Light Artist Jay Shinn is up for a CODAWORX Award!

Our industry’s own bad ass gobo maker InLight Gobos supplied gobos for light artist Jay Shinn, whose work is up for a CODAWORX award for the install in Terminal D at Houston’s George W. Bush International Airport.  This is one of the coolest constantly changing geometric projection installs that I have ever seen.  Go vote for our people at the CODAWORX website, Barbizon was involved in this, InLight Gobos, TAG Electrical, the Houston Art Alliance, et al.  If you’ve never met Jay Shinn or seen any of his work, STOP, and go here first:

http://www.jayshinn.com/

Video of the project — cool stuff!!  This is from the CODAWORX website on the project:

Details from the CODAWORX Project website:

Project:  City of Houston, 2016 — Houston, TX United States
Artwork Budget: $600,000
Project Team:

ARTIST:  Jay Shinn
INDUSTRY RESOURCE:  InLight Gobos, Dallas, TX
CLIENT:  Houston Airport Services

INDUSTRY RESOURCES:
Inkjet International, Dallas TX
Barbizon Lighting Company, Dallas, TX
Blumenthal Sheet Metal, Houston, TX
TAG Electric Company, Houston, TX
More Simple, Dallas TX

PUBLIC ART AGENT:
Houston Art’s Alliance – City of Houston
 
Overview
“Celestial Candyland” 15’ x 150’ and “Candyland Landing” 15’ x 45’ are two site-specific illuminated large-scale murals located 28’ above the International ticketing areas of Terminal D at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Houston, TX. 13 LED projectors superimpose a constant image upon a stationary geometric form. A choreographed changing color sequence provides a changing image to passengers below. The light image is altered by custom geometric images via glass gobos. A stationary form on digitally printed cloth as part of the terminal’s metal gridded wall. The image metamorphosis in line and atmospheric space as the changes occur.

Goals
The two murals were designed to become part of the Terminal’s existing architecture. The art had to be fresh yet able to coexist within the givens of the space. Light, color and scale were key in conceptualizing the art for this 60’ x 400’ dark, gray and dated space. A given was the rectangular grid that could not be ignored. I made several trips to the terminal observing passengers and how the space was used. I knew by incorporating color through light that I could create a work that would activate this space. The wall itself was a blank canvas needing interest and to be activated. Architecture, geometry and scale are critical elements that have influenced my work for a long time. I strive to make living pieces with their own presence that incorporates the givens of a space. The living element of “Candyland” installation is enhanced by the 4-minute slowly evolving color sequence, which also provides an entertaining element to passengers waiting below. I chose this language of color and geometry due to its universal appeal and ability to relate to a diverse audience. “Candyland” provides a sense of repose during the hectic pace of international travel.

Process
The concept evolved by drawing in the terminal and in my studio. I always begin with hand drawings on graph and trace paper, in this case, for many days before moving the drawings to a computer. After concept was on sure ground, the collaborations began in order to visualize details thru animations, still digital experimentation and exploration. With the size and logistics of this project, approvals and permitting were necessary as I was working thru issues with the airport, City of Houston, and electrical and structural engineers. Many tests were done with the digital printed material and balancing the color and light intensity of the projections. Adjustments with the gobo images to correct key stoning were also details that needed to be resolved before final installation at the terminal. Eight weeks of after hour installations in which I, the artist, had to coordinate with contractors including electrical, metal fabricators, and other trades to bring this project to realization.

Now, GO VOTE FOR JAY!  UNITY IN LIGHT!  Great work Jay, InLight Gobos, Barbizon, and everyone!

300+ Reindeer Killed in Lightning Strike in Norway

Nature is a serious lady.  This is a bummer of a story, but it shows the power that Mother Nature harnesses with respect to light, in this case in the form of lightning.

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Last Friday (26 August 2016) in a large thunderstorm system in a private game reserve in Norway, an estimated 323 reindeer were killed in a lightning strike.  From WaPo reporter Karin Brulliard on the story:

The 323 reindeer were killed by lightning Friday, the agency said, in a rare natural massacre that counts as the deadliest lightning strike on record. It took place in a private hunting area of the Hardangervidda mountain plateau in central southern Norway, a verdant and frigid tableau of streams, rocks and glaciers that is home to one of the largest reindeer herds in Europe.

Officials told Agence France-Presse that a gamekeeper stumbled upon the eerie scene Friday and that 70 young reindeer were among the victims. Five animals had to be euthanized, said officials, who told the news service that they were not sure what they would do with the bodies. The gamekeeper told NTB, the Norwegian news service, that samples of the carcasses were sent to a state veterinary institute, which would officially determine the cause of death.
“We’ve never seen anything like this on this scale,” agency official Kjartan Knutsen said.” There were very strong storms in the area on Friday. The animals stay close together in bad weather and these ones were hit by lightning.”

There is some flyover video of the scene — it’s not gruesome or bloody or anything, but please know it’s ghastly:

Nature, you are a cruel mistress sometimes, huh.

Angela Chen, science writer for The Verge, et al, interviewed John Jensenius at NOAA to talk about the phenomenon of mass animal deaths attributed to lightning strikes like this.  Angela, this was a great read!  Y’all need to check out her writing!

Angela Chen:
First, how likely is it that it really was lightning that killed those reindeer? Is there a way to know without having seen the strike directly?

John Jensenius:
It isn’t that unusual to see farm animals, or wild animals such as reindeer, being killed by lightning. Of course, 323 is a rather large number, though we’ve seen reports of 654 sheep being killed in one spot.

Animals do tend to group together in storms and huddle under trees. If lightning strikes the tree or somewhere nearby, the entire group can be killed. We don’t know how common this is because it’s hard to track, though usually it’s herds of 10 or 20 animals that get killed.

In the case where the animals are huddling under a tree, oftentimes you’ll see some visible signs on the tree, though you may not see any visible signs on the animals themselves. In this case, it’s hard to know where lightning struck based on the pictures, but there may be an animal among the dead animals that has visible signs, like a bit of charring on the skin.

Angela Chen:
How did lightning kill all of those reindeer at once? Did they need to be touching for this to happen?

John Jensenius:
When animals or people are in groups, most are being killed by the ground current. First, there’s a direct strike — this is what most people think of when they think of lightning — that hits the tree or maybe the ground nearby. The energy then spreads along the ground surface, and if you’re anywhere near that lightning strike, you absorb it and get shocked.

Lightning goes up one leg and down another. Animals are more vulnerable because their legs are spread out more, so the ground currents travel more easily in their bodies. It doesn’t matter if they’re touching, or exactly how close they are, it matters that they were all in the area hit by lightning. Ground currents are the thing that’s responsible for the most lightning deaths and injuries in both people and animals.

Angela Chen:
How far can the ground current travel? When are you safe?

John Jensenius:
That’s one question we’re often asked, and it’s a difficult question because it depends on a lot of factors, including the strength of the actual lightning strike.

In this case, the animals seem to be in an area that was 50 to 80 feet in diameter and on a hillside, which gives you some idea that lightning can travel a good distance and still be deadly. Lightning doesn’t always travel deep into the ground.

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Angela Chen:
What exactly is it about lightning that kills these animals?

John Jensenius:
It’s the electricity going into your body. It passes through the nervous system and your nerves, and the deadly part is that it stops the heart. In the case of people, many can be revived with CPR if tended to immediately but with reindeer, it just would have stopped their hearts.

Angela Chen:
What are some other types of lightning besides the ground current and the direct strike?

John Jensenius:
There’s the side flash. That’s when an animal or person is standing close to the tree, the tree is hit by lightning, and then the lightning jumps from tree to person or animal. The side flash usually kills one or a small number of animals, not large ones like with ground currents.

There’s also something called a “wall conduction,” which is when something plugged into the wall is a direct connection to a wire outside. So if the wire outside is struck, the lightning will follow the wire and you can be shocked.

Angela Chen:
Are lightning fatalities, in people at least, going down?

John Jensenius:
Yes, they’ve been dropping over recent years. If you go back over the 1930s and 1940s, we had about 300 to 400 people killed every year in the United States. Nowadays, our 10-year average is about 31 people per year. This year so far we’ve had 32.

Reindeer_death_Norway_2

Research and hat tips:

Angela Chen, of course!  https://twitter.com/chengela

http://www.theverge.com/users/angelachen

http://www.theverge.com/2016/8/29/12690402/lightning-strike-kills-norway-reindeer-death-why-science

http://wric.com/2016/08/29/lightning-strike-kills-more-than-300-reindeer-during-one-storm/

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-37214288

http://www.sciencealert.com/a-lightning-strike-just-killed-300-reindeer-in-norway

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/animalia/wp/2016/08/29/a-lightning-strike-killed-323-reindeer-and-this-is-the-ghastly-aftermath/

https://www.yahoo.com/news/more-300-reindeer-killed-lightning-norway-095020805.html

 

 

Choreographed Meteor Showers. For Real.

Ok, meteor showers, on demand, from a satellite, developed by a company in Japan.  Yes, I do believe it’s happening.

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A company out of a small office in Japan is putting together something that will literally allow you to fire shooting stars from Earth’s upper orbit down into the atmosphere, and one of their potential clients is the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.  From Bloomberg News:

Ale Co., which [Lena] Okajima runs with five people out of a small office in Tokyo, could start offering on-demand meteor showers by 2018, using a carry-on-sized satellite packed with as many as 1,000 centimeter-sized pellets. Released remotely from earth and available in different colors, the shooting stars would be seen by as many as 30 million at a time in urban areas—they may even be ready in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Event organizers, governments and theme-park operators are Ale’s most likely customers, similar to how fireworks shows are already put on. Wealthy individuals may also be potential buyers, Okajima said. Japan is also an ideal place to launch this kind of business, given the popularity of the spectacles here. The archipelago’s fireworks industry was worth 5.2 billion yen ($48 million) in 2014, according to the Japan Pyrotechnics Association.

“In the sense that you light up the sky, shooting stars and fireworks are really the same,” said Haruyuki Kono, the group’s senior executive director. “You have to turn it into a show. With a tradition of 300 years, hundreds of thousands now come to see such events.”

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This is pretty serious stuff here!  We’re talking pyrotechnic displays firing down from the sky.  A question on everyone’s mind is “will this be safe?”  I checked in with the ALE website to see if they made any comment on this — from the ALE website’s FAQ:

What would happen to the satellites after the mission?

In order for used satellites to not become debris (space trash), we follow the international regulation and ensure that it is combusted by entering the atmosphere within the next 25 years. In this case, the used satellite itself will become a very large shooting star.

Is there any danger of a shooting star particle colliding other objects in space (i.e. satellites or debris) and creating more debris?

No; We are working with relevant organizations for ensureing space safety.
Joint Space Operations Center (JSpOC), operated by US Strategic Command’s Joint Functional Component Command for Space, provides a database which tracks all satellites and debris in space. Based on this database, we have developed a software that calculates the probability of our particles colliding with other objects. The particles will not be discharged unless safety is confirmed. In a rare case that there remains a question in safety based on the simulation, we will abort the discharge to prevent a possible disaster.

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AND, of COURSE there is a video!!

The founder of Ale, Lena Okajima, has a PhD in Astronomy and had a job at Goldman Sachs, according to the Wall Street Journal:

lena_okajima

A meteor shower she witnessed while a student made a deep impression. More than a decade later, her startup Ale Co. is working to provide artificial shooting stars on demand for festivals, civic events or any other occasion that calls for fireworks of a more astronomical quality.

“I don’t just want to sell the stars, I want to pair them with exciting events on the Earth so people can enjoy them,” said Ms. Okajima, who previously worked for Goldman Sachs and holds a Ph.D. in astronomy.

Ale is one of an increasing number of Japanese space startups attracting attention and investment. In March, Singapore-based Astroscale Ltd., which was founded by a Japanese man and plans to help clear space debris, received $35 million in funding, including $30 million from a Japanese state-backed investment fund. The same month, Japan’s space agency announced it would work with Japanese venture ispace technologies to create an insectlike robot to explore the moon.

This is a pretty cool idea, I have to say. I don’t think any of the events I get to do could afford this though… the initial cost projection to get the satellite with all of the chemical fireballs in it is around $2700 a kilogram, aboard a Space-X rocket, since Elon Musk is the A-game in town right now with respect to space exploration, and the weight estimation is about 50 to 60 kilograms…  You have to see this graphic of how much it costs to send something to space aboard one of the Falcon rockets…  it’s 62 million dollars.

space-x-capabilities

I wonder how long it will take for the actual payload to be used up, or if they will coordinate multiple “productions” to be mounted from a single satellite?  This seems like the idea that might be able to generate lots of space trash, right?  I mean, one or two Bieber parties and a Kanye birthday bash, and we’ll have so many pieces of interstellar festival trash to clean up…  or maybe not.  I’m sure someone will ask that question.

Here’s a quick but interesting WSJ interview about the company, founder, and some of the process:

How this thing works:

shooting-star-process

So, in short, ALE sends up a satellite device that is loaded with several hundred to a thousand little pellets of secret chemical that are then shot out of said device using a special on-board firing mechanism that basically launches the pellets towards the atmosphere, where they burn up.  It’s called plasma emission, which is brought about by the increase in friction of something entering atmosphere — it heats up and burns, and in the process, creates some visible light.

Ale has done their testing in an arc-heated wind tunnel to simulate the conditions of a space vacuum…

arc-heated-tunnel

Photos of that device, I found these to be pretty interesting — like a little National Ignition Facility!

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Team_omoi_01

Now, all being said, there are some very, very big brains behind this tech.  Dr. Hironori Sahara from Tokyo Metropolitan University’s Aerospace Engineering division; Dr. Takeo Watanabe from Teikyo University’s Aerospace Engineering program; and Dr. Shinsuke Abe from Nihon University’s Aerospace Engineering department.  I highly recommend hitting the links on these mens’ names here in this paragraph, each links to an interview with them.

hironori-sahara
shinsuke-abetakeo-watanabe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

map

Some hat-tips:

Spoon and Tamago
WSJ
Bloomberg
The ALE Co. website
SpaceX

GoPro Just Released the HD Footage of Felix Baumgartner’s Space Jump

I don’t know about you, but I was f*cking GLUED to the Space Jump when it happened back on October 14, 2012 — Actually, Igor Fernando de Oliveira Da Silva and I from CAST (I love his long ass name) were in town doing LDI 2012!  That was the big Blacktrax demo room year.

This guy was jumping out of the plane right as we were getting into the cab at the airport.  This was so freaking cool, and watching this HD footage of it just totally made my morning.  GAH, the nuts on this guy!

Honestly though…  if you wanna read an even cooler, ballsier, more selfless story, read about the big voice you hear on the recordings…  that guy is Colonel Joseph W. Kittinger of the United States Air Force.  Felix Baumgartner’s team hired Joe to help Felix do the deed.  Joe did the deed first, jumping from some crazy 102,800 feet above the Earth’s surface.  Felix’s jump beat Joe’s record, but Joe’s record stood since the damned thing was set.  How cool.

Kittinger-space-jump

Colonel Kittinger’s Record Setting Space Jump

An interesting side note on the initial record setting jump by Kittinger — Colonel Kittinger’s final attempt at the space jump almost failed because somewhere in the 40,000-50,000 foot ascention range, a hole in Joe’s glove caused his hand to basically double in size.  At that time, he decided that the mission’s data and all of the work that he and the team had put into this was more important to see through than the pain he had in his hand.  Now how bad ass is that???  “Pardon me, I’m Joe Kittinger, and I need a truck for my nuts!”

Felix’s HD footage from GoPro of the record breaking space jump:

Now, also completely worthy (and someone added some neat music in the background) — Colonel Joe’s jump back in the day:

Ooooh, and an even cooler video on Project Excelsior, the project classification name of Joe’s jump:

Jumping From Space from Spacecraft Films on Vimeo.

CAST Software Wins Another Emmy for WYSIWYG

Emmy_logo

CAST Software, makers of WYSIWYG, Vivien Designer, and the becoming-popular BlackTrax software have been awarded a second Technical Emmy for their WYSIWYG work.

From the blog post at CAST Software’s blog:

CAST Software’s wysiwyg was selected as a winner in the Pre-Production Visualization System category of the 2015 Technical / Engineering Achievement Awards for the 67th Annual Technology & Engineering Emmy® Awards. This is the second Emmy® that wysiwyg has received to date.

Organized by The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS), these awards were judged by a committee of experts and will be presented during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) at The Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, NV on Friday, January 8th, 2016.

wysiwyg’s previsualization and lighting design software is currently in its 35th edition and continuing. It is used globally, not only by lighting designers, but also many key players in video and scenic design to pre-visualize to test and prove viability in the 3D environment before any real money is spent, making the process much more efficient.

A team of really clever people are behind this software and an intensive beta testing program ensures that the features of wysiwyg all work properly and are constantly updated. wysiwyg is also available in a student edition and for education institutions.

“This award is a testament to our innovation over the years, the continual development of wysiwyg and to the creative customers who use it in their projects. We are really proud to be honored with this recognition,” said Gil Densham, President at CAST Group.

Committee Chairman, Robert P. Seidel, Vice President of CBS Engineering and Advanced Technology and Chairman, Engineering Achievement Committee, NATAS adds: “The judges selected wysiwyg from CAST Software for its innovation and vision that has materially affected the way the audience views television and have set the standard for technological excellence in the industry.”

It sure was my pleasure to create the features for the versions I worked on in 2012 and 2013.  Hopefully those features helped.  I’m really super proud of everyone still at CAST that I worked with every day, those were some of the best times of my life with some of THE best people I’ve ever worked with.  I still use the software today for previz.

Congratulations to Gil, Dino, Peter, Igor, Eli (and the awesome software dev team), Carl and William the genius graphics ninjas, and all involved obviously, everyone deserved it.  We all worked super hard to make that software kick ass.  I’m super proud to see something I managed win an Emmy.

Have a good day, world of light.  I hope you get everything you want today.

 

Chilean Volcano Video – Holy Volcanoballs

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This might be the most beautiful footage I’ve seen this year — this is the Chilean volcano that just erupted.  Its name is Volcano Calbuco, which in this video is spanish for “Amazing Video of a Chilean Volcano.”

Not really though…  check this out:

More information on this excellent story here:

http://www.weather.com/news/news/chile-calbuco-volcano-eruption-evacuations-alerts

From the article at The Weather Channel:

Chile’s Calbuco volcano erupted for the first time in over 42 years on Wednesday, creating a remarkable scene of smoke plumes and ash shooting into the sky. A second eruption Wednesday night blasted red-hot rocks skyward and produced an extraordinary display of volcanic lightning.

The eruption forced authorities to evacuate 1,500 residents of Ensenada, a nearby town, as well as two smaller communities. President Michelle Bachelet has declared a state of emergency.

A high alert was issued by the National Mining and Geology Service, preventing access to the area around the volcano. Calbuco is also near the cities of Puerto Varas and Puerto Montt, some 600 miles south of the Chilean capital, Santiago.

Parts of Argentina reported heavy ash falling after the eruption. According to analysis by Argentina’s meteorological service, the ash cloud was shot as high as 40,000 feet.

JOL Sunday Flickr

Another week, another task list, another group of things to get done before NEXT week!  We’re all in the same boat in the Lighting Industry right now as we all prepare for the Prom of the industry, LDI 2014.  Who’s going, who’s not going, and who is going that has never been?

Check out some photos from the very awesome and never disappointing JimOnLight.com Flickr Group Photo Pool!

Undulatus Asperatus – The ‘Holy Crap’ of Cloud Formations

I’m sitting here with the wife, and she gets my attention to show me this video:

Those undulus asperatus cloud formations are nearly unbelievable to the eye.  I rubbed mine three or four times while watching that video, there are several portions where I could have sworn it was a ‘shopped job.  But, nope!

METEOROLOGYNEWS.com – In the first new cloud type to be officially designated in over 50 years, members of the Cloud Appreciation Society are pushing for official recognition of the undulating, ominous-appearing clouds.

Turbulent motions between differing air masses create undulating clouds as seen over rural Kansas in the early morning hours of April 28, 2006. Meteorologists are proposing these clouds be designated as the first new cloud type to be named in over 50 years: Undulus Asperatus.
The Cloud Appreciation Society has designated the clouds as “Undulus Asperatus” or alternatively, “Undulatus Asperatus.”  The Latin term translates loosely as “turbulent undulation.”  Such clouds are relatively rare, but have been photographed in several areas around the world.

The ominous-looking clouds have been particularly common in the Plains states of the United States, often during the morning or midday hours following convective thunderstorm activity.  These clouds are not considered a precursor to severe weather, rather appear to form following rain or thunderstorm activity.

Jane Wiggins of Cedar Rapids, Iowa recently captured several spectacular images of the new cloud type as viewed from a downtown office building.  Several of her images have recently been published by National Geographic Magazine – an honor which Wiggins does not take lightly.

“It is a bit like looking at the surface of a choppy sea from below,” said Gavin Pretor-Pinney, founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society, who first identified the asperatus cloud from photographs that were being sent in by members of the society.

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Well, what do you think of that?  I have to say that is some quite incredible visual magic!  Can you imagine that on the side of a convention center?

One more video, this one is freaking awesomesauce:

Too cool.

Drones Flying Through Fireworks is Outstanding

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Effing outstanding doesn’t really do it too much justice, but you get the idea — or at least you will once you watch these two videos.  Even just part of one of the videos, you have got to experience this for yourself.  As my wife said to me about this, “it’ll change your life.”

Check it — this one is from a guy named Jos Stiglingh (Jos’ youtube link) took his DJI Phantom 2 quad-rotor drone and a GoPro HERO3 Silver and ran that rig right through the West Palm Beach fireworks show.  Jos’ balls?  Brass.  Jos’ results?  Spectacular.  Check this out:

WOW. Even GoPro got in on that action with a video on their channel –  good move, GoPro!

Also now with equally metallic external appendages, Robert Hartline, a guy in Nashville who owns some Sprint stores who also has a quad-rotor drone of sorts, made his own video, but his was in promotion of some business schtuff, from the article at WBIR:

Hartline, an entrepreneur who owns 12 area Sprint stores and the sales reporting app CallProof, decided to put his $1,300 drone up as a promotion for a new venture – Hytch, a carpooling app he’ll launch in October. Its matchmaking software finds neighbors with similar commutes and encourages gas-money reimbursement.

“You probably have neighbors with the exact same commute as you, you just don’t know it yet,” he said.

Hartline ran the drone from a spot near Pinewood Social and watched the video feed on a screen with his friends. Tennessee only limits drone use for law enforcement, and the Federal Aviation Administration only regulates altitude for non-commercial drones, so Hartline said he was on firm legal footing for the activity.

His only regret: His battery ran out before the big finale.

We’re sorry too, Robert. Still cool. Check out Robert’s go:

Leif Maginnis Makes Ultraviolet Light and Spinning Things Into Magic Mind, uh, Intercourse

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Leif Maginnis had an idea that he turned into what I’m calling THE coolest interactive thing I’ve seen in 2014 so far.  So simple and so visually confusing and pleasing — meet the Art Strobe:

Oh yeah, and if that wasn’t enough to shake loose the little bits of acid from back in your 1970’s days, here’s some more:

ArtStrobe Interactive Light Art from leif maginnis on Vimeo.

It’s probably best to let Leif describe this one:

The ArtStrobe is interactive, kinetic light art. It works by spinning an object that has fluorescent-colored patterns on it. Ultraviolet strobe lights are aimed at it and rings of bright fluorescent patterns emerge, transform in color and move in and out of focus. The user can change these patterns by turning two knobs mounted near the ArtStrobe.

Ok, I can dig it.  So for those of you who won’t watch the longer video, even though the awesome quotient is about 437, Leif spins something that has some fluorescing paint on it and then strobes blacklight at it.  the results are eye-gasmic.

Leif, you sir are awesome!  By the way, Leif’s also kind of a bad ass prop master and designer — Check out his Cat Designs website, he’s got all kinds of broadcast design work on there!

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Back Camera

pipel2I have Tobin to thank for this.  Thank you, Tobin!

This comes from DesignBoom’s DIY Submission Series, which is pretty freaking cool full time!  All images (C) Leif Maginnis