Tag: art

Adobe’s Scribbler AI automatically colorizes any portrait

Finally! Adobe has devised a method of adding a touch of color to black and white images without all the dimension-jumping time travel (looking at you Pleasantville). At the company's Adobe MAX 2017 event on Thursday, research scientist Jingwan Lu demonstrated Project Scribbler, an AI-driven program that can not only add color but also shading and image texture to grey-scale pictures in just seconds.

Scribbler leverages Adobe's Sensei deep learning platform to automatically touch up images. Researchers trained the program on the various bits and pieces of the human face using tens of thousands of images, some monochromatic, others accurately colored. By comparing the two types of images, the program was able to work out the appropriate areas to color in (ie, not the teeth).

There are still limits to what Scribbler can do. For example, it can only currently handle painting faces, not entire bodies or scenes. Still, this technology should prove a boon to illustrators and editors who would otherwise spend hours accurately tinting these images. Scribbler is still in development as a standalone program, like the Adobe VoCo tool, and has yet to be integrated into any of the company's Creative Cloud apps as of yet.

Via: 9to5 MAc

Source: Adobe

‘The Walking Dead’ VR scene puts you in the shoes of a walker

Would you submerge yourself in a fear-inducing virtual setting overrun by zombies? That's the world The Walking Dead has expertly crafted during its seven-year run, and now AMC is inviting you to step into it, courtesy of its VR app. You can grab it for iOS, Android, Samsung Gear VR, and Google Daydream right now, but the real fun begins on Sunday. Directly after the show's 100th episode, the network is dropping an exclusive VR scene.

The immersive experience will put you in the action from both sides. You'll start off trapped in an abandoned car waiting for help to arrive as the walkers inch ever closer. If that doesn't sound terrifying enough, you'll also get to join the herd and feast in the carnage. Once you get your fill of claustrophobic horror, you can peruse the extras, including trailers and features from that other AMC show Into the Badlands. The network is also promising to keep the app stocked with virtual experiences for the foreseeable future.

The AMC VR app follows the announcement of The Walking Dead: Our World -- an augmented reality game coming soon to iOS and Android. The two combined should turn you into a regular zombie-slaying survivalist.

‘The Daily Show’ library of Trump’s tweets opens in Chicago tomorrow

Back in June, we covered The Daily Show's presidential Twitter library in New York. After all, the frequency in which our Commander in Chief takes to Twitter is surely to become a part of his legacy. The library is now moving to Chicago, and you can see it this weekend only. It's free and open to the public from 10 AM – 10 PM CT tomorrow through Sunday. The library is located in the Burlington Room at Chicago's Union Station.

The library displays the president's Twitter feed, and exhibits include testimonials of people who were targeted by Trump on the social network, as well as what The Daily Show considers his finest work. You can also find "Sad! A Retrospective" and the many, many times Trump tweeted one sentiment and later contradicted himself in another tweet.

Source: Comedy Central

When VR meets human emotions (and sometimes, hallucinations)

By its very nature, virtual reality is an immersive medium. But for Rama Allen, that bar is higher. The interactive artist and Executive Creative Director at The Mill has made a name for himself leading inter-disciplinary teams of designers, filmmakers, coders, editors, engineers and VFX artists to create new kinds of cinematic experiences. At the inaugural Engadget Experience, a tech-art installation happening in LA next month, Allen will share some of his strangest creations, including a collaboration with an emotional AI; a VR experience that uses biometrics for levitation; a sculpting tool for the human voice; and a mixed-reality galactic journey to spread peace across the universe. Buy your tickets here, and hurry because discounted pricing ends next week, on October 27th. We'll see you in LA!

Where are VR and AR headed? We’ll explore at the Engadget Experience.

We're diving head-first into the world of virtual and augmented reality next month at the inaugural Engadget Experience. The event, which takes place at LA's Ace Hotel on November 14th, will bring together pioneering minds in these new mediums. (Tickets are available here.) It's almost impossible to discuss VR and AR without considering how far they've come over the past few years, and where they're headed in the future. That's what we'll be tackling in "The Big Picture," a panel discussion with Marcie Jastrow of the Technicolor Experience Center; Jen Dennis from Ridley Scott's RSA Films; and Ruthie Doyle from Sundance's New Frontier.

We'll tap into the panelists's diverse industry experience to explore the biggest issues facing AR and VR today; how they'll co-exist moving forward; and what, specifically, these new technologies offer that existing mediums don't. And that's just a start.

The VR and AR industry are still in their early stages. It's reminiscent of where the internet was in the '90s, long before it became an essential part of our lives. Call it the "West West" period -- an exciting time where the rules are still being written for new technology. As we explore the new opportunities in VR and AR, it's important that we keep an eye forward to avoid pitfalls, and make sure it's something normal people will actually want to use.

‘Monument Valley 2’ comes to Android on November 6th

Monument Valley 2, the follow-up to UsTwo's beautiful and head-turning puzzler from 2014, is almost ready for Android phones and tablets. The London studio announced today that the game will arrive in the Play Store on November 6th, five months after its debut on iOS. The title, if you need a refresher, follows a mother and her child as they traverse a world filled with crisp and colorful M. C. Escher-inspired architecture. Like the first game, your success is dependent on figuring out the different pathways that unlock as you tap, slide and rotate various parts of the environment.

Hopefully UsTwo can earn some money on the platform this time. In 2015, the studio revealed that a mere five percent of Monument Valley installs were "paid for." The rest, bar a "small number" of exceptions (likely review or promotional copies) were obtained illegally. Piracy isn't a new problem for Android but does affect the business model and, ultimately, livelihood of small game developers. UsTwo is a little different because its business spans many disciplines, including commercial app development, and therefore isn't solely reliant on Monument Valley revenue. Still, the sequel is a cracker, and one we feel is more than worthy of its $5 asking price.

Source: ustwogames (Twitter)

HP ZBook X2 hands-on: A hulking tablet for a niche audience

HP claims to have made the "world's most powerful detachable." The company is unveiling its ZBook X2 convertible at the Adobe Max conference today, which is appropriate since this device is designed for people who use Adobe's pro software suite. Specifically, people who use apps like Photoshop, Lightroom and Illustrator and need a capable tablet that can keep up with demanding graphics editing on the go. I enjoyed doodling on the Zbook X2 during a recent demo, but I'm not sure its $1,749 asking price is justified. To be fair, of course, I didn't use it as it was intended and I'm not the target audience.

What makes the ZBook X2 ideal for designers and illustrators is its advanced 14-inch 4K display. HP chemically treated the screen to give it a grippier, matte texture that felt smoother during my testing than regular glossy touchscreens. The anti-glare display is also color calibrated for accuracy and can render 100 percent of the Adobe RGB color spectrum. All of this makes the ZBook's screen a brilliant canvas. I not only enjoyed seeing individual eyelashes of a man up close, but I also appreciated how smooth it felt to pinch and zoom in on images with the tablet.

The texturized screen also makes drawing a pleasant experience. HP includes a stylus with the ZBook X2 that it claims is its "most accurate and expressive" pen yet. The company teamed up with Wacom to make the digitizer, which can recognize 4,096 levels of pressure, as well as understand the angle at which you're tilting it. My favorite thing about the pen is its dedicated eraser button at the top, which actually acts like a real eraser instead of simply undoing your last stroke when you tap on the screen. It was so realistic that I almost tried to brush away imaginary eraser dirt after using it to remove stripes on a pink background.

Since HP's pen uses magnetic (EMR) technology instead of Bluetooth, it doesn't need to be recharged; it draws power when it interacts with the screen. I sketched a cute cartoon of a girl under the word "Engadget" with the stylus and found it smoother and better at detecting pressure changes than others I've tested (mostly lower end offerings that accompany the Note tablets or phones).

I also appreciate that HP includes a full-size keyboard with the ZBook X2, although at this price I'd be appalled if it didn't. The keyboard snaps on securely via a magnetic connection, but it takes the tablet a few seconds to sync, so I have to wait before typing. The keys are evenly spaced, with generous travel that makes typing comfortable. The touchpad was similarly responsive -- it quickly recognized my two-finger scroll and zoom gestures. HP also offers a row of shortcut keys for functions like "Home," "End," "Page Up" and "Page Down" here, which make multitasking easier.

Speaking of shortcuts, the ZBook X2 features vertical rows of buttons on either side of the screen. Each column has up and down keys that can be programmed to tweak settings like brush size and opacity in apps like Adobe Photoshop. By default, they've been tailored to what HP and Adobe understand are the most popular tools in Photoshop and Lightroom. You can customize these to control system settings like volume or display brightness, too. During my testing, it was convenient to change the brush size just by pushing the up or down button mid-drawing instead of having to drag a slider in the app's setting bar.

The ZBook X2 looks and feels as beefy as it purports to be. Its aluminum-and-magnesium body is significantly heavier than most tablets, and its 3.6-pound weight is greater than most laptops its size. If you count the ZBook X2's keyboard, the entire device weighs 4.6 pounds, which is even heavier than the 15-inch MacBook Pro. That heft was manageable when I propped the ZBook X2 up on a table (with its built-in kickstand) but quickly became tiring when I sat with it cradled in one arm and drew with the other hand. You most likely won't use it in this position as often, though.

The tablet's cut-off corners and the vents on its side add a rugged aesthetic. Under the vents lie the device's dual-fan cooling system. This helps prevent overheating of the X2's powerful processors: a seventh-generation Intel Core i7 CPU that reaches a clock speed of 4.2GHz in Turbo Boost, along with an NVIDIA Quadro M620 graphics card. The tablet's 32GB of RAM should also make for smooth multitasking even with multiple canvases open. In addition to premium internal components, the ZBook X2 also sports a slew of ports like USB-A, HDMI, Thunderbolt 3 and an SD card slot. To keep your investment safe from falls, the device is also designed to meet MIL-STD-810G durability standards.

The rest of the ZBook's features are relatively straightforward. It has a fingerprint sensor and a 720p webcam that supports Windows Hello's facial recognition technology for convenient logins. HP estimates the ZBook X2 can last up to 10 hours, and that it can recharge to 50 percent in 30 minutes.

That all adds up to a detachable that does indeed sound powerful, although to be fair I didn't push the ZBook X2 very hard during my demo. The thing is, I have a hard time believing that even the most ardent Adobe fan will be willing to spend $1,749 just to get the better screen and pen in such a hulking tablet. Someone with such specific needs is probably already happy with their Wacom Bamboo desktop digitizer, and also possibly even prefers macOS over Windows. An iPad Pro or a Surface Pro may not be as powerful, nor will they offer the same dedicated shortcut buttons and comfortable keyboard that HP does, but Apple's and Microsoft's tablets are easier to tote around. The ZBook X2 will be available in December, so you can spend that time wondering if you need it, or start saving up if it's something you want.

Classic FM’s video game show is returning for a second series

Classic FM is bringing back High Score, a weekly radio show dedicated to video game music. The first series ran for six weeks in April and May, and was presented by Jessica Curry, a BAFTA-wining composer and co-founder of now-on-hiatus game studio The Chinese Room (Dear Esther, Everybody's Gone to the Rapture, So Let Us Melt). Curry will return for season two, which runs for six weeks starting on November 4th at 9pm. The first and final instalments will be request shows, while the middle four explore themes such as love, quests, and the best video game music of 2017.

The first series of High Score was a huge success for Classic FM. The show smashed records for 'Listen Again,' the station's seven-day catch-up service, by appealing to both video game enthusiasts and those with a general love for sweeping, orchestral scores. "We were so encouraged by the response to the first series of High Score," Sam Jackson, managing editor for Classic FM said. "Since the launch of Classic FM 25 years ago, the station has been a pioneer and aimed to break down the barriers to classical music, so we can't wait for the new series." Classic FM, if you need a reminder, is available online, on DAB radio and 100-102 FM in the UK.

Source: Classic FM (Press Release)

How ‘Channel Zero’ turns online ‘creepypasta’ tales into TV horror

Syfy's Channel Zero is one of the best shows on television that you're not watching. It's a horror anthology series based on "creepypastas"-- short, scary stories shared on forums and sites like Reddit. Slenderman is the most famous, but there are countless others in which (typically anonymous) writers take a stab at crafting modern folklore. For its first season, Channel Zero adapted one of the most popular creepypasta stories, Candle Cove. It centered on an old kid's TV show that warped the minds of its young audience.

With its second season, which is airing now on Syfy, Channel Zero creator Nick Antosca set his sights on No-End House. It's a twist on the standard haunted-house genre, focusing on a legendary Victorian home that can tap into your deepest fears and desires. I chatted with Antosca about what it's like to bring creepypasta stories to TV, and why horror is an ideal genre for exploring our anxieties around technology and modernity.

What led you to adapt creepypasta stories for television?

Well, I was always a fan way before the show. And before being a fan of creepypastas, I'm a fan of horror fiction, and particularly short horror fiction. Authors like Thomas Ligotti, Laird Barron, Brian Evenson, and older authors really influenced me as a kid. Then it doesn't feel to me like a fundamentally different thing to read a horror story online than it does to read a horror story in a book. Good writing is good writing; good ideas are good ideas.

Formats change, but nightmares don't. Since probably 15 years ago, I was familiar with the genre, and I'm the kind of insomniac who spent a lot of time reading Wikipedia lists of all the people who have disappeared under mysterious circumstances, crazy shit like that, or Atlas Obscura. Of course, if you spend a lot of time reading weird shit on the internet, you're going to end up at some creepypasta stuff.

Even average internet users have now heard of Slenderman. Candle Cove had a huge reach, even if it wasn't a household term. No-End House had fan fiction. There's fan-made video games. The strongest creepypastas ... they hit a nerve. There's a viral reach, so it was already in my consciousness. My manager called me one day and was like, "Do you know what Candle Cove is?" I was like, "Yeah, so what's up?" There was originally talk of turning it into ... a limited series, but immediately, my question was, "Why don't we do an anthology show? There's a million of these stories, an amazing untapped resource." I was shocked that nobody had done it before.

Channel Zero/Syfy

Do you see this as a new type of folklore now? Does it differ from similar stories in the past?

No. The format may affect the content a little bit, but any kind of urban legends that permeate a culture are going to sort of reflect the fears and collective nightmares of that culture, and so creepypastas tend to have themes of technology because they're internet-based. But they function in the same way that urban legends did when Candyman came out. They purport to be real. ... They're the alligators in the sewer as well as being a kind of stealth literature.

What do you think it is about the internet that attracts these types of stories?

The internet is, when you think about it, it's a sinister place. There's a freedom in that, but there's an inherent threat to it. You don't know who you're interacting with, you lose your identity, and to me, there's a sense of a great threat under the surface. Maybe that's because I'm a paranoid or pessimistic person sometimes, but I find the internet is ultimately a sinister force. I am not an internet optimist, and interestingly, most creepypastas, to me, have this defining element of a larger sense of dread, the best creepypastas. There's a sense of something out there in the world, a great mythology that you can't fully see or comprehend, and you are a small part of this larger, fundamentally terrifying, story.

When we adapt creepypastas for the show, obviously we're trying to build on the foundation of the stories, because they're very short, usually. That's certainly the case with Candle Cove. No-End House is a little longer, but it's still pretty compact. We're building new stuff, but the thing that I really try to preserve is the sense of greater dread in the world, a pervasive sense of menace.

CHANNEL ZERO: NO END HOUSE -- "The Exit" Episode 110 -- Pictured: (l-r) Amy Forsyth as Margot, Aisha Dee as Jules -- (Photo by: Allen Fraser/Syfy)

Is horror the best genre for figuring out how we feel about technology?

Yeah, absolutely. Horror reflects cultural nightmares. You go back to Night of the Living Dead, which is, to me, the greatest allegorical horror film ever made. It's a microcosm of American society beset by a larger menace ... and they tear each other apart. The best modern horror films tend to deal with modern cultural fears, and that's why I think, actually, The Ring is the perfect example of that. But I think creepypasta as a genre reflects that universal fascination and discomfort with technology. That's why Candle Cove is such a great exemplar of what creepypasta is and can do.

Was nostalgia and older technology something you wanted to focus on when you adapted Candle Cove?

Yeah. It's such a familiar experience, I think, to our generation, the generation that grew up watching TV. The last generation before the internet took over our lives. I think I'm almost the last age that you could be before that happened. I was in college when I got my first cellphone. I got my first smartphone a couple years out of college. As a child, I wasn't constantly plugged in, so there was a freshness to the content that I did get. People back before photography was invented, they saw paintings like, "Wow, that's remarkable. That's special, a reproduction of something." Now it means nothing. Sorry, I digress.

The way we went about it [in Candle Cove] is we watched a ton of really creepy old children's TV shows, whether on YouTube or other places that we were able to find them. Peppermint Park, for example. You watch enough of them that you start to get a little discomfited, because who was making this stuff? Were they miserable, deranged people? Who in their right mind could think that this was delightful to a kid? Then we did our best to re-create that in doing the actual Candle Cove puppet show, and we shot that on the video cameras of the era, and did it analog. We decided to create something that might plausibly have actually been a children's TV show.

Allen Fraser/Syfy

These stories sometimes come from several people or there are different variations on a single story. How do you go about licensing or crediting the people who create creepypastas?

That's a good question. One of the most important things to me is to credit the original author. That's challenging because many of them are anonymous. Fortunately, Kris Straub and Brian Russell, who wrote the first two stories, at least their names are attached. [Producer] Max Landis had optioned Candle Cove, so we already had the rights. Then, for No-End House, I just always wanted to do that. I always knew that if we got a second season, that would be No. 2, and so we tracked the author down. Brian Russell actually works as an assistant on The Exorcist TV show.

He was around L.A., which is totally random, because these people are scattered all over the world. For the upcoming seasons, we had to do some more research. We've been ordered for third and fourth installments, and those authors were a little bit harder to track down, but we found them, we reached out to them. They were excited, and then the studio made an option agreement with them. From that point, it's pretty straightforward. We credit them on the show, we pay them, I talk to them throughout the process. The challenge is going to be, I get asked all the time, "Will you do Russian Sleep Experiment? Will you do this story or that story?" There are some that I would love to do; like, I really want to do Russian Sleep Experiment, but we can't find the original author.

I'm not sure how that works. I don't know if you can set aside money for them in case they come forward and verify who they are or if you just can't do it, but we'll see. Fingers crossed that we have that problem in the future.

"Candle Cove's" adorable "toothchild."

Channel Zero/Syfy

Have you talked about what the third and fourth seasons are going to be yet?

Oh, yeah. Yeah, we have them. I'm talking to you having just stepped out of the editing room for the third installment. We stopped at the summer, and each season has its own director. We've got an amazing director for the third season. I try to get really surprising directors. I'm not supposed to reveal what the story is that the third and fourth installment are based on, but the third one is a ... we're doing something a little bit different than we've done before.

We're taking a series of posts, and there's one element in it that we really loved, and so we're building off of that. Then for the fourth season, it's a much more obscure story. It's not well known like Candle Cove or No-End House, but it's a really beautiful, simple idea that I got very excited about. That one, we're writing right now.

We really haven't seen many successful horror shows on TV. For some strange reason, it's always better suited to film. How did you guys go about bringing horror to TV?

To me, it's not a strange reason. You can't sustain that, the kind of fear that people expect from a horror movie, over episodes after episodes. You can't do five or six seasons of what we think of as genuine horror. So horror on TV, good horror either has to be a limited series, or it has to be a different kind of horror. It has to be about a sense of dread, a pervasive feeling of menace or something off. That is why Twin Peaks is the greatest horror TV show.

It's not about jump scares. It's not about gore. It's about a sense that lingers with you for years after you see it, of, "God, that was weird. That was disturbing. What was that?" That's why we set out to do a show that wasn't based on jump scares or the traditional kind of horror that you might expect from a horror film. It had to be building something else. That's why creepypasta was a great resource, because that specific feeling that I talked about earlier was what we wanted to capture in the show.

CHANNEL ZERO: NO END HOUSE -- "This Isn't Real" Episode 107 -- Pictured:  (l-r) Amy Forsyth as Margot, The Masked Figure -- (Photo by: Allen Fraser/Syfy)

Your work on Hannibal almost directly leads to some of what we're seeing in Channel Zero. Did you bring anything over that you learned from Hannibal to this?

I watched the first two seasons of Hannibal as a fan on my own, and at some point in season two, it became clear to me, "OK, this show pretended to be a procedural and got on the air like that, but actually, it's an art installation or something that's pretending to be a TV show."

It looks like a Matthew Barney art installation sometimes. I love the clarity of vision, and I loved the idea that you could basically do an art project on TV. That kind of speaks to, specifically, some of the design elements of No-End House, bringing Sarah Sitkin in, and Guy Maddin, who does the video art in it, and Olivier De Sagazan, the performance artist in season one. Both in Candle Cove and No-End House, we bring in fine artists to just do cool stuff in a TV show, which is not normal.

Channel Zero airs on Syfy on Wednesday's at 10PM ET. It's also available on Syfy's on-demand library for cable subscribers.

Images: Allen Fraser/Syfy

This interview was condensed and edited for clarity.

‘Dragon Age’ director Mike Laidlaw leaves BioWare after 14 years

Today Mike Laidlaw announced his departure from Bioware, where he's been involved with games including Jade Empire, Mass Effect and the entire Dragon Age series. He served as creative director on Dragon Age: Inquisition, and mentioned in a note about the team that "I have every confidence that the world we've created together is in good hands and I'm excited for the road ahead." He didn't mention a reason for leaving other than that it is time to move on, even as his exit follows DA:I lead writer David Gaider, who left the company early last year.

Source: Mike Laidlaw (Twitter)