Lighting Up Whiteout

Friday January 26th I will be at MOD club presenting some specially made projection mapping for the Icy cavern theme party Whiteout

Facebook event : https://www.facebook.com/events/1980640345533715/
You may have heard about my friends who built Toronto’s most famous art car, Heavy Meta. The project is one of many well conceived and executed plans to come out of The 4tress. The local Toronto shop is the home for this creative collective who hail from all walks of life .  They come together with a multitude of skills creating some excellent experiential art like Heavy Meta, a fire Breathing Dragon built from an old school bus . They had a great first year traveling North America sharing this epic moving art and now that 2018 is here they have even bigger plans and are looking for help raising funds for a new project and some dragon upgrades .
See the team in these shots at The 4tress now hard at work building an awesome set for me to project some frosty effects onto.

Meanwhile I am here working on how to render ice and convincing lighting effects shining through it like this so it can be projected onto the the stage set creating an illusion of depth with refracted light.It should be a cool event (forgive the pun) when we have it all together on stage at MOD club this Friday !

Toronto Light Festival (featuring Heavy Meta)
The Toronto light fest in the distillery district is on again now till March. The free outdoor event hosts a series of light sculpture installations in this historic location.  This year featuring some great new additions like the fire breathing dragon Heavy Meta and team of hot fire masters and dragon tamers.  It’s worth a walk through to see some art and there are a few good places to eat there too.  I hope to see more projection mapping in light festivals of Toronto in the Future and hopefully participate in one locally or possibly in another city.
Thanks too BlogTO for sharing this piece on the Light Fest.

Thanks again for reading the live video art blog. More reviews , projects and event announcements coming soon.
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My appologies to anyone who recieved an unfinished draft version of this post yesterday, it was accidently published. Thanks for your understanding .

User Review – Notebook Workstation – Eurocom Sky X7e2 (clevo)

Eurocom Sky X7e . A Portable VJ/VR ready Beast !
An independent long term user review by Scott Vj Guy


For the past couple years I have wanted to move onto a new more portable high powered notebook for show control and portable workstation. I have have been running a mini tower PC for about 6 years and it is getting old and tired from travel plus I am getting more contract jobs for companies that need me to come in and work on location. It was hard to find a system that offered all the power I wanted in a notebook platform. I considered a wide spectrum of computers from gaming systems to tablet hybrids and portable workstations looking for the perfect balance of power and features. In the end I had to make some compromises but ultimately got what I need. After researching and comparing for months and looking at big name and US based custom PC builders I made a discovery right in my backyard .

Once I started leaning toward the custom notebook workstation option I found that the Origin PC EON17 and the Sager NP9876 both custom pc builds from USA I was looking at are the same base system chassis known as a Clevo and it is a system also used by Canadian based builders Eurocom and sold configurable from Eurocom or in pre configured models at Best Buy Online.
The Sky X7e2 is a hefty but really cool modular Notebook computer packing high end desktop features. Four drive bays (2 are M.2 PCIe) and four RAM slots. The X9 model can even support 2 1080 GPUs in SLI for extreme GPU power.  The motherboard inside uses a PC spec socket 1152 Sky Lake or Kabby Lake CPU that is great because the chip is more efficient than most mobile options. The size of the machine is actually perfect for me. I love the full size backlit KB and the solid feeling when resting my hands on the chassis. The monitor hinge is good and tight and display is safely encased in a fair amount of hard plastic. There is no Optical drive in mine and only one HDD so hardly any moving parts.
There is a 4k 60hz screen that does look incredible or 1440p 120hz option available. I got the 4k but I sort of wish mine had the 1440p screen because 4K is maybe a bit more pixels than needed on a 17 inch screen. I think I would maybe trade for the faster 120hz screen at 1440×2160 resolution if given the chance.
For me the video outputs are the piece de resistance on this computer. All these systems have the same 3 dedicated video outputs . HDMI + Two 2 x MiniDisplayPort 1.2 .

The Sky X7E2 is specially built for power users with a budget for computing power. Special features like high tech cooling system under a nice back lit full keyboard with number pad. Not to mention Bluetooth, Four USB3 and Two Thunderbolt ports, card reader, finger print scanner, webcam, NV G-sync support and some quality builtin speakers!
This 17.3 inch Notebook system is packed with features and options.
Feels durable, well made and assembled so I hope the build quality is good over time. Fins on cooling vents are a bit flexible but maybe meant for just keeping debris out of there.
Basically this system is a high end frame that’s as good as the components you put in it and several companies have adopted the frame.
It’s a beast book but I am looking for power not pretty.
It does what’s expected of it very well but not everything is perfect.
It’s very heavy on its own and with the power pack you have to carry around it is a real load. Some would consider it too much to carry around all the time but I am fine moving it from house to car to location as needed but I do feel it every time I pick it up. Battery unfortunately does not last any more than 2 hours and less if you are doing anything GPU intensive but that was expected as spec. I am going to see if I can find a higher capacity compatible battery.
I only have strong issues with the power supply. In addition to it being heavy with a short cord the power supply plug in back of computer is a bit shallow and can easily pull out. This is sometimes caused by the weight of the power block hanging below.
Not really a complaint but it would be nice to have  a touch display option. 

The base system is extremely expandable. I upgraded from the stock config 16gb up to 32 gb of DDR4 RAM and added a new 500gb SSD
This system I have plays the latest games at the highest settings in 1080p 60 FPS with ease , getting 30 to 40 fps at 4K . Tested Star Citizen , Assassins Creed Origins, Destiny 2, Steep, For Honor and more. I have been enjoying plugging it into my 55inch 4K display for gaming in screen mirroring mode and using a bluetooth Xbox One controller to play .
I also use multi monitors in extended display mode with creative applications like Maya Zbrush and Adobe creative suite. Once set up this is fine when spanning over to a 4K screen  but I have run into complications connecting multiple screens with various resolutions. In order to read text on the built in 4k screen you are forced to enable text scaling in the Windows display options and this can sometimes conflict with certain apps and the way things look on others screens like smaller external 1080p displays.
Now this is a Windows related issue and not anything to do with the quality of the laptop. It is something specific to running a 4k screen on a notebook.
If there is a way to set scaling for screens individually in windows this would be better.

Reviewed system specs :
Eurocom Sky X7E2.
CPU : i7 6700k 4.0 , GPU: GTX 1080 8gb , Memory : 32gb RAM,  SSD: 1x 500gb N2m pciE, SSD: 1x 500GB Samsung Pro, HDD:  1x 1TB HDD, 

Pros:

  • GTX 1080 8gb GPU (desktop class chip)
  • 4K and 1440p 120hz display options
  • Multiple 4K Display outputs like a desktop GPU (1x HDMI, 2x MiniDisplayport)
  • Massive expandability with 4 drive bays N2m PCIE drive support
  • Dependable desktop class intel i7 Skylake quad core. Latest Kabby Lake Options available
  • 1x Thunderbolt, 1x USB 3.1C, 4x USB 3.0 (lots of connectivity)
  • BlueTooth, fingerprint scanner
  • Full size backlit keyboard
  • Excellent speaker system

Cons:

  • Heavy . 8.6 LBS heavy plus a power supply that weighs in at least 5 or 6 pounds.  13 + lbs is a lot
  • 4K display is only 60hz
  • 2 hours or less battery life
  • Power supply cord should be a bit longer and it is very heavy.
  • Power supply plug in back of computer is a bit shallow and can easily pull out. (common Pc laptop issue )
  • No Touch screen options
  • Limited camera options

Verdict:
The Sky X7E2 does everything I expected very well. For more casual lifestyle computing I would pick up a small hybrid tablet laptop but Ultimately the Eurocom Sky7 delivers High speed , High Power, High resolutions capabilities. It weighs a ton but I can deal because it gets the jobs done and I make a point of landing demanding jobs that are often spanned across multiple locations or traveling to do VJ performances and installations.

Link : http://www.eurocom.com/ec/configure(2,386,0)SkyX7E2

Live Video Art Gear Round Up

Here is some of the latest gear I am using in my kit rn and why.

Desktop Powered Notebook for show control and portable workstation.
Eurocom Sky Xe7 . A Portable VR / VJ Beast !
Excerpt from my latest user review,
” After researching and comparing for months  I discovered a system  known as a Clevo and it is also used by Canadian based builders Eurocom. These are bulky but really cool modular Notebook frames. 4 drive bays(2 are M.2 PCIe) and 4 RAM slots and a 8gb GTX 1080 GPU. Packed in with a high tech cooling system under a nice back lit full keyboard w num pad. The motherboard inside uses a PC spec CPU that is great because it costs less and runs faster than most mobile options. Also a 4k screen and the piece de resistance for a VJ all these systems have the same 3 dedicated video outputs . HDMI + Two 2 x MiniDisplayPort 1.2 . Not to mention 4 USB3 and 2 Thunderbolt!”
See the full review here: http://vjguy.ca/2018/01/20/user-review-notebook-workstation-eurocom-sky-xe7-clevo/
Product Link : http://www.eurocom.com/ec/configure(2,386,0)SkyX7E2

Micro Projectors
Recently I have used lots of these little mini LED projectors to great effect . If you can manage creative uses of content across multiple projectors at this size you can make projection effects nearly anywhere .
Wanting a set of 4 of these little beauties for my own kit to use on the go and for smaller creative or commercial installations.
Link: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1335995-REG/aaxa_technologies_mp_600_01_m6_led_pico_micro_projector.html

Ultra Short Throw Projectors
Ultra short throw units are highly purpose built for creating a surprisingly large screen when mounted from only a foot and a half away from the wall. Recently by combining up to 6  units I have used them to create wrap around image projection rooms in witch the viewers can walk and not obscure the image.
Ill be following up with another post soon covering more details on current projector tech like Laser ,LED , Ultra Short Throw and micro projectors that will cover the bennifits and best uses for each.
Link: http://www.projectorcentral.com/Casio-XJ-UT310WN.htm

Laser Phospor Color and Laser Hybrid Projectors
More on this in a later post but this new light source technology is nothing short of a revolution in the video projection installation world. This lampless technology makes current generation projectors last much longer without maintenance and they are far lighter and more durable as well.

360 Camera
I have been shooting all year with the Samsung Gear 360 camera . Collecting 360 footage and experiences and learning how to use the 360 view type creatively. I’ve been getting excellent time lapse 360 shots of my production jobs and it gives a great way to record the all surrounding immersive experiences that I create . Check out my 360 content online on Veer.tv.  

Mavic Pro Drone
As a first time drone owner and operator starting in 2017 and getting into aerial photography I have to say the DJI Mavic Pro has been amazing and I might have a lot more to say about it in a full review post coming soon. I have used it almost everywhere I’ve gone and pushed it in non ideal circumstances. It makes beautiful video and photos that are amazingly stable and it is a dream to fly with several useful autopilot modes. Its also super durable and I may know after having several “emergency Landings” In trees mostly .
After a year of flying and learning a lot of lessons the little guy is flying great and I am in progress of editing a video of our adventures. Look for that post and a full MavicPro review coming soon.

Wacom Intous Pro
The drawing tablet is my main input device on the computer when using creative software. It is critical for using Zbrush, Photoshop and Maya. I have worked with several models and owned the Intous 3 and 5 and now the 3 again. See my up coming Wacom review and why I prefer the Intous Pro v3 over the 4.
Link : http://www.wacom.com/en-us/products/pen-tablets/wacom-intuos-pro-overview

Modular LED kits,
In the last few years I have been incorporating LED light systems into my staging and artistic projection mapping installations. I’ve used several controllers for LED strips from supplier Holiday Coro including the AlphaPix 3 for addressable LED strip control via Artnet . Connected to the ENTTEC DMX to USB decoder box feeding control signal from Resolume Arena or other live visual software .
Link : http://www.holidaycoro.com/AlphaPix-16-Pixel-Controller-V3-p/721-v3.htm

ENTTEC DMX USB
These devices are a critical part of the chain when controlling any DMX fixture from your computer using software like Resolume, Light Jockey and Wings.
Link : https://www.enttec.com/us/products/controls/dmx-usb/pro-mk2/

MS Kinect
The Kinect motion sensor for Microsoft Xbox1 and PC (support since discontinued) is extreemly useful when creating interactive installations and also for 3D scanning and motion tracking applications. I have been experimenting with Kinect since its release and used it in several live projects

Midi Controller
Akai MPD 226. Professional Build quality , illuminated buttons , Great for expressing yourself during VJ performances.

Trackball

I recently moved back to using a trackball instead of mouse and I like it much better. I also heavily usa a tablet and a Midi Controller when performing but the track ball is a great replacement for the mouse.

These are all key hardware components in my regular performance and day to day process.

I look forward to adding a future post about software tools .

Hope everyone is having a Happy New Year

Vj Guy