Using Drones in Nifty Ways

Toronto Skyline Porn from Ryan Emond on Vimeo.

Remote controlled drones are pretty neat! Sure, the military industrial complex uses them to murder people, but that’s just one way to use the technology. Artists and companies are finding ways to use the technology in nice friendly ways. In Toronto (like other jurisdictions) there are growing concerns about regulations and applications about the drones. Fortunately, the conversation between drone operators and the general public is going well!

Interestingly enough, Toronto Reference Library leads the way in its adoption and popularization of new technologies, drones included. (Take a look at this awesome drone’s eye view of the library tour!) Just a couple of weeks ago, 10,000 people gathered at Toronto Reference Library for Toronto Mini Maker Faire, where X4 Drones flew some smaller aircrafts from its impressive drones fleet. It’s hard to think of a better way to normalize drones than seeing them fly right in the library, one of the most well-known and accessible public spaces in the city.

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Watch Sustainability Illustrated

Alex Magnin is an illustrator who likes making the world a better place and over the last six months he’s been illustrating sustainability. The video above is about explaining sustainability with science and is a good example of what the sort of videos he illustrates. The videos are 4-7 minuets in length and make for a good quick and informative break.

I have been working as a sustainability advisor for almost 10 years (with the international non-profit The Natural Step) and have seen first-hand the power of innovative sustainability practices to transform lives, businesses, and communities for the better.
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As an artist and an illustrator, I have also witnessed the power of illustrations and multimedia to help people understand and learn more effectively. So I decided to combine my skills and share, through animated illustration, what I have learned about sustainability over years of helping businesses and communities become more successful, sustainable, and resilient.

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Watch all the videos here.

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New Technique For Restoring Historic Videos

USC Shoah Foundation has a large collection of interviews with survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust and other genocides. Old physical media formats are susceptible to damage from fires to improper storage and USC has had to deal with this. The tech department at the foundation has figured out a painless way to restore and even improve the quality of footage from the damaged media.

Remembering history and being able to hear first hand accounts of events (no matter how horrific) can only help humanity. If we forget our history we are likely to repeat it.

Ryan Fenton-Strauss, video archive and post-production manager at ITS, was tasked with researching video restoration techniques currently being used in the motion picture industry. He found that there were very few existing options for restoring tape-based material.

“It seemed terribly unfortunate that after a survivor had lived through the Holocaust and poured his or her heart into a testimony, that parts of it would be lost due to a technical problem during the recording process,” Fenton-Strauss said.

However, Fenton-Strauss had an epiphany while sorting family photos with Google’s Picasa tool. He noticed that Picasa’s facial recognition software was so powerful that it could recognize his six-year-old daughter as a baby.

“I realized then that if we could automate the process of identifying the “good” and “bad” images using image recognition software, then we could correct some of our most difficult video problems,” Fenton-Strauss said.

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