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Aron Altmark Painted the Town Red, and It Was Good

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On April 20, Aron Altmark Painted the Town of Birmingham, Alabama Red.  It was good.

From the videos I got from Aron, it was really good.  Since the first post about Aron’s IndieGogo funding campaign, I’ve been excited to post about what he did, and that it benefitted the American Red Cross, which is also excellent.  Light for Enjoyment AND helping people in the process is what I am all about lately.  Sometimes you just have to use photons for happiness.

I emailed Aron and asked him about this adventure, links and bolding are mine:

All of this was for Paint the Town Red, an annual digital arts festival that turns downtown Birmingham into a giant media canvas for digital artists. We had a projection-mapped dome with a silent rave in it, many small installations featuring local light artists, a projection-mapped Mini Cooper, fire dancers, trapeze artists, and of course my two large installations. I was the featured artist this year and flew in from LA to do the show.

My main work was a Kinect hack utilizing a video camera, depth sensor, and custom applications — this setup allowed any of the festival attendees to walk into a “stage” area and interact with their digital proxy, projected thirty feet high via a 10K HD projector. It was a bit of an interactive painting game (with a healthy does of DanceDanceRevolution), with realtime input of up to six users. In addition to this, about every half hour my good friend and amazingly talented dancer Erica Thornton put on a performance for the crowd. For the performances, I ran a different custom application that tracked Erica’s left and right hands and created particle systems based on speed and motion, with audio-reactive elements built in as well. Both applications were controlled by a custom UI on an iPad.

Of course, we also had a giant laser graffiti setup going — this one five stories high and about 100 feet wide using a 15K projector + 50mW laser pointer. The citizens of Birmingham came out and made their mark on the city, with messages ranging from the ever-present “Roll Tide” to “I Believe in Birmingham”. The entire event was put on to raise money for the Birmingham-Jefferson Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Aron, you’re awesome.  Let’s check out some videos!

The Multi-user Kinect station:

Paint The Town Red – Kinect Station Multi-User from aronaltmark on Vimeo.

The Single-user Kinect Station, with a dancer:

Paint The Town Red – Kinect Station from aronaltmark on Vimeo.

The Single-user Kinect station, again:

Paint The Town Red – Kinect Station from aronaltmark on Vimeo.

The 3 photos here and all of the videography in this post comes from AK Photo (www.facebook.com/asherkrellphoto/), who is Asher Krell from Birmingham, Alabama.  Great work, AK!

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Thanks to Aron for letting me know about the work!

24×360: Experimental Light Painting

Hi ho, your resident wearable-light ink slinger here! A while back, Aron Altmark sent me this amazing video, and on my quest to step closer to the nigh-impossible Inbox Zero, I rediscovered some absolutely amazing light art.

Timecode Labs created 24×360 using twenty-four cameras to capture 360 images of fifteen different moments in light. Combined, the images create 360 degree views of some amazing light painting. The twenty-four camera are laid our in a ring surrounding the model, and were triggered to create the “bullet time” effect. Also known as a “time slice” or “frozen time,” bullet time in its original form took a series of still cameras, all triggered at the same time or with a brief delay depending on the desired effect, to orbit a specific, normally too-fast-to-experience moment in time. Combined with something as fleeting, and typically displayed in two dimensions as light painting, this is a visual triumph.

The team consisted of Patrick Rochon, an extremely talented light painting photographer and first prize winner of the Nikon Photo Contest in Japan, Eric Paré,  and Timecode Labs of Montreal. A different style of bullet time light painting has also been done with a 96 camera rig here, by Richard Kendall.

I can only imagine what a combination of 24×360’s bullet time and this amazing piece of software could create to give a view beyond time in to how these amazing light artists create their work!

At only 55 seconds, you have just GOT to watch this video. No. Really. Watch this:

A few stills of the light paintings:

Help Aron Altmark Make Laser Graffiti for The American Red Cross

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There’s this guy I know named Aron Altmark. You guys all know him too, I’ve featured him on JOL before. He’s a lighting designer, programmer, light artist, and cool dude.

Aron is doing a large Laser Graffiti installation to benefit the American Red Cross on April 20, 2013 in Birmingham, Alabama, and he needs our financial support. The event, called Paint The Town Red 2013, will feature digital art of all kinds — if Light Graffiti will be there, it will be awesome. I will be donating too — and furthermore, I trust in Aron, and I guarantee that Aron will be fiscally responsible with any of the funds that you donate. I have nothing to do with this event whatsoever, but I know Aron is a stand-up guy, and I trust him to be as such. Aron only needs to raise $1000, let’s help him knock it out of the park!

Click HERE to help Aron Altmark take Laser Graffiti to Birmingham for Paint the Town Red 2013!

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The Hebrew Hammer’s JimOnLight.com USITT Review. Outstanding!

I am proud to have a smart young guy like Aron Altmark on the JimOnLight.com Team – Aron is a lighting designer/programmer in the Vegas area, and if you’ve been around to LDI or USITT in the last few years, you’ve met Aron.  We very affectionately refer to him as the Hebrew Hammer, because, well, Aron’s awesome.

I’m bummed I was unable to get Jax out to the USITT show this year, but you can count on seeing her at LDI in Orlando in all of her beautiful tattooed glory!  I was only able to be at the conference this year to give my session, and let me just say that I am bummed on all I missed by having to leave early!  This is our lives though, and we all know and do it.

I want you to give a big ol’ JimOnLight.com Community welcome to Aron – and his awesome USITT Wrap-up!

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Good day all of you out in the creating and entertainment world!

Some of you may know me from past JimOnLight appearances, such as Laser Graffiti and the random tweetup run-ins Jim and I tend to have. I just got back to Las Vegas—my home base for the past year—from a fantastic, fun, and enlightening conference known as USITT (the United States Institute of Theatre Technology, for those of you who don’t already know). I was there walking the floor, attending sessions, and talking to everyone I could for a solid four days in the lovely Deep South city of Charlotte, North Carolina. Here’s what you missed if you weren’t able to go, and if you were there here’s what you may not remember after the nighttime festivities…

USITT is first and foremost geared toward students. Even though most of my time in Vegas has been taken up by working nightclubs and programming, I am still in school part-time at both UNLV in Las Vegas and another school online, so I can definitely appreciate things from a student’s perspective. At the closing ceremony, it was reported that over 4,000 people attended the conference, not including exhibitors. I’d be willing to bet that at least half to two-thirds of these were students, judging by the amount of young faces on the floor. This conference’s biggest advantages, in my opinion: how close and hands-on students from all over the country can get to industry-leading technologies,, the wealth of learning opportunities through sessions, and the ridiculous amount of networking possible.

Students everywhere, if you don’t already practice it, get on this networking train. It’s THE MOST VALUABLE skill to have in our industry now, as touted by every single industry pro I’ve come in contact with at LDI and USITT in the past few years. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn are all such valuable tools to use, especially in such a technologically saturated world. Case in point: while interviewing an exhibitor about a product, Richard Cadena walked up to me and said hello. He remembered me from last few conferences, and perhaps from our brief exchanges on Facebook—if you don’t know who Richard Cadena is, GOOGLE NOW. The connections you form at these things can be kept going for years, and it may only take so much as a tweet every now and then. You never know where it’ll get you.

As far as sessions go, I have been somewhat less than satisfied with those offered at past USITT and LDI shows, as they seem to be rather hit-or-miss with which are amazing and which aren’t worth the time. Many presenters, from what I’ve been told by other attendees, weren’t prepared well enough and based their entire time on Q&A. Some sessions are purely life stories, which can be nice, but I am a big proponent of teaching practical trade skills at conferences. After a few sessions in a row of life stories, I tend to be begging to learn a console or a new method of using color. Don’t get me wrong—learning from the successes and mistakes of those before me is a fantastic thing, and I do love it. It’s just that I think that at a conference where students have access to more technology at one time than most universities will be able to afford in four years of budget, shouldn’t students get some hands-on time with the expensive toys?

Speaking of expensive toys, here’s a brief run-down of some of my favorite—some new, some updated—products found on the show floor at USITT:

Desire LED by Electronic Theatre Controls:
This brand-new fixture from ETC is the next iteration of their extremely-popular Selador LED fixtures. It is a wash-light that uses the Selador’s X7 color system to provide beautiful color palettes hard to attain with standard RGB LED fixtures. I spoke with Novella, the creator of the Desire, who told me that it sports three different models—the D40 and D40 XT (outdoor), as well as the D60, the bigger and brighter version. You can order your Desire in six different styles: Vivid for amazing color rendering, Lustr for more theatrical punch, Fire/Ice for extremely hot reds and cool blues, and three Studio models for TV/Film applications. The Desire sports a 30-40% increase in brightness over Selador, dimming curves to match incandescent or other LEDs, adjustable output frequency, and they use a whopping 125W per fixture AT FULL. Also, get this: the Desire has an Amber Drift function built in, so your colors will stay consistent with those of your tungsten fixtures. Definitely on my wish list.

Reveal LED Studio Fresnel by Prism Projection:
LEDs are all the rage now, especially with the green revolution we’re undergoing all over the world (and which I’m a huge supporter of). Prism Projection won awards for their LED Profile (that can use construction paper gobos) at LDI 2010 in Las Vegas, and are following it up with this beautiful Film and TV-aimed LED Fresnel. The good people over at Prism hand-picked their LEDs for wattage and color to create the best color rendering possible. The LED Studio Fresnel spits out 7600 lumens with a tunable CCT of 2700-8000K, 20-70 degree zoom, silky smooth 0-100% dimming, and features plus/minus green/magenta for calibrating to other craptastic light sources. It sips power at 180W on full white, and has a hi-amperage DC connector on the side that allows you to run the light off of existing camera (or 9-Volt) batteries. One user ran it for two hours using a belt pack battery.

PL1 & PL3 LED by Philips:
Last LED I’ll feature, I promise. These amazing fixtures use the light engines from the industry-changing VLX LED moving light that Vari*Lite released a few years back. The PL3, aimed at replacing a 1.2kW Fresnel, uses three VLX light engines, while the PL1 uses only one. The PL1 is aimed at museums and galleries, with pre-programmed color and color temperature presets. The RGBW source is beautiful in its color rendering, and the addition of white into the LED engine makes it possible to use very saturated colors while still maintaining the integrity of the artwork on display. The coolest thing I found about this fixture was that museums are attempting to discover what time of day, month, and year paintings were done so that they can use these fixtures to replicate the EXACT light the painter had when creating it. Essentially, you could one day soon see the Mona Lisa as Da Vinci did.

DMX Goodies by Enttec:
Enttec probably had one of my favorite booths this year. I spent a good hour each day playing with DMX toys and talking with Jeremy, Enttec’s sales rep for the show. Enttec is making the world of lighting control really affordable, with their DMX to USB and DMX to Ethernet interfaces. These run from a “You’ve got to be kidding me, that doesn’t even pay for parts” $60 DMXàUSB  dongle to the “Okay, seriously, does Fleenor know you’re doing this?” $90 4-Port DMX Opto-Splitter. These things are great quality and priced JUST RIGHT FOR STUDENTS. HINT HINT. Just think, you could spend under 100 bucks, download Chamsys’ MagicQ console software, buy a $50 dongle, and you have a lighting console on your PC. Just like that. Jeremy was also showing me their new DMXIS software, which is a really nice piece of software that is aimed at being a very simple but powerful lighting laptop-based lighting controller. It’s loaded with features, and I can almost promise you’ll see more about it from me very soon. Enttec also has a new DataGate, which is an 8-port DMX opto-iso that supports RDM, Art-Net, and uses a web browser interface…which means you can use its wealth of features from ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD. Again, I’m sure you’ll see more on this from me soon. Enttec is a great company to get to know, they’re in it to win it.

Green Hippo Hippotizer by TMB:
My friend Loren from TMB was showing me the highlight reel they had running at the show, and includes some ridiculous gigs. You may have seen the Academy Awards recently, which used a total of 53 Green Hippo Hippotizers. That’s right, that’s over 74 HD outputs. The cool thing about TMB’s media server platform is how flexible it is. The UberPan system they have now allows for easy manipulation of content across multiple displays, while VideoMapper allows for crazy mapping onto LED screens, as seen in last year’s Super Bowl Halftime Show with The Who’s performance.

Pandora’s Box by Coolux, Ltd:
While we’re on the media server soap box, I went by the Coolux booth to take a look at their powerhouse media platform, and it has some stupid neat stuff going on as well. The coolest thing about Pandora’s Box, in my opinion, is the Widget Designer feature. As someone who is on the verge of lighting, video, and interactive applications, I’m always looking for more ways to incorporate external inputs and sources into media. The Widget Designer has 700-800 widgets currently available, and being a node-based platform makes it easy to incorporate many widgets into a project. Pandora’s Box does amazing projection mapping as well via the Warper, which allows for 10,000 individual nodes (points) per video output to map to. This allows you to set up a projector and do live warping to you subject. See their website for some ridiculous highlight reels.

Avolites Titan OS:
Alright, you knew I couldn’t stay away from consoles for long. I’m a programmer. Give me a break. I haven’t been a big Avo fan for a while, but I saw their new consoles getting some great press and decided to take a look at the new Titan OS lineup…I was extremely impressed. They were showing off a prototype Sapphire Touch, a large console with 45 motorized faders and two internal touchscreens meant to rival the grandMA2 Light. It wasn’t quite up to functioning yet, but it did have some pretty face-panel features such as tri-color LEDs under the trackball and encoders to help you determine what attributes you’re currently affecting, as well as color changing to match CMY and RGB fixtures. They also implemented a “Saturn’s Ring” encoder around the trackball which I really loved the feel of for zoom/iris. The Tiger Touch, already in production, was extremely impressive. It is a very capable, well-made compact console with a whole lot of power. The large internal touchscreen allows for drawing of legends so you can label your fixtures, groups, and presets as you would like instead of being restricted to typing names. The Titan Mobile, a four-DMX port, ultra-portable version of the Tiger Touch, is perfect for on-the-go shows. It is powered off of a laptop and can support up to 12 universes via Art-Net. All of the Titan OS consoles can freely exchange show information, and all feature ITC Thumbnail exchange for media servers. I’m going to get my hands on one of these pronto.

V476 by PRG:
This is another prototype console on the show floor, but this one is run on something a bit unheard of in the past few years of console development: Mac OS X. This was a VERY nicely laid-out, well-constructed console. It seems to have been thought about from the programmers’ standpoint, which I definitely appreciate. The console uses a left-hand bias for the keypad, which I was a bit unsure of at first, but I’ve gotten used to stranger things before. For user friendliness and ease of programming, this seems like a good busking console. I’m looking forward to some hands-on time with the Vegas shop.

grandMA2 v2.2 by MA Lighting:
The grandMA2 is a phenomenal console (not that I’m biased…I run two of them in Vegas) with enough capabilities for the most gargantuan of shows—up to 256 universes of DMX and 10,000 possible sequences, presets, and groups. The version 2.2 software came out recently and sports some awesome new features that cater the theatre world specifically, making A.C.T’s USITT appearance a nice treat. There are two blind modes: one that allows for blind edits of cues currently playing, and another that gives you a completely blind programmer for quick programming of looks, groups, and more without live output. Partial show read has been implemented, as well as import/export, allowing you to use sequences, presets, groups, and patch from various shows selectively. RDM and Art-Net in have been implemented, and there is a nifty new iPhone/iPad remote that can speak to both grandMA series 1 and grandMA2 consoles. Layout views, a powerful tool for creating a custom user interface for your show, can take snapshots of your 3-D Stage View for ease of creation of many variations of layout views quickly. The two new features that are my favorite: the DMX Tester, which pops up when you open the DMX Sheet—allowing for live adjustment/testing of individual DMX addresses, as well as quick patching and troubleshooting; and the new Modes for sequences, which introduce two modes of Assert (like an Allfade) and Break (like a Block cue). The grandMA2 is quickly moving from a ridiculously overpowered live/busking console to one that can easily make its home in the house of traditional proscenium theatres.

Check out the photo spread from my USITT experience this year, and thanks for having me, everybody!

Aron Altmark Lights Benny Benassi at FLUXX San Diego

Our precious little sugar britches, Hebrew Hammer, and young LD Aron Altmark just had a cool gig in San Diego at the FLUXX club.  Aron had the pleasure of lighting international DJ superstar Benny Benassi.  How’s that for a resume credit?

The FLUXX rig:

  • 26 Elation Design Spot 300B
  • 34 Elation Opti Tri Par RGB
  • 10 Martin Atomic Strobe
  • 2 High End Systems DL.3
  • 595 LED Strips (around 400 in the circular grid overhead, another 195 in the circles w/ frosted plexi behind the stage)

Aron had a few days of programming at the ACT Lighting Studios (where he’s an intern this summer) on a GrandMA Lite with Series 2 software.  Check out these great looks!  Also check out Aron’s Picasa album of the shots – there are some I left out, and he’s got lots of cool stuff there too.

Gallery image view – click on one to see them all!

We’re proud of you, big guy!

Aron Altmark Rocks TheDailyCity.com’s Mobile Art Show

You see, Aron Altmark is a young guy I know – a lighting designer, student, and artist.  Aron is doing something right now that a pretty small handful of really talented young people are doing.  Aron is turning light, art, and his big geek brain into something that he can feel good about – and he’s involving the public in his exploits so that the world can see how great it is to be a geek.

It’s a shame – there are fewer true “geeks” in the world right now, and today’s college-age people as a majority are becoming less geekified.  What’s with that, people?

Aron just turned TheDailyCity.com’s “Mobile Art Show” into an interactive piece of art.  The Mobile Art Show is a pretty cool thing that The Daily City is doing around Orlando.  Think of it as a portable studio so that artists can sell their work – a U-Haul bobtail truck, parked in different places in the city.  Aron thought totally differently than the norm on this – instead of thinking inside the box[truck], Aron decided to literally go outside the box – turning the truck’s exterior into a projection surface for his real-time “Laser Graffiti.”  Aron’s work is an interactive light projection that tracks the movement of a laser on a surface.  That’s right.  What did you do today?

Aron’s work is forging himself a place in the future – this is what happens when you apply yourself.  Aron, we’re expecting pretty big stuff outta you, kid!  Great work.  I wanna see you conquer OpenFrameworks and Processing.

Check out the rest of Aron’s work on his Picasa account.  Thanks, Aron!

Welcome, 2010! Here’s Some Laser Graffiti!

After a small week-long break, I am back at the controls, ready to welcome in a new year.  It’s been a crazy decade, hasn’t it?  I got my start in lighting about 3 years before the new millennium started – now we’re a new decade in and I am still proud and thrilled to be a part of our industry.  I hope you are proud too – we’re pioneering folks, us lighting people!

I’m up to my eyeballs in it this morning, so I have a special treat for you on the first day back from all of your bye-bye-2009 debauchery.  Aron Altmark from the League of Lighting Twitter Folk (that organization doesn’t exist, I just made it up), in all of his guerrilla lighting  glory has created some light art that I wanted to show everyone..  I asked him to write a guest post on the work.  So – Aron, take it away!


Laser Graffiti – Aron Altmark

My inspiration for the laser graffiti project came from the Graffiti Research Labs L.A.S.E.R. Tag website. Theo, the creator of the software, has been working on this for several years now over in Europe, but I haven’t seen anything like it done in the United States recently. My setup consists of a 3000 Lumen projector (anything above 2500 lumens will work, but depending on the size of the projection and ambient light, more is always better), a 30mW green laser pointer (found on Amazon for ~$30), a decent video camera (used both a Canon 3CCD GL2 and Canon Optura), and a laptop to interface with (I use a Macbook Pro, Windows works too—use Theo’s Graffiti Research Labs L.A.S.E.R. Tag software). The camera needs to be able to have manual controls, as auto-focus will mess you up big time. The biggest consideration for any laser graffiti setup is power: I have a 250-ft heavy-gauge extension cord with an APC that connects everything up. A generator is preferable for portability, but being able to find outdoor power is a great skill to have. Also, it’s good to have someone who knows OpenFrameworks (Thanks to Ryan Wilkinson for help with software issues!).

For me, I think the appeal of the Laser Graffiti project lies in its purity. I am currently a freelance lighting designer in Orlando and am always looking for ways to further our art. Projects like this one, where the participants are more “light artists” than anything else, are truly beautiful to me. Doing art for art’s sake, and putting a piece of art out there for anyone to see, is something we don’t always get to do with traditional theatre. The L.A.S.E.R. Tag project in Vienna became a social and political forum for people to showcase their thoughts, feelings, and opinions on a massive scale—and that is really what drives me to draw inspiration from what they have done and put it in my back yard. Already, I have plans to take this setup on the campus of a university, and to use it as another form of expression for the students and faculty there. This is a method of self-expression and artistic freedom that doesn’t harm anyone or anything, is fairly environmentally friendly, completely erasable, and can be showcased wherever there is a surface, a power source, and people to participate.

Stay tuned for more from me in the coming weeks, and please feel free to contact me with questions or comments: on Twitter (@aronaltmark) or by e-mail ([email protected])

Big thanks to Jim and JimOnLight.com for taking an interest in my work. Best blog on the net!


Thanks for writing that, Aron!  Check out Aron’s images from that night:

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