Thursday, February 6, 2014

Einstein's Damp Dream

I refer to the gorgeous green landscape immediately below.

I very much enjoy flying and soaring through these folded green worlds much as a stunt pilot would, and then outputting the series of images from that fantastic voyage to Adobe After Effects for others to enjoy.

One method to help visualize how to do so is to drape the most beautiful high definition nature scene you can find inside of a sphere, using After Effects.  Systematic but fascinating warpings will now permeate your gorgeous image, the opposite of what Gerardus Mercator wrestled with while trying to properly map our curved planet onto a flat surface.

I enjoy using one or more cameras available within After Effects to explore and record the fantastic flights possible within these painted spheres, as a stunt pilot might.

If you puncture this sphere with your airplane, and have placed a larger sphere similarly draped with a different landscape outside, it makes for quite the viewing experience, similar to the image immediately below.

This image depicts a shepherd reframing his understanding of the world:

This process of recording what a small aircraft might see if it were exploring the interior of a painted sphere is similar to the "Ken Burns effect" in filmmaking.  In this Ken Burns effect, the viewer traverses along an X-Y grid to intimately explore an old photograph that tells a story.

The 25-second portion of the video immediately below, from 5:09 to 5:36, is my favorite example of this effect.  It's from the 1957 Canadian film "City of Gold" that inspired Ken Burns to showcase this technique in his later career as a documentary filmmaker.

CLICK HERE to view excerpt from City of Gold that inspired Ken Burns (from 5:09 to 5:36)

In contrast to this two-dimensional Ken Burns effect, the pastoral sojourns I describe here occur within 3D space.

All this makes for lots of fun, and stunning video as well.  I have dubbed this the "Matt Dubuque effect" simply because I could find no name for it; I seem to have been the first to both codify and use it.

Perhaps this is not so; I am not sure.  That is not important to me.

What is important is the beauty of the ride when flying through high definition nature scenes in this way.  I believe watching it in iMax would transform lives in a positive manner.

I composed and copyrighted a short film about this topic.  It's called "Einstein's Damp Dream".  What I do in this film follows.

The film occurs within a large sphere whose interior consists of all the pixels from the following nature image I captured near Silicon Valley:

In this film, Einstein's little airplane explores the inside of this lovely sphere.  The little plane takes off from the runway I have painted with Photoshop brushstrokes on the right hand side of the image, and soars above the bushes and trees into the lovely blue sky.

After my first flight inside this sphere, I felt a little giddy.  I wondered what the Wright Brothers felt like after their first flight.  I felt I was experiencing a direct visual insight into properly understanding that curvature described by Einstein's theory of general relativity where the fourth dimension of time warps our perception of space.

As we fly in our little airplane through these lovely vistas, and occasionally swoop down to see a particularly lovely aspect of what we see below, tiny spheres of dreamy opacity begin to flow by. These spinning spheres have various images rotating upon them as they sail by.  Soon, an apparition of the following equation appears, constructed from carved blocks of stone:

This equation describes the angle that light is deflected when it encounters a particular mass, where the distance "r" measures the separation between the light and that which it illuminates, given how gravity "G" constantly behaves and "c" is the speed of light within a vacuum.  

Other images and scratchy audio recordings from Einstein's past continue to stream by on the left during our flight.  Perhaps an old Rudy Vallee or Enrico Caruso recording is appropriate here, with images of an RCA doggie victrola as well.

This short film reaches its climax when the memorable and pouty image of Marilyn Monroe drifts by, luridly blowing kisses at him, which we have generated using CGI.  That image, distorted by the curvature of Einstein's space time sphere within which we are flying, looks something like this:

I chose this image as the culmination of Einstein's damp dream because Marilyn stated that Albert Einstein was the sexiest man she had ever met.  In response, it seems logical to conclude that Mr. Einstein may have recollected his memories of her with fond affection.

The film ends as our little aircraft returns to its painted runway and taxis to a stop.

I have explored all the techniques described here (and mastered some of them) during the "Engineer" portion of my "Artist, Engineer, Surgeon" journey.  This film was born then as well.

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