Last year I gave a talk at Revision in which I summed up some of the things I had been gathering on light shading.
This year too I will be attending Revision, in Saarbrücken, Germany, and will give a talk about light again. I will present some of the new stuff I learned. This time the topic is going to be focused on the use of light from a design perspective, in particular in the context of demo-making. It will also be an opportunity to improve on the things I wasn’t happy with regarding the performance: hopefully a better diction, flow and construction.
This is a long due post, but I have been busy recently and couldn’t take the time to write a proper party report. Later being better than later, here are a few words about the third edition of the Japanese demoparty, Tokyo Demo Fest, which took place in the center of Tokyo a month ago.
Jade, by Offwhite, winner of the graphics competition at Tokyo Demo Fest 2013
This party is still very young. When the first edition was launched, it was a one day only event, had under 50 visitors, and I understand it took place in what seemed to be a meeting room they rented. The demoscene culture is something very little heard about in Japan, so kudos to these enthusiasts for organizing it. I wasn’t part of the team yet, and joined them a few months later, with the hope I could bring a European point of view and some of the experience from organizing Prologin for eight years (a French thing, most likely you’ve never heard of it; anyway it has a few points in common with demoparty).
The next edition was organized in a club in Akihabara which, while being way too narrow and not suited for coding sessions, certainly allowed to have a better party feeling than a cold meeting room. Around 80 visitors attended.
Étude des fluides, by Caty Olive, as part of the exhibition for the Mois du numérique
Then we went onward to the 2013 edition, with more experience and more expectations. And for some reason, many things went very well. The invitation intro, released at Function, won the PC 64k Intro Competition. Various sponsors supported us, including last minutes ones, securing us both on money and equipment. We met with the Institut français de Tokyo (a public funded cultural institution) and agreed on organizing the party in their buildings, as part of their event “Le mois du numérique” (“The Digital Month”, which had Éric Chahi as a guest star by the way). Suddenly, Tokyo Demo Fest had grown up from a nascent demoparty wannabe, to a full featured demoparty, with a warm party place wide enough for over a hundred visitors, seats and tables, real equipment (audio, video, light, network…) and other fancy stuff like an actual theater room for projections and seminars.
Demoshow in the theater at Tokyo Demo Fest 2013
But then there was one problem left that wouldn’t be a matter of infrastructure: the mood. Would the audience participate? Would we have a real party? From my European point of view, it seems to me that Japanese people have a very hard time being spontaneous, and I understand it is somehow considered inappropriate in the Japanese society to openly show your emotions. They would watch a competition staying quiet and silent, only to give a contrived applause at the end, light years away from what we may experience in Europe, with people shouting and whistling on every bit they like. How to get this to work here was the big question, and the Japanese organizers who had attended other demoparties and experienced this uplifting feeling of being part of a crowd enjoying the event, were wondering too.
Party hall at Tokyo Demo Fest 2013
Well, I don’t know what happened. I don’t know if it’s a matter of reaching a critical mass, the opening icebreaker talk by Kioku (the lead organizer), the party place, the productions, or because we had many western visitors who by their behavior became the sparkle that would ignite the fire, but the atmosphere we had was a complete blast. That was it: Tokyo Demo Fest was now a solid demoparty, a mix of Japanese and European spirit that worked. I invite you to read this party report by Setsuko Hyodo for a more in-depth description.
Group photo with Mickey from Israel (far left), Eddie Lee (right) and Chibi-tech (far right)
Finally, on top of the cupcake, was the cherry. If you ever attended a small demoparty, you probably know the level of the releases is not going to be outstanding. Let’s face it, as fun as competitions are in such parties, you can consider yourself very lucky if you get anything, say, worth watching for people who did not attend. So how lucky exactly are we supposed to consider ourselves when we had for example a demo like Artifacts by IllogicTree (winner of the demo competition, and given how it was received outside the party, it is a good bet to say it is going to be one of the best demos of 2013), an artwork like Jade by Offwhite or a music video like ATOM – Galaxy Man by In-Sect?
On his blog, Florian Boesch introduces to a clever technique to render wireframe polygons using fragment shading, along with a live demo. The full explanation is presented in this paper. For convex polygons, just add as an attribute (or compute in the geometry shader?) the distance between the vertex and the other edges, and use the minimum distance in the fragment shader. Simple, easy to implement, and a nice anti-aliased result. (the paper also presents a second technique for non-convex polygons).
A couple of months ago I was posting here about this SIGGRAPH publication on amplification of details in a video. Yesterday the New York Times put online a story as well as a video on the topic, with explanations from the authors and some new examples.
A game engine programmer walks into a bar, asks for a beer or two and starts chatting, especially with that green eyed hot girl. After some small talk she asks him what he’s doing for a living. “Oh I work in a video game company you know…” “Oh really, that sounds cool! And what do you do there?” And there it comes. He can try changing the topic, being mysterious, accidentally spilling his glass, or he can try to answer that question without sounding soporific.
About a year ago a colleague asked me how you would explain to someone who is not in the video game industry – not in software, not even in anything related to technology for that matter, to a normal person you know – what your job consists in when you work on a game engine. “Well it’s… blah blah…” Nah, too long, it’s already boring. The explanation should be brief, easy to get and possibly sort of cool. After a couple of tries we agreed on a description we thought worked.
Working on a game engine is like building a stadium.
Once you have a stadium, you can have all sorts of games played inside: football, basketball, athletics… All you need are rules and some equipment, and then the players can get in. Just like in a game, once you have the engine, all you need are the logic and the assets. You could even have a gig. But you might not be able to have ice hockey or swimming competitions if your stadium is not meant for it. Just like a game engine allows certain kinds of games and not others.
I found this metaphor to come in handy when, you know, talking to normal people about what you do. Now for the rest of the conversation with the hot girl (or hot guy, no sexism here), that’s up to you. ;-)
I was delighted to discover the last Disney short film, Paperman, which was released to the public a few days ago. Almost completely in black and white, with a hint of red, this animation a small gem of directing.
If I may try myself at a analyzing the image, notice how the light is used to support the story.
The guy is lit according to his mood: a strong but soft rim light when he is happy, a dim and dull ambient light at work, a strong and harsh side light when the moment is intense. Notice for example how his face has soft shadows at the office, but strong shadows right before he runs. Notice too how the paper planes pull him from the shadow back into the light.
The woman is lit depending on how unreachable she gets: the more difficult she is to reach, the less lit she is. As she gets in her train, she is surrounded by shadow. Similarly, when she is seen from the window, the whole building is bright, drawing attention to her, but the room is still dark as she is unreachable. As the paper planes get closer, she gets more and more light. When she passes the door, she gets back in the shadow.
Of course when they reach each other and finally meet, they both are in the light.
Today I watched a TEDx talk by Jorge Cham, tackling with what he refers to as the science gap, between the people who do science, and the general public. A part of his talk explains the story behind the Higgs Boson animation, and this story alone makes the talk worth watching.