By: Antony Hampel
3D projections on buildings and other surfaces are not really big news anymore – they‘ve quickly spread around the world and chances are you‘ve already had at least a few performances in your city, regardless of where you live.
But media artist Nobumichi Asai, with the help of makeup artist Hiroto Kuwahara and French digital image engineer Paul LAcroix, have taken it a big step further and developed a stunning system of real-time face tracking & projection mapping, which allows to project 3D images on a person’s face.
Now at first glance, at least for me, the images don’t even look as if they are real – it’s easy to confuse the real-life face with a digitally recreated one. But I guess that only adds an additional “wow” factor to the show. The projections are so vivid and alive that it’s truly hard to believe they are done on an actual person’s face, while adapting to the movements seamlessly and without a hitch.
However, after looking into the project, it became clear that the project authors’ vision went beyond just flashy graphics and impressive technology – his project is trying to reflect on the rich tradition of Japanese culture, embracing the human face for the powerful medium for expression and art that it is.
As Mr Hiroto Kuwahara put it himself, “Face evolved with a sole purpose of conveying emotions, and it is the only body part that effectively communicates and reacts to the most subtle changes and conditions.”
In Japan, where Omote masks are such a big part of Japan’s culture, it’s no surprise that the artists chose to expand on an already rich background, instead of trying to come up with something completely new. Although face-mapping, in general, is not a completely new concept anymore, the creators of the project chose to focus on the expression of beauty, instead of “technological gimmicks”.
It’s not just about innovation, but also sharing with the world Japanese beauty in a new light, which can be appreciated by anyone. As Mr Kuwahara put it, “When I look around nowadays, it is quite rare to see women with traditional Japanese aesthetics. My intention is not to communicate [make-up] as influenced by other cultures, but to express Japan’s unique set of aesthetic ideals that have been passed on through generations.”
So while the Omote project is surely a ground-breaking feat in terms of technological advance in real-time face mapping, perhaps that’s not the main thing that should be taken away from it. At least from the perspective Mr Kuwahara, the project is about embracing a new way to appreciate Japanese beauty and culture using a new medium. Of course, that does not make the technological side any less impressive.
Omote Real-Time Face Tracking and Projection Video
By: Ant Hampel
By: Antony Hampel
Sometimes life can seem very cruel. And those that hurt us can become symbols of everything that we perceive evil. However, hatred only spawns more hatred, therefore the only real path is that of forgiveness.
This is the core message that is being put forward by the film Beyond Right and Wrong: Stories of Justice and Forgiveness, directed by Roger Spottiswoode, and led by a panel highlighted with Kweku Mandela, son of the famous politician and Nobel Prize Winner.
The movie has quickly spread all around the world, and has raised money for various causes with the assistance of the FilmRaise website, which helps impactful movies like this one showcase their movies globally. Anyone can watch the movie for free, and for each view a donation is made to a charity chosen by the viewer.
This kind of innovative approach to promotion has allowed to spread the message to different parts of the world, while at the same time allowing anyone to contribute at least a little bit to a good cause, by simply watching a touching movie that any person in the world can relate to.
Everyone endures suffering at some point in their lives, some more than others, but, as the main message that is repeated through the lips of numerous people in the movie helps to realize, no matter how tragic the loss and the suffering, in the end we cannot allow ourselves to become slaves of the past, and have to pave our own path into the future.
The people in the movie found compassion in their hearts even for those who have wronged them terribly and were able to move past the blinding hatred, even though the desire for justice never faded. These people have not only overcame their own emotional barriers, but have actually helped their tormentors get on the path of redemption as well.
When watching the movie, a mental shift is slowly occurring, when you start to realize just how fragile peace can be, and how important are the people who are able to let go of their own pain and start fighting for a higher cause.
Beyond Right and Wrong Movie Trailer
So if you’re looking for a film that can truly impact your own life and your perception of it, go to beyondrightandwrong.com and watch the movie yourself. You’ll not only be contributing to something good, but might actually get inspired to do big changes in your own life, or even in the life of others.
By: Antony Hampel
Diner En Blanc
There isn’t much room for secrecy in today’s world of smartphones and social media. But somehow for over 25 years, the organisers of Diner En Blanc managed to preserve at least some mystery.
Of course if you’d become witness to one of the iconic public events, it would be hard to believe that it’s not planned months in advance. Hundreds or even thousands of people gather together at a location disclosed just mere hours before the event itself, all fully dressed in white, all while bringing their own table, chairs, tablecloths (all white, of course) and meals.
Having already been organised in 50 cities around the world, the event actually came to be as a simple idea by a group of friends to have a picnic together in a beautiful public setting. In order to find each other in the crowd, they all decided to wear white, and the event quickly snowballed into what became one of the iconic endeavours of Paris, without any kinds of media stunts.
Places like the Eiffel Tower, Pont des Arts, Château de Versailles, the Esplanade de Notre-Dame, the periphery of the Place de l’Étoile and many others have become the spontaneous host to the event, with fresh additions of Le Louvre Pyramid and the Trocadero Esplanade.
What is even more astounding, that although the event organisers never got any permits to arrange this grandiose gathering in Paris to this day, it is tolerated by the local authorities and not one event was ruined by interference of the police. Of course, in foreign cities the proper permits are obtained.
And now, 25 years after the first gathering, Diner le Blanc has become a widely recognised phenomenon which attracts over 15,000 people from all over the world to take part every year. Cities like New York, Philadelphia, Toronto, London, Barcelona and many others have already had their own Diner en Blanc, with the gatherings held at some of the most special places in each city, giving everyevent a unique flavour.
In fact, the event is returning to Sydney on November 29th, and it has already sold out, promising to be one of the more memorable occasions to date.
But even with all the glamour and beauty, perhaps the biggest and most impressive takeaway from Diner en Blanc is how the people behind the seemingly extravagant and hard to put together event can trust the attendees not only to show up with just a few hours’ notice, but also to actively participate in putting everything together and ensuring that all goes smoothly.
This shows that sometimes even the largest projects and most daring events can be successful if the event planner isnot afraid to put some trust in their attendees and actually make them part of the event, instead of holding them as mere visitors or spectators.
Even in the era of social media, turns out there’s still room for some secrets in our lives, after all.
Diner En Blanc Video
By: Antony Hampel
Fancy a career change? Robert Uy has the enviable job in Dubai at one of the world’s most luxe hotels, Jumeirah Hotel.
For a perfect nights sleep for the discerning jet-setters and rich and famous who frequent the hotel, Robery Uy needs to guarantee ‘sweet dreams’!
Every bed in the Hotel is tested , always lying down on the job, Robert makes sure the beds are just what the customer expects, from firm mattresses to a variety of pillows to choose from.
Originally from the Philippines, Robert was a housekeeping attendant and is now the housekeeping manager at the hotel.
Although it appears to me that he’s always lying down on the job, Robert takes pride in his work who checks that “the bed is soft on the head, medium on the body and that the legs section is firm..this ensure there is no back pain”.
The Burj has Duxiana beds that are custom-made for the Hotel with a “Paskal system with cassettes, which allows us to personalise the beds.”
Around 15 minutes is spent checking each bed and ensuring specific requests are met. “One guest asked that we remove our shoes whilst cleaning the suite and wear slippers whilst his bed sheets had to be ironed ON the bed and not before”.
I’m guessing one of the skills required for this job is patience and attention to detail! And how to ‘get in the door’…well you’d need to start off at the Emirates Academy of Hospitality.
By: Antony Hampel
Ryoji Ikeda’s SPECTRA commemorated World War 1 but busting through the night sky in a stunning column of white light. Reaching an astonishing 30km in to the night sky from the Victoria Tower Gardens in London, the public exhibit ran for 7 days and engaged people of all ages and was revealed, without warning. The single column of light symbolises and commemorates the night the ‘lamps went out across Europe’ at the start of the war. On the first night of the exhibit , millions of Londoners switched off their lights at home and in the office to honour Britain’s involvement. A grid of lights was established for visitors to walk amongst in the Victoria Gardens next to Parliament as an abstract soundtrack washed over them. Lights also towered over other landmarks
Spectra has been exhibited in Paris (same team who lit the Eiffel Tower), Barcelona , Australia and Buenos Aires.
49 powerful spotlights are used to beam the light from “here to eternity” or as it appears so.
Ryoji uses white light as “sculptural material” as its one of the “purest forms of transformation from electricity.
This pure state of energy was designed to “provoke a feeling of something indescribable, something sublime and unearthly , something unforgettable”
And it certainly achieves this.
Watch Videos of Ryoji Ikeda’ SPECTRA
By: Antony Hampel
Seats are becoming more comfortable, leg room is increasing, TV screens are standard , bars are popping up at the pointy end and even meals are improving (well, occasionally) not to mention that the cost of flying is coming down.
Many of the world’s top airlines have spent millions of dollars over several years trying to create the ultimate travel experience. We have seen the science behind food enhanced at 40,000 feet, mood lighting, luxe bed linen with super heavy thread counts, and less hassle door to door services such as Limousine transfers included in the ticket as well as speedy check in points for business / first travelers.
The one thing that hasn’t evolved for some time in aviation is speed. It takes around the same time to get from London to Melbourne as it did 20 years ago.
So what IS new? For those not satisfied with flat beds or even the Singapore Airlines First Class ‘suites’, Etihad has introduced an ‘apartment in the sky’!
The Etihad ‘residence’ on board the A380’s is a 3 room suite of 125 square feet that includes a lounge, double bed and an ensuite shower.
The residence also comes with a specially trained butler from the Savoy Hotels to attend to (almost) every need including, of course, breakfast in bed!
At around $45,000 round trip (7hrs) , it will initially it will be available between Abu Dhabi and London with New York and Sydney to follow in 2015.
I would be keen to know the price of a private jet charter and compare as one would think that if you’re happy to spend $45k , why would you want the terrible inconvenience of having to share the plane!!?
In an earlier post I wrote about the ‘son of Concorde’ that could potentially get us from London to Melbourne in 4 hours.! http://antonyhampel.com.au/travel/london-to-sydney-in-4-hours-fact-or-fiction/
Would you take to the longer trip with Luxe Residence or the 4 hour super sonic ride in 4 hours flat !?
By: Antony Hampel
In a fast moving world where information and entertainment is on demand and disposable, it’s proving a constant challenge to find live content that will mystify and amaze people.
As an event producer, I am often challenged with having to source or create entertainment for a wide range of events. Sometimes clients can be quite specific in what they require, it may be along the lines of a well known musical entertainer, comedian or host, that’s not such a challenge.
It’s when we need to create a special moment to WOW the guests with something unique that we need to think outside the box to deliver fresh ideation.
Many event planners rely on entertainment agencies to source their talent but this can at times be restricting and you run the risk of booking an act that the guests have seen before.
We tend to keep our eye on what’s trending globally in events and also what’s happening in the performance arts arena such as cultural festivals etc across the planet.
Technology can be a great way to WOW guests if there is a significant budget however; it’s the content that is the important elements. Most of us have now seen big productions with giant screens and lights and although impressive at first, they fail to ignite a sense of excitement when repeated again and again.
Do you remember when ‘moving lights’ first appeared? Then AV became center stage over the last 10 years as we experimented with AR and mapping but sadly, the content is/was often disappointing.
When I stumbled across FUMA-KAI by Enra, I was simply amazed and was so engaged in the performance that it rendered me speechless. Enra is a Japanese multi media dance and martial arts team who have mastered integrated video with technology.
‘The performers are highly talented martial artists, jugglers and dancers, ?each demonstrates their own specialty in the works that we make.’
‘The final video is simply achieved by projecting the video onto a screen via projector.?the group perform in synchronization with the graphics maintaining the position ?of their bodies and perfecting this through repeated practice.’ ?- nobuyuki hanabusa, director, enra
This incredible integration of video projection and live performance sets a standard and a way forward to explore boundaries of further technology based live performance where there is no limit
Enra have sparked a wave of other multi media dance troupes in Japan who are creating their own customized performance and story telling.
As an event producer, I am inspired by the countless ways we could incorporate such performances in to a variety of events. The technology and content is reasonably scalable and, budget permitting, could be customized for a specific event (as Enra did withfuma-kai’ which was performed in Tokyo for the visit of the IOC evaluation committee, who eventually awarded the 2020 games to the city)
Enra’s FUMA KAI:
By: Antony Hampel
Teenagers on average are consuming around 40 teaspoons of sugar every day…that’s insane when we should be having between 6 and 8 ! As western society continues to battle obesity with fad diets, it’s interesting to stop and take a look on what may be the real cause not only behind weight gain but also to what may be causing so many diseases.
Is sugar a bittersweet pill that’s quietly killing us? What’s the long term effect of sugar on us? Research now links Mental Health issues, heart disease and of course obesity to Sugar and the challenge is that our bodies are programmed to crave sugar! In whatever form, Sugar triggers a release of ‘serotonin’ in our systems, which is the ‘feel good’ hormone.
Over the years we have seen low carb diets, fasting, high protein diets and countless other fads trying to get address weight gain. History will show us that all these fads gave never really addressed the issue but rather wrongly painted essential food groups as ‘evil’.
In balance, our bodies need all food groups.There is one constant since Western Society began a trend of steady weight gain (and hasn’t slowed down or stopped) and that is the use of sugar. Since the 1950’s when breakfast cereals and soft drinks became common place in daily diets, our weight problem has grown steadily as has the use of sugar in processed food products. See the connection?
Sure, sodium and saturated fats are still the big causes of heart disease but sugar is coming a close 3rd. Its no easy task to avoid sugar as it’s hidden in so many products including products that may appear healthy (ie juices, bread, smoothies, flavored yoghurts and almost ALL low fat labeled foods).
Usually, low fat = high sugar as that’s how the ‘flavor’ is substituted and the reality is, the fat is probably better for you in small doses as our body needs fats as an essential food group (contrary to what marketers will tell you).
Not all sugar is bad. We need to consume sugar through eating fruit but avoid processed, refined sugars found in most processed foods. It’s only a matter of time until sugar and carbohydrates are generally known to be ‘addictive’ says dietitian, Dr Lapsys. There are many theories circulating now that the food industry is intentionally adding sugar to products, as they KNOW it’s addictive. Shouldn’t’ something be done to educate people of the dangers and make these companies accountable? Perhaps a percentage of their sales could go in to food education programmes for parents and children whilst also adding clear warnings on product labels: DANGER: SUGAR IS ADDICTIVE AND CAUSES OBESITY AND HEART DISEASE.
At the start of this century no one thought for a minute that cigarette smoking was harmful. Now perhaps it’s time we learnt about sugar.
Keep a look out for bees, honey, flowers, words like ‘nature’ or ‘natural’. These are not always healthy products but instead, clever marketing tricks to entice you in to thinking they are !
So, to simply reduce your sugar intake, try to focus on ‘farm to plate’ type foods by asking, “how much human intervention has this product had”? The less intervention the healthier it is (ie fruit, vegetables, fish, meat etc). Pretty much anything in a can or packet will have had sugars and sweeteners added to get you hooked!
FED UP is a new film by Stephanie Soechtigh who explores the evils of sugar and reveals the almost everything we have been told about food and exercise in the last 30 years is wrong !
By: Antony Hampel
I’ve found the Cirque shows to be a bit repetitive over the last few years as each ‘new’ production seems to revolve around the original theme. Other than the O Show in Vegas (one of the greatest stage productions I have ever seen), I would have chosen to pass on any new Cirque show. That is, until they acquired the license from the Jackson estate to create and produce the “IMMORTAL WORLD TOUR” , to pay tribute to Michael Jackson (MJ).
Other than being a great money-spinner for the Jackson estate (pulling in $145m in 2012 alone from the show), it lets the die-hard Jackson fans in to his world and reveals his inspiration and creative process.
I went to see the Melbourne show during October this year and was not sure quite what to expect. I thought that a ‘tribute’ show in the typical sense would be clichéd and disappointing but on this occasion, Cirque delivered on its creative force to deliver a mesmerizing, original and spectacular sensory experience.
The Immortal World Tour is a hybrid of spectacular concert production, theatrics and story telling featuring all the MJ favorites, which had the crowd on its feet at every moment.
By using MJ’s original voice recordings from the songs played back over a live band (many members being from his original touring band), it was easy to imagine that I was actually at an MJ concert…the band and sound production was flawless.
There were no tacky and predictable impersonators of MJ but rather scenes and vignettes inspired by his song, his movement, his sentiment and his stories.
There were no scenes trying to ‘re create’ the infamous music videos but rather an ensemble of acrobats, dancers and aerialists that gave the music a new visual theme.
If I had any criticism, it was at times sentimental and some moments appeared a little drawn out with Cirque Theatrics that didn’t always have a place but that was rare for the rest of the show was so captivating that if you blinked, you would miss so many incredible moments.
The show manages to pay tribute in a respectable way to the legend that is MJ and manages to take us in to his fantasy world where the genius was born.
By: Antony Hampel
For a band that has toured the world for 30 years and have probably played more shows than they have had drinks, and have played almost every type of concert in every type of venue, there was only one obvious place to play next…Antarctica!
On December 8th they will blast their metal rock to the world from a heliport at the Carilini Argentine Base. The audience will consist of prize winners from a Coca Cola Zero competition that ran across South America and Mexico and the prize includes, of course, round trip airfares !
The winners at the Concert will be sitting in silence to some degree however as the only way to hear the band rock out will be through headphones (no amplification of the concert) in a twist that will include environmental messaging with the hope of winners spreading the message virally through tweets!
Here is the Ad that promoted the competition
This is the 2nd concert in history to be staged in Antarctica (the first being Live Earth).
The event will be filmed and distributed globally at a later date.
I take my hat off to Coca-Cola Zero and Metallica for creating such a unique concept with positive messaging to hopefully facilitate further awareness around environment issues whilst pushing the creative boundaries on all fronts!
Would you attend if you won a ticket? I’d be keen to know….
By: Antony Hampel