Real time stereo ray tracing engineer position in Tokyo

I have retweeted this already, but information tends to get buried pretty quickly on Twitter so I put it here. Syoyo, a real time ray tracing enthusiast, is looking for a talented ray tracing engineer to join his company, Light Transport.

Given their existing technology (interactive to real time ray tracing, interactive shader editing with JIT compilation) and their current focus on the Oculus DK2, I can let you imagine how exciting this position is.

Tokyo City Symphony: a video mapping on a model of Tokyo

I was impressed by the quality of this work. The model looks very accurate, the soundtrack captures the sound environment one experiences in Tokyo, and the video mapping comes with some nice ideas.

The project seems to allow even more than is shown on the video, with some interactive mapping: see the Tokyo City Symphony website.

Tokyo Demo Fest 2013

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.

Sinus meets square

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 at Tokyo Demo Fest 2013

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

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 shot at Tokyo Demo Fest 2013

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?

Portrait of a stranger

Attending a photo exhibition on Sunday motivated me to take my camera with me again. Not to go out and shoot, rather just in case, for those “would make a nice photo” moments.

While commuting back from work in a half empty train on Monday, there was such a moment. This man sat in front of me and soon he tried to sleep. But although his eyes were closed, I could see he wasn’t sleeping (unlike so many Japanese commuters who just instantly fall asleep, often in the middle of checking their mails). His face looked calm and unworried. With the empty seats, I thought it would make a good image as soon as some motion through the window would contrast with his quiet looking.

Portrait of a stranger

Portrait of a stranger

But before that moment came, another commuter sat next to him. I spent a while wondering if I just missed the shot or if I should take both of them anyway. I liked his face and kept staring at him, after he gave up on sleeping, waiting for an eye contact so I could take his portrait.

That moment didn’t come either. Finally I took my camera and aimed anyway. After a few seconds, I pressed the button.

He looked at me, and smiled.

(The photo is as-is, out of the camera, without any post-treatment of any kind.)

Two cute dogs

Anyhow–whatever the reason for my animosity–I saw this couple, hated them and flashed at them. Three times. Each one capturing a slightly more shocked expression. It was my intention. I wanted people like this to be outed in some way–I found it appropriate to shoot them in the same way as a paparazzi would.

So goes a recent interview of Charlie Kirk, British photographer going by the handle Two Cute Dogs.

Although now living in UK, Charlie had been in Tokyo for many years and doing street photography. That’s about all I know about him, the rest is guess. A strongly opinionated person I’d dare to assume.

I can only recommend you to have a look at his work (on Burn My Eyeon Tumblr, not on Flickr anymore; note it can be NSFW). His style is remarkable, using flash to take street portraits in an intrusive, aggressive manner. Some of his shots are truly fascinating. In the interview, he explains how he took what would become his single most famous shot.

The point of this post was only to mention that interview, but while I’m at it, here is a documentary by Adrian Storey. There’s even a TL;DR version, ahem, trailer.

At last underneath his portrait of Charlie Kirk, Jason Comb also writes:

Everywhere and especially in Tokyo people put on a mask of sorts to project an image of how they want people to see them. Charlie’s work is as if he pulls off that mask, then captures what’s under that mask to reveal something more interesting. Of course this isn’t for everyone and some people don’t like it, but in a sea of mediocrity and many relying on post production to make their photos interesting Charlie is a breath of fresh air.

An image in the rain

A typhoon passed over Japan a couple of days ago, causing, at least in Tokyo, no more trouble than some serious rain and a couple of broken umbrellas. It was also an opportunity for photographers to catch some interesting scenes. This image in particular grabbed – as in, took and refused to give back – my attention.

Vertical version - 90度回転

With the kind permission of its author, Héctor García (aka. kirai / kirainet)

A real gem.

I have to disagree with the author when he argues the result is marred by the unbalanced composition (see the description on the Flickr page). I think on the contrary it makes the scene more vivid, more intense and in a sense, more fragile, bringing back the movement and life the high shutter speed froze away. It would have been so less interesting if it was perfectly aligned and balanced.

On a side note, also notice how the lines draw the attention on the model as the vanishing point is out of the frame. If it was within it, the feeling would be very different as the attention would drift toward the end of the street.

Last but not least, look at this light! Look at the warm reflections, the rim on the arm, the scattering through the drops…

This is exactly the sort of light I was referring to when I chose the title of this blog.

Update: Kirai made the following video out of some of the shots taken during that session.

Unintentional film looking shot

Snow suddenly started to fall over Tokyo last night, quickly building a white layer over the never ending city. I was too lazy to grab my gear and all the stuff one needs to get out during a cold night, so I just hoped the snow would still be there on the morning and decided that I would take my camera with me on my way to work.

It was still there (although it had become ice) and it was giving the morning sunlight some exquisite tones. I love the morning light anyway: grazing, harsh, drawing bold shadows on faces and buildings… But the reflections due to the snow really make a difference.

While waiting for the train on the platform, I wanted to take a picture of that girl on the other side, lit by that light. But I didn’t even have time to aim and the train was there already. I took the shot anyway, in the hope I would catch it through the window.

The result is a bit unexpected: the tinted glass and blacklit inside give the picture a film feeling, as if tones were post-processed and black mattes were added.

The filmic train

The filmic train