We are off and running adding content to explain Voodle, and our beta testing is underway. So, excited.
Here’s a blog post on our website i wrote about feature development for voodle.
We are off and running adding content to explain Voodle, and our beta testing is underway. So, excited.
Here’s a blog post on our website i wrote about feature development for voodle.
In January of 2020, after nearly 4 complete years working feverishly and with great passion and focus on the virtual reality market opportunity that seemed so bright and shinny and attainable in 2015… my colleagues and I at Pixvana made the painful, but necessary decision, to shut down our product and cease all of our efforts in the XR market. It was just, not, happening. We built something great, really the best v1 product i have ever been a part of in my 30+ years building software. It was elastic, it was cloud based, it had incredible VR native interfaces to build really interest and compelling immersive content. The Quest headset is pretty darn awesome (if only that had been the v1 experience for most consumers!) and we got *great* looking 360 and 180 stereo video working on it, over the network and offline, with a great end-to-end vr video publishing platform we called SPIN Studio. But in hindsight we were 3, or maybe 10 years ahead of any real inflection point in the VR market. After a blast of interesting products and innovation from the likes of google, msft, fb, and htc/valve… by 2019 our industry found ourselves in a ever smaller and nichier market with only FB/Oculus really pretending that there was any future anytime soon… and at their last developer event it felt like even they were just pretending. Soccer mom’s were featured prominently in their product advertisements while teenagers watched from the living room… really?
A fateful business trip that I took in the fall of 2019 to China and then Germany to attend the AWE event in Munich, provided both the death-blow to Pixvana’s VR dreams, and the inspiration to start something new from the ashes, which is what we now call Voodle. In China i had the chance to talk to some of the manufacturers of VR cameras. At the time we were still actively building support for these cameras in our Pixvana SPIN Studio cloud: we were teaching our system the nomenclature for the file naming conventions, the warp and optic parameters to solve high-quality stitches to 8k+ resolution master files, the LUTs for camera exposure gamuts… but these camera manufacturers one-by-one either did not engage with me (when they had in past visits), or, were blunt and honest with me and shared that they had ceased development and manufacturing, and in some cases had sold -through their inventory. VR Cameras were not going to be a thing… which as one of my colleagues said upon hearing, “well, that’s a signal” (understatement).
A week later at the AWE conference in Munich, the vast majority of interesting activity at the event was not with headsets but rather, with mobile phone screens. Screens at arms-length, and usually with the SELFIE camera as the primary viewing lens onto the world. As much as Snap and Facebook product managers raved about “over 1bn people are doing AR today with their selfie-cameras”, i couldn’t help but feel that a pivot into phone-based-AR applications using pixvana’s IP and brain-trust would be like signing up for another several years of equal or even greater disappointment.
This 1-2 combo of punches in my face finally snapped me to the realization that many other entrepreneurs had come to in 2019–AR/VR might just not be relevant right now in the world, in any appreciable business scale way. Why would Pixvana continue to spend time on the XR space? Well, after we huddled back at the office, we all agreed we couldn’t.
However, what did strike me as incredibly interesting… in a way that people of my age/generation sometimes struggle to fully comprehend, is just how much people like looking at their selfie-cameras. To take pictures and video of themselves to communicate with loved ones, all day, every day. Over the course of the next several months i started to pay much more attention to how the selfie camera was being used by my family and friends, and the ways and subjects that we communicated to each other in private networks such as Whatsapp and iMessage groups. That, is what led to the kernel of an idea that grew into Voodle.
Essentially, why is it that among my family and friends, almost all of my communications are image, video, and emoji or meme based:
Yet when i’m at work, i’m 99% grounded in text. Long TL;DR text in email applications like gmail, back and forth short messages with an occasional URL or small jpeg thumbnail in Slack or Teams, and sometimes sharing documents such as in Highspot or Onedrive or Google Drive. This schism is plainly evident when looking at my phone screen; if it is text, i’m working, if it is friends and family, it is photos/videos/images. This seems incorrect on many levels?
So what if our work related communications looked a lot more like how i communicate with friends and family? That’s the basic kernel of an idea that led us to create voodle.
A “voodle” is a short “video-doodle” that can be posted and shared among work colleagues. These may be insights into customers, competitors, operations, morale and culture insights… we are going to figure out together with our beta-testers. But what we can already feel with our early tests, is that it is *transformational* to communicate with work colleagues in a manner more similar to that we use with friends/family already. 2 billion consumers on their cellphones can’t be wrong!
We are working on voodle! I will write more about voodle soon. I’m excited, as is the team, to share voodle and voodles and voodle pools…
As part of my grieving i wanted to write about my son’s passing. This post will be a work in progress that i will iterate on, as I am inspired to write.
I read a book back in summer of 1992 called On the Death of My Son. It was an interesting book which tells the real life story of a father’s experience with his son’s death, and a series of insights and connections to the meaning he got from that experience (including a sense of connecting to his son and hearing about the afterlife). As much as anything, the title of the book has stuck with me and it is with a sad heart that as of Feb 29th of this year 2020, i have experienced the death of my youngest son Caetano. He was 16.
My wife and I and our son Carlos put together a memorial site for Caetano Key, which has been visited 10k+ times by over 3000 visitors in its first weeks. The many lovely text messages, emails, notes, flowers, food, and other expressions of love and caring for our family have been incredibly uplifting and we feel part of a larger community. And yet, we are devastated. We miss Caetano in so many ways we couldn’t possibly document or convey.
We are however, ok. I’ll let my wife and son tell their own stories on their own channels. I am ok because i’m feeling many intense feelings, but i’m making good progress feeling them, and understanding my grief. These include:
But mostly i’m just sad. I’m sad because of the lost opportunity to meet and befriend the adult Caetano that was yet to come. I imagined years of continued work on our communication and relationship, of good times and bad times. I wanted to see the 2nd act in his life, post teenager. To continue to learn from him. To watch from afar and follow his journey with curiosity and fondness and a father’s love. I had many plans for me and the adult Caetano, including:
I’m sad. I’m happy. I’m angry. But mostly, i’m ok. Taking it a day at a time, and a week at a time, and know that Caetano will be with me the rest of my life.
I love you Caetano, always.
Voodle is a vegetarian noodle, but it is also a great name for a software product? Video-doodles! Voodles are plural, voodle is a noun (“i made a voodle”), and voodle is a verb (“voodle it and it shall be done!). So, voodle, fun word right?
Well after 4 years at Pixvana chasing after the dream of VR and headset based immersive storytelling, today marked a huge milestone–we shipped our first iOS release of SPIN Play. It turns out that the billion+ users of mobile phones and iPads are a super compelling audience for immersive storytelling, and while it wasn’t our initial target, it is the most exciting milestone in our team’s journey.
You can get Pixvana SPIN Play for iOS now from the Apple App Store for iOS devices. iPad only release today but iPhone will be out shortly (we did a vertical layout for phones which is more comfortable in your hand given how big phones have gottent).
Ok so we are adding support to Pixvana SPIN Studio to share URLs more easily of what we call SPINs, playlists of content. Here’s our default SPIN that loads when you download our player app, SPIN Play, from various app stores (iOS App Store, Oculus, etc.):
Note that now i will add that to this page with embed code (note this is FAILING):
Here it is or is not?
Here’s what wordpress does when i simply paste in the Youtube URL for sharing: https://youtu.be/ZI9bKHCVNRM
And this is what wordpress does when i paste the Youtube link into their “Youtube” embed block:
Here’s wordpress barfing on my attempt to use their youtube block, for a spinxr url. doesn’t allow (malformed condition)
I had a lovely art-walk experience this week in Shoreditch neighborhood of London led by David Stuart of http://www.shoreditchstreetarttours.co.uk and wanted to make note for others. I had of course seen Exit Through the Gift Shop, superb film on the street art scene and the artist Banksy in particular, so it was with wondrous glee that i set out with David to see some of the many rich art-installations dotted in the streets of this neighborhood.
“XR-vu“, or “VR-vu”…whichever term comes into vogue in the near-future, i want to go on record as saying that it happened to me a few weeks, ago, and I liked it–a lot!
Yes i’m playing on the word “deja-vu“, that oh so fun feeling of experiencing something and having a sense of foreboding or otherworldly prescience, as though you’ve previously dreamed of the moment or even lived the moment, in a different state of consciousness? Well play with me for a moment–take that feeling, and now imagine what that feels like when it arises because you HAVE experienced the moment before… but in Virtual Reality or another form of XR (extended reality)?
That’s what i experienced a few weeks ago when I visited Ollantaytambo Peru, a lovely Andean village about 2 hrs outside of Cusco, the former empire capital of the Incas. I had been to the region before, about 30 years ago when i was backpacking for 18 months after college. However, i had never been to Ollantaytambo’s ruins–not in person. But I did visit Ollantaytambo in Virtual Reality, in a detailed, compelling experience that was built by Microsoft as an example of how tourism and travel might be conveyed using VR. It shipped as Microsoft HoloTour, a demonstration app that launched in 2017. This technical document describes what the team did to build the Holotour experience of Ollantaytambo–quite interesting mix of techniques to photographically capture and convey the site.
Unfortunately i couldn’t find any images to illustrate the experience in the headset–suffice to say that in Holotour, i experienced standing in the midst of the Ollataytambo ruins… and when i visited these dame ruins in April of 2019, i had a triple-take moment that flooded my brain with a sense of *very* strong “deja-vu” like cues. Have i been here before? Why does this place seem so familiar? Did I dream it?
No, i had never been here. But yes, i was here in Virtual Reality! Wow. WOW. It was all the fun of deja-vu, times at least 5x… or maybe 10x. It really showed me the difference between seeing a picture or a movie, and having been immersed and felt the unique compelling experience of *presence* that is the hallmark of XR/VR, which triggers activity in the human brain that forms actual spatial *memories* that i was then recollecting/remembering, as though they were real. I don’t know if this feeling would always be as strong, say, if i had felt this sensation many times before? But it was incredibly interesting, and i wanted to first at the podium to share it and i look forward to writing about it more and discussing it with others as they have XR-vu of their own!
Anyone else experience XR-vu of VR-vu?
We just had a wonderful trip to Beijing and for the first time had a chance to do some side trips to Pingyao. Was fun to take the bullet-train in china for the first time, it’s about 3.5 hrs to Pingyao from Beijing West Train Station. The little town is beyond charming and surrounded by a centuries old wall and towers. We saw no western tourists at all (winter season likely had something to do with it) and stayed in a delightful boutique hotel called Jing’s Residence. The hotel is right in the midst of the old town, with delightful set meals and comfy beds. A bit on the pricey side for the town, but *well* worth it. Highly recommend Pingyao as a Beijing side-trip, as others had recommended to me!
By the way, we hired a private car and driver in Beijing and absolutely loved this service. Eric runs a very good operation, our driver was super awesome, punctual, drove very safe, was in easy contact over WeChat to find and organize drops/pick-ups. Will be recommending to all my friends that visit Beijing.
Here’s some shots from Pingyao:
Ok this is the discovery of the trip, a local specialty called Kau Lao Lao, a oat-based pasta arranged in a honeycomb pattern, with toppings of various kinds (pictured with lamb and a tomato broth of sorts, which tasted of lamb-raggu but didn’t look like it). This was the best new food i’ve had in maybe a decade! Where have you been all my life, Kau Lao Lao?
Standing on the west-gate above the bustling streets below:
Walking around the perimeter of the wall, probably a good 3+ mile circumference although some construction kept us from looping the entire city.
Near the center of town amongst the bustle.
Just putting a quick note on some of my top recommends from Japan as i get a lot of requests and have been having to cobble together for friends. Here’s a starter list:
Pro-tips in general:
Onomichi – coming soon
Fukuoka – coming soon
Miyajima Island – coming soon
Kanazawa – coming Soon (Kiragawa Go, Takayama day trips)
Hiroshima – coming soon
Nagasaki – coming soon
Just unboxing a Kandao Obsidian R VR Camera, this is going to become my personal VR blogging / testing camera, i really like the form factory and the quality of shots is excellent.
First observations which are important to others considering buying:
Our papa Emilio Casanueva passed away Friday May 25th, 2018, at the Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara CA. He was surrounded with love and affection with family. Emilio was born in Chile in 1939 and immigrated to the USA with his young family and eventually settled on the west coast in Marin County CA. Early in his career he opened Campolindo, an innovative health-food store in San Anselmo in the 1970s, and he maintained a life-long interest in health foods and active living. He was the founder of La Barraca de Zapallar and Zapallar Sustentable, and a designer/builder of dozens of delightful homes in Chile, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Santa Barbara. One of Emilio’s greatest passions in life was ocean swimming. He was a founder of swimming clubs and events including the Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Org, and social swimming groups Patos del Mar / Ocean Ducks. He published a book on innovative cooking recipes using Cochayullo.
Emilio was a loving and active father to his 5 sons: Luis Andres, Santiago, Forest, Joaquin, and Roberto. He was an adoring and fun-loving father-in-law to Laura and Cristina. He was a cool and relaxed grandpa to Emilio Jr (and wife Andrea), William, Camila, Carlos, Caetano, and Ava. He had the joy of meeting his first great-granddaughter Nyla this year. His dearest friend and big-brother Catucho survives him, together with his wife Angelica and their many children and grand-children, who knew Emilio intimately and delighted in his company. His nephews Carlos and Diego Casanueva were very dear to his heart, as were Andrea, Angelica, Mario, Cote, Maria, and their partners “Gordo”, “Caco”, Luz Maria, and “Negro”. Emilio’s former wives and co-parents remember him fondly and with great love and affection: Maria and Jane. In Emilio’s last years of life, he had the incredible fortune of returning to Zapallar where he lived some of his most joyous moments together with Francisca who he absolutely adored.
He was beloved and he loved his many friends in the communities in which he lived. He was particularly fond of his life-long friends in Chile and in the USA that shared his passions for swimming, good company, and positive outlooks.
Our family is planning a memorial for Emilio in Zapallar to be held at a later date. His in memorium facebook page is a place to post photos and memories of him.
My 2017 Ford Focus RS (mk3) is a joy to drive and i like its styling. I’m a first time Ford owner, and got in on the “made in USA” car thing just in time for Ford to discontinue all future sales of car vehicles (except for Mustang) which might work out just fine for me, as I think of this project car as a long-term toy to use for track and occasional car outings. Now it will also be the last ford hot-hatch made for a long time?! Bonus.
When i looked over the exterior stylings of the car one of the things that stood out for me as a eyesore is the blue on white stock “billet badges”, the thing on the hood and the trunk that say “Ford” in the classic font. I found a custom fabricator and design shop called Billet Badges that had awesome designs, and when i contacted them they assured me that as long as I was patient and gave them time (turned out to be about 4 months) to design and spec the new billets, they’d be happy to do a custom design. I went with “Fury” in the same Ford font, which feels playful and true to the original mark, but unique and a tribute to the awesome heroine Furiosa from the last Mad Max Fury Road film.
The badges came a few weeks ago and I got started on install over the last day and wanted to post my findings/process for others thinking of this kind of mod.
Here’s the first headline: Be warned, the Ford Focus RS mk3 (2016-2018) front billet badge (“ford emblem” on hood) does indeed have screws that need to be removed from inside the engine bay. Floss and a heat gun alone will get you nowhere! I was unable to find any videos or posts that correctly showed this install challenge. Floss alone will rip and hurt your hands–this job requires unfastening two screw bolts from under the front bumber/face of the hood.
Let’s jump right to the problem piece. Using a heat gun (to warm up the pieces and make the glue that binds them to the surface a little looser/easier to manipulate) is a great first step and I’ve used to remove several outer badges on this and other cars. Then, using tooth-floss, you can shimmy the floss between the surface and the badge, with a back-and-forth motion gently bitting into the adhesive and releasing the bond, eventually leading to the piece/badge popping right off.
But not with the front badge, which looks like this:
You can see the removed emblem and the fasteners. Note the thick plastic screws that are fused to the emblem and are threaded. Those little fasteners are threaded onto the end of the two outer plastic aligners. DO NOT try to rip/pull this off, you’ll damage the body fender/bumper. Instead, go in through the engine compartment, get behind the badge, and use some pliers to twist/turn the fasteners off. Then the piece will come off with some gentle tugging and the floss/cutting of the glue-binding. When off, you’ll see this:
There is lots of adhesive to break down. A little elbow grease, some Goo Remover fluid, and some gentle scrubbing and fingernail work, and voila:
I then placed the new billet badge in the slot to see if the fit was right, and was amazed at *perfect* fit. Flush to the hood, perfect depth, oval size, etc.
Now onto the back tailgate. Turns out the badge in the back is NOT fastened, rather, is simply pushed in through some alignment holes. here’s what the piece looks like removed, with some floss to loosen the grip, and some gentle tugging.
And the tailgate hole after some cleanup:
I did have a fit problem with the back, you can see here that i could fit a US 1 cent penny in the gaps that remained around the badge, to be flush with the body of the tailgate:
Here’s the same view, from flush above, without the penny in place:
I contacted the friendly folks at Billet Badges and they said to send back and they would grind down the width of a penny, i think we agreed on a few mms. When it came back a week later, perfect:
So in summary, here below are (left) the FRONT badge, which has screw fasteners and needs to be loosened from inside the engine bay, the (right) rear badge, which has alignment push-in plastic protrusions (can simply be pulled off after loosening the glue bond), and the back of my new badges which are smooth, with the Made in the USA sticker (thanks again BilletBadges.com!)
And here is the front after it is fully installed:
And a wider shot, with my now more recently added decal stripes:
These people (including some that aren’t pictured):
Just shipped our first baby, Pixvana SPIN Studio:
Here’s a quick getting started overview:
Much more coming soon!
We just got back from a lovely spring break in Zapallar Chile visiting family. We took a Omni VR Camera Rig with us and spent a day shooting the areas along the Zapallar-to-Cachagua coastal area and upon my return and review of the footage i’m really excited by how it looks. I’ve got my 15 year old cineast son working on building a ~5m piece for VR which we’ll master at 8k+ using Pixvana’s software.
For now i wanted to post a few photos and production stills:
Just getting going with the equarectangular 4k elements… really exciting project.
Here’s a rough play-out of all shots:
And here’s an extremely rough, early version of the footage. Carlos will be doing a proper edit, sound design, effects, titles, giving it narrative cohesion, etc. Then we’ll master at full 8k and publish with Pixvana’s SPIN Studio. But here’s a preview of work in progress:
Seattle fine artist Jesse Link completed a commissioned piece for me to adorn the Pixvana office. He completed the piece and dropped by our office last week, and my colleagues and I are totally psyched.
My wife and I came across Jesse’s work in various Seattle cafes and first asked him to paint a piece for our home a few years ago. As a fan of his work, he immediately came to mind when we moved into our new Pixvana office on Stone Way in Fremont/Wallingford, and I looked around at the walls longing for some inspirational art and color to liven things up.
At work we have frequently talked about our journey and Pixvana’s mission/vision as a company focused on building a Virtual and Augmented Reality storytelling technology platform. We often use the 1933 classic film King Kong as a metaphor/framework for our own journey, because the film is (a) an absolute classic of the cinema, and (b) the movie contains a meta-story about film-making and pursuing a journey of discovery.
We named Jesse’s protagonist “Sofia” after Sofia Coppola, an inspiring film director. Our Sofia is seen packed and ready to go with her VR Camera, VR headset, and tools for her adventure into the great adventure that lays ahead.
Thank you Jesse–your art piece will be a constant companion to us on our journey in the years ahead.
@Pixvana this week we announced our Virtual Reality Video platform, now known as SPIN VR. The word SPIN has obvious connections to the new VR and AR medium, namely, the ability to “spin” or otherwise adjust your point-of-view to perceive the experience from different perspectives and angles.
The photograph image of “spinning” fireworks was a direct inspiration–it captures both the beauty, power, and chaos of the VR industry and VR Video as a medium, in fall of 2016 (at ground-zero!)
The first two components of Pixvana SPIN will be our SPIN Player and SPIN Publisher. SPIN Player is both our own cross-VR-headset (eg: Android, Windows, Web) playback engine which connects to the Pixvana SPIN cloud to playback VR videos, as well as a set of tools for developers to implement support for SPIN’s video capabilities, in their own applications. SPIN includes a plug-in for Unity development, as well as a full-reference player so that media brands can build and distributed their own branded applications for VR Video. The SPIN Publisher is our cloud publishing toolset to load, encode, optimize, and stream vr-videos from Pixvana’s AWS hosted infrastructure. Videos created with SPIN can be hosted on Pixvana’s system, or, published to your own IT/cloud, for integration with your existing video delivery pipeline and resources.
I’ve worked on naming many products in my software career (Microsoft Expression and Silverlight, Puffin Design’s Commotion, Pinnacle Systems’ CineWave, and for better or worse, buuteeq!). With SPIN we went after a inspiring term for our broad platform for virtual, augmented, and mixed reality storytelling. SPIN aims to cover extensions such as SPIN VR, SPIN AR, and SPIN MR (eg: virtual, augmented, and mixed realities). I know it will be a great container brand to graduate all the way up to SPIN XR (as in “x”-reality).
There is a lot more coming from SPIN. We will be releasing technical previews, the full product, and other news about SPIN’s capabilities.
Too fun. So in 1999 some buddies and I put together a series of instructional video tapes (that we shipped out on VHS) called the Masters of Visual Effects series. The series had originally intended to have some true masters of visual effects, eg: Scott Squires, John Knoll, Eric Chauvin… real veteran / gurus of the industry.
Unfortunately we only got chapters 1 and 2 produced and we ran into some production $$ overruns, and long story short we never got the real masters in front of the camera. What we do have in this historical record, thanks to a remnant VHS copy that was found and digitize by my buddy Matt Silverman, is a time-capsule of vfx and post-production issues from 1999, immortalized by the presenters. I may get take-down requests from some of them so i will leave their names out of the meta-text here, and submit, humbly for your viewing pleasure.
It is interesting to me now in 2016 how many of these issues from 1999 are becoming issues again in the age of VR video production. Post-production has become relatively effortless in 2016, with basic laptops easily being able to handle UHD 4k video editing and effects. However, doing full immersive VR content requires some of the same proxy-resolution workflows that we employed in 1999 to deal with the film-video-digital steps of that era. Everything old is new again!
Masters of Visual Effects – 1.1 – Introduction
Masters of Visual Effects – 1.2 – Film as Digital Images
Masters of Visual Effects – 1.3 – Post Production Basics
Masters of Visual Effects – 1.4 – Pre-Viz and Editing
Masters of Visual Effects – 2.1 – Compositing Concepts Part 1
Masters of Visual Effects – 2.2 – Compositing Concepts Part 2
Masters of Visual Effects – 2.3 – Keying
Masters of Visual Effects – 2.4 – Tracking
Masters of Visual Effects – 2.5 – Paint
Masters of Visual Effects – 2.6 – Rotoscoping
My son Carlos Key’s film won an award at the local film festival, the Seattle International Film Festival, and he has a nice write up in the Seattle Times–Carlos Key won the Youth Award at SIFF for the 3 minute short film category.
But probably just as cool, for us tech geeks, is that Seattle’s own tech blog of record, Geekwire, wrote a nice piece highlighting the work of Carlos as a young film maker, and how changes in film tech and software have made film making for teenagers something entirely magical, with the advent of lower cost equipment in the last decade.
Here’s Carlos in Peru this month on a class trip, where he is shooting a documentary (camera in hand!)