The Chemical Brothers: “Wide Open”

Earlier this year at Tokyo Demo Fest 2016, we were honored with the presence of Solid Angle‘s founder, Marcos Fajardo, who did a long presentation of the Arnold renderer. Various examples of productions that involved Arnold were included, like captures from Iron Man or Elysium, but between those blockbusters one production in particular held my attention.

It was a long shot of a dancer turning limb after limb into a lattice body while performing. That film is in fact the music video of the song “Wide Open”, by the Chemical Brothers, and directed by Dom&Nic. It is a brilliant piece of technical and artistic work, that I can only recommend to watch.

Some of the details of the creation are shared in an article by the excellent fxguide, as well as in this interview for Solid Angle, like for example how they dealt with the challenges posed by a single long shot under varying natural light. Finally, there is this behind the scenes video from the studio, The Mill:

Metal materials study

Texture artist Jarrod Hasenjager posted a page of various metal materials study: aluminum, brass, bronze, chrome, copper, gold, iron, lead and steel, and rusted steel and iron. According to the description, the renders are done in Houdini, and the look is driven by artistic taste and personal experience rather than from physical values.

Users don’t read error messages

My CHI professor used to repeat that users didn’t read error messages, and that you should avoid them when possible. Think about it: how often do you close error messages without even reading whatever is written? And when you do read them, how often do you find them both clear and relevant?

I was recently shown this picture (source unknown unfortunately; adapted from these ones) of a slide that captures perfectly the problem with most error dialogs.

Every error message

Every error message.

Facebook’s iOS Infrastructure

In this talk from @Scale 2014, Adam Ernst and Ari Grant present some of the problems met during the development of the native Facebook mobile application, and the solutions developed.

The first part, starting at around 7’00, explains why the built-in data management library was ill-suited and how they designed a different system to better suit their needs. The second part, starting at around 24’30, shows how their implementation of MVC was becoming unmanageable and how they redesigned it. Interestingly enough, in both cases the solution was based on immutability.

An artificial light that looks like light from the sky

The Italian company CoeLux has apparently managed to create an artificial light which uses a material that mimics the atmospheric scattering, to look like sunlight and light from the sky. Judging from the photos and videos available on their website, it seems the look is very convincing.

As they point out, this could have a serious impact on architecture, as available sunlight is a factor in the design of buildings. Unfortunately, at this stage it is a prohibitively expensive product for the average consumer, and likely targeted at the construction industry. But it might be only a niche for some years before expanding to a larger scale.

The news websites PetaPixel and Colossal have previously covered this topic last month, and included some larger product photos made available by the company. But the most interesting coverage might be the one by Lux Review, who met CoeLux at an exhibition booth and made the following video. From their article:

No, the light source doesn’t move… yet. No, the colour temperature isn’t dynamic… yet. The void height needed is a metre. It consumes 340W of electrical power, but that will come down as LEDs improve.

The camera work in the game Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet

Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet is a 2D shooter with an outstanding visual style (and this is where my description ends since I am yet to try this game, even though I already bought it). In this 10mn video, Ryan Meyer explains how the camera system he wrote for the game works.

Bret Victor – Seeing Space

Following on his previous talks on data visualization and programming interfaces, Bret Victor presents the idea of what he calls a “seeing space”, meant to improve understanding of problems in the context of collaborative engineering.

Seeing Spaces from Bret Victor on Vimeo.