I saw this once before soon after it opened in '96...it still gives me goose bumps.
Fremont Street is located downtown, away from the The Strip. It has a very different vibe than the The Strip...it is more intimate and classic. The FSE is a canopy that runs for 5 blocks down Fremont St. The canopy is a ginormous video screen that shows amazing 10 minute videos after sunset on the hour until midnight. We caught two shows: American Pie and Tribute to Queen.
I love how all the casino lights go out just before the show starts.
The sound system rocks, with speakers everywhere that allow the sound to follow the images across the screen.
The first step was getting the bootleg video. I wasn't able to get the source from the link above. I followed the advice from this Yahoo! Answers and used the trial version of Moyea SWF Kits to extract a youtube.com version of the video (which is no longer up). The extracted source video is here (24 MB).
I used After Effects to do the rest.
Look at the source video and you will see lots of problems. The video...
is not centered
changes size as the camera is zoomed
has a youtube time-slider and youtube logo
has erratic motion from handheld video recording
is missing parts of the trailer
I didn't worry about fixing the last one...too much work.
The first issue I fixed was the erratic motion, which made the other issues *much* easier to fix. I used this page for directions on how to do video stabilization.
In the source video, you will notice a couple of lights above the movie screen. I told After Effects to track the lights. It did a really good job. I only had to help with the tracking at around 0:43 because of the zooming. The rest of the tracking was done automagically.
After the motion tracking was finished, the video was very steady. I had to rotate the image several times to keep it aligned correctly. I also scaled the video to make it fit the full frame width. I translated the video to put it in the center of the frame.
Then I added masks to give the video a 2.39:1 aspect ratio, which is what I'm guessing the teaser was filmed in. I also added a mask to cover the youtube time-slider and the youtube logo.
This song reminds me of music from the good old days (the 80's) when you judged a song by how many times you could tolerate watching the video. This is a very clever video (done in one take!) and a catchy song. Check it out, OK Go's "Here It Goes Again"...
I wrote a bit about the ET pre-show previously. I copied it below from Day 2 to save you the trouble of clicking on it...I know...soooo considerate. Here is the Etch-A-Sketch in action. Here is how we erase a giant Etch-A-Sketch.
My buddy John Verostek joined me for the Electronic Theater tonight. We were handed a paddle with a green side and a red side when we entered the theater. When you walked to your seat, you could see on the screen the layout of the theater with green and red lights representing every person holding up their paddle with the green/red side facing the screen. You could find your dot on the screen and flip your paddle to make your light turn red or green. We did some fun interactive games with this gimmick. The best was the giant Etch-A-Sketch projected on the screen. The audience was divided in half. One side controlled up/down by displaying red/green. The other half controlled left/right by displaying red/green. If the audience was split 50/50, then nothing would happen. Mostly green would move up, mostly red would move down. Same goes for the audience with the left/right controls. We were given the task to trace the outline of some shapes: a square, a triangle, a circle, and (of course) a teapot. And how do you clear an enormous Etch-A-Sketch? You shake it, of course! We all shook our paddles in unison and the screen would clear. It was a lot of fun...even though they had some problems registering our paddle information in the section I was sitting in.
The first game we played was bouncing a beach ball around. When the ball came to your area, you were supposed to flip the color of the paddle. Here is the video of it in action. We were still learning how it works at this point...so I think you'll only see one bounce and lots of "buzzing" (meaning you didn't bounce it in time).
Another game was pong with a dog as a ball. The goal was to hit the dog past the other teams "fence" so it would fight their cats. I did this game at a previous SIGGRAPH...I want to say New Orleans in 2000. Here is the video.
This video is of a video wall that is made up of small channels from satellite TV. The camera turns whatever it sees into a mosaic of television channels on the video wall.
These next two are reprints from Day 2, but now I have the video.
This video is from a black room littered with thousands of receipts in piles all over the floor. Each receipt was a few lines of text from a personal ad (like, "I'm looking for a girl that...". Above, in the ceiling, is a printer that prints out a new phrase from a personal ad on the internet and lets it float to the ground every 12 seconds.
Another art piece used the same "magical oil" that was demonstrated at a previous SIGGRAPH. A metal spiral poked out of the oil. The oil would jump out of the pan and cover the spiral and create wild spiky effects...like it was alive...you'll just have to see the video...amazing. Here is the video.
This video is from a game where you chase around "invisible" goblins. The only way to find these goblins is to shine a flashlight on them and follow their shadows. Once you track a goblin down, you use a vacuum cleaner to remove it (of course).
As silly as this sounds, it is very well done. The flashlight takes a computer generated 3D goblin and figures out how to orient it and then removes light from the flashlight so that it creates a shadow that looks like it belongs to a little goblin. The flashlight can be oriented in anyway, and so the shadow has to be constantly recalculated.
When you watch this game, you forget about all the technical issues and just see shadows of goblins running around. Well done! Here's the SIGGRAPH writeup.
This video shows a table with a blueprint of a house on it. You can grab a then LCD display and slide it over the blueprint to see the 3D version of the house. Unlike the previous post, you can rotate the screen and see cross sections from any angle. Here is the SIGGRAPH link.
This video shows a table that has different fruit projected on it. You can grab one of the "tiny displays" and slide it over the fruit and see x-ray slices of the fruit. In another example, the tiny displays had pictures of animated people. If you slid one character near another, it would jump off one display to join the other character where they would bow to each other (I'm guessing this is of Japanese origin). The official account is here.
This video is of a tank of water with computer generated fish projected in the tank. When you touch the water, the fish react. In the video, I think I moved too fast or confused the fish, because they don't seem to be running from me poking the water. There weren't any directions...so maybe I wasn't supposed to poke the water.
This video is from another water exhibit in the same area. A fountain of water creates a water "shell". The shell shrinks as you put your hand closer and then expands when nobody is touching it.
This one messes with your head. It is called "Morphovision." You see a model house in a glass box. The house starts to bend and warp...which makes you think you are looking at a video. But you are not! You can walk around the house and see it from any angle. Eventually, the trick is revealed...the house is spinning at a high rate of speed with a special strobe light that lights up different parts of the house so that it doesn't appear to be spinning. Here is my video clip of the demo...try to ignore the jibber-jabber from the boy geniuses. If you listen very carefully, you may be able to hear my eyes roll back into my head while I was filming.
This was one of the more impressive exhibits at SIGGRAPH. It was a very simple display, but it was 3D and it floated in the air. You could walk around the display and see it from any angle. In the video clip, you can hear the buzz from the electricity...it sounded like at any moment lightning bolts were going to shoot out and fry us all, a la Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Here's a link to more information about how this "True 3D Display Using Laser Plasma in the Air" really works from the people that did it.
My old high school buddy Chris Franka flew in to hang out for the weekend. Our first stop for happy hour was the new Ghostbar on the 32nd floor of the W Dallas-Victory. The elevator says it is the 33rd floor, but it skips floor 13, just to be safe. Ghostbar has been open for only 3 weeks.
I took pictures and video with my Motorola Q. Let's just say it is a better phone than a camera. Here are the photos. Here is a video from the south balcony, which has an outdoor bar. Here is a video from the north balcony, which has a see-through glass floor.
We got in just before 7 and did not have to pay a cover. For Friday's and Saturday's after happy hour, cover is $20 for guys...girls get in free. For happy hour, ghostbar is just a bar/lounge. Later on a DJ plays music and it becomes a dance club.
The first thing I noticed when I got off the elevator were the waitresses. They are all very tall (most around 6 foot with their heels), very thin, very cute, and dressed in sexy outfits with fishnet stockings. Here is a photo of one of our waitresses.
Ghostbar is one large room with a bar on the west side and couches and chairs throughout. It has a lot of style and attention to detail. Very cool design.
We headed out to the south balcony to see the view. It is amazing, but it got to me a bit. I *love* observation decks in tall buildings, but they scare the *hell* out of me. I could feel the building shake a bit...but I found the more I drank, the less I noticed. We sat at some bar stools right by the glass window on the balcony. The window has a glass bar on it so you can take in the view and enjoy a tasty overpriced beverage. My rum/diet coke was $10 after tip! The window is not connected to anything above, so you really are outside. Besides the bar stools by the edge, there are also some couches and tables that are on the balcony but closer to the building.
The north balcony is much smaller, but it has a see-through floor! That is such a bizarre feeling to be able to see cars driving 32 floors beneath your feet! It took me a while before I could be comfortable out there...but it was worth it. Definitely a thrill.
I ran into one of my friends that works at Ghostbar. He was nice enough to take us to the "VIP" area. The VIP area is just a small corner in the north part of the bar that is sectioned off with a curtain and a private bar and waitstaff. Next, he took us around to meet all the really cute waitresses. Why can't all my friends be this cool?!?!
We left Ghostbar to check out some other places. We planned on coming back to see what it was like later in the evening. We returned at 1:30am, but they had stopped letting people enter because Ghostbar had reached its maximum occupancy of 450.
In summary...way cool bar! I'll put Ghostbar in my regular rotation. Two acrophobic thumbs up!
The Mavs won a decisive game 2, 99-85. I sat behind the Heat, about 20 rows up. Here are some pictures from the big show. I got a few pics of Dr Phil sitting in front of me in about the 2nd row. I also got some pics of Terrell Owens after the game wearing a Mavs Jersey with his name ("T.O.") and number ("81").
Mysterious AAC Flash - Video proof it exists! I've seen this at several games...don't know what it is. It happens about once every couple of minutes. The entire arena lights up for a fraction of a second. If you aren't looking for it, you don't notice it.
I mentioned in a previous post that one of the things I really liked about Coach Avery Johnson is that he has his staff all stand with their right hand over their hearts during the national anthem. I think the Mavs are the only team that does this in the NBA. I got a picture of the Mavs and the Heat during the presentation, but it didn't come out very good. ABC's video is much better. The only Heat player to put his right hand on his heart is former Maverick Antoine Waker. I wonder if he always does this, or didn't want to look unpatriotic compared to the Mavs. My guess is the later.
This guy is interesting. If you've ever watched basketball on TV, you have seen him. I *thought* I knew him because I always see him sitting in the front row at Mavs games. He isn't a Mavs season ticket holder! He isn't even from Dallas! He is from Los Angeles! He has front row season tickets to the Lakers *AND* the Clippers! He goes to about 120 games a year across the entire NBA. He says he is a basketball fan and not tied to a particular team (I thought that is what we called "jumping on the bandwagon")
His name is James Goldstein. He *is* the NBA's superfan. Read more about him on his web site.
I looked to my left and saw a very large, muscular black man wearing a Heat jersey and a Mavs cap. He was walking down the stairs to his seats on the floor. It was Terrell Owens, Dallas newest train wreck wide receiver. He spent a good deal of time explaining to fans why he was wearing a Shaq jersey instead of supporting the Mavs. The arena was obviously not impressed. I already don't like the guy, and it is clear to me it is only going to get worse. At this point we can only hope he gets a career ending injury in a game...preferably by his fellow teammates in preseason.
On the way home from the game I noticed they had turned on green and blue lights at the top of the W hotel. That is a new one...I hadn't seen lights on the W before. My pictures of it sucked, but I found some good pictures of it online (green and blue).
This is going to be way cool. This is what the south side of the American Airlines Center will look like in November of 2006. This is the main entrance to the AAC, called "Victory Plaza", which is part of a bigger development called "Victory Park." On either side are two 4 story buildings that will be packed with cool restaurants/bars/shops. ABC's WFAA will move their studio to the bottom of the front, right building and broadcast live with people in the background (like Good Morning America does in Times Square). The coolest part are the 8 huge LED TV screens that *move*! It is hard to explain, so check the video out here...
This is the part I *really* like. The TV's will be showing short (5 minute or less) videos about 16 hours a day. This is called the Victory Media Network. There are a total of 11 screens to work with and 12 discreet channels of audio. If you have an idea for a cool animation that can utilize their screens, they are taking submissions. This is going to be a continuously running and changing digital art exhibit! If you want to submit something, read this. I really want to get something on those screens, so I'm definitely planning on submitting something.
The "W" is set to open in the next month. At 33 stories, it towers above the AAC, right at the end of Victory Plaza. Check out the virtual tour of the Ghostbar at that W link...it has glass, see-through floors protruding from the W towards the AAC, 33 stories above the ground!
An even taller building, 43 stories, is planned for 2008 called "Victory Tower." It will be built next to the W, closer to I35. There is a bunch of development going on, read about it here. I live in a very cool neighborhood!
How does a diminutive coach like Avery Johnson demand respect from his players? He punches them in the balls if they aren't paying attention! Josh Howard will learn one of these days! This is from the end of the game 7 vs. the San Antonio Spurs.
What a game last night! Mavs beat the Spurs in 7 games...probably one of the best 7 game series of all time!
This is a video that they play in the AAC. It is a tribute to DeSagana Diop, the Mavericks starting center. He is a crowd favorite that won the starting center job midway through the season because of his hustle and ability to block shots. With Diop as the starting center, the Mavericks began playing at another level and have not let up. Check his stats here.
This is titled "Worst Halftime Show Ever", but I think they have it all wrong. If these guys did every Super Bowl halftime show going forward, I think it would dwarf the game and the commercials in terms of popularity. I know I would tune in just to see what these guys are going to do next.
I especially like the guy with the shruken head from Beetlejuice. You can tell he is no newb when it comes to show business. When he detects things are going a little bit slow, he busts out from the line and becomes a whirling dervish! You can't teach that! This is another one of those videos I *never* get tired of watching. It gets better with age. Enjoy!
I played with a very cool application this weekend. It is called Endorphin by a company called Natural Motion. Endorphin is used to generate motion for 3D character animation.
Trying to animate a character by hand (using a package such as Maya) is tedious and likely will not capture all the subtleties of motion. An alternative to animating by hand is motion capture or mocap. Mocap requires a studio with expensive equipment that records the location of positions on actors bodies. This motion data is applied to 3D characters so they behave just like the real life actors.
Endorphin is a new twist on character animation. It uses a different approach. To capture motion, you place a "dummy" into your 3D scene. This dummy has highly tweak-able "behaviors" that make it react in a very convincing fashion. Once your scene is setup, you press the "simulate" button to calculate what will happen. Simulations run in real time, so feedback is very quick.
Here is an example I threw together in about 5 minutes. It is very simple. I applied a force to the chest of the dummy to simulate a gunshot. I also applied a behavior to the dummy called "stagger" that is responsible for how the dummy reacts to the gunshot. Then I pressed play to see what happens.
Here is a more complex example. This was also very easy to setup...probably about 10 minutes. I started by having the dummy jump by giving the dummy a jump behavior. I tweaked the jump behavior until the dummy's hands were close to the pole. Then I added a constraint that locked the dummy's hands on the pole. The hand constraint causes the dummy to rock back and forth on the pole. I added another behavior called "legs kick" that adds a bit more life to how the dummy moves his legs move back and forth. Then I undo the constraint to let the dummy fall to his death. It is really fun killing dummies.
The next thing I tried was posing a character. For example, how do you position a character so that it looks like they are sitting in a chair? With Endorphin, it is very easy. Since the dummy reacts like a real human, you just place him in the seat. His body will collide with the chair (not go through it) until he is sitting. And since the dummy understands how humans move, the resting position of the dummy in the chair is very believable. For example, if you try to place the dummy's arm on the arm rest, the rest of the body will react appropriately without letting you create an arm position that a human cannot possibly have. Positioning a character in Endorphin is very easy and a huge time saver verses doing it by hand.
Several big name video games are using Endorphin for their character animation. The new Indiana Jones video game is one example coming out in 2007. Namco's Tekken 5 also used Endorphin for generating the animations of two players fighting each other.
Endorphin is not cheap. The full version costs $9,495 plus 12 months of maintenance for $2,395. If you can't afford to buy their software, you can rent it for $1,195 a month. If you want to use this app for non-commercial purposes, you can get the student version for $995.
I used the free trial version this weekend. The only difference between the free version and the full version is what you can export. The full version will let you export data (via FBX file format, for example) that can be read by an animation package like Maya. You can also export movie clips. The trial version will only export movie clips.
Since you can do all your work in the free trial version, it may be cheaper to get your scenes setup in the trial version and then rent the software for a month in order to get the motion data out. I'm not sure if their license allows you to do this, so I'd check with Natural Motion first.
Natural Motion has several very impressive video clips on their website that show off much more complex examples. Check them out here.
Final thoughts...very fun program to play with. When I do character animation in the future, I will certainly consider Endorphin as the fastest/easiest/cheapest way to get good looking character motion data. Highly recommended.
I know this is supposed to make Internet Explorer look bad...but I think it makes IE look like the most fun out of the group. I'd love to add a happy face to IE's icon that yells "WHEE!!!" every time I open a new page.
See this entry for my thoughts on the best web browser.
This past Thursday, my buddy Jason and I went to the Mavericks vs. Golden State Warrior game. Golden State is one of the worst teams in the league, yet they found a way to win at the buzzer overcoming a 6 point deficit in the final 30 seconds. OUCH! That hurt! But at least we got on TV! We had great seats near the floor, about 10 rows up, and we showed up in the shot of Dirk celebrating after he hits his 50th point in the game. Dirk went on to score 51 in regulation...the highest number of points scored in regulation by a Maverick in the history of the organization. See the video clip here.
This is actually funnier and more bizarre if you just watch the 5 MB WMV video (or bigger 15 MB MPEG video) without knowing any background.
A friend of mine showed me a dancing video by a guy named Matt. The way I understand it, Matt was a game designer that decided to quit and see the world. His travel buddy thought it would be funny if he danced everywhere he went and recorded it on video. It is a very funny video and worth watching. It is amazing how many places he has been. Because of his internet dancing video, he has been on Inside Edition, MSNBC, and the Ellen DeGeneres show. He even has a Wikipedia article about him…now that is fame!!!
I happened to go to Disney World a few days after I saw Matt’s dancing video. I thought it would be funny to try to do the same thing that Matt did, but use the fake countries at Epcot. It is a *very* strange feeling to start dancing in public with no music. People just assumed I was a street performer or something…it is Disney World after all.
When I got back from Disney World, I downloaded the video from my digital camera and threw together the dance video.
This is taken from an email thread to Matt that started July 18, 2005. The subject for these emails: “You are an inspiration!”
David Lenihan wrote:
Hey Matt. A buddy showed me your dancing video before I went on my Disney World trip this weekend. Because of your video, I felt compelled to dance in front of all the countries at Epcot. I think from now on I will *always* dance whenever there is a video camera running!
Here’s MY version of your dance video.
Keep on groovin’
Matthew Harding wrote:
I love it. Man, I wish I’d thought to do that. It would’ve saved me SO MUCH time and effort!
Can I link to your video on my site? Might take me a couple weeks to get around to another post. I hope you’re leaving it up for a while.
David Lenihan wrote:
Go ahead and link to it...it would be an HONOR! I'll probably leave it that link live forever.
What video editor do you use? I actually learned a bit of video editing trying to mimic your video style. I use Ulead Media Studio Pro, but I’m thinking of moving to Adobe Premier Pro.
Matthew Harding wrote:
> What video editor do you use? I actually > learned a bit of video editing > trying to mimic your video style. I use > Ulead Media Studio Pro, but I’m > thinking of moving to Adobe Premier Pro.
I don’t know much about video editing. I used the free editor that came with the Canon camera I used. It’s called ArcSoft VideoImpression. It’s easy to use, but buggy and not very robust.
I’d love to use Premiere, but it’s really expensive, isn’t it?
David Lenihan wrote:
Yes, Premiere is a bit pricey...but it is an "industry standard" so it looks better on a resume to say you have experience with Premiere rather than Ulead Media Studio Pro.
Matthew Harding wrote:
I finally just posted a new entry with a link to your video.
I need to get a screenshot of it though and include that under the text. I need to monkey around with my apps and see if I have anything that can take a screenshot from a video clip. If you’ve got an image lying around, it’d be greatly appreciated :)
David Lenihan wrote:
Hey Matt...sorry it took me so long to get back to you. I moved to downtown Dallas and went to SIGGRAPH and a bunch of other lame excuses. So here is a pic I grabbed from the video.