Watch the Watchers Do Their Dirty Work

3-22-09-taser-axom-system.jpgTASER International teams with to create the AXON a secure police recording system that is fully portable and strapped on the head. Now there is multiple things going on here why this is noteworthy. For one it sends (streams?) the data directly to the servers of in an encrypted secure way. That means nobody (also not the cops themself) can temper the footage. That means it could be an effective tool to watch the watchers and make them accountable for "mistakes" that might happen when an arrest or house search or such is being made. That of course would mean that makes the videos available to the public at large but I think this might be even a business model for them so I actually do seem to think this is likely. Now there needs to be a law that prohibits the nice policemen from turning these things of in the heat - make it a felony punishable with a prison sentence or immediate suspension from the job to avoid the "oh I forgot to turn it back on" kind of moments that these fellow friends would likely have at times.

Now that this is covered I would like to raise a voice that this whole system needs to make it to the general market for everyone and the next best VJ to wear all day. Imagine not having to worry about how long the memory stick in your pocket has capacity but instead you can record you whole day onto a server of your choosing (probably your own home server for the more intimate moments) all wirelessly and you wear just a black blob over your ear - no fugly sunglasses or baseballcaps or fake eyes or such - yes that clearly means I WANT ONE :) but I am sure the bright people at Taser int. have figured that out already and present us a mass market version (probably sans encryption so to give back big brother what has been taken from him).

via engadget


Red Camera seen in the wild

DSMC.jpgQuang pointed me to a picture of a new RED Scarlet camera in the "I emulate a photo camera"(dubbed DSMC by RED) configuration as a real preproduction model - not a 3d rendering. 4k godness (15Megapixels) at 150 fps here we come.


Samsung releases first true green Cellphone with solar power

samsungblueearth2.jpg.jpegNormally I reserve these link for our radio show but since we are still waiting for a software fix to continue our regular scheduled programming and this must count as the most wow announcement in the cellphone market since the EiPhone I think I must help spread the word.
Samsung will release its first full solar powered cellphone to the (european?) masses on February 16th. Its not only solar powered its also made out of recycled water bottles, packaged in recycled (downcycled) paper includes a pedometer (stepcounter) telling you how many trees you have saved by actually walking to the supermarket rather then driving. It sports a touch screen (no multitouch probably because of Apples technology hindering patents) and generally looks rugged but gorgeous. I have been pondering for a while what my next phone would be and while I am lured into the iPhone camp I can´t pull myself through to actually get locked in with a vendor also the only function that I really admire with the iPhone - GPS - has been proven unworkable and too unprecise in situation where I would use it (the woods the mountains and beyond) - so I guess my new phone that I get in autumn has just been revealed and I think they have a true winner on their hands.

Via inhabitat.


Autodesk cuts jobs looses executive

Oh this is so not good. After buying up all serious 3d programs on the market and trying to overtake the whole VFX sector Adobe style (meaning: create a monopoly) they are now facing financial struggles and cut 750 jobs (thats a lot for a company that size) - let me guess that most these are talented people making 3d apps which have become abundant at the company because they brought in two full additional teams of them to their already existing three teams they had. Oh and they lost their Executive Chairman to Yahoo. I really hope for Autodesk to not affect certain 3d software that they just bought - now that Maya finally is usable on the Mac and a homogenous VFX production is on the horizon with Toxic and Mudbox.

Full story ironically enough on Yahoo finance.


Toxic on OSX - Bye bye Shake?

Autodesk is going OSX big time - and its about time. The company that for such a long time has been neglecting the OSX platform almost completely (exception is combustion) and only continued bought in packages on OSX (maya) has been making some big announcements. Toxic - their compositing package - with an pretty awesome keyer and an interface that enhance the node tree interface concept (its really nice) is coming. Now that the market for compositing packages on OSX was narrowed to only to the Foundries Nuke after the long negligence of Shake by Apple itself (what a shame) (and I am not counting After Effects as a serious compositing package) Autodesk has seen the light and brings over Toxic. I wont complain at all - competition is great - even so Autodesk could use some of that themself especially in the 3d market where they bought up all major 3d packages over the last two years (they posses now 3DStudioMax (its always been theirs), Maya and Softimage). Speaking of 3d - Mudbox is also coming to the Mac and I really really am happy about that announcement. ZBrush has abondend the Mac platform and lost all Mac users in the process for once and all by promising to port version 3 forever (2 years and counting) and never delivering on their promise - just last year Mudbox was catching up to ZBrush and even surpassing it in some features (real time displacement and realtime HDR is just the bomb) now its coming to my current workplatform and it will be probably a nice addition to the toolchain.
As for imagemodeller - never really used that program can´t really comment on it but the more the merrier I would say.


The hippy surfer dream car

solar powered - just $129.000,00 if the vapor becomes a product. From inhabitat


FaderFox - the ultimate Midi Controller Solution

DJ2_front_1.jpgI have been looking for years to get a "perfect" midi controller for my live visual endeavors. That is no exageration. I have high expectations toward a midi controller. I want to lug it around the world - so it has to be small enough. I want to a plethora of functions on it so it actually helps me perform and is not just a gimmick. It has to be robust to withstand outdoor gigs with sandy gusts and water spray as well as indoor gigs sweat dropping from the ceiling and 80°C heat from above lamps. It has to be scalable and adaptable to new software coming along and it somehow has to fit my own style of performing - which means the knobs need to be properly soldered on - the faders have a solid feel and the buttons been tested to withstand 1.000.000 times pressing.

I have been impressed with the Mawzer concept two or three years ago because it was poised to deliver on that promise. Yet the final product they came up with is much less extensible and much more expensive and much bigger then what was originally proposed - the midi controller for everyone it was not. So I was looking up on building your own. There are kits out there and with access to lasercutters through the web that looked like a good alternative. There was only one problem - someone would have needed to shower me with some time to make such a project feasible. Soldering, testing building rebuilding a midi controller is - no matter how good the kit you are bying - a task of months. Sure you have the perfect controller in the end for your needs but the time to get there I would rather spend on creating content that looks whicked.

Then along came a project (next blog entry in a minute) that requires to leave my trusty videomixer (an edirol V4 1st generation) at home because it ain´t going through the old route of outputting digital video through an analog cable back to a digital projector - but instead it goes digitally over the air directly to the very analog output. So the only piece of hardware that gave me direct access to my output outside of the laptop I have to toss out for that even - and since the event is quite big and lot of focus will be on what I am doing a replacement for that loss had to come.

But lets make a little detour. Some might ask "oh you have the laptop as input controller". Yes thats true and while I use the keyboard of the laptop extensively and I can feel blind where the cursor is when using the trackpad there are still some things that are not fast enough using the computer. For example changing the speed of a video clip. There is just nothing that allows you to quickly do that - quickly as in "make decission in one beat of a 120bpm clip and have the speed change at latest at the 4th beat or next downbeat". For that direct control is absolutely necessary.

So I had another information scavenging on the interwebs to see if there is any solution to my controller need. I looked at all the ones that are used by vj friends. Cheap ones, expensive ones. I tried to imagine using them and always came up with shortcomings. Most are just too big with too little functionality - not one would fullfill all my needs in one piece. I need Trigger pads, Sliders, Knobs, Rotaries and lots of them - like LOADS of them and as said in a small package to travel. I almost gave up seeing myself trying to move the mouse cursor in unmatched fashion to some crappy output.
Then I stumbled over faderfox. I don´t know how I got there and its even a german company - I have missed them all those years. Apparently they are very well known in the tracktor/live world of musicians - I jut had never seen someone using one of the controllers they offer nor have I ever stumbled across their website.

Their website at first put me off a bit - as you might have noticed in the beginning paragraph - I need some serious professional gear. I just don´t want anything to break half way through a performance. Things need to be sturdy and the knobs and faders and buttons of exceptional quality to not loose that great break in the music that might make a difference for the feel of a whole performance. So a website that looks like its done in the mid 90s and never been updated makes me suspicious as of the professionalism - yet in my midi research I found out already that the midi hardware guys don´t have a great sense of astethics when it comes to websites (doepfer anyone?). Also on their front page was something that was so ultimately intriguing that no bad design could ever throw me off before I figured out more.

What I saw was a modular midi controller concept of ultra small units that are made for ultra portability. And on top I could figure out instantly that all I need in control ever is there in a maximum of five units - with three units already controller heaven. I googled a bit more and found out that people who bought them liked them and where impressed with their professional feel. They are even running battery powered and three of them are not wider then a typical apple pro lappy. Also the DJ2 unit they offer pretty much replaces all the controllers of my Eridol V4 videomixer. So I ordered one.

The order was processed with human kindness (yes a person on the other end - seemingly the developer himself) and delivered in outstanding speed (next day after money arrived). But what I got blew all my expectations. Not only was the controller everything that was advertised - lightweight, professional build quality - faders as solid as they can be - but it was way more versatile then I ever thought. You know you look at a controller and see all the buttons and your mind maps them to functions, but this controller crams more functions in his small space then most other controllers I have looked at 10 times its size. Buttons are all dual configurable with the shift button - that means there are 36 button messages you can get out of the controller, the xy joystick (which ist sooo smooth) can send on four different channels - switchable in a nanosecond, the two rotary controller send out continuus data on 12 different channels and notes on four and have a "push down" event on eight channels. All Sliders and knobs can be muted to avoid jumps on the controlled buttons by holding down the shift key. Everything works flawlessly after a week of testing (so the rotaries are not supported by VDMX yet (nor by quartz composer) which sucks) and its a lot of fun using. There is a (chainable in case you get more controllers from them) poweradapter coming as extra add on, it all supports midi chaining and midi through. Batteries are included and are supposed to hold 80 hours (so through the longest club session ever if you are so inclined). I can recommend this whole heartly to anyone out there - especially vjs - looking for that perfect transportable midi controller with more control then the mind allows. The price - so it does seem steep for such a "small" thing - is fully warranted.


Whats wrong with Adobe Apps?

A website lets users speak out what frustrates them with Adobe apps and the new open Adobe Company is responding in depth and length that I have not seen any other company doing ever - I think thats quite great.

Read the following part about a Linux Port of Photoshop in the discussion:

Linux - there are a lot of people there wanting Linux versions of your leading apps. And yet that's been glossed over time and again. And while it wasn't me that added that particular gripe, Photoshop and Lightroom really ARE the one and only reasons why I can't ditch this POS Windows operating system for Ubuntu.

[I can't speak for other products, nor do I want to give you false hope. Having said that, the architectural investments we're making will make the Photoshop codebase more flexible and portable over time. The fundamental problems with moving to Linux are A) sales to Linux users don't represent growth, they represent replacements of Windows units, and B) Linux use is heavily based in antipathy towards non-open-source commercial software. --J.]

I mean this is some reasonable thought on the issue that Linux users might even understand.

There is much more juice with questions and answers about prices of the Creative Suite, User Interface consistency between apps. While some answers are a bit inward looking instead of outward looking there are so many details in there its hard to recount them all here so head over first to the website and add your gripe then go to the dear adobe top 25 problems (its a must read and if you ever come into contact with adobe apps I am sure you agree with 26 of the 25 points being made.) and finally go to the official Adobe Photoshop insider blog of John Nack to see a huge company open up to the world in a way I have not seen before. Especially follow the discussion after the blog entry where there is a healthy back and forth between users and developers - I hope there are some other big time developers out there taking a cue.


Brain-Computer Interface

nia_angle.jpgOCZ - a modder company selling overclocking and cooling devices normally - has introduced a computer brain input interface. No its not an "coming soon product" it is apparently available to buy pretty much now for a mere US $147,00. The devices detects brainwaves, facial muscle movements and eye muscle movements to enhance your input possibilities. There is a great writeup from hothardware using it and reading that makes me very itchy. This could very well be a great additional solution to some input woes with complex programs - especially complex programs that need fast reaction time or programs were you need to push more buttons at once then you have fingers. Like VJ programs for example... Sadly the device is Windows only at the moment and mostly aimed towards gamers. But I expect this to become a common form of input if it is really working as described in the article.


Autodesk buys Realviz

AutoDeskLogo.pngWell everyone ever comlaining about the lack of development on the 3D tracking market can rejoice. Autodesk just bought out Realviz - known mostly for their Matchmover 3D tracking software but recently also for their Stitcher VR panoramic stitching application (you know shoot photos all around and get a QTVR stitch - the new hype in 3d animaton at the moment) and their pretty new Movimento Motion Capturing Solution that works with real camera input (instead of the expensive other mocap solution called VICOM that uses highspeed infrared cameras to try and capture body movement).
Seeing that matchmover will not coma as a standalone product anymore under the autodesk brand it gives hope that we see this technology integrated into the two flagship autodesk 3d programs - Max and Maya. As for Maya finally replacing the "Maya Live!" tool that has not been updated for over 5 years (and is about the worst solution if you want to do any serious 3d tracking that you can find).
I really think that is one of the first aquisitions that I read on in a long time that actually makes a lot of sense and will actually help moving things forward - especially since matchmovers interface and core program also lacked development even so the underlying algorythm are said to be some of the best out there. I really look forward to have a 3d tracking solution that works inside Maya - the confusion with scale, different interpretation of how 3d cameras work, 3d data exchange that still has no real standard that actually works etc have been driving me nuts. Working integrated uncomplicated 3d tracking together with a simple and cheap motion capturing solution is one of the last core things missing before the whole 3d world can move to realtime rendering ;)

Read the press releasehere.


Enter the Holographic century

There have been hundreds of devices out in the last 100 years that all attempt to bring true 3d visuals to the masses. Now I tripped over the Cheoptics360 and I think this could be the real deal. While the website and the net in general is spare on details on how it actually works it surely looks like a R2D2 style hologramic projection is what this machine does - but watch the videos (and remember the videos you see are 2d so the 3d effect is not sooo visible - yet you can make out the floating object in front of the all the backgrounds which is a good indicator that this is actually working and quietly enough (read: no rotating mirrors) to be installed in an airport lounge. And large enough to eventually give us almost immersive environments... I still suspect this to be the old mirror trick but since its visible from 360 degrees this can´t be. Expect to see you live size game characters appear holographic in your living room in the next 15 years until then enjoy the video... or visit the developers vizoo website.


stat pr0n: Apple's Awesome Market Share Gains

Only believe statistics that you skewed yourself but.... you know I love statistics somehow... and while I was looking around what the current market share of browser are (just to see a trend when it comes to javascript) I stumbled across a little tidebit on the "market share by netapplications" (the article can not be linked - stupid them so they don´t get any traffic from here directly - you can google them and find the article easily).

Market share all MacLines (excluding iPhone):
November 2007: 6.80%
December 2007: 7.31%

not bad (when you think they have been down to less then 3% just 6 years ago) but the astonishing thing comes next:

December 30-31: 8.01%

thats a market share rise of 0.7% after holiday season. It also means Apple is closing in on the big 10% very soon - I thought I would never see that day (hey I was Apple user when there was no hope left so please bear with me and my over-enjoyment to see the better platform get its big bite out of the computer industry fruit)

Record high quality MP4 without a Computer for cheap

VideoCaptureHW_large.jpgI normally don´t like to comment on products in general but I know that some fellow VJs have this big problem and this is just the perfect solution. The problem? Recording a 1+ hour set.

There are some solution already available but they are all bad, but lets recap them

1. Recording to a DV Camera
The Good:
• Good quality
• small formfactor

The Bad:
• Expensive equipment
• Camera record head has limited live span and if you record a two hour set every week the camera will last about 4 month
• maximum record time per tape 120 min with reduced quality 90 minutes full dv quality
• for further distribution you have to digitize the stuff back in (loosing 90 minutes in the meantime)

2. Recording with a DVD Recorder
The Good:
• dvd recorder are quite cheap
• you have a dvd in your hand in the of it

The Bad:
• I have to see one DVD recorder that just works
• heavy basstly music will make the lens jump and leaves you with a broken DVD and mostly no way of recovering you footage - this happens VERY frequently
• putting it on the web (gooTube) requires you to rip the dvd - a long process.

3. Recording to a spare Laptop
The Good:
• Full Quality/Codec/Format Control
• you have it on a harddrive and can just copy move it around recode it whatever

The Bad:
• EXPENSIVE who has earned the money to get a spare laptop to do just video recording - a raise of hands please
• Takes up lots of space
• cable mess
• spilled drinks

As we can see all these solutions are far from perfect and mostly stop gap measures to find a truly portable, cheap recording medium. Well a company that I once had a lot of love for but then got bought up by AVID and since then has not putting out much of interest has the perfect device. The company I am talking about is Pinnacle - people who have done video editing in the late 90s probably know it. They used to produce professional capture cards and computer/video stuff of high quality. Their new product is called - rather unispiring - the PINNACLE VIDEO TRANSFER. Its geared towards consumers but is just the perfect thing for the VJ warrior. It has video/audio inputs (S-Video, Composite-Video und Stereo-Audio) and a USB port. You feed it the video and connect a Harddrive of USB2 flavor or a PSP or an iPod or an Memory Stick on the USB port and it record you video to this massstorage of your choice as an MPG4 in a user customizable quality up to 720x576 25fps (full pal video (or NTSC if that is what you need). The thing without a drive costs kidney saving 129,00 Euro or as a bundle with a western digital USB2 harddrive you get it for 199,00 Euro.

The Good:

• Storage only limited by the Connected Harddrive (1TB of MPG4 should get you about a week of footage)
• Small formfactor
• relatively cheap
• portable
• relatively high Quality (better then MPG2 DVD for sure! Not quite DV but close)
• little failure rate (especially when used with an SSD Drive or Memory stick -> no bass-moved heads jumping around)

The Bad (oh there always has to be one):
• Converting it to something else is about as painful as converting a DVD
• Converting it to something else is bringing you some bad quality loss

But since no one does DVDs anymore anyway you just set to the quality you need for your website and there you go no need for conversion ;)

This is what a VJ should have in its bag if she wants to record their sets - the ultimate solution for now.

You can get more information here and buy it here


Drunkenbass: iPhone records highdef video

Well if you didn´t like the iPhone until now you might start liking it as someone has hacked the thing to record video -> with the full resolution of the camera -> thats 2.9 megapixels of video or roughly HDV resoltion. No word on compression algorythm, codec but at the moment the app can record at 10fps and when finished at 45fps! Thats more then any kind of camera below 5000 Euro can do at the moment (in that resolution with that framerate). Somehow the iPhone just became cheap.
The restraining factor is the onboard memory with just 8 GB its only 5 seconds of fun at the moment. has the link to the Drunkenbass for your unlocked iPhone to record video at extreme resolutions. If anyone has an iPhone please tell me if this is uncompressed?!!

UPDATE: Link above links to correct article now!