Monthly Archives: April 2011


Cool Stuff Opensim and Metaverses (no Second Life) – S2Ep13

Metaverse’s are what I do and have done for a living for a good few years now. Just in case you did not know πŸ™‚
This morning I finally got to see the piece on Opensim I did as part of my future tech slot on The Cool Stuff Collective. It has been odd getting to see it as I ended up with a duff DVD (it broke just before the piece), just as we sat down to watch some friends arrived so we had to put it on pause, but in the end I watched it.
Opensim on the TV
I managed to say Opensimultor (though we don’t say URL’s) and also get in a great reference to QuestHistory (From Rezzable), who kindly provided the OAR file for the greenies room that we flew around in on the show.
We had a 2 computer setup and were were talking to an OpenSim server I have running on a slicehost in the US. We were both running the Imprudence viewer, mine on the Mac and Sy on Windows. We had some picture in picture mixing too. So Sy had his view and I had mine. I got Sy to build a cube and then I modified it to illustrate the building tools.

My copy of the cool stuff set that we used was a 30 min build I did on a local opensim on the train one day.
The piece was a bit too long so some of the things we did didn’t make the edit but all the important pieces form co-creation, immersion and shared experience right up to and including the ability to drive 3d printers from these models we build and share together made it into the show.
My avatar had green spikey hair, my striped leather jacket and some felt tip trousers. These are all things that have a meaning and legacy for me, despite being “virtual”. The green spikes were part of my original Second Life avatar, the Jacket is my actual jacket photographed and textured as I wear in SL now and the felt tip trousers was something I coloured in when doing some painting with predlet 1.0 back in 2006. It would have been nice to have been able to talk about Second Life as an original seed and commercial operation, versus the open source opensim. However SL is really not geared up for 7-12 year old users so we could not encourage that. With the closing of the teen grid and the apparent ambivalence to education and establishment in general SL missing some great opportunities to make a difference again. So it was great to be able to talk about one that is actually doing things with QuestHistory well done Rezzable!
I gave Sy a cool stuff collective T shirt and skinny jeans πŸ™‚ So we actually have more virtual t-shirts than real ones for the show? Anyone out there want to do some merchandising for the show then please contact archie productions. I am sure there is a market there!
It was interesting to be technically making live machinima too. It was an extra element of complexity that we had 2 cameras in world, a composite screen in the studio as a feed and also two real camera pointing at us. Now we have the studio in Opensim though we could do a whole show from there πŸ™‚
Scale means nothing in virtual worlds
It has taken 26 shows to get to do Opensim. I had been using it as the emergency backup for any tech failures, but the 2 tech fails we have had on future tech did not fit nor would a quick piece do it justice so I am glad we waited.
Anyway, one more show left in the series next saturday. A Big Gadget Adventure piece. There is also a rather awesome gadget in the studio!
You can catch up on the clips of the shows here, or if you are quick you can watch entire episodes on the ITV player here

Street Fighter – The Poem

I wrote a full review of Super Street Fighter IV 3DS for Game People that you can read here. Whilst I was writing it a few rhyming lines appeared on the page, so I extracted them and built this poem, it seemed a pity for it to go to waste, the last two lines are my favourite.

Super Street Fighter IV 3DS
By Ian Hughes/epredator
inspired by Plan B at the London launch party

Ryu shouts Hadoken,
Firing energy again,
Lenticular 3d,
Powers the graphics engine.

The 3DS from Ninty,
Shows a cool new way,
To punch kick and block,
Making enemies sway.

Launch Manga ultra combos,
In the stunning 3d layers,
Touchpad assist buttons,
Help novice players.

Challenge the arcade,
Or random 3DS out there,
Built-in wi-fi signals,
Connect combatants everywhere.

Figure Points are earned,
And spent on a team,
Of fantasy Street Fighters,
Kept in your data stream.

Called StreetPass,
It’s a new gaming feature,
That delivers your team,
To anyone in 30 metres.

It happens when your 3DS,
Is in a state of sleep,
Win a numbers battle,
More Figure Points you reap.

The characters are funny
El Fuerte screams his challenge out,
β€œIt’s Super Dynamic Cooking Time!”
That’s serious comedy clout.

A launch title for the handheld,
Delivers a bag of tricks,
No headaches here just nose bleeds.
From Chun Li’s lightning kicks.

3D screen scoop – Cool Stuff Collective S2Ep12

This weeks Cool Stuff Collective is now airing, also rather usefully it is now in full on the ITV player here so you can see the entire show (and a few recent ones) in their full glory. All those mad links that Sy Thomas does too πŸ™‚ and that there is a storyline and plot for each show.
Monkey has turned into a pop impresario this week and is busy auditioning new acts, dressed with a white tshirt and high trousers…. Hmmmm I wonder who that is.
As part of the madness I have to audition for monkey singing Hello by Lionel Ritchie, it did not go well πŸ™‚ We also had a rather tiring game of music gaming chairs. I must remember to lose more quickly!
The future tech section was rather exciting as it was a brand new type of 3D display from a Uk inventor. I actually found out about it during an impromptu conversation in Best Buy when I was getting our 3D TV, introductions were made producer Matt kicked into action and booked the tech on the show. As you know I like to let serendipity take its course and so we ended up with this screen on the show.
This screen is from Applied 3D technologies. It was a proof of concept prototype so had that wonderful mad inventor quality to it that I can totally relate to.
A3DT - 3d Display
The screen had a circuit board doing some processing from an ordinary DVD player as the video source. The video on the DVD had been post processed for the screen format. The screen was not shutter or LCD glasses based, and it was also not the stereoscopic lenticular lens that we see on things like the 3DS. It was a different effect that I think is best compared to the sort of illusion of presence you get with the trick effects of a coin in a convex mirror bowl. The real coin appears to floating, you can reach out to grab it but really its at the bottom of the bowl out of the way.
The objects on the screen appeared to be in front of the plane of the screen not “in” the screen. Moving side to side the image would shift, still floating like on the inside of a sphere rather than with a lenticular where a shift to the right or left gives you a flat image.
We only had single objects rendered on a black background, but they were real filmed objects not just CGI. So there was motion. This made it seem a lot less plane related than many 3D films do.
Being an optical projection is also means it scales small and theoretically very large.
It was actually secret how it worked so I can’t actually say much more than form this observation, but it was intriguing to see and I look forward to seeing it go further. It was great to see the Cool Stuff Crew gathered around off air. As these people work with images all day, for them to be so interesting in something that felt and looked a little different proved to me there was something in this too.
All the contact details are on A3DT website if you are interested in finding out more.

Gadget Show Live 2011 – the long version

I cut a longer version of the Gadget Show Live video, this time from scratch, with a Garage Band tune form loops and some sound effects. Going through it was a good memory jogger if nothing else. It also makes me appreciate even more what the pro’s do on The Cool Stuff Collective.

The show day I went to was press/professional day so it was probably a more subdued affair that then the 20,000 people per day paying public days. For a start the arena show was off bounds as the guys were rehearsing. So no crossing of gadget and games show streams there then.
When I arrived I went straight to the back of the hall and found the UK computer museum, they had a huge stand for each decade and lots of that is in the video above.
There were a lot of 3D TV’s and laptops mostly with glasses. The Nvidia stand had a huge 101 inch 3d TV playing Crysis 2 on a high end PC and it was VERY impressive. The LG 3d projector show was good too though it was more for the pure quality of the picture than the 3D effect which seemed somewhat subtle as they played the Tron light cycle scene.
Elonex were in full force, and had huge number of tablets and e-readers. For a Uk company they are right up there in the rankings getting more market share than many of the major electronic giants.
The vehicle test tracks were great, lots of electric bikes and scooters. The TP Scoot was particularly impressive. Very stable, and very fast and road legal. I skipped going on the Segways as already done that πŸ™‚ funs as they are they are of no use here as they are not street legal. WE had a go on a smaller electric scooter that was only Β£100 and that was fun too but the TP was my favourite.
Sugru we are the show and it was great to see them there, the hack anything putty was getting lots of attention over near the future tech section.
In future tech (4 small stands by one wall) there was laser object capture, robot guitar hero player, a working 3d printer, Neurosky and some robotic kits. The commercial stuff is great but they could do with a much bigger future tech section. I guess thats what the wired nextfests are for though πŸ™‚
In the gaming zone, for some reason, people had to queue to enter the 3DS zone. Matt did point out that we were wasting time queuing as I already had one , had been to the launch party and we had had it on the show. So in dipping out of the queue I managed to rip my trousers. Not very rock and roll, but it was funny. It somewhat restricted my movements but luckily the badges we had all had safety pins so I risked it and pinned what I could back in place.
When we found the new games section where gears of war 3 was running and duke nukem I had to take a phone call about sorting out an Opensim server that was having a few issues. So I stood there looking at Gears of War 3 (awesome!), talking about Opensim and rebooting a remote machine via my iphone, wearing my TV g33k tshirt with the crotch of my trousers held together with pins. It was, not to put to fine a point on it, a surreal moment. Ninty you owe me some trousers!
Game had a big store in the game zone, they had pretyy much everything at full price, just a couple of pounds off Crysis 2. That seemed a bit of a pity, though saved me spending any money.
There were a lot of motion gaming chairs at the show, which looked very expensive. One of the more interesting cockpit versions though featured a projected dome. to give a 180 degree view from a regular project source, using a convex mirror. That in 3D would be awesome though complicated.
The paintball experts at http://www.nationalpaintballfields.com/ were great to talk too. They have a great lazer tag system (as in the video) and also they run kids games using foam non exploding pellets (like a fancy Nerf). Though they showed a whistling sniper bullet for regular paintball that was very cool and their custom markers were stunning. 25 rounds per minute, precise control.
It was odd seeing Flip on the Cisco stand on the day that Cisco closed the doors on the poor little thing. I am sure they are getting some flack today!
I was looking forward to the Vuzix AR glasses, but they were there but not working when I popped in.
There was a very strange couple of stands for some wrist band that is like an acupuncture pressure band, but with a “hologram” on it instead. This was just odd.
The venue was certainly full enough of some amazing kit, though equally if you pay attention to gadgets and hang around in best buy and read the tech press it was probably less surprising, but still well worth the trip.

Pixelated Truth – Art, music and performance in Second Life

It’s not all powerpoints and offices in the metaverse you know.
Claus Uriza from the wonderful PopArtLab was the driving force behind the creation of this excellant Machinima music video for Giana Factory’s new song Pixelated Truth. FuzonAcid directed the video and I think it shows that we often forget the depth of creativity that makes Second Life such an interesting medium. 20 actors performed in real time with their avatars being filmed for this. You can think of it as a form of very rich puppetry. Which when combined with great editing and and storytelling set to music is a very powerful package.
Enjoy, and think of the possibilities. You can create create things like this in a virtual world.

Gadget Show Live 2011 part 1 – video

I was at the preview day for Gadget Show Live 2011 and it will be a cracking few public days coming up. I took my new minicam and between us we managed about 20 mins of film. I thought I would upload this quick iMovie trailer version before posting and explaining what I saw and thought. It was great though and thanks to Elonex for inviting us.

Experiments with SL and green screen

I had not explored the options in iMovie other than the recent movie trailer additions and a little bit of picture in picture. I realized that it had a green screen processor, which means it will composite in one video with another treating the green as a replacement.
So I thought I would try something. This is just a render test rather than a finished article, but it shows the principle.
I built a green studio in Second Life, just some prims, full bright and green. Placed my epredator avatar in the scene, pointed the camera at me and recorded the result with SnapzPro.

Next I dropped the result in iMovie onto some of the Predlets movie trailer footage. I had to adjust the green screen crop but it actually worked!
I bought a new camera for the business today, a HD Kodak ZX3 waterproof minicam (like a Flip HD but more robust). The iphone is handy for video but thought I needed something, still homebrew, but dedicated. I popped a 16Gb SD card in to give a good few hours of filming.
I will be giving it a test at the Gadget Show Live press day on Tuesday. As if there was not enough to see there already !

Snow joke its episode 11

This weeks Cool Stuff Collective features monkey in cape as super monkey, an electric mini Hummer and a stack of cool gadgets. My part of the show was another Big Gadget Adventure. This time it was the indoor snow slope at Milton Keynes the SnoZone.
We actually recorded this straight after the sky diving, so it was a pretty tiring shoot. It is great gadget to talk about though as the way the snow is made and kept fresh is fascinating. It is actually made by pushing water vapour in front of the air jets and the crystals fall and form.
Check this out
In the shoot I had to snowboard down a few times, my first turns after so many years were tricky but I stayed shiny side up.
Snowboarding
More tiring than the boarding was walking back up and the slope for the sledging shots as we did that a few times.
Head first
I think that some of this shoot is about the comedy value of presenter abuse. I was pelted in various ways.
Presenter abuse
This of course will always make people laugh. You can’t beat a good bit of slapstick.
The indoor snow is so much better than the dry slopes that I tried to learn skiing on in the first place. The general piste is quite tightly packed for boarding but it still felt right. I can thoroughly recommend it πŸ™‚

What do you do with all the costumes?

Wednesday was a bitter sweet trip to London for The Cool Stuff Collective wrap party. Now there was a time when fancy dress generally made me think “oh no!” however this past year or so working with Archie Productions on the TV show has completely removed any apprehension I have of such things. It is a similar tipping point to when you finally realise that it is OK to stand up in front of people and talk or present. I have often thrown myself into things for my own good to get past these apparent walls of confidence us humans create. I chose to work in a shop on saturdays as a teenager in order to get used to talking to the public. The first hour for me was terrifying, until suddenly it clicked. It may have been someone actually asking me what the difference between the blue and black ink was!
Standing up and giving presentations about things is a performance skill as much as an exercise in memory. It takes a bit of practice, but most people can find their voice and do that. Finding a subject that is interesting, or that you cannot get wrong because its personal opinion helps a great deal.
Anyway, we had a wrap party, we had a stack of animal and related costumes so we got changed at BBC TV centre, wandered the halls of TV power, went into Westfield, sat outside a bar, rode the tube, ate in a Soho Restaurant (Bodean’s was fantastic), hung around a pub watching Man Utd vs Chelsea and finally hit a nightclub. All dressed as elephant, crocodile/alligator, pig, cavegirl, lady blah blah, pirate, mexican, meerkat (or giant mouse as many thought) and I was the parrot.
So many people asked us why we were dressed en masse like this that this became a marketing exercise for the show (there are 4 more weeks left to air too). In fact compared to the madness of the show it was almost run of the mill.
Sy, whilst dressed as a pig had a great rock and (sausage) roll moment as someone came up to him and told him how much they had enjoyed his gig at West Byfleet the other day. In general people do not come up to you in the street and talk about work you do, I guess the costumes both attract attention and lower some barriers.
I cut a little video using the iMovie wizard again.

Whilst on the subject of videos, the comedy music piece by our very own pop crash grannies has also hit youtube.

Its an anthem in the making πŸ™‚
Anyway another show on tomorrow ITV1 8:10 see you there πŸ™‚

Predlets – The Movie

I am cross posting this on epredator.com because it is one of those things that crosses the business and personal life divide.
The predlets want to be in TV now too so get them used to taking a bit of direction and also so I could have a play with imovie we made this.
Enjoy the world premier of the trailer of Predlets the movie

Imovie now features some trailer wizards. It sets up the transitions and generates a suggested shot list. So having had a quick glance at that we hit the garden to do some single shots, group shots, action shots and landscape shots and then I picked parts of some of them and this is the result. They have about 10 different wizards in there and it would be good if there were more to either buy or adapt and create. Writing a script first and deciding the shot list works really well. I think I learned a little about getting this in you head from watching how our Cool Stuff Collective big gadget adventures were filmed. Film more than you need, top and tail all the shots to allow for editing. My film is not in that league of course πŸ™‚
All shot on an iphone in about 10 mins though so not bad. In fact with my new infinity uber fast broadband the upload took hardly any time at all. The editing took about 20 mins and the generation about another 10.
Give it a go, what are you waiting for πŸ™‚ Oh, and get these kids a movie deal please