Tag Archives: video

Playing with Plotagon

Plotagon is a program that allows you to create cartoony animations by using stock ’emotes’. In gaming, these would probably be called ‘run cycles’, except for facial expressions.

Basically, what you do is you add a sequence of these run cycles to a ‘scene’. When you play the scene, the run cycles merge together to create a short animation.

WordPress will only allow me to upload a Plotagon video [mp4 format] if I subscribe, so, here’s a gif that I can upload for free. πŸ™‚

I had to split Innerscape to ‘inner’ and ‘scape’ so the computerised ‘voice’ could say it without mangling the unfamiliar word. And yes, in the video, Miira is talking out loud!

Plotagon provides voices to speak the dialogue, or you can use your own voice. As I don’t have a mic., I’m making do, at least for now. The app. also provides a ton of sound effects and free music, so you can imagine how much fun I had choosing those. πŸ˜€

If you want to have a play yourself, go to:

https://www.plotagon.com/

You can download a free, trial version for 7 days. That’s what I was playing with last night. It’s a good way of testing out whether the app. is for you or not, but there’s a whopping big watermark right across the screen that is rather annoying. That’s one of the reasons why I decided to subscribe for a month [cost US $13].

I’m calling this a marketing investment as everything I produce can be saved to either mp4 or gif format, or both. That means whatever I create remains ‘mine’ if I decide to unsubscribe at the end of the month.

If I manage to produce something genuinely worthwhile, I may sign up with Youtube again so I can upload the videos I produce. For some odd reason, WP allows me to place Youtube videos in my posts but not home made ones.

Unfortunately, Youtube is now owned by Google so I can’t create an account without signing up for Google as well.

I’m very ambivalent about Google for security and privacy reasons, but as the blind man said, ‘we shall see’. πŸ™‚

cheers

Meeks


The Irishman special FX

I haven’t seen The Irishman, but the video detailing how it was made has me absolutely enthralled. Watch, and see for yourself:

Cool tech, right? But it’s not just the tech that has me jiggling up and down in my chair. It’s the fact that another piece of Innerscape is becoming a reality! -dance-

If you read book 1 of the Innerscape trilogy, you may remember the scene, early in the story, in which Miira finally gets to see the ‘avatar’ she will use once she has been inducted into Innerscape. That avatar is based on her 29 year old self. In other words, her avatar has to be ‘de-aged’.

To make the story work, the Innerscape AI had to be sophisticated enough to create avatars so real looking that none of the Residents can tell the difference. That was one of the key pieces of tech in the story, and now I know that it’s possible, actually possible.

I cannot tell you how good that feels.

cheers

Meeks


Fly like a bird…

Yves Rossy is the original jetman. It’s thanks to him that we saw jetmen flying in formation with the French air force:

Formation flying

You can watch the whole, incredible video clip here. Amazing, right? But back then he needed to get up in the sky before he could fly.

Now, he can take off all by himself:

I’m terrified of heights, but to fly like this…that would be heavenly.

Merry Christmas, my friends. Eat, drink, be merry and stay safe.

cheers

Meeks


Seeing in Infrared

I’ve been doing some research on different types of vision, and apparently what we humans see is the visible wavelength of light – i.e. the colours you see in a rainbow. But many animals, and especially insects, see things we can’t. For example, the humble goldfish can see in both infrared and ultraviolet wavelengths.

Without getting too technical, think of wavelengths as a line of spaghetti of different lengths, from shortest to longest. The shortest bits are in the ultraviolet wavelength. The longest bits are in the infrared wavelength, and there in the middle are the colours we humans can see. Blue is longer than ultraviolet and red is shorter than infrared.

For the purposes of my research, infrared was what I was looking for, but what is it, and what does it look like?

We can’t see infrared, not with the naked eye, but we can feel it because infrared is basically the wavelength of ‘heat’. In visual terms, the colder something is, the darker it appears. The hotter something is, the brighter it looks.

Confused? Good, so was I. As a visual creature, I needed to be able to visualise something that is essentially, invisible. Luckily, we have developed special cameras that can:

  • detect infrared wavelengths, and
  • translate them into colours on the visible spectrum – i.e. into colours we can see.

Generally speaking, infrared cameras translate cold images into dark colours such as dark blue or dark purple. As areas of an image warm up, the heat is translated into brighter colours – from red to orange to yellow to white.

In the screenshot below, the infrared camera shows a cold frying pan on a stove top [the yellow labels are mine]:

To get an idea of what the camera sees as the pan heats up, please have a look at this short video on the National Geographic website:

https://www.nationalgeographic.org/media/infrared-vision/#seeing-infrared

It’s only a very short video [1.18 minutes] and well worth the look [if you have a phobia about mosquitoes, avert your eyes for the first twenty seconds or so]. Isn’t that amazing?

More on why I’m doing this research at a later date. πŸ˜€

cheers

Meeks

 


Cats :)

I love cats, but my guys are ‘puddy tats’:

The guy in the following article loves the kind of cats who can shred a human with the casual flick of a claw. Watching the relationship between this man and ‘Meg’ was both heart stopping and uplifting:

https://www.physics-astronomy.org/2019/09/7-yrs-after-rescuing-lioness-he-sees.html

If you’re in Australia, have a great Monday. If you’re up north, enjoy the last of your weekend.

cheers

Meeks


Did you know that…?

Okay, I’m sure you’re all sick of my love affair with odd bits of information so…I promise, this will be the last [for now]. πŸ˜€

Allow me to introduce you to the Harpy Eagle of Central America:

See that Harpy Eagle chick? See its talons? If you watch that amazing video you will learn that the feet of a fully grown Harpy Eagle are more powerful than the jaws of a Rottweiler. You will also learn that the back talon is used to stab the eagle’s prey:

https://www.reshareworthy.com/harpy-eagle/

Guess who’s going to have killing talons like the Harpy Eagle? Mwahahaha!

cheers

Meeks


Rats, rats and more rats! Nice ones. :)

Disclaimer: I don’t like rats, but these ones could make me change my mind. I was blown away by how smart they are. The video is about their tricks. Seriously amazing:

But what got me onto rats in the first place? This photo:

At first I thought they were toys, staged to look like little musicians. Then I followed the link to its home and discovered that they were real!

Please visit this amazing site to see all the photos:

Discover The Photographs Of Artists Rats By Ellen van Deellen

Have a great weekend!

Meeks


More research – sky diving!

I’m terrified of heights so just watching this made me queasy, but…Kaati has to fall backwards from a height and somehow flip right way up so it can fly instead of splatter. Yeah…

I tried springboard diving, gymnastics diving, even looked at some jetman videos but this one gave me exactly what I needed. Watch!

Okay, that was very quick so let me break it down for you. He starts with his back to the fall and does a swan dive away from the plane, but not straight back. He’s leading with his left arm and twisting his body to the left as soon as he’s airborne [keep your eye on that watch on his left wrist]:

Can you see how he turns on his vertical axis until he’s belly down towards the ground? Now he can do acrobatics or open his parachute because he’s facing the right way. Same with Kaati; even iVokh can’t flight ‘inverted’. πŸ™‚

You’re probably wondering why such a small point should matter…but you see it’s these small points that make sci-fi or even fantasy feel real. Plus I am anal. Thank god for DuckduckduckGo and youtube. πŸ˜€

Have a great Sunday!

Meeks


Retirement…slow down or speed up?

Not sure what your answer is, but mine is speed up! There are still so many stories I want to tell that another 50 years wouldn’t be enough, especially when I’m such a slow writer. And then there’s all that new tech coming online…

I’m not really a techie, you know. The true techies love all technology, whereas I’m pretty ambivalent about some of the innovations out there. Nevertheless, there are some gadgets I can hardly wait to use…like 3D printers for the home. Want that new top in your size? Not a problem, pay for the design and wait a few minutes while your 3D printer manufactures it for you. Or robots…I’ve loved the idea of robots since I first read ‘Door into Summer’ by Heinlein.

-laughs- I bet you thought Asimov was the only one who wrote about robots? Not so. You can find a description of ‘Door into Summer’ here.

Anyway, I’m saving my pennies for a household robot that will clean up after the cats, put the rubbish out, or maybe compost it on site? and mow the lawn. I’ve got a lot of lawn :/

But that’s not all! I haven’t had a chance to try VR yet, and it’s right up there as a ‘must do’ on my bucket list. I want to be able to travel the world from the comfort of my own home, and I want to fight monsters in glorious technicolour.

Of course, all of that depends upon how my eye-sight works with VR [I see depth via motion parallax, not stereopsis], but I’m hopeful, and this glorious track by Two Steps From Hell is how I feel at the ripe old age of 65. πŸ™‚

The track is called ‘Unleashed’… Bring it on!

cheers

Meeks


How to digitise real world objects for 3D printing

I’m stuck at home with a bad back and feeling rather sorry for myself, so this post by SV3DPRINTER was very welcome indeed. It not only gave me something else to focus on, it also gave me the tech that would make the world of Innerscape plausible rather than just possible.

Science fiction is always speculative fiction, so I knew that much of the ‘science’ in Innerscape was actually just magic based on tech that ‘might’ develop in the future. Nevertheless, I’ve always tried to make that speculation as close to reality as possible. That’s why I get so excited whenever something in Innerscape turns out to be ‘doable’.

Today, my discovery explains how all of Petra could be scanned and re-created inside a virtual environment. In the video clip below, the section on scanning terrain is only a small part of the presentation, but it made my day. πŸ™‚

 

And no, I didn’t know about these scanning technologies when I wrote Innerscape. I’m only an amateur techie, and I haven’t had a chance to explore the current Virtual Reality technology, so I simply assumed that a digital world would be produced the same way apps like Maya create digital models and gaming worlds now. Since watching this video clip, however, I’ve realised that re-creating the outside world for Innerscape will be a lot easier, and more accurate, than I originally thought, especially so far into the future.

Of course, the downside of each discovery is that my timescale for Innerscape becomes a little bit less likely. I mean, who would have thought ten years ago that 3D printing would become so commonplace so quickly? Or the internet. Who could have guessed that social media would become both a boon and a bane by 2018?

Honestly, the only thing any of us can say with any certainty is that the future will not be anything like what we imagine now. But that’s okay; perfect predictions would take all the excitement out of life. πŸ™‚

Anyway, time to lever myself out of this chair and walk around a bit.

cheers

Meeks


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