Thursday, April 25, 2013

Realtime Facial Animation with On-the-fly Correctives

My crazy colleague Hao Li and slightly-less-crazy-but-still-as-brilliant co-conspirators Jihun Yu, Yuting Ye and Chris Bregler have just finished their paper submission to Siggraph 2013 and are now able to publish the work publicly.

Check out the info and paper on Hao's site here: Realtime Facial Animation with On-the-fly Correctives and check out the video of their amazing groundbreaking work here.

Thanks to the team for allowing me to laugh it up with them and help contribute some facial animation performances. The troll was my favourite part. :)

Friday, April 19, 2013


Yo, stressful times, guess what... PEACE!!!!!!!!!

In the spirit of mindfulness I am taking off somewhere awesome for the weekend and I'm gonna enjoy the crap out of every minute. I'm not posting about it now (other than this) because the aim is to really chill out, enjoy a new place I've never been to before, explore the local nature, try some epic local food and activities, and just have fun.

Most importantly, this is a longer edition of my usual Saturday morning "digital Sabbath" where I (try, sometimes unsuccessfully) to turn my phone off for a few hours and just enjoy the world around me, this silly duck that swims near where I sit at the Ferry Building, and just notice all the great stuff and be grateful for the fact that I live in this awesome city and get to do awesome things all the time.

So this is essentially a longer version of this "disconnection". Rather than "disconnecting", I've heard some hippier folks call this "reconnecting" with nature. Whatever you want to call this, I call it a "great idea" ;) I am not going to meet up with people, I'm not going to call friends I know in this city (sorry, friends, and you'll find out later where I went... I'll be back another time when I don't need a mental break) and I'm just going to be very present in the moment and enjoy everything. This is key. The easiest and more intrusive way for me to be pulled out of the moment is to be constantly checking my phone or spending my usual hours on the internets. I do love that stuff, don't get me wrong, and it definitely has its place. But for this weekend, I need some time with my focus and thoughts and energy directly focused on every moment of direct experience. Here we go!!

As I posted on Facebook:
And off I go to an awesome undisclosed location in the Pacific Northwest. Biking, nature, good food, fresh local produce... And no Internet or phone on purpose. 4 day mental re-energizing recovery weekend, commence! Ill post blog and photos after the trip, its gonna be fun and safe, but I promise to be out of contact for 4 days. It gonna be great :)

So yes, I will be taking the usual photos and writing a (paper) blog like I did in Peru, and I'll post all of that in the week or two after I get back. But while I'm over there, I'm gonna de-internet for a few days and try not to be so distracted.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Creative Process

The Creative Process
Baby, I'm back!

The last few nights I've turned a bit of a corner. It's been a very slow few months for the general creative process which has not been the greatest. I've been getting into some good new things like Yoga and so on, but my evenings have been filled with much-too-much Netflix instant watch marathons and not enough creating lately.

A combination of a bunch of things has affected my boundless evening energy (see blogs I've ever posted from 2, 3, 4, 5am...) and as such, has affected my creative output :( But onwards and upwards (ever upwards, swirling, swirling!) we go. It's nice to have a project with a quick and immediate deadline. This speech I'm (re)writing is for the Waterloo Alumni Event at Facebook HQ in Menlo Park in a couple weeks. I had something drafted that I didn't like and I am throwing away most of it. There are a few pieces that were good but it's not great, and it needs a lot more oomph. The strange thing is, if I am a little more tired, that really helps get the juices going... so tonight was a pretty solid chunk of work time. I've made some good progress and I can now see the direction this is going and I am happy with it. To appeal to an audience of wildly varying ages and life-stages is a challenge... and to that I say, Barney Stinson-style "Challenge Accepted!" (I've actually got a HIMYM reference in the talk draft right now, but I'm not sure if it's gonna make the final cut. Depends if I think people will get it without destroying the joke by explaining it) ;)

It's funny I find I always need to be in the "right mood" to write a speech. If I'm not, I'll spend hours and hours looping over the same things and getting nowhere. But if I'm into it and everything lines up, I can just roll it out and tear through the bad ideas quickly and get something I'm happy with. It's a fun process. That said, I'm tired so I'm gonna stop for tonight. Hopefully a few more nights of the "right mood" and I'll have some work I can be proud of.

Here's to the creative process, and the joy of many late night staying up doing fun stuff when I should be sleeping. I need to be doing a lot more of that. Last year was filled with it. This year is off to a slow start. But I'm gonna rally, I need to.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Update: Siggraph 2013, a random trip, and mindfulness

My bro Matt said it's been a bazillion years since I've blogged and he's pretty much correct. Stuff has been busy and crazy lately but I can't elaborate :) But thus the non-blogging.

I got excellent news today though, our talk for Siggraph 2013 has been accepted!! This is my first ever Siggraph talk, and I'm really excited and pleased that we got in. I will post more details when I know about the schedule and when/where it's happening this summer. Awesome times.

I need a break, so I'm taking off soon on an un-announced, will-not-be-Facebooked-or-Blogged-as-I-go trip to somewhere awesome on the Pacific Northwest USA, it's gonna be a short trip but I'm intentionally not telling anyone about it (well, other than all of you, right now) because the main aim is to disappear for a few days, "disconnect" from tech stuff (email, blogs, Facebook, etc) for a few days and "reconnect" with tasty local food, meet some interesting volunteer workers, and go mountain biking through some epic trails on a crazy $5k dual-suspension bike I am gonna rent. Maybe eat some amazing food too, I bet. So that's the plan. I am gonna disappear from this virtual internet world for a few days, and only use my phone for Yelp and that's it. It seems crazy to go to these lengths just to "turn off" for a few days, but it seems like it's going to be a good plan to refresh and re-engage myself.

While on this topic, I've been reading about "mindfulness" a bit lately. My other "bro" Matt (I have an affinity for best friends named Matt) suggested this book.

Mindfulness book
This seems to be very interesting, and fits well with my newfound addiction to Yoga that started back in January. The stretching and exercise part of Yoga has been great and very beneficial at work, but I'm finding that the short discussions of "gratefulness" and "dedicating your practice to your self improvement" is totally up my alley. It seems like meditation is a useful tool for lots of people to deal with stress or just to help focus in this very busy world we live in. So I figure it might be worth a shot, and certainly it will be fun. I'm keen to read a little more about it first as well. This also kindof goes hand-in-hand with my reading about Positive Psychology lately, I guess that's where my interest in this stems from. Given the obvious benefits I've seen from optimism throughout many projects at work and in life, I think this mindfulness idea is similar in nature and thus worth some personal investigation.

Anyhoo, that's all for now. I'll be writing a paper journal on my random trip and I'll take some photos too. I'll post the usual full blog from the trip afterwards, along with photos and comments about the awesome experience. Looking forward to it. And mindfulness-style, I look forward to being fully present in the moment during that trip, and enjoying it to its very fullest. :)

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Eyeborg Prosthetic Eye Camera

Wow, this is incredible.
"Take a one eyed film maker, an unemployed engineer, and a vision for something that’s never been done before and you have yourself the EyeBorg Project. Rob Spence and Kosta Grammatis are trying to make history by embedding a video camera and a transmitter in a prosthetic eye. That eye is going in Robs eye socket, and will record the world from a perspective that’s never been seen before."

The reach of humanity's ingenuity and imagination will never fail to impress me. Truly amazing.

Thanks Yayha for the heads up about this amazing and inspiring work.

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