Archive for March, 2012

Flash cards

augmentedcards

While most everyone is using Junaio I decided to use the AR toolkit instead. I wanted to make something like magnetic letters on a refrigerator. I got the idea for this in church where each code represents a word.

One of the first things I encountered was the words were coming out in reverse. Even though I’ve already used the pushMatrix and popMatrix command in Processing 2.04a, the video now mirrored me, but the text was still in reverse. I attribute this to a bug but I’m not so sure. To solve this annoying problem, I projected the sketch to the wall and reverse projected it. Thus the letters finally came out the right way.

I just used a short phrase composing of 8 words, but the current library does not allow the same AR image to be repeated twice. Or I may need to fiddle with the code some more.

Putting the AR cards side by side gives me a phrase.

augmentedcards

What could this secret messgae mean?

augmentedcards

This may give me an idea for the final project if I plan to expand this.

import processing.video.*;

// Processing 2.04a + NyARToolkit 1.1.7
//pared down from Amnon Owed http://www.creativeapplications.net/processing/augmented-reality-with-processing-tutorial-processing/

import java.io.*; // for the loadPatternFilenames() function
import processing.opengl.*; // for OPENGL rendering
import jp.nyatla.nyar4psg.*; // the NyARToolkit Processing library

PFont myFont;
String the ="there";
String is ="is";
String no ="no";
String id ="I";
String there ="there";
String is2 ="is";
String only ="only";
String us ="us";

Capture cam;
MultiMarker nya;

void setup() {

size(640, 480, OPENGL);
myFont=loadFont("Helvetica-48.vlw");
cam = new Capture(this, 640, 480);
cam.start();
frameRate(15);

// create a new MultiMarker at a specific resolution (arWidth x arHeight), with the default camera calibration and coordinate system
nya = new MultiMarker(this, width, height, "camera_para.dat", NyAR4PsgConfig.CONFIG_DEFAULT);
// set the delay after which a lost marker is no longer displayed. by default set to something higher, but here manually set to immediate.
//nya.setLostDelay(1);

nya.addARMarker("4x4_1.patt", 80); //your have to print out the cooresponding pdf file and put the .patt files in data folder
nya.addARMarker("4x4_2.patt", 80);
nya.addARMarker("4x4_3.patt", 80);
nya.addARMarker("4x4_4.patt", 80);
nya.addARMarker("4x4_5.patt", 80);
nya.addARMarker("4x4_6.patt", 80);
nya.addARMarker("4x4_7.patt", 80);
nya.addARMarker("4x4_8.patt", 80);
}

void draw() {

background(255); // a background call is needed for correct display of the marker results
cam.read();
//image(cam, 0, 0, width, height); // display the image at the width and height of the sketch window
// flip image horizonatlly
pushMatrix();
scale(-1, 1);
translate(-cam.width, 0);
// image(cam, 0, 0, width, height);
popMatrix();
// pushMatrix();
// scale(-1,0);
nya.detect(cam); // detect markers in the input image at the correct resolution (incorrect resolution will give assertion error)

if (nya.isExistMarker(0)) {
setMatrix(nya.getMarkerMatrix(0)); //use this marker to translate and rotate the processing drawing
translate(0, 0); //offset half the size of the cube.
fill(0);
textFont(myFont, 24);
text(the, 0, 0);
}
perspective();
if (nya.isExistMarker(1)) {
setMatrix(nya.getMarkerMatrix(1));
translate(0, 0);
fill(0);
textFont(myFont, 24);
text(is, 0, 0);

}
perspective();
if (nya.isExistMarker(2)) {
setMatrix(nya.getMarkerMatrix(2));
translate(0, 0);
fill(0);
textFont(myFont, 24);
text(no, 0, 0);

}
perspective();
if (nya.isExistMarker(3)) {
setMatrix(nya.getMarkerMatrix(3));
translate(0, 0);
fill(0);
textFont(myFont, 24);
text(id, 0, 0);

}
perspective();
if (nya.isExistMarker(4)) {
setMatrix(nya.getMarkerMatrix(4));
translate(0, 0);
fill(0);
textFont(myFont, 24);
text(there, 0, 0);

}
perspective();
if (nya.isExistMarker(5)) {
setMatrix(nya.getMarkerMatrix(5));
translate(0, 0);
fill(0);
textFont(myFont, 24);
text(is2, 0, 0);

}
perspective();
if (nya.isExistMarker(6)) {
setMatrix(nya.getMarkerMatrix(6));
translate(0, 0);
fill(0);
textFont(myFont, 24);
text(only, 0, 0);

}
perspective();
if (nya.isExistMarker(7)) {
setMatrix(nya.getMarkerMatrix(7));
translate(0, 0);
fill(0);
textFont(myFont, 24);
text(us, 0, 0);

}
// popMatrix();
}

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0Ye7ODytIM

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Ultra HD Digital 8k

It’s been a long time coming but it’s application remains to be seen.

In 2006, researchers at the NHK demonstrated in Las Vegas a transmission of Ultra High Definition Television with 22.2 surround sound. THe broadcast was from Tokyo to Osaka via an IP network running at 1Gbps. Uncompressed, the sound signal alone an at 20 Mbps while the video signal ran at 24 Gbps.

Current broadcast standards runs at MPEG-2 compressions with a maximum resolution of 1920 x 1080. Ultra HD runs at 7680 x 4320 pixels.

Developed by the NHK in Japan, ultra HD has 4000 scanning lines compared to just 1080 for the current broadcast system.

In 2007, SMPTE approves the Ultra HDTV as a standard format.

The BBC will broadcast the London Summer Olympics in ultraHD.

Each frame is equal to 33 Megapixels.

I can see this as the digital IMAX but more. The 100 degree viewing angle allows for an image that can simulate human perception. It’s quite hard to describe since the image is huge but the experience is almost realistic.

This type of imaging is a step forward to building that holodeck. The amount of detail that the resolution provides will be able to show more infomation for computers to see. Although current limitations would be enough processing power to process the data.

 

Santa Monica to Cambria

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&source=s_d&saddr=Santa+Monica,+CA&daddr=34.05997,-118.69429+to:35.565982,-121.07833&hl=en&geocode=FX4YBwIdyffv-CkZAJHCzqTCgDGr9SP_tQoXtA%3BFcK2BwIdbt7s-Cl3iv-i6h_ogDHsjjKuK3UCng%3BFZ6xHgIdxn3I-A&aq=0&oq=my+&sll=34.042419,-118.692169&sspn=0.264002,1.40625&mra=dpe&mrsp=1&sz=10&via=1&dmli=2&glp=1&ie=UTF8&ll=34.042419,-118.692169&spn=0.264002,1.40625&t=m&output=embed

View Larger Map

So my journey begins on the part of California 1 on Santa Monica beach. Let’s get an overview of the purpose of trip. Two years ago I fell in love with the road here in California. It provided amazing landscapes and driving opportunity that made me want to make this. My dream is to eventually photograph/ document various coastlines along the Pacific Ocean.

Santa Monica Pier

The Pacific Coast Highway is a an All-American Road, the other one is Route 66. Highway 1 shares it with the US 101 and even Interstate 5 at some points. But the most beautiful parts of California 1 is part where I’m driving tomorrow, the area between Big Sur and Monterey.

But for today, it’s from Santa Monica to Cambria.

With gas prices at an al time high, hybrid cars were nowhere to be found at the Hertz rental. I was shocked that they offered a Hyundai as a replacement. I know it’s a great car and great gas mileage. But seriously?!?. So I went for the Mazda RX-3 sedan version. My friend had this car and it was awesome and so was this one. Very sporty and even has a manual transmission option should I want it. Yes please.

Cameras used for this are the Sony NEX C3, Panasonic Lumix LX-5 and a Nikon D200. Mounting them was a challenge. The focal length of the Sony was a bit short plus all the shaking in car with the roads meant that most of my footage from day 1 is useless. Salvageable but it will take a lot of work.

Lumix video was great but ran out of batteries. I do have an audio recording of the whole thing so that’s good. As for the D200, I’l need to make a few adjustments today to get better images but the system is working as I had hoped.

The trip took me roughly four hours and it was long. Most of it on the US101 to get better time as the sun was setting and night driving will make shooting difficult.

Getting out of Southern California is easier said than done. For some reason the 405 was not moving. Good thing I decided to start from Santa Monica. This allowed me to bypass that area completely and take the PCH up to Malibu, hand a right at Pepperdine University and hit the 101 from there.

The weather was great so everyone was out at the beach. Which meant traffic.

The Malibu canyons gave a great opportunity to get a feel for the car with it’s twists and turns and I was happy. The rental reminds me of my own car back home.

I had been running on coffee with my “jetlag” from New York the whole day and things were getting dicey at around Santa Maria, a good 1 1/2 hours from Cambria. Gas mileage wasn’t so good. I stopped for gas in San Luis Obispo and filled up 7.5 gallons.

It was well into the night once I got to the inn in Cambria where I would spend the night to recharge and prepare for the next day.

Mass Effect 3 Commentary SPOILERS AHEAD!

http://youtu.be/GmECZm1RsN8

 

After 5 years of going through the Mass Effect storyline it all came to an end for me yesterday. I think that I should blog about this while emotions are still fresh and the wounds are still bleeding(It is war afterall).

Bioware set out in 2007 to create a space opera that rivaled that of Star Wars and they succeeded. Even though the first game was forgettable, the story was there and they returned in 2009 and redeemed themselves with Mass Effect 2. 

Bioware stood out as a western game developer that could make roleplaying games or RPGs that challenged the dominance of JRPGs at the time and triumphed.

With Mass Effect 2 being the “dark” story much like Star Wars’ Empire Stikes Back, it set itself up for an epic finale. The Reapers would finally arrive and the bring an end to the story of YOUR Commander Shepard.

Like many others, I pre-ordered the game and patiently waited for news and the eventual release of the game.

Sometime between the last quarter of 2011, a production script of the game was posted on a Russian forum. One could assume that it was authentic as it was given a takedown order. I held off reading it and there were even some posts on the internet that Bioware should not change their story just because the script leaked out. 

As it turns out, they should’ve probably changed the script.

TURN ON CONSPIRACY MODE.

It’s interesting that the ENTIRE script is leaked out in the public just months away from release. By this time, it can be assumed that the script was already locked in (no changes are made) and the entire voice cast have already done their job and are just waiting for the promotional tour of the game. Could it be that some Bioware employee was not happy on how the game ended?

I was able to copy the script before it was taken down and just saved it on my hard drive but not reading it. Now that I finished the game, I had to compare the finished product. Unless you knew how the game progresses, the script is a bit hard to put together on your own. But the endings are the same.

WHAT”S THE POINT OF ALL THIS?

Mass Effect 3 is a great franchise and a great game. If you’ve never played the game before, you should now. The last few games that gripped my heart were Final Fantasy 7’s Aerith’s death and Final Fantasy X for the ending. Those games were made a while back in another console generation so it’s been a while for me to be placed on an emotional rollercoaster all because of a game.

Why is that? Is it becuase of the countless hours spent with the controller as we went through man made environments? The Final Fantasy series has been more like an interactive movie with you running and fighting around and upon reaching certain points in the game you are rewarded by a magnificent cutscene that should be in movie theaters and not your tiny TV.

Yu Suzuki was among the first if not the first to create an open-ended game with Shenmue. Too ahead of it’s time and problems of distribution (released exclusively on the Dreamcast and Xbox) ended the story but not the idea.

Peter Moleneux, creator of Fable attempted the same approach as well. By creating a world where you build up your strengths and abilities to battle a foe in the end. Your choices allow you create a world built around you but in a medival setting with non realistic graphics. But for some reason, I could not sympathize with the character I created there. There was no emotional hook for me. Sure you can have a family and kids, own everything in sight and so on, but it was all an afterthought and not integral to the story. The best relationship you can get out of the game is with your dog and that’s it.

Bioware has placed interactive storytelling in another level. Here decisions matter. Relationships with your crewmembers matter and decided if they live or die. Decisions made early the game determine the eventual outcome of a mission later in the game. Your crewmembers become a part of you and as the game progresses, you see them mature and develop, as did you. Does any of this sound familiar? It’s called real life.

Yes, Bioware had managed to put in over 23GB of data the experience of saving the galaxy and having a love interest at the same time while fending off advances from other crewmates. The Commander Shepard I made, is my Shepard. It’s not only my Shepard, but also in some psychological way, an extension of me. The choices I made are based on my own morals, and own ideas. I cringe whenever I reach a point where I am aware that the path I choose can make my friend love me or hate me. Bioware has made us too involved with the game.

WHY IS THIS GAME IS GOOD.

The game is fantastic. You can tell early on that the game begins to wrap up loose ends. You see people you interacted with in the previous two games and bring closure to their stories based on your actions. The script written is one of the best I’ve heard in a game. I know some of it is cheesy. But that’s how it really is The playful banter between the characters puts a smile to my face. ME3 shows the the most intimate parts of either a growing relationship or rekindling one from the past. Added to the fact that the voice acting is top notch, makes you fall in love all over again.

I could see it now. I would save the galaxy, bring peace everywhere and live quietly with a family and lots of litte blue children.

WTF ENDING

But like life, it throws you a curveball and this one came out of nowehere. Up until the ending, you could control almost every decision made until that point. In Mass Effect 1, it was simply save the Destiny Acension or the Alliance Fleet. Who should lead the council (BTW this should have been a hint, your choice here doesn’t matter)? It was easy, fall in love, stop a rogue Spectre, and prevent a race of sentient machines from killing us all.

Mass Effect 2 was bit more complicated, you had to gain the loyalty of your crew or else they will not survive the Suicide mission you’re on. Plus all the choices you made in the first game carry over.

Mass Effect 3 takes a different approach and math towards the end. The galaxy is at war and you must gather allies and war assets that will determine the fate of the Earth and the universe. The higher the number, the better are your chances in defeating the Reapers. This is the first game that employes multiplayer. This is also the first game that REQUIRES you to play the multiplayer to get the “best” ending. The default is 50% war readiness. That means even if you have 6000pts in war assets, your final strength is only half that. I could still live with that.

So the end finally comes, you have your great confrontation where it all started, then what? You choose to either, die and send everyone to the dark ages, or die and still send everyone to the dark ages. WTF!?! Then what was the point of the past three games that I played to get to this point. It immediately felt that everything I did was all for nothing. I would bring peace, yes. But at what cost? Hasn’t the price been paid yet with billions of virtual lives against the reapers enough? Wasn’t it enough that I died and came back to fight another day satisfactory for the universe? True, Bioware has stated that this only marks the end of Commander Shepard’s story arc and that more can come from the Mass Effect universe, but I feel that their ending killed any notion of that ever happening. 

MASS REJECTION 

If Amazon reviews and the forums at bioware.com is any indicator of the disappointment of fans of the game who have played it, the outlook is not good. What initially started as a 5 star game is now falling to the 3 star mark for one flaw. The ending. It hasn’t been a week since the relase of the game and there are numerous threads with one posting over 680 pages are of this posting on how the ending was a big let down for everyone. Online petitions have sprung up and creative types have been writing their own endings in fanfiction format to get over the grief of the ending. 

I finished the game at 2AM Saturday morning and was shell shocked. I could not move after I saw the credits roll. It was just shock and a broken heart. There was no family and little blue children in the future of my Shepard. 

Bioware hasn’t responded to the fans reaction as of this posting.

DLC OPTION?

Could a DLC fix this? Could the scene at the Citadel be all just a dream in Shepard’s head? Maybe. In ME2 Liara T’Soni, a pivotal character in many ways was relegated to a a few pages of dialogue and nothing more. Fans were initally put off by this since her role in ME2 is a lot bigger than what you imagined. Then Bioware made us all happy by releasing “The Lair of the Shadow Broker” which tied up that end which was more relationship in my opinion and not plot based.

But the post-game scenario, (when you finish the game and all) will return you to the bridge of the Normandy before you attacked the Illusive Man’s base. How can you insert the DLC “Ending” when plotwise, you haven’t ended it yet. It’s not like the Dragon Age DLC there you are either in camp or in your estate.

EPILOGUE

Closure is what fans were expecting from this game and sadly so was I. Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age II endings were abrupt but enabled characters an epilogue on what happened afterward. It was easy to accept since you knew they had a sequel in development. Much like in “Return of the King” in The Lord of the RIngs trilogy, you knew what happened to all of the other charcters after they defeated Sauron. But in the case of ME3, you know that this was “supposed” to end the story. This has no comforting ending. We were hoping for a story that we could sleep soundly with. Apparently many are losing sleep over this.

QUESTIONS QUESTIONS AND MORE QUESTIONS

The game was understandable up until the conflict with the Illusive Man. Then everything went to the twilight zone.

  • Who is that kid on top of the Citadel?
  • Who made the Reapers?
  • Why were synthetics out to kill organics every 50,000 years?
  • How did your squad on Earth ended up at the Normandy running away from the blast when you were all together at the final charge to the Citadel?
  • Why did the kid show two choices? Why give you a choice at all? It seemed that he was still controlling everyone to the very end.
  • Who is that father and son in the snowy background after the credits? The tale of Shepard?

In the end, Bioware has only succeeded in creating more questions than answering those already here. Sure it tries to have the unconventional ending like the Matrix Revolutions but that doomed the franchise. 

DID BIOWARE REALLY HAVE AN ENDING IN MIND?

This is a short game. It can be completed under 30 hours without multiplayer. Did Bioware really know what they were doing with the game? As a filmmaker, the ending is uninspired. Though the scenes leading up to the end is very good. The fall of Thessia, the Quarians and the Geth, Fall of Earth, the hope that you bring across the galaxy, the personal conversations witj your crew are all well thought out of. The ending felt as if the wrtiers/ creators could not decide on how to end it. 

How would you explain the purpose of the universal extinction? Was the end an afterthought? “We’ll create this magnificent spcae opera and think about the ending when we get there.” 

HOW DO YOU FIX THIS?

If this game will be patched, this will be a very large patch. It would definitely cost Bioware a fair amount of money since they would have to do all new voice acting and animation. Only time will tell if Bioware will stick to their ending or give in to player’s demands. But as of now, I will be nursing a broken heart. Not only did my Shepard not survive. But there’s no one else around me that matters.

Sensor Walk

In Sensor Workshop we had to do another Sensor Walk like we did in Physical Computing which is walk around and notice any sensors around you. I didn’t have to go far as I found myself having a sensor right in front of me at work.

It’s the RFID by HID. HID is an enterprise class provider of security ID solutions for large instituitions and in this case NYU. NYU transitioned to the RFID system this year requiring all employees and students to get a new ID. The previous ID method used was the magnetic strip which is still on the current system. I’ve been issued these ID’s before for my parking priveldges at work and access pass for areas at work.

At first people didn’t know what to do with them thus causing wuite a buildup at the entrance of Bobst Library during the initial rollout in the fall of 2011.

These RFIDs are running on proprietary software and hardware which makes them unfriendly to hobbyists or for the normal ITP crowd. These RFIDs are secure in a way that it has to authenticate to a central server in order to get information and decide whether or not to allow access. Each system is customized per client. But the sensor itself can read a variety of systems just as long as the system has been configured to accept it.

The particular one in Bobst Library is located in this Sensor Report at the ITP Sensor Wiki. In short, fellow ITPers don’t bother trying to get information off the RFID. You won’t get it without the key. You’l have better luck with the magnetic strip at the back.

Camera Walk?

I’ve posted it before I think that I always wanted a holodeck. But of course this is nothing like that. So for this project I finally got the network camera working at my place in Queens and uploading the images every 15 minutes. I shot some video from a window at ITP and put the two together.

I knew I was going to use the Kinect and initially began using the depthMap and measuring in inches and using the values there to determine distance. That didn’t work for me. I decided to use the Center of Mass or CoM command to determine the position but then depth would be another problem.

Soooo for the purposes of this project I just adjusted the position of the kinect to be overhead to simplify the position.

Adding a fornt facing camera turned out to be more challenging. For some reason, OpenNI takes over all the cameras of the computer and will only want the kinect. Solution? Add another kinect.

I’d like to expand this further with head tracking such as imitating the look around an area or even creating the illusion of depth without 3D glasses.

http://youtu.be/ac9mx180aTo

The Reapers are finally upon us

http://youtu.be/bG2mdZ23eP8

It’s been a while since I’ve written a post about videogames so what better way to start than with Mass Effect 3.

This is my most anticipated game since Final Fantasy X came out in 2001. I almost gave up on the first game. It was clunky, pointless, going nowhere and the action was terrible. It was already hard enough pointing and shooting let alone trying to use your biotic powers. Exploration took forever and that just fell off a cliff somewhere never to return.

Mass Effect 2 convinced me that it is the greatest trilogy ever made for videogames. The story and the action blended so well that the final approach tot he Collector’s base made me cringe at the throught of losing one of my crew memebers.

I’ve been playing the demo at least once a day. Whether it was the single player or the multiplayer, there are big changes to the visual aspect and the pace of the storytelling. The previous games were slow buildups to an epic finale. This feels like a rollercoaster ride from the start.

The Reapers arrive on March 6, 2012 for North America.

You probably won’t hear from me until I finish the game.