It’s Editing All The Way Down: Creating a 360 Little Planet Stop Motion Video

This is one of those things that is probably more trouble than it’s worth, but since I have some time on my hands, why not give it a go?


Creating a ‘Little Planet‘ wrapped image out of a panorama or 360 photograph is something you can do directly in Ricoh’s online editing tool…







This is the image embedded in the online uploading tool that you can use with all Ricoh Theta 360 cameras:

https://theta360.com/s/dNyfH8RrBTIGWWf5WGXS8OYzo



Post from RICOH THETA. – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA



The problem with this process is that it’s quite clunky.  You have to upload each photo to the site, then set it to Little Planet, then, if you want to keep photo editing, screen grab it and bring it back down to the desktop.  If I’m trying to make a stop motion film out of over 300 photos, making Little Planets this way isn’t going to scale.


The solution was to find a way to create similar appearance in Adobe Photoshop and then batch process all the photos into a little planet format.  Instructables has a just such a tutorial.  The long and the short of the process is: stretch the photos into a square, flip them and the use a polar coordinates distortion tool to ‘wrap’ the square photo around the centre of the image.  The end result isn’t quite as nuanced as Ricoh’s online little planet geometry, which is specifically designed for the details of the Theta camera.  It’d be nice if Ricoh shared that geometry so people could duplicate the process in other software.




Lots of batch processed little planets!


I recorded those Instructable actions using the Photoshop script recording tool and then ran the batch ran the script on 384 photos auto-taken on a recent motorcycle ride (the 360 camera is attached to the windscreen).  The end result was 384 modified photos outputted to another directory.  I then took the photos and dropped them into Adobe Premier Pro, where I set the intro and outro pictures to slightly longer times and the main body to 0.02 seconds per photo, creating the stop motion video effect.


I threw in the intro to Rush’s Red Barchetta as some dystopian future background music (we’re in the middle of social distancing due to COVID19).  I fear it’s just a matter of time until travel itself becomes illegal, as it is in the song.


Here is the end result, a 26 second video containing over 380 individual photos batch processed in Photoshop and then edited into a short stop motion video:






The original footage was shrunk from 5376 x 5376 pixels (the ThetaV takes 5376 pixel wide panoramas and I made them square, remember?) to 1000×1000 pixels.  My logic there was a 1080p video is 1920×1080 pixels, so 1000×1000 pixels is almost 1080 wide.


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Spring Photography

 Macro shots taken with a Canon T6i DSLR with the Canon macro lens.

Rainbows taken with the same camera and a the kit lens:

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The Lab That Isn’t A Lab

Originally published way back in 2012 when I had the comp-tech department land on me with 3 days notice!  https://temkblog.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-lab-that-isnt-lab.html

I’m teaching Computer Engineering in a school computer lab.   It’s the nicest lab in the school, and I don’t want it any more.

I recently described it to my principal as, “trying to teach auto mechanics in a new car show room where you can’t touch anything.”

Computer engineering in school underlines everything I don’t like about school computer labs (and that list is long).  I don’t think school computer labs teach students anything helpful about computers.  In fact, I think they are specifically designed to be out of date, glitchy, inaccessible and frustrating – hardly the mindset you want to put students in when you’re teaching them how to learn effective operation of an extremely powerful learning tool.

Essentially, what we try to do in school computer labs is teach students how to ride a bicycle by having a professional bike rider come in when they aren’t there, maintain and ride an old bike, then leave it there for them.  We then tell the students to get on it and ride with no hands on experience, practice, training or intent.  We then get angry with them when they fall off and damage the bike, or ride it pointlessly in circles.

Whether it’s media arts labs, or school computer labs in general, I’m not a fan.  The fact that they haven’t changed significantly in form or function since I graduated from high school in 1989 should bother people, but the real bee in my bonnet is the lack of ownership in our understanding of technology.

If you want to use technology in your classroom (and in 2012 you’d have to bury your head pretty deep in the sand to not want to), then you the teacher need to understand how it works, and you need to teach this to your students.  The willful ignorance I meet in staff is sometimes good for my ego, but never productive in developing technical literacy in our students.

With our old tech, people are familiar enough to know what they are doing:

… but not so much with our new technology.  We need to address that.  Until we’re all familiar enough with the digital tools we’re expected to be literate in that their use is second nature, we need to spend time, especially in the classroom, learning what they are, and you can’t do that in a school board IT straight jacket.

I’m not advocating for a ground up build your own computer when you want to type out an English paper (that’s what computer engineering is for), but I am advocating for an open, author-able, stable, up to date system that allows teachers and students to become familiar with the options and customization available on this equipment (something impossible in our board, locked down, forget-everything-when-you-log-off terminals).

Back to the lab that isn’t a lab.

When I was doing my AQ for computer engineering in the summer, our instructor showed us his new classroom in his new school.  It was fantastic.  Work benches filled it, fabrication tools and a few tables for the odd sit down talk.  It looked like a room where making happened.  There wasn’t a single board computer in there.

Later in the summer, when I was picking up computers from a school in Guelph (a teacher, working in the summer?  Evidently), I saw their lab and it was the same idea: workbenches and stacks and stacks of parts; a room where hands-on learning happens.

I’m not entirely sure why we feel that computer engineering should be happening in a computer lab at my school.  My seniors don’t use the school computers at all, and my juniors are only on them because they are there.  I’d much rather they be hands on with machines, except there isn’t enough room in a lab full of school computers to make another network.

What do I want?  One of the de-labbed classrooms where there are plenty of electrical drops.  I’d be willing to evacuate the much in demand lab if I could get a room that let me store my equipment and set it up as I need; a room that was truly a lab where experimentation and hands-on discovery happens.

Motorcycle Photography







Some recent photos that caught my eye from the digital motorcycle magazine and book realm.

Adventure Bike Rider is pretty ace with the off the beaten path photos.  BIKE magazine does the business as well.

One of ABR’s more extreme trips: Germans riding in Oman

Riding in Borneo

 

Ducati Scrambler… vroom vroom!

How rim size matters… courtesy of  Total Control: High Performance Street Riding Techniques….
so far an accessible and in depth look at all aspects of motorcycle riding and vehicle dynamics

ABR does nice photography!

Kawasaki’s 600cc supercharged maybe

Riding the Alps

BIKE magazine at the Bol D’Or, 2015

The new Ninja

Riding in Nepal

Photos from the Winter Road

These are some video screen grabs from the long way home commute from work last week.  Windy and cool, but still up near ten degrees Celsius with bright, winter sunshine.  The roads were relatively sand and salt free thanks to days of rain and floods.  The Ricoh Theta 360 camera is wrapped around the mirror with a Gorilla Pod.  A 360 video clip to start off followed by some photoshop post production…


 


All the screen grabs with various modifications can be found in this album.


If you’re looking for a motorcycle friendly camera, the Theta 360 has push button controls that are easy to use (most others have finicky wireless connections through a smartphone).  You don’t have to aim it or focus it, it just grabs everything in an instant.  The screen grabs on here are from the 1080 video the Theta made while attached to the rear view mirror.

My last ride was November 28th, so this was a soul destroying thirteen weeks between rides.  I really need to find somewhere twelve months a year motorcycle friendly.  There’s another bucket list goal:  live somewhere where I can ride for an entire year without having to take three miserable months off.


On the upside, it won’t be 13 weeks until I’m riding again…

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Machines That Challenge

Tim’s Motorcycle Diaries

I’ve been taking a break from writing on work over the holiday and have instead been writing about my new love: motorbikes.  In the last post I wrote about mechanical empathy and how a machine that challenges you can also encourage growth; this resonates with technology and how we use and teach it.

Using technology without understanding it is what we aim for in school because we have so many other important things to get to, I think this is a fundamental mistake.  Using a tool in ignorance means you’re never really using the tool effectively.  I’m not suggesting that everyone needs to be a computer engineer in order to use computers, but there is a fundamental level of familiarity you need in order to use any machine, including a computer, effectively.

A machine that does too much for you, even to the point of making decisions for you, is a dangerous machine indeed.  An education system that caters to this kind of thinking is equally dangerous.  Our use of technology should never be founded on ignorance.

“That a machine should place demands on us isn’t a bad thing, especially if it leads to a nuanced awareness of our own limitations.  The machine that can overextend you, challenge you, stress you, is a machine that can teach you something.  We fool ourselves into stagnation when we design machines that do more and ask less from us.”

There is a consumerist drive to produce machines that appear to be our servants, that will do what we want, sometimes without us evening knowing that we want it.  This kind of magical thinking might sell units but it doesn’t offer any room for growth. That educators are willing to cater to this approach isn’t very flattering.

I’d originally written on this from the point of view of motorcycling, which makes extreme demands on the rider.  Compared to driving a car, especially a modern car that shifts, brakes and even parks for you, riding a motorcycle is a physical and mental challenge.  In that challenge lies a great deal of risk and reward.  The opportunity to amplify your thoughts and actions through a complex, nuanced, challenging machine is a growth medium.  Growth in our students is what we should always be aiming at, even in using the tools we hand them.

In extreme cases machines take over decision making for us, reducing us to irrelevance.  Teachers need to be especially vigilant about how students use technology.  It’s very easy for the tech to take over (it only wants to help!)  and the human being it’s supposed to be assisting becomes a passenger.

When we use a machine to amplify ourselves it not only magnifies our achievements, it also subtly changes how we create.  Any teacher who has observed the digitization of student work in the past ten years has noticed how cookie-cutter the material has become.  Plagiarism is just one aspect of the cut and paste nature of modern student work.

Even in a scenario where the machine is a responsive tool, it will colour how you create.  Some technology is even predicated on this thinking.  Your degree of technical understanding minimizes this influence and allows you to side-step homogenized technological presentation.  If you don’t care that what you are producing has been cookie-cuttered into a template that looks like everyone else’s, then what does that say about what you’re learning?  If you’re using technology to do something else you need to understand the technology in order to realize how it’s colouring your learning.

It’s a shame that so many of us prefer machines that will do it all for us rather than taking up the slack ourselves.  There are two ways we can integrate with machines, I’ll always go for the road less traveled and ask for a machine that offers me more opportunity, even if it also demands more expertise.

Full Commitment

The opportunity to go ‘all out’ doesn’t happen very often.  I’ve thought about this from a Rick & Morty perspective in 2018 and it comes up whenever I’m watching documentaries on extreme sports.  Dakar long distance race legend Simon Pavey, when asked why he puts himself through this kind of danger and torture, said it was just so he didn’t have to do any dishes for a week.  There’s a truth underneath the Rick & Morty Susan Sarandon counselor character’s, “the thing about repairing, maintaining, and cleaning is it’s not an adventure. There’s no way to do it so wrong you might die. It’s just work. And the bottom line is, some people are okay going to work, and some people well, some people would rather die” and what Pavey said that I’m trying to dig out.

The very odd film, Up In The Air (2009), has a scene in it where Clooney, whose job it is to fire people, attempts to spin this debilitating experience as an opportunity, but I think they have it wrong.  The problem with Bob’s job isn’t that it didn’t follow his dreams, it’s that it doesn’t use him to his fullest, and in doing so engage him fully.  This only links to your dreams if you dream of challenge and growth – many people dream of ease and privilege; your dreams can be as big a trap as anything else.  In a job like that it’s always going to turn into nine to five plod because the job doesn’t ask enough of him.  Perhaps following his dreams and becoming a chef might have, but it’s the minimalist demands of his work and the salary trap that makes it an existential dead end.

In most cases everyone begins a new job hoping it will become this kind of challenge and provide a life long sense of achievement and direction, and in many cases that dead-end job highlighted in Up In The Air is the result.  Most jobs don’t want you to give your all, they want you to do what you’re told.  You’re a cog in an organization, not a human being that needs to be realized.

I was watching Moto2 motorcycle racing from last summer over the winter and came across a brilliant interview with John Hopkins, who is into coaching young riders these days.  In it John describes how he establishes trust through completely honest interactions and then, using that unpoliticised, transparent communication, creates clear step by step goals for younger riders to develop their confidence and tackle the seemingly impossible job of riding a modern race motorcycle at the limit.  There’s no mystery to peak performance, but so many organizations struggle to find it.  It never seems to happen through committee.

Netflix’s The Defiant Ones tells the story of music
producers Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre. 

This weekend we watched The Defiant Ones and the story of Jimmy Iovine sheds light on the job that becomes an all consuming passion.  Jimmy’s a relatively uneducated fellow with an obvious ADHD spin to him, but he found a creative profession and threw himself into it completely.  Stevie Nicks ended up seeking him out because he was always in the studio; his commitment was absolute.

Many employers will say that they want to see this sort of commitment but it isn’t actually the case.  The nature of management in a hierarchical organization means that this kind of full commitment is a threat rather than a usable commodity.  They’re more interested in everyone supporting the corporate vision than they are in individual expression or differentiation.  Before you know it, even in a job where you think professionalism drives some kind of excellence, you’re mailing in your job and eagerly looking forward to doing anything else when you clock out.

This came up in the show New Amsterdam as well.  The maverick new medical director discovers that there are people in the hospital with forgotten, dead-end jobs that have them doing next to nothing all day.  His argument is that the x-ray technician who is collecting a paycheque for doing nothing would rather have a job that means something and helps the hospital save lives ends up being naive.  The old guy just wants to sit in his empty office with the dust covered x-ray machine collecting a paycheque until he retires; meaning has nothing to do with it – it’s all about the paycheque.  He has atrophied into laziest version of himself in order to keep collecting the paycheque.  It’s hard not to see this in education as people end their careers in an almost robotic trance, rolling out the same old lessons, doing no extracurriculars and inspiring no one while collecting the highest salary in the building.  If they’re really crafty they’ve found a way into an administrative job that doesn’t even have the demands of teaching.


In a typical year of teaching I have frustrations but I’m usually given enough latitude that we can aim at awesome.  These competitions give us a reason to step out of the ‘good enough’ of EQAO and provincial curriculum and apply ourselves more completely as human beings.  I’m often asked how we’re able to perform like we do against schools and systems with more money and resources.  The short answer is because we throw ourselves into it completely.  There is risk in this but what encourages students is that they know I’m as committed to them as they are to the contest.  In that trust lies great performance.


This year has thrown extracurriculars into the weeds.  We’ve managed to place two teams in the national finals of CyberTitan this year, but even that isn’t as easy as you’d think with students dropping out at the last minute and those left struggling to stay engaged in a schedule designed to run them into the ground.  Skills Ontario approaches and I’m still struggling to get students to commit to even minimal amounts of preparation.  This has been the year of shrug and walk away.

With competition erased or minimized and classwork crushed under unreasonable expectations, I’m finding teaching isn’t the outlet for excellence that I usually try and make it.  I’ve been thinking about what I’d like to do if I weren’t this deep into the teaching thing.  I’ve walked away from lucrative jobs before because they asked too little of me, but I never had a family to support when I was doing that.  In my final decade of teaching and with family support in mind, I’ll have to find other outlets to go ‘all out’ because the classroom isn’t the place for it any more in Ontario.  The last thing I want to do is mail in my job, it’s too important for that, but I don’t know what’s left to do.

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Just Hang On…

It has been another rough week of double cohort double class teaching.  Evidently I’m one of only 5 people in our school who have been waterboarded like this.  Everyone else has been teaching up to half the synchronous face to face instructional time that I have.  My employer is nowhere in sight and neither is my union in terms of providing qualified teachers to support my classes, so on I trudge alone.

While that is happening we’re dealing with serious on-going health issues in my family and I managed to pull my back out so badly this week that I had trouble breathing.  I have no doubt that this is stress related, but no one will care or do anything until I’m broken, and then it will be the blame game.

On Monday we had a half day of PD that I was unaware of.  I couldn’t find any details about it in email and when it rolled out over the Monday afternoon I sat there wondering what was going on.  The system has been wildly out of balance all year and PD has been desperately needed though none was forthcoming, then suddenly this.  Frankly, an afternoon not having to wear PPE three sizes too small all day again made this feel like a win.  It was nice not going home with rope burns on my face.

In a rushed one hour session a man in Alberta cut open the wounded emotional body of our staff and then left.  He was desperate to establish rapport and attempt psychic surgery on us through a one way sixty minute video chat.  He lost me when he attempted to use my lack of reproductive effectiveness as a joke (why aren’t you people in Ontario pumping out more children?).  At that point I angrily started cleaning up my classroom, which is in tatters because I have been given no time to maintain it in the past year, and that’s how I pulled my back out.

I’m sure that wasn’t the intent of the half day invasive PD, though when you see that many superintendents and other senior admin in a meeting you have to wonder what the intent is.  Many people seemed to find it helpful, but many people aren’t teaching all day every day all year like I am.

Tuesday and Wednesday I was in rough shape but continued to plan and oversee my class from home because you can’t expect anyone covering to do it consistently when none of them are qualified to teach the subject, not that this matters in 2021.  I’ve not been given any qualified support for coverage or remote support (which is fully half of the reduced instructional time students are expected to spend in ‘class’ this year).  While my union throws a fit about elearning classes that would at least be taught by qualified teachers, they’ve been bragging about how unqualified teachers are the solution in schools all year.  It’s this kind of political game playing and the inconsistencies that it produces that leave me wondering what the hell I’m a part of.

I would if I could sleep…

With my class split into morning and afternoon cohorts, one of my cohorts didn’t see me on Monday.  Remote expectations have been vague and are only getting vaguer as you’d expect from a system that, if it does elearning at all, does it as poorly as it can.  At this point the remote work being done mustn’t include new material, assessment or any kind of, um, teaching.  This puts even more pressure on those marathon 2.5 hour x 2 per day face to face learning sessions  The afternoon cohort ignored the instructions I left them online when our class was cancelled and I’ve spent the rest of the week trying to get most of them back on track; just what I needed this week.

Driving home Friday I was in tears.  Students are exhausted and even the strongest ones are just shrugging and walking away, and I don’t have the energy or resources to stand against the education system while trying to make what we do appear credible.

Next week I’m supposed to culminate an entire course in four days while having ignored a key component of the course (the engineering design process) because there has simply been no time to address it in our drink-from-the-firehose quadmesters where I barely have time to cover basic concepts and skills.  I’m then doing that again the week after with the other class which is also a split section senior group so I need to arrange grade 11 and grade 12 face to face work along with simultaneous grade 11 and grade 12 remote/elearning work, and monitor it all while doing 2 things at once.  I keep telling myself I just have to get to the end of this quadmester alive.

I’m looking forward to next quadmester (where I’m teaching my sixth consecutive double cohort class) when I’m told I have to provide remote support for someone else’s class that I’m not qualified to teach because that’s a ‘fair’ distribution of work.  Fair doesn’t mean anything any more.

I just have to make it to the end of my second double double (this time with an added double stacked class) quadmester… two more weeks.

Not yet…


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ECOO 2013 Presentation: Harness your nerdist ways

Still thinking about ECOO in a couple of weeks.  I’ve already taken a run at it on Dusty World once.  There is a lot in this, I’m still curious to see how it will unfold.

http://lanyrd.com/2013/ecoo13/schpzd/

We live in a time of profound change. The very definition of who and where we are is constantly changing. Never before in history have people been as connected to so many different people and places as they are now. Trends suggest it will only intensify. Are we doomed to a half existence in many places, constantly distracted, unable to complete a thought? Or will the person on the other side of this technological adolescence be multi-dimensional in ways we can’t currently imagine?

Come with me on an examination of recent history and future trends. How can we integrate or separate technology to better facilitate learning? How can we prepare students for the strange world they are about to graduate into? How can we survive and thrive in these times of profound change ourselves?

What started this line of thinking was a post in Dusty World in the spring called Digital House of Mirrors.  In that post I was trying to describe how digital technology is changing our sense of self:
.

“Our selves are being stretched and amplified in ways they never have before.  Nick Carr’s The Shallows puts us on a pretty stark trajectory towards idiocy with what is happening to us.  The digitization of the self stretches us flat, making continuity of thought impossible and turning us all into distracted, simplistic cogs in a consumerist machine designed to turn us all into the lowest common denominator; none of us any smarter than our smartphones.”

http://www.robinsloan.com/epic/
Way back in 2006 a student showed me the video above.  That it was made so long ago is quite prescient.  They didn’t have the future exactly right, but they come surprisingly close in many ways.  The part that stuck with me the most is this quote:
.

“At it’s best, edited for the most savvy readers, EPIC is a summary of the world, deeper, broader, and more nuanced than anything ever available before. But at it’s worst, and for too many, EPIC is merely a collection of trivia, much of it untrue, all of it narrow, shallow, and sensational.”

If that doesn’t describe the experience of most ‘digital natives’ online, then I don’t know what does.  This is exactly the kind of habitual ignorance I find in technology use.  Children who have been immersed in digital technology have only learned to do what pleases them and know nothing about the technology itself, they aren’t generally literate.  They are like self-taught readers who have memorized a single comic book.
Whereas digital immigrant ignorance arises out of fear or pride, though they do still have some sense of what they don’t know.  The digital native is blissfully ignorant of what they don’t know, though they spend most of their lives now in that virtual world they know nothing about.

That technology could retard our ability to think is a dangerous consideration that a number of people are concerned about.  I don’t doubt that digital tools can enhance us as human beings, I’m writing this and you’re able to read it entirely due to digital technology.  Digital tech lets people work around authoritarian governments and democratize media.

I occasionally see people who are able to harness technology as a personal amplifier, but for far too many it is a source of distraction, habitual time wasting and a net loss for them.

A book I half read a while back was The Nerdist Way by Chris Hardwick.  I wasn’t able to get through the self help bit at the back, but the first half was an interesting autobiography of a guy immersed in technology to such a degree that it derailed him.  His philosophical change allowed him to regain control of his career and put what he describes as his nerdist ways to productive use.   Rather than spending eight hours a day playing World of Warcraft, Chris chose to focus his nerdly powers of concentration on productive activities.  He describes a nerd as someone who is able to hyper focus on minutia that fascinates them.  He broke his habitual use of technology by demanding that his fixations serve him instead of the other way around.  If it can work for a nerd (and we’re all nerds according to that definition) then it’ll work for everyone.

Is always on exhausting or exhilerating?  Is it functionally better to be connected?  What is the golden ratio for communicating f2f or remotely?  How could technology itself assist us in optimizing our presence both physically and virtually?  How can we highlight ineffective use of technology, analyze it and resolve it?

I suspect this is going to become a timeline.  With a bit of perspective I might be able to make some reasonably accurate predictions about where we going, because this is one big weird rabbit hole we’re all going down together and a lot of people are getting lost in it.

The followup post analyzing the ECOO13 conference can be found HERE.