Spent all morning on Second Life (cleaning? What's that??). Someone has set up their own Brokeback Island on SL, and we were making plans for a party which could accompdate both the European and North American BBM fans.
See? There are some people who are thinking of BBM on the grid after all. It's not just me :-)
I've been percolating the idea for some time now to combine my love of Brokeback Mountain slash fiction with my enjoyment of the virtual reality of Second Life (SL). So this weekend I worked on creating a Second Life avatar (i.e. in-world character) based on Jack Twist, as played by Jake Gyllenhaal.
It was actually fairly easy to do (well, OK, maybe not so easy for the average SL newcomer who may still be wandering around bumping into things...estimates are that as many as 90% of people who join SL eventually give up due the steep learning curve). First step was to create a "blank" avatar and outfit him with modifiable (tintable, etc.) skin. Second Step was selecting a suitable full-face "passport photo" of Jake Gyllenhaal from iheartjackmedia.com Then I trotted said avatar over to a place called Avatar Island and went through the (relatively) simple process of creating a "face tattoo" which the blank avatar will wear:
You can preview the created head tattoo in 3D, rotating in order to see all its angels before committing to have it made:
Once we have our face, we need to add realistic-looking cerulean blue eyes, which means a SL shopping trip :-) I picked out this highly photo-realistic pair from Skye Eyes:
Now comes the hardest part: tweaking the innumerable parameters to make the face look more like Jake Gyllenhaal's. This is painstaking work which took me quite some time, and much tweaking of various features, length of nose, width of eyes, etc. etc.:
Yes, we're already at the point where we can re-animate dead actors and put them into films using digital 2D-to-3D rendering techniques. Check out the video:
I just thought this was very, very cool. Someday soon, doctored videos will become as popular as airbrushed (or otherwise digitally manipulated) pictures. These sort of animation advances are already having an effect on Hollywood, replacing the often-tedious motion capture of previous years. And this second video gives you proof of how far the technology is taking film and TV right now (New York Times video, you have to sit through a commercial first, but the wait is worth it).
This illustration is by Charles Robinson, from the first edition of The Child's Christmas, a book published by Blackie press in 1906, exactly a century ago. This is one of over 2,000 images lovingly scanned and preserved online by Minh Lai, showcasing the work of classic children's book illustrators from the early twentieth century.
To see the whole gallery, go to the nocloo.com - Children's Book Illustrators website, and click on the Gallery tab. Be prepared to spend an hour or two browsing through the wonderful work on display, though. You've been forewarned, now...
Two more images, these by illustrator Kay Nielsen, created for the 1913 book In Powder and Crinoline, Old Fairy Tales Retold (click on the image for a larger size view):
See also the images on this website, which contains larger-resolution scans of many of the books from the same collection. There is truly some staggeringly beautiful work here.
One of the latest new trends hitting the Internet is something called "crowdsourcing": using free Internet volunteers to collectively do a job (and often, a better job) than a paid employee would usually do. For example, digg.com is an example of a website where the job of a news editor is completely outsourced to Internet volunteers; the selected stories rise and fall in significance as they are "dugg" (voted on) by readers. The most-dugg stories reach the front page.
Another good example of crowdsourcing: The Google Image Labeler, which turns the job of attaching tags/labels to pictures into a game, pitting you against another Internet user somewhere in the world. The the more tags/labels both of you get in common, the more points you get (not that the points are really worth anything at the moment). It's brilliant: Google using free, willing volunteer labour to obtain more accurate labels to apply to its store of indexed images.
Try the Labeler game yourself, it's a great timewaster ;-)