The year 2023 will go down in history as the year AI was released on the general public. Social media is already awash with people’s efforts. I’ve enjoyed ChatGPT (the GPT stands for Generative Pre-trained Transformer) and have jokingly called it my new friend. I’ve given it old essay questions from college and it’s churned out such impressive answers in seconds. I’ve also tried to baffle it with hard and surreal questions such as “Using Peppa Pig as a metaphor, explain string theory” or “Using follow-spotting as a simile, explain fascism!” And it’s answered everytime with erudition. With such “intelligence” there have been many media stories of scholars predicting the eventual destruction of our species because of AI, some suggest in as little as two years. Others have voiced concern about the job losses it could also lead to. But I digress.
This post is to showcase my latest efforts with Adobe Firefly. Currently in beta and therefore free (although I do subscribe to AdobeCC) I thought I’d check out it’s picture generator and why not try some Twilight Ballrooms ideas. So below is the result.
These are the pick of the crop. AI is still in its infancy and even with these images you can see some whopping errors. But they’re still impressive. And these haven’t been touched up with PhotoShop (even though I was desperate to). I very much wanted to present them as they were originally generated.
Each image has been generated through prompts given by me. For example, I’ve typed “An abandoned seaside resort in Britain. Closed down arcades and fish’n’chip shops and stalls. It’s dusk and stormy. Almost black and white with specks of colour” – I can then also add the styles, colour and tone, camera setup etc…
All creative AI still requires a prompt, clarification, focus and finesse. That’s the art bit. And for that reason I’m not convinced by those who feel threatened by it. All art requires the human touch. It’s merely the tools that are changing.
As for the Twilight project, I can’t see me swapping to AI to complete the project, but it is a great tool for inspiration, rather like a generative Pinterest. And would be amazing if you just wanted to create storyboards!
As you know, the Twilight Ballrooms film has been a labour of love for me for the last 10 years and will continue to be so for many years to come as I’m only half way through. The reason it takes so long is because I am doing everything from writing, acting, directing, scoring, grading, compositing, 3d art, editing etc… this list goes on.
However there are one or two bits in the project which are not me. Buster Cristo’s car comes from a royalty free 3d object online repository. The sweet wrappers used in Mrs Kepelwicks shop (which I don’t think are in view anyway) came from a lovely fella called Jason Liebig (who collects sweet wrapper images on Flickr) and who gave me permission to use them. And this week I got kind permission from JP Pirie. Users of Snapchat may well have used his masks on their snapchat pics. It was one of his masks, Clown O Freaky, that I used (along with my face of course) to create the posters of Psycho The Clown. Not only did he give me his permission but even had a quick butchers at the website and was really encouraging with his comments. So, many many thanks JP Pirie!
In the early days of the worldwide web many sites looked, by today’s standards, ridiculously simplistic. Text and pictures displayed often with little style design and using default fonts from the computer they were showing on. Video was almost impossible to show. The competition was on to fulfil peoples webdesign needs and it wasn’t long until one serious contender came up.
Adobe Flash, with the release of a language called ActionScript, allowed people to embed their designs in a swf (shockwave flash) This opened up a world of possibilities including video streaming, animation and embedded fonts. It wasn’t long before any site looking to the future would embed an swf on their html and boom….a great looking website. And Tranquility Base was one of those sites.
What you saw was what you got and animation was made possible with a timeline in the swf builder Adobe Flash (now Adobe Animate). Video files were often in .fla format and if memory serves me right, early YouTube used this format. For a novice such as I things got more complex than I thought necessary with the introduction of ActionScript 3, but for game designers it was a necessary evolution.
As a webpage format on desktops, Flash Player was a great asset. But by the birth of the smart phone and tablets, cracks were beginning to show. Flash players weren’t battery friendly and many companies opted not to include the player on their operating systems. In an open letter in 2010, Steve Jobs pretty much sealed the player’s fate saying that Apple’s iOS had and would never use the player, opting for HTML5 as the way forward. And that was that.
It’s now 2020 and Adobe has announced the End Of Life for Adobe Flash Player, even for desktops. Safari stopped using it a while back and after the New Year, we’ll witness its demise.
Can’t help feeling this end of an era is a shame. Nothing has really come along since that has given the amateur web designer so much possibility and dynamic. Everything since 2010 has felt like a big step back and even Adobe Muse was shortlived. WordPress and Drupal are good but slow evolutions and again don’t offer the wealth of style that Flash did. Maybe I’m just getting set in my ways which isn’t good in such a fast evolving environment like the internet. And I’ll always be sentimental for yesterdays.
I visited Eastbourne for a photoshoot back in 2011 – for the Twilight Ballrooms project. I took many photos including many of the historic and famous Victorian pier. Sadly the amusement arcade caught fire yesterday and completely gutted the first section of the pier. Many have said that it’s a relief the fire only took 30% of the pier but it will put the entire pier out of action for a long time and this includes many small businesses. It will also be a concern to many that, as has been the case with piers like the West Pier in Brighton, that follow up disasters can occur as the pier is effectively unmanned in the following months. Fingers crossed this doesn’t happen.
Happy New Year, but also Happy Anniversary. Yes can you believe it, 2013 marks the 10th anniversary of Tranquility Base Presents. To mark this milestone, I’ve put together a short film documenting the slow but steady evolution of this, my film making website! From the first ever shots with a webcam up to todays experiments with computer graphics and post production and the bits in between! Plus some previously unseen footage (lucky you!) I’d like to dedicate this film to all those who have got involved with the projects! Enjoy and Happy 2013!
The day has finally come! Now the works have finished in my flat I could finally collect and hang the picture I purchased earlier this year from Uli Meyer, pride of place above my telly. Indeed, I imagine many a TV program is now doomed as it will inevitably steal my gaze.
Today I had the privilege of being given a personal tour round the animation studios of Uli Meyer, a local based artist here in Camden Town. He has worked with big animation companies such as Warner Brothers, Touchstone, Disney & Universal to name a few. But it is his collaborative work with the late Ronald Searle, creator of the infamous St. Trinians School, that appears not only to be a personal highlight of his career, but a heavy influence on it.
His studio (for an artist) is incredibly tidy and organised but there is no doubt who rules the office. The characters themselves! Sketches, models, huge ink drawings all portraying the most fantastic clan of animals, ghouls, misfits and eccentrics both good and evil. Each character, like Night At The Museum, is frozen still by the arrival of us real people, but when the office lights are out, I imagine they run riot like Gremlins.
The studio is large and certain areas dedicate themselves to specific tasks – video editing, modelling, computer graphics and sketch room. The hallway serves as a gallery and hung on the stairs is a picture I’ve seen before. I’m here to purchase it and am relieved that it’s not been snapped up before my arrival today. The picture shows a tramp finding a discarded heart in the dustbins. In the background a silhouette at the window is heavily quaffing a bottle of wine. Though there is no title on the frame, Uli’s eyes light up when he tells me the title. “It’s called Trashed“. The picture is part of a series of similarly themed pictures, by Uli, based on the universal theme of love. Other pictures from the series are also in the hallway and all feature a bright red heart, the only colour in these great ink drawings.
Do check out his blog which shows some of his amazing artwork, some completed, some in various stages of evolution! Now I can’t wait for the building works in my flat to complete so I can take this, my first ever piece of purchased art, home to hang on my wall.
Wishing you all a very wonderful Christmas holiday. This pic was taken in practical darkness using an 8 second exposure. The bright orange glow in the background is the light pollution from Eastbourne. Love the droplets of water on the bush on the left – very festive I thought! Click on the pic to enlarge.
Had a marvellous few days in Eastbourne. Fought off the temptation to spend my time at tea dances and instead headed off across the South Downs taking in Beachy Head and a fab National Trust hamlet called Birling Gap which, for me, is the nearest thing in real life to Wits End I’ve seen so far.
The Downs were excellent, though you are reminded of it’s links with suicide (3rd highest suicide rate in the world). I met one of the chaplains, a group of volunteers who patrol that spot looking for lonely quiet individuals and offering to chat! Thought it best not to mention Wits End!
Now it’s back to the drawing board as I try and use the footage and photos I’ve taken to augment the project.
Whilst the movie project is called The Twilight Ballrooms, there is also a LIVE show with the same name. This is also written by me but is completely different storyline from the film which is set in 1980. The LIVE show is set in present day and is presented by the Ballrooms’ resident magicians Malcolm Marvelle – Master of Mystery and the lovely Rita! Other characters include The Butler James and The Roger McGuffin Holiday Dancers.
Originally called “Malcolm Marvelle Master Of Mystery and the lovely Rita”, it will be at the Curtains Up Theatre, Barons Court for the first fortnight of August 2011 at 8:30pm. More information including links to buy tickets can be found at www.falseimpressions.co.uk – The show which features live magic is produced by Richard Leigh.
Here is just some of the show’s posters that are appearing around the pub theatre.
Today was a bit of a Red Letter Day for Tranquility Base Presents in general. After months of research and general umming and erring, I finally bought a new video camera. However, no ordinary camera. You maybe surprised to learn that I actually bought a DSLR – something that I’ve seen other enthusiasts do of late, even though I will primarily be using it for video filming. Yes, I chose the Canon 550d or if you live in the States, aka The Rebel T2i!
So why a DSLR. Well, for the same price as it’s camcorder equivalent, you get more manual control over important aspects such as exposure and focus, not to mention great depth of field. For the Twilight project I needed a camera that would respond well to greenscreen so exposure control was a plus. And don’t forget the ability to swap lenses too allowing extra features such as wide angle shots, great, detailed close ups, zoom without digital zoom pixelling and heaps more which I will, no doubt, discover as I learn to use it! All that and a great selection of formats to record video in – NTSC & PAL in 24p,25p,30p,50p and 60p, from standard to Full HD. Indeed, by most accounts and reviews on the Internet, Canon is the best for Video on DSLR. Just look at the numerous examples on YouTube and you’ll see why – others just aren’t good enough. And why have almost good when you want Red One perfect….well almost!
Everyone will have different needs when it comes to filming. I found this old post last January on the brilliant Video Co-Pilot website. Read it if you’d like a well written summary of your options.
There are naturally downsides – it’s polycarbonate body makes it a little vulnerable to any accident that may happen as well as susceptible to weather if used outdoors. But hey, that’s nothing when you consider its potential – and that’s precisely what I want to consider in the next month or so. No doubt, loads of demos and experiments heading this blogs way…. so bite me or humour me! Either way get ready, the Twilight Ballrooms is coming!
Not really got any use for it at the moment other than I thought it was a bargain for £6. Just got it pointing to the music part of this website for the time being.
My dream URL of course would be www.tranquilitybase.com or tranquilitybase.co.uk – neither of which are in current use by their owners. Am trying to get in touch with aforementioned – fingers crossed they get back and say yes, that would make my decade!
If you’re wondering why this could be good news then you probably have no reason to be on this website. It’s fantastic news. Actually, it’s better than that.Yes, for nerds like myself we will spend the next few months playing with the various demos which are free to download off Adobe’s site – And if anyone out there would like to sponsor me the £3000 odd to buy it, then get in touch!
But it’s more than just playing around with gimmicks. Adobe, like their jilted lover Apple, have shown a tendency not only to predict the future but to shape it too. What they say, generally goes. And by watching all the free programmes on Adobe TV and privately produced videos on YouTube, you can get a sense of where all this is internet stuff is going; what trends will last and what seems to be dying. Useful stuff to be savvy with.
Christpoher Cazenove passed away last month. I was priviledged to have worked with him, albeit 25 years ago on the American TV miniseries “Kane & Abel”. I featured the clip in last Octobers blog (click here to see) This clip contains a small scene when the Abel family, en route to the church to baptise the new found infant, bump into his character, the Baron. Cazenove shot the close up takes on top of a step ladder rather than a horse and I remember being impressed by this simple trick of filming. Our scenes were filmed at the Château d’Ussé, France
Richard Leigh has persuaded “Malcolm Marvelle – Master of Mystery and the lovely Rita” to return to Jermyn Street Theatre this November 2010. Ticket information will soon be available on their website. It’s a show not to be missed. But don’t just take my word for it. Click the video here to get a brief glimpse of what others have thought of past shows in the “Twilight Ballrooms Guestbook”