Distant Relations

Tokyo (C) 2004 K Bjorke

It’s only natural to make a lot of photos when travelling. This past trip has seen me chewing through two to four hundred shots a day. More on some days. Let’s see, that’s something like 3000 shots or around 85 rolls, about six or seven rolls per day. Surprising to me, it’s not a lot more than I might have shot without the digital camera (the Contax only got used for about four rolls, total — though it’s a joy to handle compared to the lunking Canon).

When the trip is rushed it’s especially true that you’re likely to see the things most typical, or most different from those at home. They stand out as obvious. The stone tanukis, the tricycle cabs, the massive portraits of Mao. And on occasion the things surprisingly transplanted or morphed where you’d least expect them: the subtitled Korn tracks in the Karaoke machine, the Cadillac Fleetwoods negotiating slowly through the streets of Shinjuku, the Beijing DQ store. There’s simply not a lot of time for contemplation. Bang off the shot and move, you’ve got other places to go.

1 min read

So Many Pixels

FX Composer image - VBOMB

It’s time again for… Siggraph! This year Siggraph is in L.A., just a short 50-minute commuter flight from SJC.

Once again this year I’ll be speaking at Siggraph, starting on Sunday: I’ll be taking the reins from Kurt Akeley at 4:35 as a small part of the Real Time Shading Course.

On Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, I’ll be lecturing in a sponsored session: Transforming Production Workflows with the GPU. As you might have guessed from Chris Maughan’s Jorvik Utopia, I’ll be talking a lot about HLSL and interactive tool design and building realtime shaders with FX Composer.

In a related note I’ll be proctoring Microsoft’s HLSL Shader Workshops, which occur from Monday through Thursday — not really the lecturer this time, I’ll just stand alongside the door with a spear, raise it and shout “Hail, Mighty Caesar!” at the appropriate moments, or prod students along when they have difficulties.

This year I’m bringing along a pedometer. If it’s anything like last year, I’ll be running up those daily 10,000 steps before lunch time all week.

~1 min read

Pixels in Flight

(C)2004 KB

On the heels of Siggraph, we’re doing the Asia Leg of the 2004 NVIDIA Developer Tour starting next week in Seoul. We’ll then be moving on to Tokyo, Shanghai, and Beijing. A bit like Siggraph, I’ll be giving lectures about high-end shading and showing off ideas in FX Composer.

What’s pretty cool about getting this technology out to the world is that we can really get a sense of exponential growth — things literally seem to be changing at a progressively-faster rate. Only a few months ago it was hard to get anyone to think about using the best shading methods, now we’re not only getting lots of response but the requests and new products seem to be popping up in all sorts of unexpected directions.

I’m especially pleased at how many developers have been adopting to using GPU power for image processing — not just obvious users like film compositors and such, but games, sci-viz users, and even operating systems. It’s a great time to be a rapidly-moving pixel.

I’m also excited to visit at least a small slice of China — it was only a handful of years ago that the standard garb of the street was a Mao suit. Now it’s the “Wild, Wild, East” and it genuinely seems a lot farther from the US than Japan or Korea — even as the people there rocket themselves toward what they perceive as a western style of affluence but with their own sense of self and place. I’m really eager to see what is going on there and what the local developers are trying to accomplish with some rapidly-moving pixels of their own.

1 min read

Halftoning

3 July 2004 (C) 2004

It’s the 4th of July, time for fireworks and plenty of public parties, fairs, and parades. Just remember, don’t take photos at large public events, and whatever you do don’t go videotaping in random public places, lest you too might get three months of solitary confinement from agencies that know darned well you’ve done nothing wrong.

But don’t worry, our valiant public servants are there to protect us from those bad, bad evildoers — just hush up, slug back a Prozac or three and let them decide what you should see so you don’t go handing your children to Osama Bin Laden. After all, they’ve been there to help us even well before 9-11.

Now you may say, I’m just a big crab. Or a worthless commie Al-Quaeda-loving treasonous wrong-question-asking meanie. The US is still near the best part of the scale in the RSF’s Hall of Shame. Still, it’s more and more obvious that everyone’s camera kit needs a bust card just as surely as they need fresh batteries.

~1 min read