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LGM Day 3, Day 4, Follow Up

Days went by so quick, so here is a summary.

Day three was intense. The presentations were very interesting, particularly those of Andrew Mihal about Enblend-Enfuse and about GPU stitching. In the evening we had the conference supper, a very pleasant social event at which I learned from about Øyvind’s Now By Then installation and got a chance to purchase one of the last “Architecture Fiver“‘s  that Stani brought along for his talk. He also patiently gave me an insight into the thinking pattern of curators, lifting my morale from the previous day.

On day four I had a near-death experience. Since Tom Sharpless could not attend, I picked up his slide and hosted the talk. In the morning I prepared my notebook in dual display mode, so that on one display I can run the demonstrations of Panini, MathMap and Hugin, while on the other display I had my notes, which I kept editing until shortly before my talk. Without saving. Disaster strikes when I connect the notebook to the projector. My notebook’s native resolution is 1400×1050, too much for the projector to handle. Must restart X. Lose all presets and notes! I froze on the spot. Had to cut on a few gimmicks such as recording the talk with the catadioptric lens or shooting a stitched panorama during the talk (I made the move with the camera around the tripod, but had no available brain cycles to even think of setting the exposure or pressing the real button. I felt like a zombie and was disappointed at my performance which I felt was terrible, although a look at its recording comforted me: it was not that bad after all, even if I forgot to say half the things I wanted to say, the live demo and the interaction with the public were not that catastrophic.

The good news from day four was that Sébastien and Vincent debugged the flat display in extremis so that people walking out of for the lunch break passed by and could admire Guillaume’s stunning Boulevard Bancel (we’ll gladly admit that once this was on screen and working we pulled the cables on the slide show so that nothing can go wrong. Proper slide show the next time).

Since the cafeteria was closed on Sunday, we had to order pizzas for lunch, which was great as it inspired more exchanges before the last presentations. In the end, I even got the honor of shooting the official group picture, and to offer some of the present teams a panorama inside a panorama in the Cyclorama, while our team helped folding up the exhibit canvases.

After protracted good byes, I drove eastwards with Alexandre and Pablo. Alexandre only joined us for a tour of Québec-City. Pablo continued with us to Boréalie before I drove him back to Montréal for his flight on Wednseday. The rest of the week, and the weekend, I had to catch up with pent up business. Particularly the weekend was difficult, with a few difficulties upgrading servers remotely from FreeBSD 6.3 to FreeBSD 7.2 (the worse thing is that all manipulations worked well on the guinea-pig server in the office that is pretty much an exact mirror of the servers to be upgraded).

I still made time on Sunday evening for another quick hop to Montréal, and I am happy I did. Joergen Geerds was visiting for the weekend with his girlfriend. Interesting people.

After

LGM Day 1

We’re at LGM. Yesterday  I picked up the Ultra Wide Views, Fahim in downtown and Pablo coming from Germany at the airport. We spent the late afternoon / early evening mounting all the canvas and the few photopaper prints; then we looked at Sébastien, Vincent and Jean-Ambroise set up the LightTwist driven Cyclorama. We had a bite with Benoît Ozell, his support for everything happening here at École Polytechnique de Montréal is fantastic. Dev Ghosh joined us after his plane landed.  Jim Watters arrived after dinner. I worked until 3 AM on my notebook.

This morning most things worked as planned but still neded some oiling. The exhibit of 360° views from a dozen artists on the Cyclorama was ready just in time for after Sébastien’s speech, with some minor details corrected afterwards. It was delighting to receive the visit of .Jean-Pierre Lavoie, one of the most successful panorama photographers in Canada, who has pioneered usage of immersive medias in the news. LightTwist made a great debut.

I am running on my last juices, but all the interesting people keep me going. It’s good to see familiar faces; to put a face on a name known from the mailing lists; to meet new people and hear about new ideas. This conference is refreshing. I’m capturing some of the moments on video, but won’t have time to process it for a while.

Andrew Mihal arrived a few minutes ago and Yulia Kotseruba is scheduled to arrive late tonight. This will complete one of the largest Hugin developers line-ups in a single location. Friday night is the conference’s official dinner, but we’ll have our team dinner Thursday night in a yet to be defined place.

Beam Me Up, Vincent!

Friday afternoon I went to Montreal to finalize a few things for the upcoming Ultra Wide Views 2009 exhibition. First we tested some images on Lighttwist. I did not expect that Vincent would surprise me with the first trial of spherical images. He only asked for one on Thursday. He took us on a very promising tour.

The soundtrack is from Freaked System and can be legally downloaded on Jamendo. I can’t repeat often enough how amazed I am at the quality of the music that can be found on Jamendo.

After putting our feet back on Earth, we walked to nearby École Polytechnique. Benoît Ozell has been very helpful organizing the logistics for LGM and by extension for the exhibition. We looked at some rooms for the Lighttwist projection and settled on… two. Yes, the intention is to have two different projection installations:

  • The initially planned 360° Cyclorama, for which I opened up contributions today – they will be soon visible in the gallery. They will complement videos and potentially even a live performance. 14 FullHD projectors, it’s going to be hot in that room.
  • A high resolution projection of the flat artworks, some of which are also meant to be printed. Most likely four FullHD projectors combined – Sébastien’s ambition is to demonstrate the affordability of Lighttwist over alternatives of similar resolution and wants to connect all those pixels to a single PC.

Things are shaping up very nicely. If you have appropriate material, get yourself an account and start uploading. Be part of this unique, ground-breaking exhibit of Ultra Wide Views.

Lighttwist

Lighttwist is a volumetric projection system. It is currently used to project on the Cyclorama, a large cylindrical display (click the picture below to get inside it).

inside_lighttwist

It was invented by Université de Montréal professor Sébastien Roy and is being further developed under his direction by Vincent Chapdelaine-Couture and Louis Bouchard. It was presented to some of us two years ago on the fringes of LGM 2007. In 2009, LGM is coming back to Montréal and Lighttwist is back… with more than a twist.

Sébastien and his team joined us for the Google Summer of Code. In a week we’ll know if this summer we’ll see a Lighttwist related project sponsored by Google.

He also responded to the call for presentations to LGM and will likely present the latest development at LGM. The number of projectors have doubled from seven to 14. For the same cylinder. What’s this twist?

Last but not least, we’re working out the details to run a show on Lighttwist at LGM, with a live video performance, a couple of short movies and a slide show of panoramas. If you produce panoramic movies, or if you produce panoramic images (in cylindrical projection, 360°x29.3° – 7200x600px with the horizon at 1/3 from the bottom), contact me to be featured at the show.

With so many projectors, related computers and big screen, Lighttwist may seem intimidating. But it is not. This weekend Vincent published an addendum to the user guide for the minimalist Lighttwist configuration – on a single PC. Add a few video cards and a webcam and you’re all set for a start into volumetric projection. Did I mention that Lighttwist is Open Source?

Bad Luck Good Experience

Friday was meant to be a day-trip to Montréal to meet Sébastien Roy and discuss Lighttwist related Google Summer of Code projects. Things turned out differently. The meeting was scheduled for 14:00. We arrived well ahead of time. Nicole dropped me off and was to go shopping with Zwi. I walk toward the university and I hear her screaming at me: the car’s engine does not start! We call roadside assistance. They dispatch a towing service. After an hour a friendly guy shows up and says it’s the battery. He gives it a boost, the engine starts. It’s the battery, he says. I’m not convinced: the car had just been on a long highway drive. Instead of following his advice and driving around to charge the battery, I drive to the Acura dealership that our roadside assistance scheduled us to be towed to.

After sales service at Luciani Acura close at 14:30 on Fridays. But the guys were so incredibly nice and found time for us. While Marko dealt with the administrative work and came up with a complete solution for us, Nic got our car in, plugged the meter and found out that it was the alternator. Can’t be fixed on the spot, but no worries. Tarek from nearby Enterprise Rent-A-Car helped us transfer the baby-seat to the rental car and do the rental paperwork. In almost no time we were back on the road.

It is amazing how these people, for whom we were complete strangers from out-of-town, went the extra mile to help us and get back on track. Almost at the same time, my friend Victor sent me the link to the movie ebedded below. Coincidence?

Back on track, Sébastien and his students Vincent Chapdelaine-Couture and Louis Bouchard were kind enough to wait for me. We had our meeting at 16:00. It was fun and productive and hopefully it will bear fruits.

Monday I’m in Montréal again, to pick up the repaired car. Luciani Acura and Enterprise Rent-A-Car – highly reccomended!