Francesca Da Rimini

Following yesterday’s post about a music video featuring modern dance and computer visual effects, here is a video featuring classical dance and a robot controlled camera.

Francesca Da Rimini was a historical figure portrayed in the Divine Comedy and numerous works of art, including a symphonic poem by Tchaikovsky. In 2014 the director Tarik Abdel-Gawad and his team recorded a performance by two dancers of the San Francisco Ballet, Maria Kochetkova and Joan Boada, using a robot controlled camera. Tarik was also the technical and creative director of the demonstration video featuring the same Bot&Dolly robots (a company acquired by Google in 2013) and which turned viral, “Box”.

In the accompanying back stage video, he explains how seeing dancers rehearse over and over gave him the idea of experimenting with a pre-programmed robot, in order to make the camera part of the choregraphy, and allow the viewer to have a closer, more intimate, view of the performance.

Christopher McKay – Life beyond the Earth

So that’s my job in a sense: search other worlds for alien life.

So when I’m on a long plane flight, like coming over here, and the guy sitting next to me says: “So what do you do?”. Chatty fellow. I say: “Well I search other worlds for alien life.”. And then, he leaves me alone for the rest of the flight, I can get some sleep. It’s a great job description, I like it.

This excerpt is part of the introduction of the following lecture by NASA scientist Dr. Christopher McKay, on the search of life beyond Earth. He talks about Mars exploration, a potential mission to Enceladus, the challenges of field research in such environment, how to detect life (without accidentally destroying it in the attempt), how to avoid contamination and what would be some practical consequences to finding life. It’s a great insight into the current state of the field, delivered with an entertaining tone.

Commented footage of the space shuttle launch

Ascent is a commented montage of carefully selected videos of the launch of space shuttle, made by the Glenn Research Center. A DVD and a Blu-ray were produced but are apparently yet to be distributed reliably, so meanwhile the DVD ISO can be downloaded on this unofficial website.

The document is 45mn long, and presents outstanding footage taken during launch of missions STS-114, STS-117, and STS-124, from some of the 125 cameras used to ensure vehicle safety. Views include close ups of the ignition and of the launchpad at 400 fps, mid range footage, and up to footage taken from over 30km away (with the equivalent of a 4000mm lens). The comments give abundant detail about what is happening on the picture as well as the camera involved (lens, film, speed…).

As mentioned this video is 45mn long, but I’ve found it so captivating that I hardly noticed the length. If you only have 8mn available though, this other montage shows the launch from the cameras attached to the solid rocket boosters (SRB) with the recorded sound, from ignition, up until separation, then down to landing in the sea.

Unreal Engine experimental scene videos

Since the beginning of 2014, there has been a lot of videos demonstrating the realism that can now be achieved with Unreal Engine 4.

Often, these videos showcase a static scene or even concentrate on a single detail: lighting in an architectural structure, the look of rain hitting the ground, or some wet pebble on the beach.

Physically based rendering, global illumination and screen space reflections seem to manage to trick the brain an get it confused between what is real and what isn’t. Even when some artifacts get salient, like reflections popping in and out or changing with camera orientation, we are quick to forget them and find the image very believable.

Here are some of these videos, by Alexander Dracott, Koola, and Benoît Dereau.

Unreal 4 Lighting Study: Forest Day from Alexander Dracott on Vimeo.

A real-time post-processing crash course

Revision 2015 took place last month, on the Easter weekend as usual. I was lucky enough to attend and experience the great competitions that took place this year; I can’t recommend you enough to check all the good stuff that came out of it.

Like the previous times I shared some insights in a seminar, as an opportunity to practice public talking. Since our post-processing have quite improved with our last demo (Ctrl-Alt-Test : G – Level One), the topic was the implementation of a few post-processing effects in a real-time renderer: glow, lens flare, light streak, motion blur…

Having been fairly busy over the last months though, with work and the organising of Tokyo Demo Fest among others, I couldn’t afford as much time as I wanted to spend on the presentation unfortunately. An hour before the presentation I was still working on the slides, but all in all it went better than expected. I also experimented with doing a live demonstration, hopefully more engaging than some screenshots or even a video capture can be.

Here is the video recording made by the team at Revision (kudos to you guys for the fantastic work this year). I will provide the slides later on, after I properly finish the credits and references part.

Over decades photographers, then filmmakers, have learned to take advantage of optical phenomenons, and perfected the recipe of chemicals used in films, to affect the visual appeal of their images. Transposed to rendering, those lessons can make your image more pleasant to the eye, change its realism, affect its mood, or make it easier to read. In this course we will present different effects that can be implemented in a real-time rendering pipeline, the theory behind them, the implementation details in practice, and how they could fit in your workflow.

The Rescued film project

The Rescued film project aims at developing and archiving film rolls that, for some reason, were left undeveloped. In this video they present their work, and more specifically when they discovered 31 rolls shot my an American from WWII soldier.

The photos can be seen on their website.

Undeveloped World War II Film Discovered from The Rescued Film Project on Vimeo.