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Penki is an iPhone app that allows the easy creation of three-dimensional light painting effects in the "Making Future Magic" film with consumer-grade cameras.

During the development of the “Making Future Magic” film for Dentsu London, it became clear that an app that created the effects within it easily would be an interesting extension of both the techniques we’d learnt, and the Dentsu philosophy of “Hybrid Communications” or “Haitsu”.

As a result we started a project with Dentsu London to create Penki.

We started work on the app shortly after the film went public, kicking off with a workshop at Dentsu to understand what elements of the film would translate well into an app, and what new directions we could bring to it.

One addition that quickly emerged was the element of fun, creative play we felt would be important to the adoption and enjoyment of the app. A second was how to guide people through the process of creating a light-painting in a lightweight way.

During the process of making the film, Timo Arnall and Jack Schulze had discovered several ‘rules of thumb’ that led to successful images – we needed to imbue the app with their guidance, but emphasise that play and experimentation would be the key to you producing great images with your own gear.

We took those tips and created infographic-illustrated set-up guides and tips. The first time you run Penki, you’re guided through the interface and process of creating a light-painting with in-situ captions highlighting the controls and inputs.

We created custom fonts for the light-painting itself, based on our experience of what worked in the film, with clear block forms and bright leading edges to give good results.

In a throwback to the early days of computer games, these letterforms were painstakingly transformed into sets of coordinates to be rendered in 3D by the app for both visual and processor performance. Two custom typefaces were developed, along with some fun symbols created in collaboration with designers at Dentsu.

Testing with an array of affordable point-and-click cameras continued through the four week development period, ensuring that good results could be attained by as many people as possible.

The playful elements of the interface extend to a ‘report card’ that the app delivers after the painting is complete – giving a summary of what you painted, where (if the app is given permission to use your location) and how steady you were!

This report can can be uploaded as ‘social proof’ of your work to Flickr from the app, and there’s a Flickr group of completed light paintings, one click away from the app’s opening screen, to feed your inspiration…

Penki means “paint” in Japanese, and can be found at It went live in the Apple App Store in November 2010 – read Dentsu’s announcement – and garnered a “9/10″ review from Engadget.