Thursday, June 26, 2008

Travels in June

I am a bit behind in blogging my travels which have been extensive over the past few weeks but I wanted to mention a few of the technologies and groups I have been working with and visiting while traveling.


The Society of Arts and Technology - SAT - is a gov't supported group for the development of arts and technology partnerships in Montreal.

D-Box - Motion Control Systems - VERY high end home theater motion control seating systems. I enjoyed their demo's alot it was amazing to feel the seat motion while watching movies and driving an F1 Simulator. Brilliant technology but very pricey.

I have been doing more work with Ubisoft for amBX - installing a new amBX theater for them. It has been brilliant... but that is all I can say.


As I passed through the DETROIT Airport I saw a couple of excelent immersive thechnologies... first was this tunnel - by Color Kinetics I am guessing... simmilar to the one in Chicago.

Second was the Jumping Jet Fountain - Which I understand they now have RGB rainbow jumping Jet fountain kits which are controlable RGB luminous water jets... very cool


LA was fantastic with meetings with ThinkWell Design who are designers of theme park and location based entertainment projects including the vision below for Coney Island

I did some work at the Philips Hollywood office to update their amBX demo suite. Which now looks amazing.

I stayed at the Hilton Universal next door to Universal Studios... I had wanted to make a trip to see the rides their but I decided it was more important to spend a day at Disneyland. This was an excellent choice and I have a few highlight moments to talk about... namely Space Mountain which is always a favorite... brilliant use of lighting, sensory deprivation, motion and projection to create and immersive experience. I was very impressed.

Next To talk about is the finding Nemo submarine experience which was also fantastically done... a narrative story with lighting, projection and underwater special effects which makes the hour long wait worth every minute.

I would recommend to everyone that they experience the Pirates of the Caribbean ride as well with its fantastic animatronics and, pyrotechnics, projection and lighting effects. My personal favorites were the Fog Screen for Davey Jones as well as the Full Dome Night sky and cloud projections. Also the talking parrot and Skull/Cross Bones flag at the beginning are the best lip sync robotics I have ever seen.

Lastly it is very important to mention the Fireworks display around the Disney Castle which happens every evening. The RGB color changing castle and amazing choreography of Pyrotechnics, Music, Lighting and projection make this among the best fireworks displays anywhere. Disney has a very well defined branding and vision that keeps coming from Olfactory scents as you walk down the street to the lovable charicters they have a winning combination that keeps kids of all ages happy.

Monday, June 2, 2008


This past Saturday I had the privileged of attending MUTEK '08 in Montreal hosted by the Society for Arts and Technology and Metropolis theater. Several Thousand electronic music enthusiast packed the theater for the performance which featured DJ's and Live acts from around the globe. Of major note from the show was the use of digital lighting and laser effects. a 4 block Stealth LED display and 200+ Versa Tubes all run on a Catalyst media server made an incredible impact on the visual elements of the production.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Paris to Montreal

For the past two weeks I have been on the road in Europe traveling to Paris twice, Eindhoven and Amsterdam. This has all been a part of my stratigic work consulting for Philips amBX. In Paris I was setting up an amBX room and demo "Pods" at Ubidays - Ubisoft's European Press event at the Louvre for the announcement of 2008's new titles including FarCry2, End War, Prince of Persia, Hawks, Shawn White Snowboarding, Soul Calibre, Brother in Arms and new titles for casual game play.

The amBX focus was on FarCry 2 with an amBX enabled demonstration theater with live gameplay of the latest pre-release build of Far Cry 2. The Theater included a 4 meter wide rear projection screen with an 18k lumen Christy projector. The amBX included 22 RGB LEB fixtures and 2 vented Fan ports for wind effects. Press and deligte response to the entire event and the FaryCry2 theater was huge.

A very exciting week at the Louvre. Gamers, Games, Art and Parties.

I have now landed in Montreal for a week of demonstrations and another theater setup. Life on the road is going well.

Friday, May 23, 2008


This week I have been traveling for work through Europe with a day stop over in Paris in preparation for an event at the Louvre (next week) and some time in Amsterdam and Eindhoven to see the dutch side of business. Which brings me to the point of a immersive theater discussion on travel and new places.... this is really the immersive theater, taking in a new environment and appreciating a new culture. I have also found that my lack of language skills has given although sometimes difficult a sense of peace and space. Amsterdam and the Dutch I find to be incredibly amusing and an interesting juxtaposition to my American sensibilities, which still make my hair rise to some subjects as liberal as I thought I was. It is an un-easy sensation to be in somewhere with such broad views. I think I like it... but it may need more exploration.

Digital Lighting University

This past week I attended the PID and HES Digital Lighting University event in London. The event, whose purpose is the introduction and training of digital lighting products was attended by about 60 lighting profesionals, venue owners, manufactures, and video designers from all over the world. On display were 12 Dynamic Head Digital Lighting Projectors (HES - DL.2 and DL.3) as well as ColorWeb and Stealth Pixel mapping LED displays - as seen below in the background of the Led Zeppelin Reunion. Also on display were control desks from HES and Media Servers from Axeon and Catalyst.

The Speakers for the presentation Included several of europe and worlds leading digital lighting designers discussing issues of content and production for the creation, use and technical delivery of large format dynamic digital lighting technologies. The contacts were outstanding the products proved very interesting to have hands on experience with. I have been a big believer int he power of the DL.1 DL.2 and DL.3 for several years and the latest generation is just getting better and better with each release..

Monday, April 21, 2008


This past weekend, while returning to home to Surrey through Greater London, I encountered something different from any of my previous social experiences... Football Hooliganism. My girlfriend and I arrived at London Bridge rail station to an unexpected mass of Riot Police complete with body armour, face shielded helmets, batons, and guard dogs. They were their awaiting the infamous fans of Millwall FC who were on there way across town to play Leeds FC. What an amazing waste of resources to require hundreds of police at the station because the drunk louts where going to be changing trains at the station. Hundreds more travellers where disrupted, scared and inconvenienced by this draconian display of force interacting with the blatant stupidity of this testosterone/alcoholic mix of a mob scene. This brought to mind the social nature of entertainment and the responsibility of the creators and visionaries to realize the impact of their mediums on society and individuals as a whole. Also I was reminded of a very important man Rogan P. Taylor and his fascinating Ph.D. thesis called The Death and Resurrection Show From Shaman to Superstar. - a brilliant analysis of the social roots of modern entertainment. Rogan Taylor is now one of the worlds foremost experts on the social impacts of Football fans consulting with clubs across the globe to help them deal with its problems. His book is a must read for anyone in entertainment, it will change your perspectives on your art profoundly.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The British Museum

This past week I had the opportunity to tour the sites with my father James who has been visiting me in London. We decided our Sunday in the city would be best spent in an inspired visit to an iconic home of global history The British Museum. WOW!!!! what can I say, every turn was filled with objects which overwhelemed the sense of awe and wonderment. From Artifacts fallen from the Parthenon to Eygptian mummies and Early human life of Europe and Roman England, it was breathtaking. If you are ever in London and want to be truly amazed but the collective human history through priceless artifacts, go here. An arcitectual marvel in itself the British Museum not only holds more treasures then anywhere I have ever seen, it is an iconic space worthy of all-time. Free Entry since 1753.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Immersive Vision

I spent the past week at the Immersive Vision Conference the European workshop in Immersive Theater at the University of Plymouth. The Conference was very exciting. I small but influential group of vendors, technologists, producers, and venue mangers of the Domed Theater and Immersive Entertainment and Scientific Visualization communities. The Conference was done as a showcase for the new immersive vision theater at Plymouth a tilted 6.5M truncated dome space with a projection system by Global Immersion. Other highlights of the conference included DomeView and a pre-visualization tool for Full Dome from the Navagar Foundation in Portugal and David McConville of The Eluminati who gave a fantastic and enlightening presentation on the history of the Dome.

The Week concluded with a trip to the new INTEC Planitarium in Winchester, UK a 16M FullDome Theater also by Global Immersion. The Conference was great success and Alchemica was very pleased by the general response to our work in spatial and enviornmental effects from the Dome Community.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Giant Screen Cinema Association European Expo

This past week I attended the GSCA European Expo of large format films at the London Science Museam. Ultimatly I think we watched 13 IMAX productions over 48 hours. Besides my eyes feeling like they were popping out of my head and being exsausted from the visual stimulus I have to admit I had a really good time.

My reactions to the 3D Stereo IMAX films was that it hasn't developed far enough to be a truly viable technology. I had 3 major difficulties with the 3D effects.

1. THE EDGE - as soon as any 3D effect breaks the border edge of the frame the 3D effect is instantly lost. This seems to be a problem that can only be remeded by production decision and teqnique which avoids this from happening and instead works within the frame. Sea Monsters 3D did this the best, particurally with a shot (which happened twice) where a massive sea creature ate a shark in a overhead shot. the sea creature came through the surface of the water straight out of the screen and then returned through the the 3d space to go back under the water. The Edge was never crossed and the effect was brilliant.

2. Interlacing or Phase issues - In the 3D isn't interlaced perfectly or the position of the audience member is just right, it apears to create a ghosting effect on the eyes, I realize that each person's eyes and spacing are different, but there needs to be some thought or corrective technology brought in on this issue as the audience grows very tired of seeing the image when it is almost painfully out of focus to do so.

3. 3D is Tiring. IMAX is already a massive ammount of visual information. I can honstly say that I couldn't see a good or necissary reason for any of the 3D films to be 3D. Even U23D would have been as amazing an experience without the 3D elements, which as far as I could tell came down to a percieved ZDepth and microphone stands/drum kit parts that seemed to come out of the screen. 3D was excelent for titles and text, but otherwise, I could see how it made any of the productions have higher production value.

My response to the IMAX format in General is that it is wonderful to have the size, but I only saw one production during the entire Expo which I felt really used the scope and scale of the screen to reall impart any value to the audience. This came in the form of a production telling of the Muslim pilgramage to Mecca. Filmed at the 2008 Hajj with an all Muslim IMAX crew the scale and brilliance of the images was breathtaking. This production currently under development was by far the best thing I saw all week, the timelapse was amazing and the feeling that came from the screen was compleatly immersive. This was as close to the Kaaba as a non-muslim will ever be, to feel the power and dignity of such a sacred experience.

Finally the week concluded with Shine the Light - Martin Scorsese's production of a Rolling Stones concert in NYC. This was far and away a better stroy then U23D although along the same vain. In general my response to both films was that unless you were a fan of these bands they were just to long and over produced. you can only watch sweaty rock legends on a 8 story screen for to long before your head starts to heart from the visual and auditory saturation. Shine A Light is better then U23D because of the closeness and backstage experience. Ultimatly unless you love these Bands, it is a long expensive ticket.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Afrika Afrika

On Feb. 21st I was treated to a performance of Afrika Afrika for my 29th Birthday at London's O2 Center (Millennium Dome). The experience was a fantastic exploration of New Circus which is particularly close to my heart. I must say that the Circus elements were brilliant and the performers some of the best in the world.

The Acrobats from Tanzania - Level 10 Sports Acrobatics with the best group configurations of Acro-Balance I have ever seen.

The Contortionists (one from Congo and one from South Africa) were brilliant and super bendy.

The Ball Juggler was also amazing - bounce juggling nine balls, which I have never seen before.

All in all the performers stole the show. The Tented Palaces were fantastically decorated and the design of the show was solid and entertaining. I was very impressed by their use of Dynamic Digital Projection Systems and Static Projection on the interior of the tent, but I must make the comment that their visuals were not strong. I was disappointed that with the level of technology in the space it was not used more effectively.

I was also disappointed in the music, which although African in nature seemed to be a re-hashing of African themes from the Lion King, Miriam Makeba and LadySmith Black Mambazo.

All in all a fantastic show though.. the performers and circus skills are top rated.