Tokyo day 3 – Harajuku and Shibuya

It’s another beautiful day in Tokyo! After yesterday’s entry, I went out for a walk to take some photos around the hotel. What resulted is a beautiful 314 photo Photosynth set of the plaza outside of Shinjuku station…

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It was off to have a quick lunch at the station and then off to the Harajuku area. It’s known as one of the trendier districts in Tokyo and is full of boutiques, clothing shops, and some of the most interesting fashion I’ve ever seen. Sundays are typically the day when the younger folk get dressed up and go hang out in the streets. Cosplayers are no exception here, and they typically hang out on the bridge next to the station…

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A week in Seattle – Part 2

In yesterday’s post, I went into some of the daytime adventures from my trip to Seattle, so today I figured I’d focus on some of the ancillary events and things I didn’t have time to cover yesterday. Since this was a Microsoft event, most of our evenings were booked with networking opportunities with fellow employees. To facilitate conversation, copious amounts of food and alcohol were provided. More on that later, though since we did have two free nights to fend for ourselves, we decided to take advantage of a few great restaurants in downtown Seattle.

IMG_3281Outside the Brooklyn Seafood-Steak House

Being on Puget Sound, Seattle is host to a lot of excellent seafood. In years past, we’d always had dinner one night at the Brooklyn Seafood-Steak House on the corner of 2nd and University. Even though we were thinking of doing something different this year, we eventually found our way back on Monday evening. If you happen to be in Seattle and have a little money to spend on dinner (about $50 with wine and dessert), I would highly recommend checking out this little place. This year, I decided to have the Wild Alaskan Salmon and a cup of Clam Chowder. Unfortunately, I’d forgotten to take a picture of dinner since it looked so delicious and dug right in… I did manage to restrain myself on dessert and grabbed a quick shot before it all disappeared.

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More Photosynth action

After some success at creating a Photosynth of upstairs area, I decided to try my hand and doing figures again. With the newly installed flooring downstairs, I think I’d created the perfect backdrop for good synthing potential. First up, a quick reminder of what Photosynth is. It was created out of the research done at Microsoft Research as a method to use information from photos to generate a virtual environment. In essence, it is a tool to facilitate “photo tourism.” From photosynth.net:

What is Photosynth?

Photosynth creates an amazing new experience with nothing more than a bunch of photos. Creating a synth allows you to share the places and things you love using the cinematic quality of a movie, the control of a video game, and the mind-blowing detail of the real world.

How Does it Work?

In simple terms, Photosynth allows you to take a bunch of photos of the same scene or object and automagically stitch them all together into one big interactive 3D viewing experience that you can share with anyone on the web.

Photosynth is a potent mixture of two independent breakthroughs: the ability to reconstruct the scene or object from a bunch of flat photographs, and the technology to bring that experience to virtually anyone over the Internet.

Using techniques from the field of computer vision, Photosynth examines images for similarities to each other and uses that information to estimate the shape of the subject and the vantage point each photo was taken from. With this information, we recreate the space and use it as a canvas to display and navigate through the photos.

Providing that experience requires viewing a LOT of data though—much more than you generally get at any one time by surfing someone’s photo album on the web. That’s where our Seadragon™ technology comes in: delivering just the pixels you need, exactly when you need them. It allows you to browse through dozens of 5, 10, or 100(!) megapixel photos effortlessly, without fiddling with a bunch of thumbnails and waiting around for everything to load.

We deliver this immersive viewing experience to users on multiple operating systems by tapping into the power of Silverlight, Microsoft’s rich web application technology.

Without further ado, a few synths I’d recently created. First up, the synth I’d done last week showing off my upstairs area. There’s quite a bit to explore here, from the keyboard on my desk to the shelf of manga and DVDs. Unfortunately, I didn’t do too much in terms of closeups with the figure displays, something I may revisit in the future. Click the image to view the synth!

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My first attempt tonight featured working with a recent acquisition, 1/6 scale Yoko Littner by Kotobukiya. This is the first time I tried using the floor as a background and am very encouraged by the results. In addition to the floor, I also grabbed a wood cutting board to provide more background complexity…

yoko

My second attempt tonight featured Dollfie Rin. I achieved slightly better results with this synth (100% synthy) since I didn’t try to do any odd-angled close ups. I will probably revisit this one later to do some more close up detail shots for a better “tour.”

rin

In addition to these, I had done quite a few others in the past (with varying success). Check the rest of them out here. I’ll continue to do other figures and may expand on to doing some scenes. Such a cool little tool, isn’t it?

Otacool!

Recently, Danny had partnered up with Japanese figure maker Kotobukiya to gather information about otaku from around the world. This information, along with pictures of the various otaku rooms would be published later this year in a book called OTACOOL – Worldwide Otaku Rooms. To kick things off, he’d asked the winning entrants from his “My Room” contest to upload higher resolution photos to his new figure.fm site. From the initial sets, images would be chosen for the cover of the book. Presently, here’s what the cover for the book looks like:

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If it stays that way, then I’ll have made the cover! The top left image is a shot of the lounge, complete with cat! As cool as it is, I would have preferred that they used a different image, I’m particularly fond of the nigh time shots, which show the display cases all lit up. It seems that Danny is partial to those pictures too, as one of them wound up being used in the banner for the Otacool portal.

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Breaking in the new camera

Over the past week, I’ve done a decent job experimenting with the new camera and seeing what it can do. It’s the first camera I’ve had with so many buttons and settings, so it’s taken some time for me to figure out what everything does. I’ve also done some more experimenting with Photosynth and I think I’m really starting to get the hang of it. The most recent attempts have been scoring 90%+ Synthy, with 2 of them at a nice 100%.
 
These are a couple of synths that I’ve done so far:
 
Each synth has a corresponding album with other shots in the photo gallery. Check it out!