a single image in a composite stop frame animation.

Each frame is a long exposure photograph of 3-6 seconds. 5,500 photographs were taken. Only half of these were used for the animations seen in the final edit of the film.

There are lots of photographic experiments and stills in the Flickr stream.

Future reflection

light painting the city with Matt Jones

The light appears to boil since there are small deviations in the path of the iPad between shots. In some shots the light shapes appear suspended in a kind of aerogel. This is produced by the black areas of the iPad screen which aren’t entirely dark, and affected by the balance between exposure, the speed of the movies and screen angle.

We’ve compiled the best stills from the film into a print-on-demand Making Future Magic book which you can buy for £32.95/$59.20. (Or get the softcover for £24.95/$44.20.)

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