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Posted by Ray  |  18 Jul 2013  |  Comments (0)

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The folks at IDEO New York have come up with a short video about "embracing ambiguity," a parable about three designers navigating the foggy seas. Not only is it a charmingly crafty affirmation on resourcefulness and perseverance, it features a small dog in a sailor cap. Watch:

The video is precisely the kind of diversion that the Economist might cite in their brief profile of the esteemed design consultancy. A recent Schumpeter column ambiguously embraced IDEO's approach to both "designing things that you can touch" and, increasingly, "re-engineering services."

There are three main elements to IDEO's "design thinking." The first is "lots of different eyes." It employs people from wildly different backgrounds—surgeons and anthropologists as well as engineers and designers—and lumps them into multidisciplinary teams. The second is to look at problems from the consumer's point of view: for example, conducting detailed interviews with patients about their daily pill-taking routines and how they feel about them. IDEO likes to focus on the outliers rather than the typical customers—people who have demanding medical regimes or who constantly forget to take their tablets—on the assumption that this produces more useful results.

The third element is making everything tangible. The company produces mock-ups of its products and processes, to see how people react to them "in the wild." The London office, in newly trendy Clerkenwell, contains an old-fashioned woodworking room and a newfangled 3D printer. There is much talk of "thinking with your hands" and "rapid prototyping."

The article does raise the topic of 'design imperialism,' but concludes with measured optimism about the future of service design—read it here.

Posted by Ray  |  28 Jun 2013  |  Comments (0)

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Tomorrow is the big day for cycling fans the world over: in just over 12 hours, nearly 200 of the top cyclists in the world will embark on the first stage of the 100th Tour de France, which will start for the first time in Corsica (in fact, this will be the first time the Tour has visited the Mediterranean island.) The riders will log some 2,100 miles over the next three weeks as they travel throughout the scenic French countryside, including a double ascent of the iconic Alp d'Huez (perhaps to compensate for its omission from last year's route); I recommend the New York Times' race preview and Peloton's "Tour by the Numbers."

With Tour footage is always a quick YouTube query away and the Bicycle Film Festival underway in New York this weekend, here are a few related vids to psych you up not only for the centennial Tour but just, you know, riding a bicycle in general. First up, via Coolhunting, is a timely short film about Rapha Condor JLT team, providing an "intimate portrait of veteran rider and team leader Kristian House and up-and-comer Felix English."

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Posted by Ray  |  28 Jun 2013  |  Comments (0)

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For better or for worse, we've grown a bit skeptical about the ever-popular making/manufacturing videos that seem to be par for the course for any remotely heritage brand / artisanal crafting concern / handmade thing these days. Which is not to say that there aren't good ones out there: as a recently-launched series of short fims entitled "The Makers of Things" beautifully captures the spirit of making without compromising the integrity of its subject matter—not least because these fellows have been at it for decades longer than most, offering an intimate picture of what a "lifetime of making things looks like."

No. 1: The Scoiety

Filmmaker Anne Hollowday has spent the past year producing the series of four short films documenting the work of the remarkable Society for Model and Experimental Engineers (SMEE). "Their common tools and methods mask a huge array of interests and skills, from experimental tinkerers to woodworkers and librarians, all brought together under the roof of their South London headquarters."

Established in the UK in 1898 by Percival Marshall, the Society has survived two world wars as well as the introduction of technology barely dreamed about at the beginning of the 20th century. It now has hundreds of members from across the world, all united by their passion for making and creating.

No. 2: The Problem Solver

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Posted by Ray  |  27 Jun 2013  |  Comments (0)

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Having spent the better part of my childhood in the suburbs of Minneapolis, I suppose I simply took the shape of the state for granted—it never occurred to me that the tiny protrusion on the northern edge of the state was an aberration. Maybe I subconsciously presumed the U.S. had somehow annexed the Northwest Angle in a largely forgotten border dispute with Canada... which, it turns out, isn't that far off from the truth. Indeed, it's the only part of the continental 48 that is above the 49th parallel, as I learned in this short video about the longest land border between two countries (and at risk of stretching for a design connection, it seems that geopolitical borders are the ultimate constraint):

The London-based cartophile C.G.P. Grey covers most of the geographical details in the video, but here is the 'official' definition, via the International Boundary Commission:

If you look along the International Boundary between Canada and the United States in any forested area, it will appear simply as a 6 metre or 20 foot cleared swath stretching from horizon to horizon, dotted in a regular pattern with white markers. Over mountains, down cliffs, along waterways and through prairie grasses, the line snakes 8,891 kilometres or 5,525 miles across North America, tranquil, undefended but not uncared for. The boundary vista must be entirely free of obstruction and plainly marked for the proper enforcement of customs, immigration, fishing and other laws of the two nations. The job of keeping the boundary vista in proper condition falls to the International Boundary Commission.

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(You may also notice that this is the second episode on "Bizarre Borders"; the first one, on single-border nations, is also interesting—I, for one, learned that the Gambia is properly preceded by a definite article—albeit shorter and less in-depth, partly serving as an intro to the U.S.-Canada vid.)

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  20 Jun 2013  |  Comments (2)

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This week New York City saw the trial launch of Street Charge, a series of tree-like structures sprouting up in public spaces. And as the name suggests, they charge your phone, providing several different types of male connector. Observers will note that there's no effective way to wire these things, parked as they are in the middle of public plazas; that's why there's solar panels up top, sucking down glorious free juice from the sun.

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Here's the thing: Every news organization is of course calling them "AT&T Street Charge," as they are the ones sponsoring the objects, and many are reporting that the project was initially inspired by Hurricane Sandy and its attendant widespread power loss. But while AT&T's corporate muscle helped realize StreetCharge, it is of course an unsung industrial design firm who first came up with the idea—well before Sandy—and who has been toiling away behind the scenes to make the design work, in partnership with solar technology company Goal Zero.

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The Street Charge concept was born in the Brooklyn offices of design firm Pensa, back in early 2012. In this episode of Core77 TV, we get the inside story of Street Charge from Mark Prommel, Pensa Partner and Design Director.

Posted by Ray  |  14 Jun 2013  |  Comments (2)

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Last week, we learned (or relearned) Dieter Rams' Ten Principles of Good Design through a nicely-executed animation by Design Silesia. Today, we have a series of animated shorts from the Open University, a UK-based distance-learning institution. I can't speak to the university's academics, but it happens to be one of the world's largest universities and is accredited in the States. In keeping with the nontraditional structure—students typically study remotely, whether they are in the UK or elsewhere—they've also taken to producing short educational videos on YouTube, and the latest series of shorts happens to be about "Design in a Nutshell."

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The Bauhaus segment is a gem—I learned that Gropius's seminal school of thought marked the genesis of the "art school as an alternative way of life," as well as a few fun facts about Marcel Breuer. Good stuff.

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Posted by Ray  |  13 Jun 2013  |  Comments (0)

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At this point in history, every last one of us is knee-deep in the YouTube era, the gold standard of user-generated content, where a new flash in the pan surfaces every day. Although Colin Furze is among the lucky ones who have managed to secure a bit of longevity, his latest stunt is the first time I'd heard of the Stamford, Lincolshire-based persona, a BMX rider turned plumber turned stuntman and video maker—and longtime DIYer / pyromaniac.

Furze combines Jackass's seminal let's-do-stupid-sh*t approach to reality TV and Casey Neistat's art of crafting subversive viral videos with an ill-advised disdain for safety equipment and an appropriately maniacal cackle, brazenly attempting to pull off projects so outrageous that they don't require a don't-try-this-at-home disclaimer. A nice primer on his antics circa 2011 includes his 72-foot-long motorcycle and insane bonfire, both of which were deemed worthy of world records, as well as his bread-&-butter of speed-related thrills. Always looking to outdo himself, he recently posted his first proper filed test of his latest and greatest invention, the JET bicycle—no, it's not an acronym, you just have to yell when you say it—a.k.a. "the most dangerous unsafe bicycle in the world." Although the superlative remains unsubstantiated, he's might just be right:


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Posted by Ray  |   6 Jun 2013  |  Comments (1)

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Design Silesia, a blanket organization for promoting design in the Silesia region of Poland, is pleased to present their first 3D-animated short film, illustrating Dieter Rams' "Ten Principles of Good Design." (For those of you who don't know them by heart or have them tattooed down your forearm, we've enumerated the secular decalogue below.)

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Posted by Ray  |   4 Jun 2013  |  Comments (1)

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"He's just a guy who makes YouTube videos" is probably about as dubious as it gets when it comes to a description of someone, but I assure you that at least a couple of Dave Hax's vids are worth watching. He's a DIYer in the loose sense of the word—meaning that he just as often takes the acronym to mean Destroy-It-Yourself. He recently posted a short tutorial on how to make a miniature bow-and-arrow, with flaming ammo to boot. I have yet to try it myself, but it looks pretty neat:

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Posted by Ray  |  31 May 2013  |  Comments (0)

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This video has been making rounds for a hot minute now, but considering that it's a fitting follow-up to my post on the mad skills of Ines Brunn (and, of course, the inimitable Danny Macaskill), Tim Knoll's "Original Bike Tricks" are well worth a look if you haven't chanced upon it yet:

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Posted by Ray  |   8 May 2013  |  Comments (0)

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Maybe I shouldn't have been so blown away by the so-called "must-see video" that I posted yesterday: commenter Peanut pointed us to a manufacturing video with a similar visualization treatment by a Greek film production company called Deep Green Sea. It turns out that "Alma Flamenca" is but one episode of an ongoing series of videos called "The Art of Making," which are essentially poetic (and well-executed) takes on the tried-and-true how-it's-made vid.


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Posted by Ray  |   7 May 2013  |  Comments (1)

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Based on the usual bit of cursory investigation, Alexandre Chappel's minimal online presence is a felicitous albeit frustrating complement to a video he's posted: according to his now-defunct Wordpress blog, he was an Industrial Design student at Oslo School of Architecture and Design as of 2011, at which point his "main passion is cars and everything that has something to do with them."

Lately, however, it seems that he's turned his attention to a more mundane object: the lowly pen. That, and motion graphics, as he ably demonstrates in the beautiful video below, entitled "Precious Lines."

The HUD- (or Google Glass-) like information mapped onto the world offers a tantalizing taste of the grail of augmented reality largely because the simple vector schematics complement the close-cropped shots of machining to a tee. It's all about the details: the fact that the text echoes the focal length of the shot at 0:55; the way the shaving at 1:45 looks like a line; and the text aligned with the drawer at 2:42 are all executed flawlessly.

Looks like Ian Schon has some competition.

Posted by Ray  |  16 Apr 2013  |  Comments (1)

DeathSprayCustom-TheNorthRace-Fork.jpgVia The North Race

I don't know much about the enigmatic fellow behind Death Spray Custom besides the fact that his given name is David Gwyther and he's based in London, and his morbid moniker is simply "an identity that is used to front my adventures in surface design. It is intended to be a playful riposte to an often serious world of art, design etc." Per the same interview with CycleEXIF last year, he's "mostly self taught," and contrary to McLuhan, he believes that "the medium isn't the message, the painting part is a small fraction of the process. I'd like to add I'm not a bicycle painter by any means, just an artist who likes two wheels."

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I'd known about his custom paint work for bicycles for some time, but true to his word, he comes up with wicked paint schemes for a variety of mostly speed-related objects—auto, helmets, tools, etc.—and executes them to dazzling effect. His portfolio is well worth a visit, from the Tool Box (featuring a slogan that is unprintable here) to a NASCAR-worthy Chevy Silverado and all variety of helmets and bicycle-related objets d'art.

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Posted by Ray  |   9 Apr 2013  |  Comments (0)

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Given my proclivity for anagrams, I couldn't resist the congruence of a certain superstar designer's surname and the slick art/design/fashion editorial platform that recently took a tour of his London home.

A space-age aesthetic dominates at casa Newson, an unlikely look for a period building but one entirely reflective of the superstar designer's streamlined visual language. The futuristic interior gives way to mock-Victorian details such as a wood-paneled library, one of several flourishes authored by Newson's wife, fashion stylist Charlotte Stockdale.

Of course, Marc Newson has turned up on Nowness several times before—we posted the beautiful manufacturing video of the Ikepod hourglass—his suffice it to say that the high production value does justice to his immaculate, movie-set-like abode.

In Australian-born Newson's most celebrated work—cabins for Qantas Airways and the Ford O21C concept car, for example—his finely honed eye for materiality reigns supreme; here that is reflected in the marble that lines his bathroom, the massive wall of river rocks from Nova Scotia (a "big deal" to achieve, he confesses) and the composite linen that forms his giant dining table. His passion for metal is betrayed by a small display of unusual knives in the library: "I trained as a jeweler and a silversmith," he explains. "I love the way metal is worked, and certain techniques and processes are best illustrated in objects like knives, which are, essentially, tools. They display an incredible level of ingenuity and skill." After Taschen's recent publication of his complete catalog of designs, "Marc Newson. Works," Newson's next projects will be a private jet interior for a member of the Qatar royal family and a fountain pen for Hermès. "What holds my attention is variety," says the consummate aesthete.

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Indeed, Newson touches on several of these projects in the short promo video that Dezeen produced on the occasion of "Marc Newson. Works" last fall.

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But if you have about an hour to spare, it's well worth revisiting the 2008 episode of BBC's "Imagine" that covers all things Newson. We posted the first of five parts with links to the rest, but the going really gets good in Part 2, which starts with a shop visit to Aston Martin, followed by colorful commentary from collector Adam Lindemann, and ends with Newson's take on rapid prototyping when Alan Yentob asks about the Stratasys Prodigy—a prosumer-level 3D-printer that dates back to 2000—in the studio. And to compare/contrast with the Nowness short, Newson actually conducts a short tour of his Paris home in the third part, in which he expresses his ambivalence towards the the prototype of his wooden chair design for Cappellini (which turns up again in the Nowness clip).

Posted by Ray  |  29 Mar 2013  |  Comments (4)

InesBrunn-2.jpgPhotos courtesy of Ines Brunn

Air quality aside, Beijing has a long history of bicycle culture, and the vagaries of globalization have inevitably brought what is euphemistically known as 'urban bicycle culture' to China's capital. Bike messengers in New York and San Francisco have long known the advantages of riding a fixed gear bicycle in dense, ever-congested city centers, and given their cultural cachet, it should come as no surprise that these oft-maligned suicide machines have caught on amongst Chinese youth, literally leaving the iconic Flying Pigeon in the dust.

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I never had a chance to ride in China myself, but I hope to do so in the near future, especially after seeing John Prolly's travelogue as he tours the mainland with the folks from Mission Workshop and Factory Five. Which is a very long way of introducing Ines Brunn of Beijing fixie outpost Natooke, who I had e-mailed her about renting a bike last time I was in town (I didn't end up doing so). It turns out that Brunn is a German-via-U.S.-expat who holds a Masters in Physics... and, if you'll excuse the pun, a mastery of physics, given her acrobatic ability as a trick cyclist.

It looks like she's running a 1:1 gearing ratio, which means that her ride is essentially a unicycle with two wheels (see also: the previously-seen bicymple), though that doesn't detract from her skills in the least. Here's a continuously-shot alternate routine; check out the upside-down-reverse mount at 1:38 or so:

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Posted by Ray  |  29 Jan 2013  |  Comments (3)

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Apropos of the New York City Department of Transportation's recent announcement of fresh street signs courtesy of Pentagram, a short film by Robert Hooman documents the actual process of fabricating the signs. It's a fascinating inside look at the Maspeth Sign Shop, a 22-person operation that is responsible for signs throughout all five boroughs of the city.

Although there's no sign (so to speak) of the new designs in the video, it dates from about a month ago and was likely shot in the fall, so rest assured the fab shop in Queens is diligently cranking out the latest signage as we speak. (I assume they also produced the signs for the DOT's curbside haiku campaign from just over a year ago, a few of which recently drew criticism on Streetsblog.)

Via Alissa Walker

Posted by Ray  |  25 Jan 2013  |  Comments (0)

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Just prior to the release of Rizzoli's "Cinelli: The Art and Design of the Bicycle" last October, Antonio Colombo sat for a rare interview on the occasion of the Milan edition of the 2012 Bicycle Film Festival. As the president of Cinelli since Columbus tubing bought it in 1978, Colombo has overseen the continued growth of Cino Cinelli's eponymous company—founded in 1948, upon his retirement from the pro race circuit—through the contemporary cycling boom.

In the subtitled video interview, Colombo covers many of the same points that he mentioned at the Designers and Books Fair last fall, where he spoke as part of a panel on bicycles and design, concluding that "good design is good not only for the company that makes the product but [also for] the whole of society."

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As for the book itself (Colombo kindly signed my copy after the talk), some of the reviews on Amazon take issue with the book's focus on the current incarnation of the company: It's more a visual compendium of the brand since 1979 than a proper history of, say, the technical nitty-gritty of Cino's bivalent hub. This is a fair assessment, more a caveat emptor to fans looking for a full history of the company than a critique of the book itself. While it's not perfect—frankly, the proportions of the text seem a little off to me—the fact that of the matter is that high-resolution, full-bleed images of cork tape, investment cast lugs, Garrett Chow graphics, etc., serve as a compelling snapshot of Cinelli past and present.

They've also posted a short promotional video of the book along with the interview..

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Via Prolly Is Not Probably

Posted by Ray  |  18 Jan 2013  |  Comments (0)

BlueMarble-viaWikipedia.jpgImage via Wikipedia

The Internet is a pretty big place, a veritable universe of ideas and images, at once an inventory of just about everything that exists in the natural world and an ever-expanding cosmos in and of itself. Yet as a medium of representation, the 'net borrows much of its source material from real life, and I was duly captivated by this recent short film about the final frontier.

On the 40th anniversary of the famous 'Blue Marble' photograph taken of Earth from space, Planetary Collective presents a short film documenting astronauts' life-changing stories of seeing the Earth from the outside—a perspective-altering experience often described as the Overview Effect.

Although I found the first half of the film to be absolutely riveting, I felt that it dragged a bit in the middle; nevertheless, the remarkable footage is poignant throughout. And if the broader takeaway message of "Overview" rings clear and true, even the less universal aspects of orbit bear further consideration. Commander Sunita "Sunny" Williams' 25-minute tour of the International Space Station makes for a felicitous companion piece to the Planetary Collective short, something like a home video... in space (Kottke calls it the "nerdiest episode of MTV Cribs").

Similarly, the Smithsonian's Air & Space Magazine has just posted a detailed account of the final mission from July 2011, a worthy document of the end of an era. Between Felix Baumgartner's world record freefall, last year's successful Martian reconnaissance mission and more recent news of habitable planets, our species' abiding obsession with space travel not only as a symbolic endeavor but also a commercially viable enterprise... if not an altogether necessary one.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  11 Dec 2012  |  Comments (1)

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Here's an interesting example of how cultural influences have led to the ubiquitous uptake of a product design. The country in question is Russia, and the product is the dashboard cam.

The Internet is awash in well-captured car crash footage, and in an earlier entry on the subject I wondered why much of it seemed to come from Russia. It's not that Russia has more auto accidents per capita, but simply that more citizens have always-on cameras to capture them. Russian expat and journalist Marina Galperina explains why: "Dash-cam footage," she writes, "is the only real way to substantiate your claims in [a Russian] court of law." Russian law is such that little stock is placed in eyewitness accounts, and a premium is placed on footage-as-proof. The gaming geek's mantra of "Video or it didn't happen" comes to mind.

On top of that, a subset of criminals figured out they could earn money by staging fixed accidents, intentionally allowing your side mirror to hit them or even backing into your car, and then extorting the driver on the spot. Dashboard cams preclude this. Yet the criminals still try: In this article by Cory Jones, a video compilation of would-be scam artists is shown. We won't embed it here because some of the footage is a bit violent.

Speaking of violence, Galperina points out that Russian websites have a higher tolerance for the stuff; whereas YouTube is pretty good about removing footage of people being decapitated by 18-wheelers, Russian video embedding sites don't blink. There's even a Russian LiveJournal account that documents the worst of the worst—fistfights, violent crashes and people who are alive one second and spectacularly dead the next—and while the content changes regularly, all I can say is viewer beware.

Sensationalism aside, one important point made by Galperina is that ubiquitous cameras don't just capture crashes; they record plenty of footage of Good Soviet Samaritans assisting each other in times of roadside disaster, particularly in the wilder nether regions where help is often hours away and citizens take up the slack. Sadly, there's no site I know of that's collecting those videos; no matter what culture you're from, it seems no one wants to watch people sacrifice their time to treat each other decently. The dashboard cam has become a form of protection for the Russian motorist, and a source of lurid rubbernecking for the global community.

I admit I'm not immune to the sensationalism. If you want to get a taste for some of the most insane driving experiences in Russia, where motorists are buzzed by helicopters and jet fighters, and need to dodge everything from falling trees to wild animals to collapsing power cable towers, here it is:

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Posted by Ray  |   7 Dec 2012  |  Comments (0)

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For those of you who aren't familiar with the work of Murray Moss, this 2008 Metropolis interview is a good place to start. But insofar as a lot has changed since then—Moss shuttered his eponymous emporium after an 18-year run this past February—we were interested to check out a recent conversation between the design doyen and SVA's Alice Twemlow, Chair of the Design Criticism MFA program.

The ghettoization of Art and Design that permeates our cultural institutions, commercial galleries and auction houses, eliminates the possibility of a tertium quid (third thing) which might be greater than the sum of its individual parts. Through Moss and now through Moss Bureau, design retailer and gallerist Murray Moss has dedicated his career to blurring distinctions between genres in an attempt to dismantle such departmental thinking. In conversation with Alice Twemlow, Murray will expound on his "apples to oranges" approach to curation through which, by pairing certain disparate works, he asks his audience to search, with fresh eyes, for new conclusions.

Moss was the final guest speaker in D-Crit's Fall 2012 lecture series, which wrapped up on Tuesday, and the media-savvy folks at the SVA have done well to post a video of the entire presentation. While his rollicking monotone certainly makes for pleasant Friday afternoon background listening, here are some highlights from the talk:

- At about the 24-minute mark, speaking of Moss's (the store, not the man) autobiographical raison d'être: "Why does everybody design a chair? People design a chair because a chair elevates us—every chair is a throne. Every chair separates us, brings us off the ground, and elevates us amongst our peers."

- A few minutes later (29:30), Moss shares the "theatrical metaphor": that customers are an audience, as in a movie theater, and explains that part of the store's allure was simply based on denying customers the freedom to touch the products at their leisure.

- In response to a question about the most valuable lesson from the retail space (46:40), Moss responds that "it's reinforced my understanding that the things don't matter"; rather, it's more about the people. "I have incredible access to people, to studios... I can talk to most anybody I want, in the subject that I love—which is a very wide subject—and what the f*ck am I going to do about that asset?"

- At about 53:50, he's prompted to make some discursive remarks on the role of the curator, eventually advising students to "express yourself entirely through that one thing."

- Shortly thereafter, he elaborates on his own curatorial practice (59:10): "I was invited to do a show at the V&A last year... on 3D printing. And I thought, 3D printing. I know nothing about 3D printing, and the technology terrifies me. But [since] I've been going for 50 years to the V&A... I decided [to pick] six or 12 of my favorite things [at the museum]. So I thought, I want to use the technology to illuminate the work at the V&A."

- Another question from an audience member (1:17:40) elicits a particularly passionate response: "I like museums and I hate museums... I hate the fact that the MoMA segregates the design from the other disciplines. I think it's stupid, I think it's irresponsible, and I don't care what anybody says: It's wrong. It's totally, totally shameful... it's a disservice...

"What would be the harm of taking that Rietveld chair and moving it over, 30 meters in front of that Mondrian? What's the big deal? Who's gonna die? Is somebody gonna go, 'I never knew that the Rietveld was a painting'?"

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   3 Dec 2012  |  Comments (1)

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Two months ago, an aviation filming fanatic known on YouTube as cargospotter uploaded this footage of London Heathrow. By running the footage at high speed, he reveals how tightly the planes are packed together into a landing queue. It's also interesting to see how much the wind buffets each plane on its way in—they look like insects trying to navigate a breeze:

Now making the blog rounds is a similar-yet-different video probably destined to go viral. Filmmaker and Cal Arts grad Cy Kuckenbaker shot 4.5 hours' worth of airplanes landing at San Diego International, then composited the footage together to depict an air traffic controller's worst nightmare:

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  30 Nov 2012  |  Comments (12)

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What a sweet gig: Best Made Company manufactures outdoor products at a former chandelier factory in TriBeCa. The guys who work there make axes, among other things, and as part of the testing process they head out into the woods with their creations in tow. What ensues is currently stirring deep envy in your indoor-bound correspondent: chopping wood, getting campfires going, cooking over open flame, knocking back a few beers... I won't spoil the video for you with unnecessarily lengthy descriptions, just take a break and give it a watch:

Posted by Ray  |  19 Nov 2012  |  Comments (3)

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As if we haven't seen enough "Holy Crap!"-worthy stuff from Japan lately, today's second tip from our forums was too good to pass up: a Keio University research team led by Professor Masahiko Inami have adapted optical camouflage technology to "make the backseat [of a passenger vehicle] look transparent from the driver's viewpoint."

The main feature of our system is, it makes things look as if you can really see through them, rather than giving an indirect view of what's behind. For example, with a system that shows things on a monitor, you can understand your car's position and where any obstacles are. But the point about our system is, it gives a sense of depth, by making things appear where they actually should be when you look back.

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That's right, the verysame technology that's being developed for a real-life version of sci-fi/fantasy trope of an invisibility cloak or cloaking device—for a rather more mundane interior application: as a sort of full-size rear-view mirror for auto interiors. And if the actual physics of the technology is surprisingly straightforward—"video from the rear cameras is projected onto the backseat using a half-mirror—it's more than just a glorified augmented reality periscope:

The screen is made of a special material called a recursive reflector. Optically, it has an interesting characteristic because it reflects light back in the direction of incidence. When we thought of applying it to automobiles, the advantage was, it gives a clear image in daylight, rather than in a dark place like this.

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I was especially interested to learn that they're looking to develop the technology for an entire auto interior, affording a full 360° of reverse-cloaking transparency, a sort of virtual X-Ray vision that will do away with blind spots once and for all. "Currently, the system shows one point clearly. But from now on, we'd like to keep increasing the number of viewpoints. We plan to enable the system to be easily used by anyone."

Inami and his team optimistically estimate that it's a mere five years away from commercial availability. But not everyone is so enthusiastic about it: in response to wallflower's original post, Lmo writes,

Another "safety feature" crutch for people that really shouldn't be behind the wheel of an automobile. If you think about it, all that is needed is driver awareness. An acronym is taught to commercial vehicle student drivers: G.O.A.L Get Out And Look

Know what's around you before you get into the vehicle. No optical camo required.

Via Diginfo; hat-tip to wallflower

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  15 Nov 2012  |  Comments (1)

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Woke up this morning and this video had a million more hits than it did yesterday, so I had to find out more. Just a few days ago, a gent from Brisbane named Ray Liehm posted this:

Liehm was a bystander at Australia's Supanova Pop Culture Expo, and the brilliant costume above delighted YouTube viewers and used car salesmen alike, to the tune of three million plus at press time.

So what's the story behind it? Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tubeman, as he's officially known, is actually one half of a couple; together with his blue companion, they are the official mascots of the Gold Coast Roller Derby League, a bunch of bad-ass broads with names like Nikki Nitro who "hit hard, skate harder, turn left & do it again" at tracks in the Queensland area.

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Posted by Ray  |  12 Nov 2012  |  Comments (1)

RedBullKluge-RubeGoldbergMachine-RobbieMaddison.jpgImages via Red Bull

We certainly couldn't pass this one up: Red Bull continues to put its deep pockets to good use with their latest viral endeavor, the Red Bull Kluge. Its name, of course, refers to a German loanword meaning "a witty, yet inelegant solution that succeeds in performing a particular task," an ipso facto descriptor for the ever-popular Rube Goldberg machine.

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Of course, in this case, machine is a relative term: Red Bull enlisted a dozen of the biggest names in extreme sports (and one from traditional sports), as well as LA's Syyn Labs (of OK Go RBM fame), to create a coherent medley of tried-and-true ad hoc mechanisms and delicately choreographed athletic feats. And even though the triggers, pulleys and plywood ramps are accompanied by exceptional human beings—Sean MacCormac (Skydiving), Joey Brezinski (Skateboard), Rickie Fowler (Golf), Danny MacAskill (BMX), Ryan Sheckler (Skateboard), Drew Bezanson (BMX), Bryce Menzies (Off-Road Truck), Rhys Millen (Auto), Robbie Maddison (Motocross), Lolo Jones (Track & Field), Pat Moore (Snowboard)—the design of the Kluge preserves the organic cause-and-effect chain of events that epitomize the Rube Goldberg machine.

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The six-minute final edit took four hours to film... and the structures themselves took over 100 builders a total of 3,400+ hours over the course of 17 days of construction, to say nothing of the months of planning. Without further ado:

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   6 Nov 2012  |  Comments (0)

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I've been reading through so much disaster coverage, I need something a little lighter to turn my attention towards.

We've written about RC-related camerawork before, but it always concerned a camera connected to an RC vehicle. But this time the RC vehicles are the subject of the cinematography. Several days ago British videogame developer Criterion Games released their latest Need for Speed installment, and it's hard not to be impressed by the attendant RC-car trailer:

It was shot by Brandon Laatsch and YouTube sensation Freddie Wong, they of the 3.7 million subscribers and 736 million hits. The making-of video is below, and it's amusingly heavy on the geeking-out:

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