One for the DJs

vinylclock01.jpgThe vinyl clocks from the gratefull threads must be the perfect thing when you are a DJ. Its recycled vinyl - one could also call them old records. The pun is in the inhabitat headline with more pics of more clocks.


Webdesign - a designers perspective: Introduction

This is going to be a multipart series on my view on the webdesign process in this day and age with nitty gritty details - to much for most casual readers but not enough for the more professional webbers but just about right to those making websites coming from a more design perspective touching each and every part that touches webdesign as a whole - from the artwork to the programming to the content management to the hosting problems to the philosophies, existing standards nobody cares about nonexisting standards everyone seems to care about. Guaranteed not flash bashing free and guaranteed full of sarcasm. Here is the intro to this never ending saga.

About ten to twelve years ago I got into developing my first website - back then I was neither designer nor programmer but had experience in the latter and was about to study the former. I made this website with a lot of javascript and made the mistake of using images as text as I wanted one font throughout the site. The site looked alright (to me ;) and functioned fine but was unmaintainable for a person who wants to do something else with their time then hacking pure HTML. It had one nice feature so - that was swappable images - something you see nowadays a lot in those fancy iFrame galleries - back then I did not encounter another site that had it. Oh javascript that was something I could identify with as it came so close to BASIC programming which I learned while the east was still the east and the west the bad. "You canīt use javascript, its bad practice - nobody should use javascript ever" was all I got for my month long effort of making a webpage. The site was sitting there for a long long time without any updates and got very stale - at one point - right after the only update it ever recieved -the browsers started to break the site and I decided to pull it.
Since then I have been pondering on making a new site - one with a cool content management system that would enable me to easely update the site, one that is very cutting edge and puts technology to a good use. The longer I pondered the more it became clear that I did not want a website for myself - but rather a framework that could be an umbrella for the myriads of my interests and those around me wanting to produce something cool together with me. On the design end I was still learning and trying to find my style my design mojo. The years went by and the website did not really progress other then in my head. There was a quick attempt at it about 3 years ago that had already an interface designed but that never off the ground because I actually had to finish my diploma and all. Then last years pushed by a lot of different things I actually started to take the plunge - and man if I would have known back then what a journey it would become I would have thought twice about going along, but now 35.000 lines of code and about a year later I am extremely happy with the outcome so far.

Next Part in the next days: Choosing the right Content Management System


20 Alternative Vector Graphic Programs reviewed

nodeb.jpgAdobe needs some fire under its pants and while those designers in Adobes arms are rarely looking for alternatives its still refreshing to see that there is a thriving market for Adobe program alternatives. I know that there are quite a few photoshop contenders out there that are shaping up to become real contenders (and I am not talking about Gimp which some argue is already there as PS replacement - I donīt), what I didnīt know is the huge market for lightweight vector programs of all sorts and kinds and most are programmable - something Adobe will not include into Illustrator in a million years (except for AfterEffects and maybe Flash (out of necessity) Adobe has avoided direct scriptability that they canīt control). The list in the linked article is long and intriguing and covers not only Mac apps but also a LOT of Linux apps and some Win apps - yes I am eying Linux if people havenīt noticed yet - Apples DRM crap and pure consumer orientation is coming to a tipping point for me very slowly (I have been using Apple since 1994 btw). So back to topic - the list of programs is stunning and includes everything from chart drawing to 2d cad oriented programs to experimental vector programs like NodeBox which lets you Python program your art (something very dear to my heart) and then lets you save it as Quicktime animation or PDF still. If you are a graphic designer and have ever needed a vector program you should have a look at this list and see if you might want to replace the worst program in Adobes lineup or finally put your copy of Freehand 10 to the old peoples home.

20 Vector Graphic Editors Reviewed


Awesome Arial Photographs of the US

aml-cover1-510x324.jpgamlean1.jpgTake a small aircraft and a good camera, fly to a highaltitude, tip the nose of your aircraft downward 90° let go of your stearing wheel, slowely take out your camera, make all the right setting on it (while the plane slowly accelerates downward to higher and higher speeds), and at just the right moment, when the framing is right, the sun is in the right position breathe in and push the camera trigger, then put the camera safely away take back the steering wheel and pull up the plane just shortly before crashing headways into an amusement park. This is the live of architect and photographer Alex MacLean(attention heavy flash site with no deeplinks - go to "preview new book" to see the pics) who might need some very good meditation techniques to endure this stress at any level. But the outcome are really cool photos of american cities and landscapes and the destruction the american population brings to their own land (purple earth?). The overgrown cars in the forest are interesting not from astetically standpoint but from the idea that is a common thing to do in the US. When I was in South Dakota the forest behind the house was littered with really great 70s cars that actually still worked when you brought a full battery to start them. This is not good for the environment - at some point the oil will leak into the water system - especially on the one shown here. Anyway the photos are mesmerizing and amazing and a warning sign (the suburbs - omfg - who wants to live there?).

Brought to my attention by my parents (yes this makes me proud of them).


Deep from the Adobe Labs - Stuff we will likely never see?

Its rare that you get a peek into research development of a big software company but Adobe is pursuing a more open path lately with a high profile blog that spills some inside beans and now some researches allowed to put their pet projects on youtube some video sharing site. Now the stuff they are developing is insanely great but the guy ended a totally let down statement "I canīt guarantee that any of the stuff you are seeing is making it into adobe products". Anyway they seem to have found the holy grail of motion tracking if anything that the movie shows is an indication. The part with the two people in the woods and a million trackers are totally stuck to creases on their grey sweaters must be the best motion estimation out there and it seems to work in almost realtime, it can differentiate between different objects and is 2.5D at least (I would venture to guess to get the different objects it has to be actually a 3D tracker). Adobe would be well advised to put out well working easy to use realtime 3d tracker on the market - but then they have to watch out - they might be bought out by the Autodesk 3d monster.

Interactive Video Object Manipulation from Dan Goldman on Vimeo.


Spam Architecture

spam_architecture.11.jpgAlex Dragulescu is making automatically generated architecture - his data input are spam emails. Keywords in these spam mails are used to generate planes in three dimensional space.


Blinkenlights: Content Creation Tools released

BlinkenCreationTools.pngWe have now a whole array of content creation tools for the Blinkenlights house available. There is still one missing that I hope the Coding Monkeys downstairs will be able to pull off in time - its one where you can convert video loops directly into .bml files that can be played on the house - in the meantime so there are already available an extensive set of plugins for Apples Quartz Composer, The classic Blinkenpaint in the Stereoscope Paint edition and an enhanced Simulator with a record function. You can get the apple centric collection here.
Also there is now a Processing Library available. For those not familiar with Processing - its a Programming language for interactive media installations and with the processing blinkenlights library you are able to make programmable animations cross platform.

As said there is still more to come - also for the video peeps out there.


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.


Mudbox - the end of rendering near

mudbox2009realtime.jpgI promised to put out some more cool stuff that was announced at Siggraph because I think that Siggraph this year has awoken the sleeping Motion-Graphics-Visual-Effects-Dragon(tm). Some extremely unexpected wow factor came from a video presentation about the new Autodesk Mudbox 2009. Its a competitor to the much acclaimed ZBrush (which has been lacking development lately so competition is good) but was never really up to be head on with the latter 3d sculpting tool (coming also 3 years later to the party). Basically this category of programms is "realtime sculpting and texturing of organic forms with subdevision models". There has been great innovation coming from this approach like an extended focus on normal and displacement maps and easier UV transfer from between models. But ZBrush dropped the bomb like last year that they can now do ultra high precision modelling in realtime and add some lighting in the process of sculpting - making a unprecedendet modelling process possible that already generated a lot of highly detailed wierd and real looking characters (some of the Lord of the Rings characters have been modelled in ZBrush). But this year Autodesk who had just bought Mudbox like a year ago is upping the ante with modelling in ultra ultra high resolution - we are talking about 15 Million Polygons + to add detail that floors everyone and the modelling is still realtime and yes you are actually working with the quad polygons and not some normal map trick. The guy in the video is subdeviding the model he works on again and again - to like level 7 or 8 (that is quadrupling polygons on every step) - most programs crash out on level 4 up til now. But when you think it couldnīt get any better he turns on his texture, Light with Shadows, realtime HDRI lightning, RealTime ambient occlusion and realtime Depth of Field. WTF. Looking at the model (see the picture above) you think its rendered with renderman and took about 4 hours to render - but yet he continues to draw details on this fully lit fully textures models as if this is a low poly un-textured model - the light updates the viewport updates, he can reposition the main lights to see how the crinkles work he just painted - absolutely stunning.
See the video and more over at Autodesks Area User Platform (so to see the video you have to be registered).


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.


Atari 2600 Game Cover Scans

pixelbondage.jpgThe star in Vintage Gaming is the Atari 2600 machine (not to be mistaken by the other star with the 2600 in it - you know the secret sesam code to unlock all phreaks heavens). The games for it were packaged and someone got onto a flea market and snatched the console and some games in splendit condition and scanned the covers of these games and put them on the net. They are quite interesting and stylish... A nice round of Pixel Bondage anyone?

a whole lot more here


A whole book full of vintage logos on Flickr

vintagelogobookolypics70s.jpgSomeone called Mr. Carl has scanned in an vintage book with vintage Logos of the past. All in full b/w glory. Really worth a look.

See the full book here.


Digital Tattoo goes mainstream

2-21-07-digital_tattoo.jpgAh its just strange when you think of a sci-fi idea that you project about 15 years into the future and then all of the sudden researches take on the idea (or comes up with it themself) just 2 years later. So it happened to my Kalkin Revelation "tattoo interface". At least this canīt be patented in a general sense as I hold the prior art :)

the "real" scientific project here:"


The movie of mine here: (save as then open with mp4 player of choice)

Update: Oh the collective minds of the internet there is also a novel which employs the idea called the Commenwealth Saga by Peter F. Hamilton published around the same time as I had the idea first (about 3 years ago) - no I have not read this back then - maybe humanity has a collective mind after all ;)


Wabi Sabi - Zen Principles Of Aesthetics

fukinsei1.jpgIts a great article series (still running) on the Zen principles of Wabi Sabi applied to design. Intro, Asymmetry, FocalPoint (and lack of it), Simple, Natural.


Cultural Revolution Clipart

chinapropagandaclipart.jpgcommunist propaganda art - check
red / white / black - check
vintage - check

The Cutlural Revolution Clip Photoset on Flickr is for the time you are in the need of that special something for a next left-wing conspiracy party or when you want half a billion people almost starving or kill about 2 million indigenous people. Looking at communist propaganda vs. western propaganda (not only vintage) makes me think that the communists seem to be much more positive in their message over all then the fear mongering kapitalists.

See more of it here


Posterwhore - a blog with only posters

262_1200974331.jpgIf you like posters this is the blog for you. The guy running the blog posts posters that he found on the net and elsewhere but also lets ANYONE post posters to the site - also for selfpromotion. Have a poster? Load it up there...


Fingerprint Type

fingerprinttype.jpgFound on For Ministers of the Interiors only!


Nvidia buys Mental Images -> Realtime realistic rendering to come soon.

Ugh... Berlin company Mental Images - mostly known for its Mental Ray Rendering Technology which is included in the three biggest 3D applications out there (max, maya, softimage) and used in a lot of major film productions throughout the world has been bought out by NVIDIA the one of two graphic cards company (not only but you get the point).

The combination of mental images and NVIDIA united some of the greatest talents in the visual computing industry. This strategic combination enables the development of tools and technologies to advance the state of visualization. These solutions are optimized for next generation computing architectures and create new product categories for both hardware and software solutions.

This means only one thing: Realtime Raytracing - or less technical Realtime super duper photorealism - is around the corner very soon now - otherwise this takeover would not make sense. I love Mental Ray for its realism - the rendertimes are unbelievable high at the moment - even for small scenes. Now that NVidia has snatched the code I expect that they put the turbo in the rendering software via their graphic cards that have become more general purpose processing devices then graphic cards lately.

This is good. :) Hail the day when there are no rendering times anymore.

NVidia Press release