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Blog posts tagged as 'photography'

Links for a Friday afternoon: demon-haunted notebooks, spinning records, cardboard and spaceships

Josh DiMauro sent us this sketch of a “Demon-Haunted Notebook” (inspired by Matt J’s talk from last year’s Webstock conference). He explains:

The notebook would have a unique name and id, and a daemon would watch for “tribute” — online sharing of what you put in it.

The tough bit of implementation would seem to be defining a way to pay tribute, and to make it fun and easy, rather than onerous.

I liked “paying tribute” a lot. There’s more nice thinking and sketching over at Josh’s post.

Via Kitsune Noir comes this pinhole photograph by Tim Franco, taken with a camera perched on a 7″ single. The film is exposed for the duration of the record. Beautiful.

On a similar note, Alex shared the above video. It’s a Red Raven Movie Record. There’s a series of images printed on the inner part of the record, and a mirror device that stands over the spindle. As the record plays, it provides its own soundtrack for the animation around the spindle.


Via Duncan Gough comes this lovely piece of paper product design: Muji’s Cardboard Binoculars.

This is Jonathan M. Guberman and Jim Munroe’s Automatypewriter. It’s a typewriter wired into a computer that you can (currently) play Zork on. The thing I like most – and what sets it apart from just being a typewriter turned into a teletype – is how the keys move when the machine is typing from itself. It turns it from being merely a printer, and into a ghostly writing-device. And, when used to play interactive fiction, makes it clear that the game being told is played out between both the player and the parser – writing the same text on the same device.

This is a part of a game of Artemis playing out. From the official website:

Artemis is a multiplayer game that lets you and your friends play as a starship bridge crew. One computer displays the main screen and runs the simulation server. The rest serve as bridge station consoles, like Helm, Comms, Weapons, Science, and Engineering.

In a nutshell: it simulates combat sequences from the Star Trek franchise. The captain doesn’t get a computer; instead, he has to tell everyone else in the room what to do. And so the captain’s role isn’t really part of the game mechanics at all; it’s a purely social role. The team are reliant on each other to display the appropriate screens on the main screen, execute decisions, and act on orders. And there’s nothing in the game stopping them from disagreeing or taking individual action.

The game is just some computation, network code, and a graphics engine; the real game plays out in the discussion between the crew and the decisions they make. Underneath the geeky exterior is a truly social game.

Making Future Magic: the book

There were an awful lot of photos taken for the Making Future Magic video that BERG and Dentsu London launched last week; Timo reckons he shot somewhere in the region of 5500 shots. Stop-frame animation is a very costly process in the first instance, but as the source we were shooting was hand held (albeit with locked-off cameras) and had only the most rudimentary of motion-control (chalk lines, black string and audio progress cues), if a frame was poorly exposed, obscure or fumbled, it left the sequence largely unusable. This meant that a lot was left on the cutting room floor.

In addition, we amassed a stack of incidental pictures of props, setups, mistakes, 3D tests and amphibious observers during the film’s creation.

Clicking through these pictures, it was clear that a book collecting some of these pictures, offering little behind-the-scenes glimpses alongside the finished graded stills used in the final edit, was the way forward. As well as offering a platform for some of the shots that didn’t make the final cut, the static prints want to be pored over, allowing for the finer details and shades (the animations themselves had textures and colours burnt into them in prior to shooting, so as to add a disruptive quality) to come through.

Our copies arrived today from Blurb. The print quality and stock is fantastic – especially considering it’s an on-demand service – and for us it’s great to have a little summary of a project that doesn’t require any software or legacy codecs to view it and will remain ‘as is’. We’ve made the book available to the public and in two formats; you can get your hands on the hardcover edition here, and the softcover here.

More images of the book are up here.

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.)

Friday Links: Light painting

This Friday: a collection of links from the studio mailing-list, all about light painting.


Image: Poésie by kaalam on Flickr

Julian Breton’s work as Kaalam has already featured on the blog but it’s too beautiful not to include again in today’s collection of links. Influenced by Arabic script, he paints delicate, abstract calligraphy into his photographs as they are being exposed. There’s more on his Flickr profile and his website.


Sophie Clements’ stunning film Evensong films a series of moving light-patterns in Argyll. Mounted on rigs such as spinning wheels, there’s a magic in the way the lights interact with their environment: dancing around poles, reflecting in pools. It’s striking to see light painting such as this in moving, rather than still images.


Nils Völker has been buildling a robot for created coloured light drawings. Once the pattern is programmed into it, it trundles around the floor, turning its light on and off as necessary, tracing the pattern whilst a camera takes a long exposure. Whilst not as pretty as Kaalam’s work, there’s something interesting in automating this kind of work. It’s also strange to see this machine at work, as this video testifies: whilst it works, you can’t really see what it’s doing. It only makes sense when viewed as a long-exposure.


Photo: IBR Roomba Swarm in the Dark IV by IBRoomba

Völker’s robot drew the patterns it was told to. But light painting techniques can also reveal the behaviours of smarter robots. The above picture comes from the Roomba Art group on Flickr – where people upload long exposures of their automated vacuum cleaners having attached lights to them. This image shows seven Roombas – each with a different colour LED – working all at once; you can see their starting points in the middle of the room, and the odd collision. It’s a very pretty remnant of robots at work. The rest of the pool is great, too.


Photos: Light Sphere with Right Arm and Cigarette Lighter and Arcs with Arms and Candles by Caleb Charland

Caleb Charland’s images take a variety of approaches to light painting. Some are multiple exposures; some are long-duration, single exposures. Some are very much about the artist’s presence in the image (albeit in ghostly ways); in others, the artist is largely absent. They’re all lovely, though; I particular like his use of naked flames in his images.


Justin Quinnell’s six-month exposure of the Clifton Suspension Bridge could be described as light painting using the sun. The duration of the exposure allows you to see the sun’s transit shift with the seasons. Justin has more long-exposure pinhole photography at his website.

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