land-of-kain

(umi'n no kuni)

Interactive Music Theory

Music theory is usually not physics-based, for historic reasons. In contrast, the light note project shows how sound waves translate into harmonies and musical scales, yielding a beginner's scientific approach to making music.

Underwater Slow Motion Explosions

PetaPixel and Sploid report on slow-motion underwater explosions (video) recorded by the Slow-mo guys, using a Phantom V2511 (costs 150K EUR) at 28Kfps and at 120Kfps, respectively. The initial photon blast is followed by a gas bubble, which eventually collapses again, yielding a second photon blast.

SSH Keys Upgrade: Elliptic Curve

Every few years, it has to be done: Upgrade your SSH keys, this time to elliptic curve 25519 by DJB. Fortunately, you can add the new keys to .ssh and then successively reconfigure all servers while keeping the old keys in the meantime. Or, in short: ssh-keygen -o -a 100 -t ed25519.

Studio Lighting Breakdown: Bonsai Furniture

Karl Taylor scribbles on a professional foto (video) to break down how he designed the lighting of the shot, featuring a person and a sofa, and more importantly all the right shadows and soft/hard lighting at the right spots.

Text Analysis: 6 Shapes of Stories

Nerdcore and Discover report on semi-automated text analysis of western literature by Uni Vermont [USA], which reveals 6 basic story shapes: Linear (rags to riches and vice versa), one hump (man in a hole vs. Oedipus) and two humps (Cinderella vs. Icarus). They used mechanical turk on text snippets to rate emotional scores.

Blackbird: Motion Capture (MoCap) for Cars

Nerdcore and Core 77 report on the Blackbird electric car by the mill: Just a black body with markers and sensors, its form can be adjusted to resemble the target car, and traction, speed and other properties can be programmed. After filming, a digital chassis is then inserted in post-production.

Hacker's Guide to Aging

Hackaday writes about strategies to counter-act the effects of to getting old: Using a light with magnifier or a similar head band to see more clearly, a fume extractor and mobile arm rests to minimize hand tremors, writing down ever more stuff, and even eye surgery and meds where necessary.

Multi-spectral Camera with Single Lens

Photonics and Heise [de] link to a Fraunhofer IPMS (Institute for Photonic Microsystems) press release on a camera prototype with two image sensors on different spectral bands behind a single lens. While details are scarce, apparently a specialized mirror steers light rays from different bands towards either sensor.

Lightfield Video Camera: Lytro Cinema

After the lightfield photo camera Lytro Illum (80 Mrays) comes the Lytro Cinema video camera (755 Mrays at 300fps), as Engadget reports. This means refocusing and, more importantly, better depth information for 4K (~8 MP) over ~90 micro lenses. The effect: Refocus effects that are not possible in actual lens hardware, and better 3d data for visual artists to work CG with. Unlike the 1K EUR Illum, the Cinema will be in the 100K EUR price range.

The Blackest Black

Peta Pixel reports on the blackest black: Surrey Nanosystems have invented a material named VantaBlack consisting of vertically aligned carbon nanotubes that bounce photons inside them until they turn into thermal energy. At 0.035% reflectance, e.g. the dot of a standard red laser pointer just vanishes. For comparison, very dark black coating arrives at around 1% reflectance.

Cinematic Lighting Examples

On Peta Pixel, Doug Jackson recounts examples of him getting still frames from cinematic movies, and analyzing them in terms of how the lighting was produced and which effect was intended. The primary tools are stage lighting equipment and various types of reflectors. Portrait lighting is covered by Felix Barjou.

Cat S60: Infrared Camera Smartphone

In case a YotaPhone 2 with E-ink back side is not novel enough: Peta Pixel reports on the Cat S60 phone with a built-in FLIR thermal imaging camera, to see heat losses or people/animals in full darkness.

Photography: Focal Length for Portraits

Anton Orlov explains why a lens with long focal length is better for portrait photography: If the camera is far from the subject, all facial features have nearly the same distance to the sensor. If the camera is very close, e.g. the nose is a lot nearer to the sensor than the rest of the face, taking proportionally more pixels and enlarging the nose artifically.

Time of Flight Doppler Imaging

Researchers from USA/Germany have combined Time-of-Flight cameras and the Doppler effect (video). In ToF, photons with a specific wave length (phase) are emitted and the phase shift is measured. When an object is moving towards or away from the camera, the Doppler effect changes the wave length itself (not just shifting it). The prototype separates the two effects, and provides depth and z-motion as output.

Structure from Motion: Theia SFM

For one or multiple (possibly moving) cameras, structure from motion (SfM) estimates the camera position and direction. Alongside VisualSFM and Bundler (two applications), Theia is an open-source C++ library devoted to the same goal.

Language Engineering: Producing Ambiguity

Nerdcore points to a Timothy McSweeney article on language engineering to create ambiguity in sentences, moving from the classic "the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" to the final result "Speed was involved in a jumping-related incident while a fox was brown" in 10 or so easy steps.