13 Jun

OFFF 2011 Barcelona: the geeky gist

13. June 2011 by George Profenza

Back from an amazing conference and an amazing city. A breath of fresh air is clearly helpful. Maybe it’s beautiful Barcelona, maybe the nice weather, the relaxed, beautiful people, but OFFF has a very nice vibe to it. It’s so different from geekier conferences and I like it.

Even if OFFF seems to focus more on design, animation and motion graphics, this year I saw showcases of quite a few projects that blended art, design and technology into one; I will go through a few of the more technical projects showcased at OFFF.

offf1 Aside from the technical talk by Aaron Koblin, Ricardo Cabello (mrdoob), Filip Visnjic (CAN) and Eduard Prats Molner, which Max will cover in more detail OFFF also had a brilliant exhibition called Mirrors. This gallery presented a large amount of brilliant works by Kyle McDonald, Zach Liberman, Theo Watson, Daito Manabe, Motoi Ishibashi, Aram Barthol, Marnix de Nijs, Seth Hunter, Eric Rosenbaum and Joshua Davis.

daito3 Daito Manabe and Motoi Ishibashi had two brilliant pieces: Points and Fade Out. Points uses a Kinect to track the outline of the visitor. Points are computed from the outline and converted into optimal paths for the actuators/motors controlling a compressed air gun. The gun then ‘draws’ the outline of the tracked visitor on paper. Fade Out is another brilliant way to digitally draw a portrait: it uses a laser which gradually illuminates a screen filled with phosphorescent paint. Personally, I enjoyed the sound of it and the ephemeral feel the fade out gives to this piece.

kyle Recently I got interested in 3D scanning and 3D printing, as you might have noticed form my previous posts, so I was very pleased to see and experience the Janus Machine at OFFFMatica. I was lucky enough to meet Kyle McDonald and talk to him about the project. Got very interesting insights and left inspired to learn more about computer vision, even if, I must admit, topics like AI and Machine learning scare me. The Janus machine uses a 3D scanning technique called structured light. Roughly speaking the idea is light is projected in patterns (a narrow band of vertical stripes for example) onto a subject. The pattern gets distorted on the subject and the 3d data is estimated by using the differences between the distorted and the original pattern. Kyle has an open source project on Google Code called Structured-Light.

kob2 The great things about conferences is you can meet and talk to the people you admire, receive great advices and get inspired. I had the pleasure to chat to Daito Manabe and Kyle McDonald on my 1st day at OFFF which was great. I really hoped to see the elusive mr.doob, but didn’t have a chance. I’ve managed to catch Aaron Koblin for a few questions and a big thank you for the work he and mr.doob have done on the ROME project. I’ve learned a lot from it and they make it look so easy, but a lot of work went into that. Han Hoogerbrugge put this into words very well: “It’s nice to see the people behind the other side of the computer screen”.

OFFF 2011 was a great experience, and from the geeky point of view, it proved that the trend of art and technology blending is only going to grow. Makes me wonder how long until the boundary completely disappears.

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