gominokouhai: (Default)

What are you doing with your free time, pajh? you say. Well, since you asked so nicely, I'll skip the otherwise obligatory free time, what's that joke, and go straight to the incontrovertibly true answer: these days I spend my free time dressing up in skintight Lycra® and wrestling with men I barely know.

I may have mentioned in a previous post that Hollywood-grade motion capture systems create the potential for new narrative paradigms for the 21st century. Well, mostly I mentioned that they allow a specific actor, that actor being me, to hear the single most beautiful phrase ever expressed to an actor. We'll get to new narrative paradigms later. Meantime, there have been a number of very rapid learning experiences while working with thew new tech, not least of which is that I actually don't look totally terrible in skintight Lycra.

Mocap suit

Middle-class beer gut tastefully cropped out of photograph. EVERY PINT WAS WORTH IT I TELL YOU

Unsurprisingly, most of the research in gyroscopic technologies these days is being done by the ballistics division of the US military and their contractors. Many of my readers may not have a particular interest in the increasingly accurate science of the transformation of alleged insurgents into chargrilled jerky from a distance of many kilometres, but fret not! for those of us so callously disinterested in how to blame friendly fire on technology, there are subsequent benefits for all of us (except for the families of the alleged insurgents, presumably): benefits like the upcoming Wolverine movie, and Skrillex' latest tour. I am, as ever, all about the trickle-down.

Yay us!

Another benefit of the fact that this is all repurposed military technology is that it's all incredibly robust. The suit comes in a case that is waterproof to 500 metres, and also conveniently scaled to comply with most airlines' regulations regarding carry-on luggage. In the event of a terrorist attack on a plane in which such a case was stored, it's more likely to survive than the black box. I dread to speculate on the newspaper headlines once the crash recovery team have spent a week attempting to recover data from it. Apparently the Captain spent twenty minutes trying to have an elaborate fistfight with the first officer, followed by an extended period of merengue dancing, with occasional periods of jazz hands. This presumably contributed to the crash, but exactly how is a question we hope maybe to have answered by next week.

Oh yes, the mocap. The suits are surprisingly accurate and expressive, to a level that I didn't think was possible. And you can play the mocap live in realtime into any 3D world you care to devise. In the following examples, we're going to be using Minecraft, because Minecraft. Also, because Minecraft is incredibly pretty, and it shows you just what you can do with a blocky Steve guy with no facial expressions.

Ye First Video: Meet the Creeper

In this short film I play the Creeper, which while it's not exactly a speaking role, does have the benefit of being in the title.

Took us about five minutes to shoot. About an hour of getting the suits configured first, but that's just teething. On a regular film shoot I spend much more time hanging around waiting, and there are usually fewer copies of Transmetropolitan lying about with which for me to occupy my time. These suits are awesome.

Ye Video the Second: in which pajh does acting

I know I'm a middle-class New Town bastard these days, but I do still pay attention to my acting when I get the chance. I have the most popular text-to-speech voice in the known world, and physical acting is no less an important discipline. I have done courses. I've done the Alexander Technique. I do stretches properly before I perform mocap (judiciously excluding the stretches that are likely to tear the €500 lycra suit, natch). I'm not by any means attempting to put myself up there in Patrick Stewart territory, but I think my research has paid off. In this second video I have more of a starring role.

I showed this to [personal profile] stormsearch and she got about twenty seconds in before she had to pause it and proclaim, oh god. It's you. Something about the way I hold my head slightly to one side, it would seem. And then there are little things, like the fact that apparently I pick my right foot up when I'm considering something. I didn't know that about me until I watched it expressed by a blocky Minecraft Steve.

The level of expressiveness and the subtlety you can get from the tech is quite incredible. I'm quite excited to see where this goes next.

In my Copious Free Time, obviously.

gominokouhai: (Khaaan!)

It is now possible to have a mocap system that links directly (and accurately!), in realtime, to a fully realized 3D set. Both the motion-capture system and the set in which it is to be rendered are simultaneously available to a sufficiently skilled technician, who can manipulate elements of same as required while the motion-capture is still continuing, from a single laptop. This might not excite you in the way I've just described it, but what you must consider is the fact that we have these tools available. This in itself has potentially broad-reaching effects about the nature of storytelling in the 21st century. And, which is much more important, as a direct result, tonight was possibly the first time ever that the following phrase has been uttered, honestly and without irony, to an actor:

Don't worry. Stand still and I'll rotate the world around you.

Oh yeah baby. If there were ever a reason why I got myself into acting, it's this.

~

The Muppets do Bohemian Rhapsody. Presented without any further comment. I'm going to have terrible mosh neck when I wake up tomorrow, and it's entirely the fault of Dr Teeth and his Electric Mayhem. Okay, partially their fault and partially the fault of Penelope Spheeris.

(You should follow that last link; I'm giving you a no-honk guarantee.)

~

It transpires that I gots a smartphone app. Some of you should remember the pajh-inna-box of old. Now it has an app. This would be unsurprising in itself were it not for the fact that Googol Play allows user feedback comments, most of which are about how awesome I sound. There's one there from user Jessica Rabbit thus:

I own many, many tts voices but this is the best, yet! [...] this male, u.k. voice is the most natural sounding and also elegant & sophisticated! [...] I can listen to this imaginary Englishman throughout my day helping me with my appointments and such!

I suspect the real Jessica Rabbit would say LOL somewhat less, being a lady who knows what elegant and sophisticated actually means. If this were the real Jessica Rabbit commenting, none of you would see me for dust.

I'm not bad. I just sound that way.

gominokouhai: (Default)

The other day I'm sitting in Illegal Jack's eating quesadillas with [personal profile] stormsearch, when my phone goes. Beep beep. It's Bixby Snyder.

The lascivious host of popular televisual entertainment It's Not My Problem expressed to me his readiness to purchase something for up to, but presumably not exceeding, the value of US$1.00. Exactly what it is that he would so purchase was not readily apparent. It took me a few minutes to work it out:

  1. The previous evening I had saved a link to an article about the new Robocop film;
  2. The following day the autoblogger had pushed that out to my linkdump;
  3. Twitterfeed had pushed a snippet of text from the linkdump out to the Twitters;
  4. Somebody on the Twitters has a bot that responds to any mention of the word Robocop with Bixby's immortal catchphrase;
  5. Seesmic running in the background on my phone had picked up the twit addressed to me, and sent me a notification;
  6. My phone vibrates on my belt while I'm trying to get creative with the application of hot sauces to pulled pork.

(I'd given the Masonic handshake and asked for the super-secret special hot sauces from the back. Ended up rather disappointed. It was just the Cholula range, which I already own, and none of them were particularly hot.)

At no stage in this convoluted chain of events had a human being been involved since about 24 hours beforehand, when I'd saved the original link to Delicious. The rest was an automatic, inevitable process, mediated solely by Internet herself. The next day I get a text from a non-existent TV star.

I love this century.

~

Vaguely related: the day before I was walking past a hairdressers which was showing the Gangnam Style video on the TV in the back. I saw about two seconds of it from a great distance as I walked past. And I could swear that I was watching Bixby. There is a certain similarity, no?

gominokouhai: (Default)

Guys. GUYS. They built a robot in Stockholm and they put my voice into it.

You may recall the pajh-inna-box from a couple of years ago. Now my voice is starring at the Science Museum without inconveniently needing my body attached to it.

FurHat speaks with the CereProc William TTS voice. He uses built-in CereVoice vocal gestures to add extra realism (and sarcasm) to his speech. That's right. When they wanted to teach sarcasm to a cold, unfeeling machine, they knew exactly where to turn.

BBC News segment (skip to 02:18 for me). Also: oh ghod, they gave him hubris.

I like the fact that they gave him a hat. It seems to be a truth, universally acknowledged, that a voice this awesome needs to have a hat on top of it.

Well, Phase One of my grand plan to construct an invincible robot body for myself is complete. Now I just to need to work out what Phase Two should be.

Tenuously related: research for this article involved googling for fur hat robot, which turned up—natch—I Am Russian Robot, a rather nice little comedy skit.

Also, please note that guys is gender-neutral. American women with names like Chrystal and Ronnette use it all the time.

ETA

@marksutherland: @gominokouhai I just spent the last half hour pasting GladOS quotes into the box on the Cereproc homepage
@marksutherland: The canonical voice of sarcastic rouge AIs is now @gominokouhai : gominokouhai.dreamwidth.org/246773.html See: free.dom0.org/PajhOS.mp3

Glad to be of service.

gominokouhai: (Default)

Kettling is a tool used solely to stifle dissent. So we now have a handheld Iphone app to avoid kettles.

In Egypt, they shut down the internet. So the Egyptians built their own one.

This is a message to The Man: don't fuck with geeks.

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