Monthly Archives: October 2017

Final Project: Test broadcast

Link to test.

There were a couple of tests which were made during Thursday’s broadcast. Firstly, I decided to test if I was able to set the Chroma Key. That worked, so I decided to test if I was able to do two Chroma Keys simultaneously. Surprisingly, It did. While this was happening, I also decided to change the contrast and color/ saturation levels to see if it improved the keying, and I’ve come to the conclusion that although it worked to a degree, it would’ve been much better if I went to a room with better flat lighting. The test was conducted in a darker room, and as a result there was a lot of grain being picked up by the already low resolution laptop webcam. Another way to fix this would be to borrow the school’s webcam, which wouldn’t be too far out of the realm of possibility.

I also attempted to remove the blue off the projector screen behind me, adding a Gif clip of clouds. In that layer itself, I attempted to saturate the background before keying out the blue skies. Once that worked, I decided to superimpose another image of myself to see if it would affect the latency, which to my knowledge it hasn’t. I also tested the chroma key on my own shirt, which was orange in color. The only thing left to test would be to capture the broadcast from Facebook. Since no direct line of communication and live interaction is necessary (due to the participants eating), the broadcast wouldn’t be a big issue.

I also had a green suit made, which i will be wearing on the day of the broadcast. Another set of orange fabric will be brought forward in the event that I need to key something out separately. That would prove to be a little complicated as the color is close to skin tone.

Second front technical critique


Second life is basically a simulated reality web game in which players take the form of avatars and interact with one another online.

In my honest opinion, this game is more of a gimmick to me, and I do not understand for the life of me how this web application was able to survive, given the fact that this application emerged around the same time many other popular MMORPGs like Ultima Online, Ragnarok and Final fantasy had emerged, and isn’t entirely a novelty by the time it was released in 2003.  I suppose the idea of a online interactions and simulations would be interesting, though the lack of an occlusion pass, normal mapping and displacement mapping pass, a triple specularity system and a raytracing/ global illumination calculation kind of destroys the immersion of the game, and before anyone of those coolies start whining about how not everyone is rich, I’d like to remind them that consumer grade Graphics processing units like the GTX 660 is already affordable, and comparable to consoles.

Obviously, the main gripe I had with the graphics was with the low resolution textures which is in dire need of an upgrade. I feel that at this point, players are more inclined to play more fantastical MMO games, since second life’s chat features and emotes (in game pre-made character animations) is something that is already available with other triple A MMO games. In fact, the Inverse kinematics system and motion captured animations are more realistic compared to second life, taking in more nuanced micro-expressions and gestures. This is not meant to bash on the game itself, but an analysis of how the game could evolve in today’s ever evolving  digital consumer market.

I have a few ideas about how the game/ social interaction could offset the uncanny valley effect a little and appeal to a larger audience with a smaller budget. For starters, there is a consumer grade online motion capture solution called Mixamo. In fact, there is already a library of pre-made animations that users can incorporate into a 3d virtual environment. For high resolution textures on the cheap, photogrammetry can create 3d models through an array of photographs taken at a 360 degree angle. Once these features become more streamlined and cheaper, online modding can catch up with professional developers, adding modified content.

As for second front however, they are more involved in performance art, with kool aid mascots and anime characters joining in the lobby to interact with one another. The chat was a chaos of activity, with people from all walks of life putting all thoughts into words. In my opinion, I think almost all of the front’s “activities” are actually skits that are edited together, rather than actual heists. There is an alternative modding site by the name of Garry’s mod that does skits much better.

Simply put, people enter a virtual setting mainly as a form of escapism, rather than to match realism. Yet, second life’s main selling point, which was the “realism”, was undermined by the lack of graphical fidelity.

Another feature, which was the currency system, could be traded for real money. As a result, the server has been a hotbed of numerous unethical and shady dealings. In fact, an task force from Germany had been set up specifically to track down people who deal with child pornography. There was another instance in which people have been using the game mechanics against minors in order forms. An online game by the name of “counter strike: Global Offensive” even has an RNG (random number generation) reward system in the form of a roulette machine. Users can pay more in order to stand a better chance of winning better weapon modifications or skins. Due to a legal loophole, developers were able to get away with selling weapon skins, saying that it isn’t equivalent to real money, even though the items themselves can be traded in for cash. Things become even shadier when ProSyndicate and TmarTn claimed to be winning in third party roulette sites, only to be exposed as the developers of the roulette sites.

Unfortunately, we’ve become a generation of special snowflakes, with helicopter parents and social justice warrior types conflating hi jinks with sexual harassment. They’ve asserted that women are under threat from “virtual rape”due to the fact that some of the game has violent material. I would suggest to those people to actually play the games and find out that the game mechanics blatantly doesn’t encourage players from actively going after female non-playable characters. In games like GTA 5, killing civilians is actually discouraged, as it gains you a wanted level, and in Hitman, your character is penalized for incurring collateral damage. There is also a feature to change lobbies, mute or ban teammates if they become rowdy.

Anyone who played those games would immediately understand the nuance in game mechanics, but since these are progressives we’re talking about, they’ve decided to make it their mission to ruin it for everyone else, mis-informing the public about sites such as these. Critics such as Anita Sarkeesian, Sam Maggs and Zoey quinn cite examples like Grand Theft Auto V and Saints row, even though they have been debunked thoroughly. I foresee that virtual reality sites and second-front groups such as these ones will probably exist on the fringe, until legislation is rewritten to make cyber-bullying laws less vague and open to interpretation.

Addendum: On thoughts about the actual work itself, I feel that there isn’t much to say that hasn’t already been said. There is definitely something interesting about the pokemon skit that was shown in class on Thursday as a parallel commentary on our obsession on acquisition. We as a species seem to be caught up so much on the virtual space that we appear to look awkward or silly in real life. Case in point: the people who were involved in accidents while playing Pokemon:go due to their inability to be aware of their surroundings. 

Howard Rheingold and Christiane Paul to commit a parodied staging of a bank hold-up of the Linden treasury.

From what i can tell from the Grand theft avatar performance, it is merely a skit, since no one would want to risk investing thousands of dollars in property development, only to have someone steal from them in a raid. Raids and hacks are common on the digital front so no one is going to take the extra effort to render a 3D model of a bank and program a feature in which people can effectively steal your money. 

Their key feature is openness: openness and plurality of visions and perspectives, quite blatant in this interview (where almost each one of them decided to give his/her answer to the same question); they are open about a wide range of interventions, from reenactment to improvisation to code performing

As to Thursday’s question on why people find violence fascinating, I can sum it up easily with one word: Catharsis. I believe that no matter what, people should be allowed to express their own beliefs or be allowed expressions of any other sort, as long as their not committing crimes in the process.The openness and plurality of visions (aka diversity in thought) is something that I can jive with. I also enjoy the idea of playing the role of a bank robber, if only to see where that fantasy would take us. It could also serve as a cautionary tale, to show people just how difficult it is, even on an online gaming match. It is also a good starting point to showcase the inner workings of an artists’ mind in a three dimensional space. 



Research critique: Jennicam

“I’m trying to prove the point that no matter what you look like, you’re still just as interesting as people on the TV or in the magazines.”

During the interview with David Letterman, Jenny brought up something interesting: the fact that there is a whole lot of things to watch on television. The fact that users still tune in to watch someone else’s apartment tells us a little bit more about our voyeuristic tendencies, and our curiosity to consume media of this sort, even though there isn’t really anything inherently interesting on an average day.

From a personal perspective, there isn’t a lot that I do outside of my computer when I am at home, so if i were to broadcast myself, i would tend to do it via OBS or Facebook live.

This experiment also reminded me of a similar project that i saw a couple of years ago, in which a man would take a portrait photographs of himself over a period of 6 years. I dabbled in this idea myself, and even tried out some self portrait stop motion animation just to see how effective it was. I preferred this project as most of the photographs exist without context, something that I’d much rather do in comparison to streaming my house. In fact, Jennifer’s early streams were simply black and white images uploaded in 3 minute increments.

I also believe that teaching internet etiquette and responsible internet use should be included as part of the curriculum as there have been instances of people getting into trouble online for something that was taken out of context. Pewdiepie had recently gotten into trouble for using the N word on one of his live streams. Although it was obvious that the word was uttered in the heat of the moment, the court of public opinion was unwilling to read between the lines, and was quick to grab the proverbial pitchfork. (here is his public apology).

There was another incident involving a Youtuber/ streamer by the username DSPgaming (there’s an encyclopedia dramatica page dedicated to this man). Basically, Phillip Burnell is a let’s player who streams himself playing video games. Unfortunately, during one of his streams, he somehow forgot to switch his camera off after the show, and proceeded to, shall we say, shine his saber. This act was caught on the stream, leading to his ridicule. Incidents like these are permanently on the public domain (Thanks to sites like the wayback machine), and although some like Phil are simply ridiculed, there are others who has had their reputations affected (Pewdiepie fiverr incident) and others who had been arrested (Amos Yee)

The rules of engagement in this scenario would be to play it cool and just “own it ” so to speak . The amazing atheist a.k.a. TJ kirk did it right by plainly admitting his transgressions when it was leaked online. However, Phillip on the other hand, did the exact opposite thing and tried to deny it awkwardly, leading to more ridicule.

In the case of Jennifer Ringley, she ran into a different set  of problems. It all began when she had volunteered to do a striptease on the stream. This continued until she was hacked and sent death threats, telling her to “show more”. Thankfully, she was able to take control of the situation and laugh it off. I’m not sure if this generation of children will be as thick-skinned as she was.

In conclusion, I believe that in this age of moral indignation, self-righteousness and virtue signalling, streamers and other online personalities would have to be extra careful about what they say online, especially for streamers and those hosting podcasts, as the latter instances are almost always impromptu and unrehearsed.


Reflections on the shared broadcasting

Posted by Anam Musta'ein on Thursday, 12 October 2017

This session of the shared broadcasting worked out much better than in OSS, so I was able to do a little bit more. However, I noticed that in both this instance and in the first ever Facebook broadcast, I was unable to speak coherently without having the urge and compulsion to check if the broadcast was working, or if I was broadcasting anything that would be shady. I also refrained from talking a little as my mind kept switching back to the real world, and I was getting a little more conscious about how other people would perceive me if they saw me laughing to myself and talking to an inanimate object. (they wouldn’t know the context of the broadcast)

Upon returning back to school, I met back up with Anam, and noticed that there were some sound feedback looping, but the thing that intrigued me more was the idea of arranging both camera phones back to back and showing a front and back view of the scene as a panorama. Another idea would be to use a couple of mirrors to create a kaleidoscope effect. ( Facebook live might have a couple of filters which may allow this to happen.)

The last idea would be to blindfold someone with a makeshift “VR headset ” and broadcast the person in third person view. The idea is to have someone be disconnected from his own self.

For this to work, a third camera phone would be needed. This camera, which would be mounted on the person’s VR headset would not be broadcasting anything, but would be watching someone else’s broadcast. Both broadcasters would then be walking around with their camera, constantly changing their vantage points so as to disorientate the user. A lot of preparation would be needed for this to work.

Material wise, all I would need are a couple of cardboard pieces, some duct tape, and an elastic band.

Thie headset wouldn’t technically be an actual VR headset as it doesn’t use a pair of lenses, and it wouldn’t need to, since virtual reality headsets warp the imagery for immersion purposes, and are used primarily to see things in a first person perspective.




Human+ exhibit


Marc Owens
Avatar Machine
Costume and Video


Of all the items presented in the exhibit, the one that intrigued me the most, in concept was the avatar machine exhibit by Marc Owens. Although I wasn’t able to try the rig myself. I was able to understand how it functions.

Avatar machine is basically a video camera attached to the back of the user. The user is blindfolded, with his only way of navigating through the streets is by camera footage. The idea of this exhibition was to give this individual a third person point of view in real life and see how he/she would navigate.

As someone who has played lots of video games, including third person combat games such as grand theft auto, Arkham Asylum and The Witcher 2, I find it fascinating that such an exhibition exists where you get to play these fantasies out for real. I can only imagine such an experience to be disorienting as you no longer feel like you’re in total control. In fact, one might even develop an out of body experience

Though simple in concept, there are a few tricks when navigating via the avatar machine. First of all, the footage may be slightly delayed due to latency, making the user unsure as to whether they have accomplished a task. Secondly, they may be able to see themselves, but would be have to take note of the fact that the rig is still behind a user. I found footage of someone standing in the middle of the highway with the device. If he had turned his head a little, one of the passing vehicles would have slammed into it, tripping the user into oncoming traffic.

In the end, however, the device looks like fun, and I would think about doing something like that in the considerable future if I have the time.

interactive device: Semester Pitch Proposal


The first idea would be to design a touch based instrument, which is a set of makey makey sensors rigged to a t-shirt. The idea would be to turn the individual into the instrument. Other alternatives include a set of controllers which would be rigged to an MP3 player. The reason why this may be useful is because it eliminates the need to fumble through one’s pocket to manually change tracks.  An additional “lock” feature may be added to prevent any accidental contact.

The second idea would involve the use of a simple animated character that reacts to human interaction. The device would be a touchpad or a set of sensors that triggers a response. A similar device to this would be tamagotchi. Technically the main hurdle in creating such a device would be to setup the led screen. However, the input would be a simple button.

I will be adding a twist to this device in which the character would perform like a clicker device,  rewarding the user with new reactions and emotes based on the number of clicks received and the rate of clicking. For example, the more aggressive the user is with the device, the more movement/ action the animated character would make. This device is a statement on clicker-styled games on iOS/android games.

device of the week #4: Pyro board/ Juicero


The Ruben’s tube is basically a metal tube with a couple of holes, which work similarly in principle to the Bunsen burner. The interesting application comes in when the flames move up when the gases in the pipes are exposed to low to high frequency music . This creates a wavelength effect. The following installation has about 2500 holes installed in a flat 2 dimensional surface, and although the visuals don’t look all that impressive while doing a pitch test, it starts to take form when drum and bass style music is being played.

Although the video doesn’t go into specifics as to how the device is programmed, I feel that the aesthetics of the device is interesting enough to show here.

The next product is something that i would like to talk about, especially when it comes to snake oil-like salesmanship. The reason why I think it is relevant is because people seem to be technologically illiterate about technology in general. The device is the Juicero machine, and it is basically a device that squeezes out a packet of organic juice into your cup. It advertised itself as a device that can be operated on remotely through a wifi signal. The force of the push was also advertised at a whopping 8 tons.

The problem is that the device has to be constantly logged into the wifi network in order to work, and an additional app has to be used in order to operate it. On top of it, the packet itself posed a huge problem. Firstly, it has to be mail ordered, thus making purchases inconvenient. The packet also has a QR code, which has to be scanned before operation, this throws away all hope of using other branded juice packets. To make things worse, the QR code also takes in expiration date information, meaning that packets that have expired cannot be squeezed out, even if it has only expired for a few minutes. This feature, according to Jeff Dunn, was added so it could immediately recall the sachets in the event of a product recall.

The final nail in the coffin was drawn when videos emerged where were squeezing the sachet manually by hand, and without much difficulty. This eliminated the need of paying $699 for the Juicero machine altogether. The company has since reduced the price to $200, and has laid off 25% of the staff. It eventually shut off, after issuing an apology.

I’m not a big fan of adding in wifi signals or adding additional features for the sake of novelty, and less of a fan of people using this novelty to sucker people into donating big bucks into their kickstarter project.