Tagged:Photography

Insanity Press

A while before leaving the UK’s blustery shores for a land more maple-y and hockey-rich, I decided I couldn’t say farewell to my best friend without marking the occasion. Kris, as he is known to most, has been my acquaintance for more than a decade, after insisting one day on following me home from school, then calling round for me the next morning to walk back. Sure, his family had just moved across the street from my house, but I was distrustful of this sudden and unsolicited act of friendship. Nonetheless, he persisted, my contempt gave way to fondness, and the rest is a beautiful and only slightly unsettling bromantic saga.

And so: armed with many years’ worth of SMS logs between the two of us (amusing to exactly two human beings in the known universe), I set out to compile a mini-anthology of our textploits, over the course of our friendship. This is what it ended up looking like:

The first and most arduous step was sifting through the stupefying quantity of raw material to find the print-worthy conversations. I didn’t have a word count in mind when I started out, and the quality threshold was a little hard to find, but I got there. I used a very simple XML schema to manage the data, which looked like this:

<all>
 ...
 <conv div="And then:">
  <msg name="k"><![CDATA[Just WALKED down ye olde ass sliding stairs.]]></msg>
  <msg name="a"><![CDATA[Changed times... *single tear rolls down cheek*]]></msg>
  <msg name="k"><![CDATA[My ass will never slide these streets again.]]></msg>
  <msg name="a"><![CDATA[*solemn nod* 'Tis a burnt out husk of an ass.]]></msg>
 </conv>
 ...
</all>

Once I had sifted through the eons of texts and copied them into my XML file, I was left with a script of about 12,000 inane words. I then started work on the visual design, and decided on a retro-pixel look, to compliment the great deal of gaming shenanigans we undertake. I made up some 9-slice resizable speech bubbles and accompanying 8-bit avatars, then started work on a layout system in AS3 (for compilation to AIR for desktop). A finished page looked like this:

I knew the final size of each page would be A5, per the printing company I’d chosen, so I worked with a 1:1.4142 aspect ratio and wrote some classes to paginate the full script into bitmap-after-bitmap of carefully placed speech bubbles. From here, I added some code to save each page sprite out to PNG, ran this, and was left with a set of 48 page images.

I then took to the Colour Lovers site to borrow and manipulate some of their lovely patterns and palettes, and ended up with a set of 24 pixel-art-esque background spreads to use throughout the book. I brought the backgrounds and the previously-exported page content together in Photoshop, then printed the whole thing to PDF, conforming to the print-shop’s format.

The print and binding shop I opted for was the Gloucestershire, UK-based Inky Little Fingers, who did an excellent and speedy job of printing the books. I was pretty short on time amidst the many tasks involved in moving country, so I decided not to have a proof printed in advance of the final set. Sadly, as it turned out, the matte finish I picked for the front/back cover desaturated the design somewhat. To contrast to the printed shots above and below, here’s the original cover image. It would have been good to crank up the contrast and vibrancy to compensate for the finish, but as that was my only issue, and the rest of the book turned out great, I have no complaints.

New Things

Oh… hi! Originally, my opening gag for this post was going to be something along the lines of: ‘Huh. This thing still works…?’ – however, the joke is firmly on me since the ‘kinetype.com’ domain has just reached its year anniversary, and without an up-to-date card on file to renew my ownership, expired unceremoniously. So, no; that thing does not still work. (If you go there now you’ll find a charming ad-laden placeholder and an invitation to step in and claim that red-hot goldmine. Feel free, entrepreneurial reader, to wreak havoc with my brand identity.) Though the option’s still open to renew, I realised that this inventory should now be at the center – rather than the kinetic typography generator to which this blog was first tacked-on. Et cello… a new domain!

So, post shake-up, said generator can be found at akt.akineticblog.com, the old Hope Park Square back-up is now at hps.akineticblog.com, while this guy is at the www subdomain, or just plain akineticblog.com. Why do I get the feeling it wasn’t many posts that ago I was just explaining the last domain set-up…? Enough meta-posting; content!:

I am employed as a Flash developer now. Sweet! This has exactly two benefits:
1) Career finally on track to Coolsville (definitely in an outer borough already), and
2) People asking what I do, unaware of the platform, just think I’m a developer, but a particularly fancy (and arrogant) one. Score.

I work for the wonderful Thought Den <3 – check them out, yo!: http://www.thoughtden.co.uk/

Thought Den, or: Ed('s) Thong Hut

I’ve been made to feel more than at home by Ben and Dan, awesome director-fellows and Kings of Thought Den. They even made a hugely awkward and dorky (completely unfair and impromptu) film of me screwing around with an iPhone-OSC-Flash thing I put together, partly based on the learnings of my previous post on OSC-to-Flash music visualisation. If you can stomach it, read and watch here.

This job move has also meant a spatial move; 302 miles south (woo!) and 70 to the east (boo!). Let’s see, that puts me in … oh, Bristol! Neat! I couldn’t find my camera while I was packing to move (four hours before my flight…), so forgive the sub-par photography, but the Bristol adventure has so far resembled this:

Not Bristol but Troon, in the bleary small hours, packing unfinished - 'Time I took a picture!'

At the airport, in a PA deadzone, obliviously writing an email and missing the boarding call (but only a little bit)

I think I might live along here one day.

Some, uh- scaffolding. It was very, very blue.

Convinced I'd dreamt this, yet there the picture was, in my phone. My clothes and hair were also filthy, and I found a bloodied half-brick, bundled up in my jacket.

What lovely colour sense the engineers and forsakers of this bridge had!

Ah, lucky cats: quintessential Bristol

An economy religion

I might've known it would be a seagull, captaining the shellfish-restaurant-boat

And if thou gaze long into a spiralmonkeyface, the spiralmonkeyface will gaze also into thee.

A more opulent, cobwebbed religion

This isn't actually a photograph but a screencap from when I was wandering through a VR simulation from the 90s. Shortly after, green teapots whizzed past me to collide with a man made entirely of chrome. The shattered pieces then morphed into the word 'cool!' in Comic Sans. Terrifying.

No, naughty cat! Stop it! This isn't your house. But help yourself to Crazy Landlady's frozen food (somehow kept outside during summer...).

*sigh* Doesn't it just make you want to pedal an old bicycle, go buy some bread maybe?



In other Flash-activity / Flactivity, here is a little …Flupdate: I made a desktop clock (a deskclock, if you will) gadget, deploying through Air. It runs like this:

Note: displayed time correct only occasionally; click for greater accuracy

It needs polishing up and some customisation options, since it’s hardcoded to suit my desktop (above the cat), so I’ll add a nice menu and post it here with the source and everything – like a real community-oriented developer! ALSO: The mouse-position wobble thing was a late and non-final addition. The new Flash Player 10.1 and Air 2 runtimes yielded some bizarre corruption, with Sprites seemingly masking-out each other in places they shouldn’t, and at irregular intervals. Bug report en route – but for now I’m having to update all TextFields each second, and ensure the clock is redrawn every frame (not the sveltest of overheads), so I decided to do at least something with the spent processor time, useless as it may be.

Pledge: next update in less than a month.

Winter observations

The following is from a roll of film I had developed just before Christmas, with pictures shot in November and December, on location in Glasgow and Troon. I used a Ricoh KR-10 camera with 35mm B&W film (ISO 400) and a dreamy Pentax Asahi SMC lens borrowed from my father with a heroic f-number of 1:1.2 / 55mm.

A grey Glasgow Green

Goose Jail: this fella's doing time for honking after 11pm, but he's in with the arm-breakers all the same. I slipped him some cigs; he'll be OK.

The cloud factory, working overtime for Glasgow

Each time I looked up, the dark triangles drew closer and moved down a level. I woke up tasting blood, the last 8 hours unaccounted for, with the ability to recite Pi to a million decimal places.

I like to be upfront with my UFO spoofs when it comes to suspension mechanisms.

A sculpture of rust

Shot? Shut???

I know it's rude to take overt pictures of people walking past in the street, but I genuinely don't think she saw me do it.

I could just detect a continual dull scream emanating from within this bronze sculpture. Neat.

Labradogs sleep with both eyes closed, but with nostrils primed and twitching, ready for action at the drop of a cake.

ORGANIC MATTER DETECTED IN POCKET OF PHOTOGRAPHER

"And this is some sort of typewriter-television, is it?"

Hey, this is an OK photo. Maybe I'm starting to understand people...?

- No. I selected inanimate objects for focus over actual human beings.

What animal could have made such tracks? A bird?

Uh- a large, wingless, galloping bird...?

A self-duplicating, seemingly aggressive but ultimately friendly group of birds...???

Yep. Bird tracks.

Hello

I'm Adam Vernon: front-end developer, free-time photographer, small-hours musician and general-purpose humanoid.