WOW: Work It, Tron Dancers!

Japan, I love you. You’ve done it again.

The Wrecking Crew Orchestra performs a jaw dropping dance performance inspired by TRON. I love their use of cueing and the effects they can create using only intensity parameters and their bodies! CHECK IT OUT!

This is the full length version of a piece seen in the Sony Experia smartphone ad:

Starfield from Lab212 – Interactive Swinging and Stars!

Good Morning, World!

To all that will stumble upon this page in “error,” I wasn’t referring to THAT kind of swinging!

We can thank Lab212 for something absolutely awesome – Starfield.  This equation seems to have it nailed down:  1 kinect + 1 swing + var stars + 1 projector = full speed great.  Check it out:

From the Vimeo page:

Starfield is an installation where a swing is used to create a large interactive starry sky.

With a Kinect installed behind the swing and a video projector, the software creates a galaxy of stars in which the user wanders with the rhythm of his swing.

Created with openFrameworks, the application allows to configure almost any type of swing.

With anaglyph glasses, a 3D mode gives an even more immerse experience.

Music :
Chapelier Fou – Postlude

An installation by lab212 -


Ljósið — Take A Minute and Watch

What an amazingly beautiful video.  Believe me, the 3:28 it takes to watch this will change your life.  There is more beauty in this video than most people have in their entire month.

Check it – you can thank Esteban Diácono for this:

From the video site on Vimeo:

Please watch my new video for Ólafur Arnalds / Slowly, comes the Light!

Official Version: Ólafur Arnalds / Ljósið

You can listen to and buy the album at:

The quotes are from many sources, including Brian Eno, Stefan Segmeister, Albert Einstein, Nitzche and a few more i got randomly and i’m not sure about the author.

In all cases, thank you for the inspiration.

I strongly encourage you to visit and order the vynil or cd special limited edition of the record and give support to a great artist and his wonderful music.

let yourself feel by esteban diácono has all rights reserved.

Ljósið composed by Ólafur Arnalds and edited through Erased Tapes Records All Rights Reserved.

Esteban Diácono

contact me (and hire me!) @:

I hope this lifts your day like it did mine.

ProLight+Sound 2012 – Eine Kleine Schweineschnitzel

Hiya, everybody!

I’m back in the land of the horse-riding 5-0, at the hotel for one more week.  I have an apartment that is available April 1, and I’ll be moving in April 2.  I never thought I would be so happy to see a king-sized bed and my little fan blowing air on me so I can sleep.  I’ll also be flying back to Oklahoma pretty soon to load-out of my apartment there and drive that stuff up to Toronto.  I’ll also be able to pick up my sweetheart!

I just spent the last nine days in Frankfurt, Germany working the CAST Software booth for ProLight+Sound 2012.  What an awesome show!  The Messe Frankfurt is huge;  there are about eleven buildings full of lighting, audio, lasers, pyro, musiccal instruments, thumping bass, people from all over the world, atmospheric haze, video screens, LEDs, and currywurst.  Holy moly, do I love currywurst.  I wish I would have taken a picture of the little chopping machine they stick the wurst in to chop it into bite-sized pieces — it would make every man who reads this blog cringe with pain and every woman laugh their asses off at the sympathetic pain response.  Yeah.

I took a few handfuls of pics from my iPhone, and I have some awesome video from the show, which I’ll be putting together soon.  I hope you enjoy the show!

Gallery – click on a thumbnail, and a window opens up to show you the glory!

6:30 am Never Looked So Good

Taking the same exact photograph each day would get boring, right? HELL NO, thanks to that most spectacular lighting designer–nature. Robert Weingarten did just that, and the results are something to marvel at. It is SO important to appreciate the root of all lighting design, our sun, and these photographs prove that that star’s still got it!

Each exposure would be made at precisely the same time of day – 6:30 am – measured by one quartz clock. All exposures would be made with the lens focused on infinity and at the same aperture of f/22. Just two variables were allowed into this disciplined scheme: the shutter speed of the lens, which would be adjusted faster or slower depending on the quantity and quality of light available at 6:30 a.m. each day; and, the most variable element of all, changes in the scene that were introduced by the forces of nature.

– Weston Naef, Curator of Photographs, The J. Paul Getty Museum.

6:30 am from Malibu, CA looking across the Pacific Ocean to Santa Monica:

Nixie Tubes – Old But Awesome Technology

Have you ever seen the trademark amber glow of the Nixie Tube?

Nixie tubes have made a bit of a comeback by Makers and tinkerers of today’s tech — an old-school look with old-school innards using pretty simple technology to create some pretty spectacular results.  Nixie tube clocks, signs, and even Nixie tube wrist watches, as worn by Steve Wozniak:

For those of you nerds out there like me who HAVE TO KNOW MORE ABOUT WOZ’S NIXIE WATCH RIGHT NOW OMFG OCD LALALALAAAAAA, please check this video out!  Here’s Woz talking about scaring the crap out of his seatmates on flights as he changes the time zone!  The maker of this watch is Cathode Corner, and they are pretty freaking cool!

Ok, ok, enough about the watch.  Now as I was saying…  NIXIE TUBES!  In short, a Nixie tube is a little illuminator/signal tube that looks a lot like a vacuum tube but is actually a cold cathode discharge device with either digits in it or symbols.  If you’ve ever seen the very popular hacker device called a Nixie Clock (or Nixie Tube Clock), then you know what a Nixie tube looks like.  They’re pretty unmistakeable – a lot of vintage Russian gear from the 1960’s and 1970’s are filled with Nixie tubes for some reason.  They make such a beautiful display, it’s essentially a kind of neon discharge tube, but not really:

A side note – this entire article came from me wanting to know the origin of the term “Nixie” in reference to these tubes.  Nixie comes from a name that the draftsman working on the tube signal wrote down on his drafting plate – “NIX1,” for Numeric Indicator eXperimental #1.  As you can imagine, the nickname “Nixie” stuck, and the guy who owned the patent also patented the name “Nixie.”  WHY do I love this kind of knowledge?!

Nixie tubes are pretty simple technology that relies on cold cathode glow discharge technology, which is actually pretty cool!  I’m sure you’ve heard of cathodes (the place where electrons come from) and anodes (the place where electrons flow to) – this is extremely important in understanding how these Nixie tubes work.  The difference between a “hot” cathode and a “cold” cathode is basically in how the electrons move from the cathode to the anode.  Instead of using heat to release electrons from something in a vacuum (like in fluorescent tubes and HID lamps), in the case of cold cathode devices the electrons are released by manipulating the electrical field in a vacuum.  Now before this gets really crazy into field emissions and the Zener Effect (not to mention the Aston Dark Space and Positive Columns and Faraday’s Space and whatnot), it’s probably a good idea to simplify this a bit for brevity’s sake.

So, are you familiar with the way that tungsten-halogen lamps work?  Basically, the gas inside them is from the halogen group (I can still remember the mnemonic – ‘F, Cl, Br, I!!‘) at a high pressure vacuum, and the filaments are tungsten.  Gasses from the halogen group loves them some tungsten vapor fo sho, actually, which is why we use them together.  As the filament burns at incandescence, atoms of tungsten evaporate from the filament into gas (think of it as a metal gas because, well, it is) and they float around in this halogen family gas.  As the atoms of tungsten get near the considerably yet minutely cooler glass envelope of the lamp, they also cool down and are re-deposited on the envelope.  Consequently, this is why and how we are able to make T-H lamps last longer and put out higher amounts of light; the redepositing of the atoms back onto the filament helps lengthen its life by re-coating the filament with “fresh” atoms of tungsten.  This is called the T-H life cycle.

I didn’t explain the tungsten-halogen lamp because the Nixie and the T-H lamp are similar; I wanted to put a picture in your head about how atoms (and smaller subatomics) travel inside of a vacuum environment.  In a really simplified explanation of how the Nixie tubes work, look at this great image of a discombobulated Nixie lamp, courtesy of the awesome people at the Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories:

Nixie Tube

See the mesh?  That’s the anode, or the positively charged part.  The numbers themselves, each one in the stack there, is an individual cathode, or the negatively charged part.  Electrons and ions travel from the cathode to the anode (remember ACID and CCD to remember current flow – Anode Current Into Device and Cathode Current Departs).  Inside the Nixie tube, there is a gas – typically one of the Noble gasses group of elemental gasses – that exists in low pressure inside the tube.  When the anode and cathode are given a potential difference in charge, the gas atoms get all angry and split up into negatively charged electrons and positively charged ions.  The ions are attracted to the negative cathode, and the electrons are attracted of course to the positively charged anode.  As these ions go slamming into the cathode, something really interesting takes place — atoms of metal from the cathode are basically knocked out of the cathode in a process called sputtering.  This sputtering of the metal atoms is literally caused by these ions slamming into the cathode.  Imagine breaking a rack of billiard balls with a cue ball — make sense now?

Once the sputtered metal atoms are knocked loose and are flying around, there are also some electrons flying around, too.  The electrons don’t have enough speed or energy to do much with the metal atoms floating close to the cathode (the number itself), so this weird little dark space called the Aston Dark Space (aka the Cathode Dark Space) takes place close to the cathode.  It’s weird, but you can actually see it – look closely at this Crookes Dark Space Tube:

See the dark spaces right at the center?  There is a small round cathode at the middle of that tube, and the dark space occurs right around it.  The larger dark spaces on either side of the bright “ball” of light at the center of the Crookes tube is something else, called the Faraday Dark Space.  Here’s another example, this one a diagram:

What’s cool about this glow outside of the Cathode Dark Space is what happens to make the glow happen — the electrons gain some speed and energy as they travel towards the positively charged anode (the mesh cage in the case of the Nixie Tube), and at a point outside of the Aston (or Cathode) dark space, they have enough energy and speed to cause a strong collision with the metal atoms sputtered away from the cathode.  When this happens, *PRESTO* — we have the release of a photon which causes light!

I think these Nixie Tubes are quite awesome.  Some history on the Nixie Tube’s patent and development:

The early Nixie displays were made by a small vacuum tube manufacturer called Haydu Brothers Laboratories, and introduced in 1955 by Burroughs Corporation, who purchased Haydu and owned the name Nixie as a trademark.  […] Similar devices that functioned in the same way were patented in the 1930s, and the first mass-produced display tubes were introduced in 1954 by National Union Co. under the brand name Inditron. However, their construction was cruder, their average lifetime was shorter, and they failed to find many applications due to their complex periphery.

Burroughs even had another Haydu tube that could operate as a digital counter and directly drive a Nixie tube for display. This was called a “Trochotron”, in later form known as the “Beam-X Switch” counter tube; another name was “magnetron beam-switching tube”, referring to their similarity to a cavity magnetron. Trochotrons were used in the UNIVAC 1101 computer, as well as in clocks and frequency counters.

The first trochotrons were surrounded by a hollow cylindrical magnet, with poles at the ends. The field inside the magnet had essentially-parallel lines of force, parallel to the axis of the tube. It was a thermionic vacuum tube; inside were a central cathode, ten anodes, and ten “spade” electrodes. The magnetic field and voltages applied to the electrodes made the electrons form a thick sheet (as in a cavity magnetron) that went to only one anode. Applying a pulse with specified width and voltages to the spades made the sheet advance to the next anode, where it stayed until the next advance pulse. Count direction was not reversible. A later form of trochotron called a Beam-X Switch replaced the large, heavy external cylindrical magnet with ten small internal metal-alloy rod magnets which also served as electrodes.

I found a lot of really amazing resources on the Nixie tube.  I had to post some of it, this stuff is amazing, and there are a LOT of really big fans!

American Nixies from Sphere Research:

Russian Nixies from Sphere Research:

Thanks to Nature, Dribble, Wikipedia (ions), Wikipedia (electrostatic discharge), Wikipedia (field electron emission), TeslaTech, and Steve Wozniak for being awesome.  

Jim on Stage Directions

I’m guessing that most of’s community reads Stage Directions Magazine, too — if you don’t, I’m going to recommend that you start, regardless of the fact that I guest there on occasion.  Jacob Coakley writes circles around me so fast that his keys melt a little.  Writing for Jacob is absolute aerobic exercise, and you gotta sweat to keep up, regardless of who the bleep you think you are.  That dude is hardcore, I love him.  I’m my own editor, and it is pretty fun to write with someone else wielding the iron pen.

I wrote two articles for Jacob while he was on vacation — Lighting Your Unicorn, and Chasing Yale.  Check them out, leave a comment if you have one!

Some of my favorite Jacob Coakley articles — by the way, that’s him there on the left, funny enough at the CAST booth in I think at LDI 2010:

Managing Metrics — by Jacob Coakley
Thank You Five Minutes — by Jacob Coakley
Video Chat with Lighting Designer≈ Jaymi L. Smith — by Jacob Coakley

Thanks, Jacob!

WHAT?! Cell Phone Camera Lenses!

If I haven’t seen it, it’s news to me!

I’ve been using my iPhone pretty much exclusively for images that I need in a hurry, or just images I want to take.  I do use my little point-and-shoot from time to time as well, but since some asshole thief stole my camera (and lenses) when I taught at Oklahoma City University, I’ve not had the bones to get a new one.  And then I come across THIS:

From PhotoJoJo:

Presenting three small yet powerful lenses: the Fisheye, Telephoto, and Macro/Wide Angle Cell Phone Lenses. These finely constructed lenses transform your standard phone photos into wide, up-close, super zoomed and wonderfully warped wonders.

They work with any camera phone (even the slick glass on your new iPhone 4!) and attaching them is easy breezy! A detachable magnetic ring sticks to your cell, providing a sturdy, shake-free hold between the lens and your phone.

The Wide Angle/Macro Lens is the perfect pairing. The removable Macro ring captures shocking high quality close-up detail while the Wide Angle Lens allows you to cram more into one shot. Perfect for video chatting or group shots.

The Fisheye Lens creates fun-tastic curved edges with a 180-degree angle that makes everyone look like they live in a plastic bubble (or a Beastie Boys music video).

Then there’s the latest addition to the phone lens family: the super handy Telephoto lens. It gives your little-phone-lens-that-could super duper 2x zooming powers. Look at you, paparazzi!

AWESOME!  FYI, PhotoJoJo didn’t pay me or ask me to post this, I just think it is awesome.  I am really considering ordering the set!  They’re basically $20 a pop ($25 for the Fisheye) or you can buy all three for $49, which saves you $16!

More pics, these things are cool as hell!

That’s right, stuck on a LAPTOP CAM!

Beware! The Blob

While not a 1970s scifi horror flick, Sunday Paper‘s spectacular short film Light is certainly haunting. For a fascinating and beautiful minute and a half short film, it certainly carries an elegiac note.



Just watch it!


Light from Sunday Paper on Vimeo.


Happy Thursday!

Happy Thursday, everybody!

Sorry for not posting yesterday, I have gotten a wicked case of Strep throat.  I’m glad I was able to finally find a Canadian clinic that would treat me after going to three (regardless of the fact that I have Canadian health insurance, how messed up is that?), and since I’m heading to Germany on Saturday for the ProLight+Sound 2012 Show in Frankfurt, there was no better time than the present.  One lady told me – and I’m not making this up – that the clinic could not treat me because “Americans love to sue, so we are unable to treat you.  It’s our policy.”

I’m sorry, but what the f*ck does that mean?!  Can you *really* refuse someone treatment in Canada for that kind of bullsh*t?  Where are all of the awesome Canadian strangers who aren’t douchebags, eh?  I need an honest Canadian hug!!!  Someone help me out, here!

ANY-WHO:  this is something LASER AND AWESOME for your Thursday morning!  Enjoy!