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Thoughts, updates and personal news.

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The Almost Future

There are a lot of arguments to be made that we are currently living in the future. We carry in our pockets computers that are incredibly fast with screens that are higher resolution than our capacity to discern. We’ve got voice activated personal assistants, video chat, and 3d maps that are right out of science fiction. We even have e-books and tablets! All the elements are in place for a tech-utopia.

This is not a photograph from a plane, this is a screen shot of Google Maps. Seriously, you can click to see for yourself.

This is not a photograph from a plane, this is a screenshot of Google Maps. Seriously, you can click to see for yourself. It’s kind of crazy.

But it doesn’t feel very future-ish, does it? Why?

What we’re lacking today is a unifying force. Something that brings all of our tech magic into a cohesive whole. It isn’t an operating system, or an app. This force is equal parts software, marketing, business, and licensing. There’s an absurd fortune to be made by whoever can sort it out. Of course, I think I’ve done that. Continue reading

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Adobe announces CS6 upgrade policy. I am not pleased.

Adobe has some now price structures they’ve announced. A wide variety of subscription options have been added, which is nice I guess. If there are some months when you don’t use Creative Suite you can save some money by suspending your subscription. I rarely go an hour without using Creative Suite so a subsciption model doesn’t work for me. That’s OK, Adobe has left their current licensing in place. Mostly.

There is one little insidious change. Upgrades can only be done from the previous point version. So you can’t jump from CS4 to CS6 for example.

Why is this an insidious change? Well, what if CS6 doesn’t have any worth-while updates?For years I got away with skipping the odd-numbered upgrades to Adobe’s various products. There was only rarely enough features in any given point version to warrant to the investment. By waiting every other version I felt like my money was being well spent, I’d get two full versions worth of new tools. Now I can’t do that, I have to buy every version to stay inside the upgrade window. It’s good business for Adobe, but it isn’t any good for the end user. Adobe no longer has any market pressure to make each version a compelling upgrade. Users have to update, why blow it out? That’s why it’s insidious.

Thank fully for me it’s really a matter of principle and not a practical concern, I’ve had to stay current with Adobe for years now because I have to stay out front of the tools and trends. But if I were still a baby-artist, this would be a real bummer. Not cool Adobe. Not cool.

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NewTek announces Lightwave 11

Last night NewTek announced Lightwave 11 and it seems to have some killer new features; instancing, new dynamics, new scripting, UI improvements, etc. I love my Lightwave but NewTek never made a compelling case for why I should upgrade to 10. But with the new features in 11 and all the things from 10 I never got to use this might be what pushed me to update.

What I’m really looking forward to is the trial download, that will make my mind up one way or the other.

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Gregory III’s First Halloween

Gregory The Third had his first Halloween and seemed to like it. He’s only six weeks old so he pretty much didn’t know what was going on but he helped me give out candy anyway. We had a mini-photo-shoot in the front yard and got a few smiles out of him.

His “night owl” costume was more of a themed sleeping bag and matching had, but in my entirely-non-biased opinion, he was super cute.

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Battlefield 3 Simulator Room is all sorts of awesome

The geeks over at The Gadget Show have done something awesome. Using a bunch of different technologies they’re created an incredibly immersive simulation room that runs Battlefield 3. No controller, haptic feedback (if you can call getting blasted with paint-balls “haptic feedback”), immersive screen, and more.

It’s a very cool piece of kit, I’d pay good money for some time inside, but I can’t help but feel they missed a few key opportunities.

For one thing, the player holds a weapon in his hands, so why is there another weapon on the screens? And since the screen is so large it’s like a giant three foot tall weapon is flying around in front of you.

My other gripe is how they handled turning. The weapon controls the point of view (POV). With games like ArmA 2 and a cool little doo-dad called a TrackIR (which I have, love, and cannot speak highly enough of) you can separate the POV from the aim of the weapon. That’s what they should have done here. Control the POV with a TrackIR and track the weapon separately.

These two little tweaks would have elevated this from super-immersive way to interface with a game to true simulation.

Still, if they charged $20 a round for access to this thing as is they’d do serious damage to my checking account.

[youtube video=”eg8Bh5iI2WY” width=”640″ height=”385″ /]

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The future of photography

We can do so many amazing things with photos these days. Photoshop can fix most pictures if they’re taken well, but what if they’re not? Well, we’re out of luck. However, there are emerging imaging techniques and technologies that are allowing a whole new level of amazing photography to emerge.

To start, HDRI is starting to be de regur. I’m sure hardware that shoots HDRI natively is just around the bend. In fact, in a limited way, the iPhone already does just that. This means we’ll be dealing with exposure after the fact as a matter of course. We’ll be able to shoot in any light level and get the image we had in our mind when we pushed the shutter release.

Now a company called Lytro is introducing a new type of camera that somehow captures images that can be focused after the fact. Let me reiterate that, you snap a pic, then you pick the focal point. It’s pretty killer. You can check it out over at their site. They have several images that you can refocus in real time.

Add to all of that the new technology demoed by Adobe at this years MAX Conference that let’s you take the blur introduced by a moving camera out of a shot and you have a future where you can snap a pic without any thought at all. Get the general direction right and you’re set. You’ll be able to set the focus and exposure in post and if you didn’t even bother to hold the camera still you can fix that too.

[youtube video=”xxjiQoTp864″ width=”640″ height=”385″ /]

These and other emerging technologies point toward a future of photography that is really amazing. I’m looking forward to it.

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Erin’s Voice wins 2011 UCLA Screenwriting Competition

Six months ago I entered my most recent screenplay into the prestigious UCLA Screenwriting Competition. I didn’t expect anything to come of it but a few months later I was thrilled to hear I had made the top ten.

Then, another few months later, I was elated to be told I’d made the top three. As a finalist I was given the privilege of working with a professional screenwriter. The writer I was paired with was Steve Mazur who is probably best know for writing the Jim Carry film “Liar, Liar”. Steve offered a lot of great insight into the strengths and weakness of the draft that I entered. I hunkered down an hammered out a complete rewrite in just six weeks.

Well, it turns out the effort was worth it! I just learned that Erin’s Voice has won first place. This is a huge honor and I couldn’t be happier with the news. There are some great prizes that come with the win but none of them compare to the exposure I’m hoping to get. Stay tuned for updates!

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Gregory The Third Arrives!

It seemed like it would never happen but Angela and I are now the proud parents of a very big, very healthy baby boy. Gregory The Third was 9lbs, 2oz and 22.5″ long. Friends and family were on hand and there were a lot of smile. Mommy is recovering wonderfully and we hope to go home soon. Now the question is do I teach him Photoshop first, or Lightwave?

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Siggraph Whirlpool Rendering

Out of curiosity I took the results of my 2010 Siggraph presentation and rendered them in stereoscopic 3D. I uploaded it to YouTube and setup the 3D tools so you can check it out however you like to get your 3D. Everything from red/blue glasses to crossing your eyes. I think it looks pretty good. If I ever get the spare rending bandwidth I have plans to really blow this project out.

[youtube video=”Zc4NoSMaVFU” width=”640″ height=”385″ /]