Ideas - inspirations experiments & notes

Another film panorama: London's Southbank 1955

Your browser does not support the HTML5 canvas element, which this experiment uses to display the panorama shown below.

Panorama of London's Southbank displayed via HTML5 and canvas

Another experiment with captured film frames and stitching techniques to produce a panorama. This time it's a view of London's Southbank, shot in around 1955 for the opening sequence of the thriller 23 Steps to Baker Street. Great skyline of St. Paul's cathedral, Bankside power-station (now the Tate Modern), Waterloo Bridge, the Royal Festival Hall and Cleopatra's Needle.

This would have been a few years after the Festival of Britain, before the shot tower in the centre was demolished to make way for the Hayward gallery and other buildings of the Southbank centre. Note also 'Big Ben' swathed in scaffolding. This may possibly have been filmed from Shell Mex House.

Braun AW10 wristwatch

Close up of the dial of the Braun AW10 Wristwatch designed by Dietrich Lubs in 1989 Photo of an AW10 Braun watch at an angle showing the strap and lugs Photo of AW10 Wristwatch by Braun showing the case, glass, crown, strap and lugs

Spent the morning overhauling this beautiful Braun AW10 wristwatch. It was designed for Braun by Dietrich Lubs in 1989, and demonstrates the functionalist design ethos that also created the iconic Braun alarm clock.

It needed a clean and a new battery, but I also noticed that the bright yellow second hand was misaligned, so that it never lined up with the marks on the dial as it ticked. Such sloppiness was contrary to the precision of the original design so I stripped it down, removed the mechanism and realigned the hands.

The strap also needed replacement, as the glue had begun to decay and the neat leather edges were peeling. A quick search led me to a generic replacement of the correct dimensions, with the same semi-circular strap end. For the record the dimensions were:

Strap width at lugs: 18mm
Strap width at buckle: 16mm
Long strap length: 115mm
Short strap length: 75mm

Once the anodised aluminium Braun-branded buckle was detached and transferred to the new strap, it was better than new.

Funny Face: panoramas from a camera pan

Your browser does not support the HTML5 canvas element, which this experiment uses to display the panorama shown below.

Panorama of a scene from Funny Face displayed via HTML5 and canvas

Just another experiment with panoramas. It occurred to me that you could make an interactive panorama of a scene from a film, just by stitching individual frames from the film together into a wide image, much as you would construct a normal panorama by taking a number of separate shots at different angles.

To test the idea, I chose Funny Face, as it features several long panning shots across the Paris skyline. There were challenges, especially in matching the colour balance and exposure of the various frames as the camera moved across the scene, but I think the results are pretty good.

Paris Skyline Panorama From Roof Of Notre Dame with Fred Astaire in foreground
Paris skyline panorama from the roof of Notre Dame de Paris.

Paris Skyline Panorama From Sacre Coeur Montmartre with Audrey Hepburn in foreground
Paris skyline panorama from the steps at Sacre-Coeur, Montmartre

Paris Skyline Panorama From Roof Of Grand Palais with Kay Thompson in foreground
Paris skyline panorama from the roof of the Grand Palais.

More old bike tech...

View of an old Campagnolo Gran Sport front dérailleur View of a reversible hub, with a six-speed casette on one side and fixed singlespeed racing setup on the other

I found these rather lovely bits attached to a slightly cobwebbed Hetchins bike being stored in a wood shed.

Firstly, a wonderfully elegant little Campagnolo Gran Sport front dérailleur and secondly a high flange reversible alloy hub, with a six-speed casette on one side and fixed singlespeed racing setup on the other.

Foldify papercraft app

Foldify 3d Character Design App

Time to get out the safety scissors and start eating the glue, because this looks like a lot of fun! Foldify is a really neat app for iPad that allows you to directly paint a design onto a choice of simple 3D shapes, which can then be printed, cut, folded and glued. The app also offers a gallery of contributions from other users which can be printed direct from the app.

Whilst other people have been doing foldable characters for a while - e.g.Cubeecraft - this is all about the elegant interface, which gives you a real time 3D preview of the completed shape as you paint in 2D, and the fact that it features several other primitives to paint onto, like cars, spheres and pyramids.

Poilu brush packaging

Poilu Comedy Paintbrush Packaging

Great piece of packaging design - although no one should be allowed a goatee. Almost a shame to undo the brushes and start the boring job of painting.


eReaders need eye-readers

Watching someone using the new touchscreen Kindle the other day made me think about the eBook interface, and about how clunky it still is.

I've used eBook readers on a lot of platforms over the years, and nothing has ever been completely right. Don't get me wrong - I like eBooks and the ability to carry a library around in your pocket is great, but the interfaces have always been a bit flawed, especially in terms of page turning.

One app I used to use featured auto scrolling, which sounded like a possible solution: select a reading speed and the app will scroll the text to keep up as you read. But that doesn't take into account a non-linear reading style. I often re-read previous sentences or revisit previous paragraphs as I scan over the page, and there is nothing more annoying than having to read with an app hurrying you along.

Then it occurred to me: eye tracking. Imagine reading perfectly naturally, and at the end of the page, just looking at the last word is enough to trigger a page turn. No matter how large or small the text, or what pace you read at. Use a webcam above the screen to track your eye movements and away you go. Admittedly the accuracy would have to be pretty high to avoid false positives, and the processing power of the existing eReaders is probably not up to it, but one day soon it will surely come to pass. So unless there's already a patent lurking out there, I prefer my royalties to be paid in Yen. Thanks.