2009 Archives

Only two days left until my last final for the semester, so what do I do? Not study! I SHOULD be studying, but then the entire Northeast coast got slammed with a snowstorm. The snow looked really cool outside my window, which meant… photography experiment time!

Recently I’ve been experimenting with Adobe After Effects and Adobe Premiere Pro. More on that later. I also recently got Nikon Camera Control Pro 2, which is Nikon’s tool for remote controlling their DSLRs from computers, which means I can now remote trigger my Nikon D60 over USB from my MacBook Pro. Awesomeness. Time for some snowstorm time lapse experimenting. :)

So on Friday night/Saturday morning, I pointed my D60 out the window and set Camera Control to take a picture every 40 seconds for 5 hours starting from 5 AM. Unfortunately, I forgot the charge the battery to the camera died 80 minutes into the experiment. Also, apparently the movement of the camera’s internal mirror is enough to cause the camera to shift a bit if not stabilized. As a result, the video is really short and not very stable. It’s not particularly good, but it’s a start:

Download in 1080p MP4.

This time lapse experiment also served a secondary purpose- to test out the planned workflow that we’re going to try using with the upcoming Omjii Show. I composited all of the video in Adobe After Effects and Adobe Premiere Pro and then used Apple Color to color grade the video. If you’re wondering why I’m using Apple Color but am using Premiere Pro instead of Final Cut Pro, it’s because I tend to favor things that plug into Adobe’s Creative Suite workflow but Adobe doesn’t have a color grader, whereas Apple has a really nice one.

Later in the afternoon, I decided to give the time lapse another shot. This time i remembered to charge the battery and stabilize the camera. The result:

Download in 1080p MP4.

The problem with attempting time-lapses with a DSLR is that the length of the time you can cover is limited by your battery, unless you have an extended battery or something. Another attempt, this time from Sunday:

Download in 1080p MP4.

I’m still working on getting the technique down, but I’ll post improved attempts and a detailed run-through of the process once I figure out how to stabilize better, among other things.

This is part 3 of the story of Surprising Harrando, preceded by part 1 and part 2.

So we’re running around the inside of Swarthmore’s library finding the most random things in the world while Harry is doing his cataloguing work.

We found some pretty random things. Libraries are mucho neato. :)

Here’s a Professor named J. Roland Pennock.

And this is Lord Peter Wimsey.

In the basement level, I found a giant shelve of maps and geological summaries from the United States Geological Survey, and under the section labeled “Pennsylvania- L”, I found this- a map of the area around Lansdale! The topology of home sweet home- circa 1983. Cool.

Here’s Mary reacting to all of the stuff we found:

Okay, actually, I lied. I have no idea what Mary is reacting to in this picture.

Eventually we found Harry again just as he shifted from cataloging to front desk work. We wound up sticking around the front desk because now that Harry was in a stationery position, we could chat and banter with him. Plus, the first floor of the library is a “social zone”.

Harry obviously likes the front desk better than cataloging.

Eventually, somebody found a guest book! So what does Sarah do but start drawing into the guest book? So we take turns drawing and writing and soon a story begins to take shape in the Swarthmore Library guest book, and before too long, the The Story Of Bunbury is born!

Here’s Harry with the story:

Then we went outside… and saw the giant chairs… big chairs all over the placed! Sitting out in the open! Stacked on top of each other! WE NEED TO CLIMB THEM.

The chairs were kinda soggy on account of rain though. But hey, at least the clouds made for some neat shots… like this one of Emma!


Some of these chairs looked mad unstable. Oh well, climbing time!

And then more exploration…

The amazing thing about Swarthmore’s campus is that the campus has soooooo many trees. Which makes for some amazing forest paths and exploratorium opportunities and… one mad crazy insanely cool amphitheater. Fall on the East Coast makes for some pretty photos.



AS we leave the crazy amphitheater place, we noticed a little path leading into the woods… a path! Well, why would there be a path here unless something interesting was at the other end? So ahead we went, down the slippery leave-strewn path!


But the path wound up only leading back to the amphitheater. So instead we went out of the woods and through a scary tunnel…

To go see Harry play volleyball at the gym!

Harry is BEASTLY at volleyball. But Mary and Emma were tired…

But then they woke up again at the end of the day when we all went to get pizza. We got pizza at this place right off campus that makes really greasy, yummy pizza.


Harry’s facial expression reveals his doubts about the pizza- those things were bathing in grease.

And so thus ended our day of surprise (well, at least for Harry) and adventure. :)

-The End-

This is part 2 of the story of Surprising Harrando.

So we’re inside Harry’s dorm building looking for his room. Sarah remembered that his door had a picture of some historical person with a mustache, so we looked for that, only to discover that historical people with crazy mustaches was their hall theme and EVERY door had a picture of a historical guy with a mustache. But not to worry, who should we run into but a friend of Harry’s? So up we go to Harry’s door and once we found our hiding spots, our newfound super awesome Swarthmore spy friend knocked.

“Haarrrryyyyyy I wanna go to lunch!”

Perfect. Out pops Harry, and… SURPRISE! Minutes later inside his room, he still had this expression on this face:

Yes, that’s Bruce Lee on his wall. :D

So we hung around in Harry’s dorm building for a while… and witnessed the evolution of the Sarah dance! Sarah’s dance now include a dinosaur move. MEEHEE.



Then Harry had to go off to his job. He works in Swarthmore’s library. So we followed him, and along the way Mary found her way into this giant, round tree. Apparently Swarthmore fines anybody who climbs or otherwise harms any of the trees on campus since their campus is coextensive with the Scott Arboretum. Arboretums are cool. :)


Harry is quite lucky. Swarthmore’s library is just a quick walk away from his dorm building, whereas I have to walk a good 10 to 15 minutes just to reach Penn’s main library. I’m jealous.


So while Harry did his library work, Emma, Sarah, Mary and I wandered around and explored! The first floor of Swarthmore’s library is a “social zone” where talking is allowed. The top floor is an absolute silent floor, as is the basement.

Of course we decided to go be rowdy and explore on the top floor and basement.

We found something mad neat on one of the floors: bound volumes of newspapers. Now I really want to learn how to bind books so I can make a giant book of Daily Pennsylvanians or something.



Emma’s version of heaven probably looks something like this place.


So where does the Story of Bunbury come in? What happens when a bunch of college kids find gigantic beach chairs? We shall see… :)

To Be Continued…

Remember the comic “The Story Of Bunbury“? Odds are that comic made no sense whatsoever without me context. This story provides that context.

So for Halloween weekend, Mary came back to Philly from PennState! Emma was also planning on going home too. Mary and Emma going home meant that Sarah and I were going home for the weekend too. But what about Harry?

Harry told us he was too busy to go home over the weekend. He would be staying at Swarthmore all weekend.

Obviously, Harry’s staying all alone all weekend was unacceptable. Mary, Sarah, Emma and I decided to do the only thing there was to do- if Harry couldn’t come see us, we would go see him. We were going to surprise visit Harry.

So early Halloween morning, I set out from Penn for Temple to meet with Mary and Sarah (Mary arrived the night before and stayed with Sarah). We stopped at a food truck at Temple and… found some grape drink! Not grape JUICE, mind you, but grape DRINK. Sugar, water,… and purple. Google the skit.


So Sarah, Mary, and I went on the train to Swarthmore. Which meant we had a lot of time. Commence messing around with cameras!




While we were on the train, Sarah decided to call Harry.

“Hello? Hi Harry! We’re on the train… home!” said Sarah. “Are you in your room right now?”

“I have a volleyball game to go see” replied Harry.

“Aw shoot… we’re almost home, so we can videochat with you…”

Smooth cover, Sarah. :) Guaranteeing Harry would be in his room when we arrived: check.

“It’s going to be the best videochat in the world.”

This picture shows Sarah and Mary after the phone call. Clearly they are supervillians:

So we got off at Swarthmore and the first building we could see from the train station was… HARRY’S DORM. TARGET IN SITE. Muahaha. I believe Mary’s instant impression of the Swarthmore campus was something like “AAAAAHHHHHH SO PRETTYYYYYYYYYY.”

Suddenly, a white van appeared around the corner and approached the train station! Why, who could this be? Why, none other than Emma, of course!


So we walk walk walked into Swarthmore along their big tree-lined path thinger. There were a LOT of leaves everywhere.


The whole time as we walked along, we talked about how we were going to go into Harry’s dorm and whether or not we should pick a back entrance to avoid the risk of Harry seeing us. Harry’s room is on the first floor, so he could have seen us if we walked by his window. The whole time, though, we didn’t realize that his dorm building was locked… but that’s okay, somebody let us in.


We were in the building! Now onto finding Harry…


To Be Continued…

So I’ve been mentioning an “Omjii Blog System” for a long while now. In fact, the existence of an Omjii Blog System should be obvious if you’re reading this right now. This blog is, after all, is sitting on Omjii.com. That’s because this blog is actually the test bed for Omjii Blog System stuff.

So what is the Omjii Blog System? It’s simple- a blogging engine derived from the Omjii Comic Engine running the main site. The Omjii Comic Engine that Jason and I wrote about a year ago started as a photo blogging engine that morphed itself into a webcomic engine once Chris, Jason, and I decided to start posting our doodles online. At some point, we realized that the Omjii Comic Engine very much resembled a blogging engine underneath- which makes sense, since a. the engine started life as a photo blogging tool and b. a webcomic is, in fact, a blog. So we started to experiment with extending the Omjii Comic Engine into a full blogging tool. Why? Why not?

Our goal isn’t to face off against WordPress or Moveable Type or Blogger or whatever. The point of writing the Omjii Blog Engine is purely academic- writing a content management system is a good exercise for coders. The nice side effect of this exercise, however, is that we might just end up with a nice, simple, useable little tool. Sweet. For now, two experimental blogs are running on the engine: this blog, and Emma Ricciardi’s Emma Blog. In addition, Ana Kim’s The WAHH! Blog forwards through Omjii to Blogger and will eventually be hosted here.

So! What does this engine entail for Omjii.com? Well, we’ll be offering Omjii Blogs to people soon as the Omjii Blog Engine approaches completion. It ain’t WordPress, but the cool thing about the Omjii Blog Engine is that we will constantly be tinkering with it and adding cool new things to the bag of tricks it can do.

The introduction of Omjii Blogs is naturally going to mean some revisions to the main site design. Here’s some concept doodles of what it’s going to look like:



The first doodle shows two headers. The top header is the standard Omjii header that flies over the main site. The second header, however, is new. When you go from the main comic site to, say, the Emma Blog, the header of the site will magically change into the second, blog oriented header.

The second doodle shows an updated design for the second, blog oriented header.

Finally, the updated new main header is actually completed and ready to go live. We’re just waiting on a few things before releasing it into the wild. It looks like this:


So those are some cool new things to expect in the coming weeks!

Starfield Concert!

October 25th, 2009

Two years ago Starfield played at Yuong Sang, that ginormous Korean church Jimmy and Sarah go to.

Then they came back for round two on their Reign In Us Tour on Friday (October 23rd). Which meant that Sarah and I more or less were obliged to hike up from Center City out to Horsham. :) Grace Kim, Susanna Kim, and another kid from Penn, Samantha Shen, also went.



My camera died midway through the concert. :( Still got some good shots though. Here’s two shots of Tim Neufeld (lead vocals) and James Johnston (bass).



I don’t remember the setlist and couldn’t find it anywhere. I do remember them playing My Generation, I Will Go, Hosanna, Revolution, and a lot of classic Christian songs and some Hillsong stuff.




We were late due to some train mishaps, so we missed the first two and a half songs, one of which was Filled With Your Glory. Thanks to Youtube user pbublogger for the vid.

Oh! They played a new song off the new album they have coming out in February. I managed to take shots of the lyrics, if that’s what interests you. MEEHEE. :)


The new song goes something like this:

What mercy was revealed

What selflessness and peace

My fate was surely sealed

Until He rescued me

His pardon for my sin

His bounty for my need

From slavery and shame

I am redeemed

And heaven can’t contain

The glory of the Son

Jesus is the Christ

The Saving One

His love has made a way

The grave is overcome

Jesus is the Christ

The Saving One

No fear can hold me down

Nor darkness steal my joy

For blood

Has been poured out

The enemy destroyed

Death could not hold him down

The cross was not enough

To steal away His throne

For He is God

And heaven can’t contain

The glory of the Son

Jesus is the Christ

The Saving One

His love has made a way

The grave is overcome

Jesus is the Christ

The Saving One

And anyone

Who calls upon His name

They will be saved

They will be saved

And heaven can’t contain

The glory of the Son

Jesus is the Christ

The Saving One

His love has made a way

The grave is overcome

Jesus is the Christ

The Saving One

They didn’t give a title for the song, but going off of the lyrics, I’m guessing the title will be “The Saving One” or something.


Halfway through the concert Starfield had a break and showed a video of stuff they did over the summer in Africa.


Tim Neufeld came out after the video and encouraged everybody to sign up to sponsor a child in Africa if possible. Definitely a cool thing to look into.



Sarah, Grace, Susanna, and I managed to push pretty close to the stage for the second half of the concert. Amazing amazing worship. :)

Here’s some up close shots of the band from the mosh pit before my camera died:


This image was PERFECT. The spotlight thing was turning, and for a few moments it was aimed right at me from behind Tim Neufeld, so I managed to grab a few shots. Here are my two favorites:



So that was the Starfield concert! Had a good time worshiping with Starfield, meeting some old friends and people I haven’t seen in a while (like Susanna!), and we even got the band to sign some stuff afterwards.

The night wasn’t over yet.

On the train on the return trip back to Philly, this old Korean guy comes onto the train at one of the stops near Jenkintown. He looked kind of confused as soon as he got on the train and he didn’t speak a work of English. Just Korean.

Hijinks ensued.

He sat there until the conductor came up to him to check tickets. The conductor quickly realized that the old guy was confused and that he didn’t speak any English. So the conductor just skipped him. After that, the old guy turned to me and started asking me stuff in Korean (I know it was Korean because at one point I caught the word “Hangul”, which I think is Korean for Korean).

Dun dun dun. Not being able to say anything, I called Sarah for help. After some long conversing and a lot of confusion, Sarah and her mother figured out that the old guy was like, 90 years old, and was going the wrong way. So Sam and I got off at Suburban Station with the old guy to help him find some police to take him home (Sam was NOT happy about helping the old guy? which I don’t get at all. What’s wrong with helping a lost old person?).

In the end, I wound up running several blocks around Suburban Station looking for a police officer, only to find one in a golf cart thinger inside the station when I went back to the station. I got to ride in his electric cart thinger through the station because I had to guide him to the old Korean guy. :) After some explaining and translation work over the phone with Sarah and her mother, the policeman figured out how to get the old guy home, and that’s the happy ending to that story.

So thanks, Sarah and Mrs. Mun. :)

Mika Concert Review!

October 24th, 2009

Sarah and I went to Mika’s concert at the Electric Factory last Sunday (October 18th)!

Okay, three word reaction: OH. MY. GOSHGOLLYGOODNESS.

Mika is AMAZING live. Like, glow-in-the-dark blazer, spacesuited, hat-with-neon-orange-feathers AMAZING.

Pics in this post were taken with my Nikon D60. The Electric Factory doesn’t allow cameras with moveable lenses, aka DSLRs, but I conveniently forgot to tell the bag-checker person that my camera is DSLR. He was like “does this have a moveable lens?” and I replied “I don’t think so” and he let me take it in. :)

Videos in this post are courtesy of Youtube user cityjet.

Okay, from the top:

Mika’s opening act was Gary Go. He was?. well, eh. Kinda sounded a bit like a really whiny Chris Martin at points.


Gary Go’s pants were REALLY tight. As in so tight you could see his boxers outlined through his pants. That was kind of disturbing.

So Gary Go finishes his thing and gets off the stage. And the waiting started… the entire stage was blocked off with a huge curtain, but every once in a while the lights would turn on and off behind the curtain and whenever that happened, you could see glitter everywhere. At some point a random stage crew guy lowered a giant beam thing with a ton of lighting gear on it into the crowd, got on, and lifted the bar up to the ceiling.


And then the stage crew brought out a lamp.


A LAMP? Sarah was like “Hahahahaha, what if they bring out a sofa next?”

Guess what the stage crew brought out next?


And then a few minutes later, the stage crew returns again, this time with a giant TV?


They had a living room in front of the curtain! :)

Then the band came out and started watching Tom and Jerry on the TV, with Mika noticeably absent. Until– Gandalf comes on the TV! Well, Ian McKellen, but everybody knows him as Gandalf. Ian McKellen was a news anchor guy on a news broadcast, and he was talking about how a spaceship with a civilian on board was being launched. Everybody cheered as the TV screen showed a spaceship launching, but then the spaceship blew up and Gandalf started talking about how the civilian was lost and how we may never see him again and blah blah blah…


…and then Mika came out onto stage IN A SPACE SUIT. And the stage was covered in planets and stars and whatnot. At this point, any remaining pretense of this concert being a normal concert evaporated.



Here’s the band coming out onto stage:

Mika coming out in a spacesuit and then the opening song, Relax Take It Easy:


Mika’s mad good at piano. And “trumpet”. Stuck In The Middle:





Of course, for Blue Eyes, he had some giant blue eyes on stage:



Pick Up Off The Floor:

Blame It On The Girls:

The crowd sang along for pretty much this entire song. Happy Ending:

And with a giant shock of thunder, Mika started Rain:



We Are Golden. This song was definitely one of the highlight moments of the concert- Mika said that we were the loudest audience he had ever heard:

For Toy Boy, they actually had a puppet toy boy on stage:

For the encore, Mika did Grace Kelly and the band came back out onto stage in even more glow-in-the-dark gear:


Here’s the setlist:

Relax, Take It Easy

Big Girl

Stuck In The Middle

Dr. John

Blue Eyes

Touches You

Pick Up Off The Floor

One Foot Boy

Blame It On The Girls

Happy Ending

Billy Brown

I See You

Rain

Love Today

We Are Golden

-Encore-

Toy Boy

Grace Kelly

Lollipop

The entire concert was madness… Mika in a white outfit that he kept on accessorizing with glow-in-the-dark hats and jackets from a giant suitcase he brought on stage, big ladies coming out on stage for the song Big Lady (You Are Beautiful), glow-in-the-dark facepaint, giant balloons during We Are Golden? overall, an amazing night. :)


Eclipse Day

July 21st, 2009

Today Kevin, Justin, and I took a half day off from work so that we could go eclipse-watching in the morning. We had decided on the lake at Century Park near the international area as our eclipse-watching location.

Ryan and I woke up, however, to very bad news. The first thing I saw when I rolled out of bed was… gray thunderclouds as far as the eye could see. Not good.

We met with Kevin and Justin at Century Park, this big park near the international zone with a big lake. Perfect for eclipse viewing…. if there weren’t any clouds…

CLOUDS:


Problem: the sun was only visible for brief seconds through the cloud layer:

Even bigger problem: I didn’t have a tripod. Which meant I had to prop up my camera on a rock and try to aim it at the sun. We had found this rocky outcropping that jutted out into the lake, so we set up there.


Here’s Kevin and Justin chilling on the outcropping:


I found a rock that worked pretty well as a tripod (Ryan agreed, he set up his video camera on the same rock). I figured that using the viewfinder of my camera to aim the camera at the sun would be okay if I did so during a moment when the sun was behind the clouds. So that’s exactly what I did…. but the sun decided to come out right as I was in the middle of aiming. Needless to say, that hurt my eyes. Ouch.

But it was worth it! I got some pretty cool pictures:





And then the rain started… ten minutes before totality. Much scrambling to get laptops and cameras and other equipment under this rock cave thing ensued (Justin and I had laptops because we were going to work right after the eclipse). Here’s Ryan sitting under a rock:


Totality hit pretty suddenly. The plan was for me to shoot pictures and Kevin and Ryan to shoot video, but totality hit us a little earlier than expected. Scrambling occurred again to get the video camera into Kevin’s hands and the DSLR camera out from under the rocky cave:

Eclipse Day from Karl Li on Vimeo.

Unfortunately, the cloud cover and rain meant that we didn’t actually see totality… but we did experience the darkness of totality.

9:40 in the morning:

Justin in the rain during totality making his way out onto the outcropping:


I had to use flash because everything got so dark.

Justin and Kevin on the outcropping:


Later, when we were leaving Century Park, something amazingly hilarious happened…

Justin had bought a Finding Nemo volleyball thing earlier for 3 RMB. On our way out of the park, Justin was hitting the ball around and… it landed in a pond between two bridges. This video should give you an idea of the hilarity that ensued:

Ball Retrieval from Karl Li on Vimeo.

This went on for like, 10 minutes. Eventually Justin gave up and we left the ball behing.

Later, we also found this:


A “Caution: Wet Floor” sign in the middle of a rainstorm. The sign is kind of stating the obvious, isn’t it?

Overall, today made for one interesting day.

My friend Ryan Lin from high school arrived at my place tonight. He’s in Shanghai specifically for the eclipse tomorrow. Ryan is working on a new comic that’s going to launch soon, but more details on that in the future.

Ryan’s a cool guy. He brought us eclipse glasses.


Quick science lesson: looking at a solar eclipse with your naked eyeballs is really dangerous. Normally when we look at the sun, the brightness of the sun forces us to turn away almost immediately, minimizing the risk for permanent eye damage in the process. During an eclipse though, the sun does not appear as bright, which means when we can stare at the sun longer without averting our eyes. Which is really really bad for us. During a solar eclipse, the part of the sun that shoots our UV that fries our eyeballs is just as active as ever even though the sun’s overall brightness appears to drop. Because of this, viewing the sun during a solar eclipse must be done with special eclipse glasses with filter lenses to avoid permanent eye damage. The only exception to this rule is during totality.

So these glasses things are REALLY good at blocking out light, which makes sense since they need to block out everything but the faintest hint of light from the sun. When I first put them on, I couldn’t see anything. Squat. Zilch. Ryan said the only thing that he had managed to see through the goggles was the filament of a really really bright incandescent light bulb at his home, but we don’t have any of those lights in our apartment.

The glasses have all these warnings and instructions on the inside. Cool stuff.


Eventually I did manage to see something through the glasses… although not exactly in a good way. I figured “Hey, my Nikon D60 has a really powerful flash unit, so if anything in this apartment is going to be able to push light through these glasses, the flash unit is a good bet.” So I proceeded to fire off the flash unit about an inch away from the glasses’ filter lenses.

Bad idea. Very bad idea. I saw the flash through the filter lenses, but I had forgotten that the flash unit generates a lot of heat. Enough heat to melt through eclipse glasses filter lenses. Which is exactly what happened. Uh oh.

The glasses have a warning printed on them that says something to the effect of “Discard immediately if lenses are damaged of punctured.” That’s not an option here, because Ryan didn’t have any extra pairs. He didn’t count on my stupidity.

The solution: patch up the damaged lens with material that we know will block ALL light. This way I can at least use the one remaining good lens.

Eclipse day is tomorrow. Time to sleep.

Pictures!

July 18th, 2009

Okay, I promised a blog update (actually, updateS) today, but I stayed out way longer than I anticipated. I did get some really cool photos though… I’ll post some of the bigger panoramas I took for now.