mattgolsen's picture

So I was watching a video by Schematic, regarding a new touch interface/ multi-touch wall they're working on for Cannes Lions Festival (, and it occurred to me, where do a lot of you get inspiration for your work? I read blogs like,, and the various QC dev blogs (Vade, Toby, etc) but with the various work that all of us do, it seems difficult to find a direction (so to speak). So spill your guts!

I have to say, their work made my work project look like tinker toys...

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psonice's picture
Re: Inspiration

For me this is pretty easy: the demoscene.

I try and recreate various demo style effects to see how they work, and experiment with stuff loads. It's possible to make a complete demo in QC, but I find there's all kinds of things you learn trying to do it.

I've started writing some demo tools partly using QC too, although since I started doing iphone apps that's been gathering dust mostly :(

gtoledo3's picture
Re: Inspiration

I used to really like to look at things done in other graphic programs, and try to figure out how to pull it off in QC. I also came into QC from having messed with Processing for awhile, so there were a bunch of things that didn't seem to be able to be done in QC... that probably set a tone for my general direction for awhile.

My QC inspiration usually comes totally outside of the realm of computers. I like to look at stuff going on in the art world... I like to peruse modern art magazines. I like looking at classic art for ideas as well. Commercial/advertisement art can be a big influence, especially the old stuff. Propaganda art is a big influence.

I get a great deal of inspiration from taking walks and looking at the movement of nature.

Maybe I haven't had enough coffee... and I think the clip is cool, but I'm kind of underwhelmed too. I guess the whole interactive wall idea is something that I've had in the back of my mind since starting in QC and seeing the fake image wall/timeline example.... so when I see this stuff I'm thinking "whoopty doo, they are resizing images and logging onto the web". My overriding thought is "oh it took THAT many people to pull that off". To me, that pseudo futuristic look is inherently NOT eye catching. Stuff that looks like ideas of the future from 10 years ago just looks hokey to me. (ok, I sound like a total Debbie Downer, sorry)

dust's picture
Re: Inspiration

for sure that wall was amazing. mr brainwash and i worked on a film called life remote control for years that went to cannes in france. its a film about art particularly iconographic street art with famous artists in it. at the time m-bw was shooting dv so lets say the quality wasn't up to par with the 200 million dollar flicks at cannes, so we didn't get great reviews but some things normal people just do not understand.

so the cannes wall is amazing. have you seen the infamous reactable ? the nui group has some great software, i really don't know why they are saying the software does not exist, to do multi touch (iphone) ?

so yeah minority report is here, actually minority was here years before minority report came out. i worked on that film with 20 century fox. i must have been 20 years old, the matrix just came out none of the guys wanted to see the movie cause minority report was to rival the matrix. i was part of the r&d team which was making awesome designs all future. they ended up going with pixel liberation front for all the graphics. but when you think of it dc is 200 years old so in 2050 dc really would look the same so all the cool stuff i got to see and be part of never made it to the movie.

so yeah nuigroup has some great stuff for inspiration if you like multi touch. there is a guy sander on here that makes some cool qc multi touch stuff. im actually taking a class in multi-touch tangible interface design next semester we are using tbeta. the table is pretty big. that and grid lab clustering are the interesting things im looking forward to for september.

chris is right the demo scene is very cool i have been checking it out lately. i like the idea of party, competition and getting your graphics as small as possible. so i have been checking that out but there isn't much in the states as far as a demo party close to me. i just joined ACM so i might go to sigraph for the first time ? ACM is really cool for inspiration, if you like multi touch there are peopl on there taking it to a different level as far as augmented cross -modal interfaces and what not. im checking out gaze control right now. that is writing with your eyes.

@chris yeah those sites you mentioned about the demo scene wher cool i have spent a few hours poking around in them even installed that python program but haven't messed with yet.

@george why you being debbie downer that wall is sick. i like the rfid part. i am trying to hook up my nike sensor to a arduino right now sparkfun has directions and its better than rfid cause the sensor works on 2.4ghz so your dog can open the doggy door at 60 feet away.

here are some multi touch tables i like. this one is more than a table its an operating system.

this is just funny.

gtoledo3's picture
Re: Inspiration

Rant on

Yeah, I should have abstained from commenting, but I did anyway, because this really hits on one of my aesthetic pet peeves. I don't like to be negative about creative efforts, and overall I think this is an effort anyone should be way proud of.

I tend to not like futuristic design (as is typically done), because it usually emulates really old ideas about what the future is supposed to be like. Every so often someone thinks way outside the box and creates a whole new vision of what a futuristic look "should" be, and that's pretty cool.

However, you said it yourself- the entire aesthetic of this was well established years before. When I see something like this, it reminds me of the old Terminator movie and when you see the Terminators viewpoint, and see all of the little graphic crapola going on. I mean... that was about 30 years ago!

When I see that wall, I actually want to turn away and not look at it. That is the emotional response I get on a gut level. There is nothing surprising, it's all predictable, and it looks like a bunch of crap flying around. There is nothing organic or really eye catching from an aesthetic standpoint... to me. It looks like a bad sci-fi movie, but not in a funny cool an unintentional, overly serious way.

Hey, I don't like surround sound, because I don't like the sound coming from behind me. It's "wrong" to me. I would rather have four speakers in front of me, and mix for height, panning instruments so that it mirrors how something ACTUALLY sounds when you are sitting in front of a band. When a person is in nature and they hear something behind them, it's disturbing. It triggers "fight or flight" response. I feel the same way about a wall like this... it doesn't look clean to my eye. It doesn't preserve the uniform nature of a blank piece of paper, which is perfect design. It doesn't lead my eye from one point to another, it just IS.

I want to back off and say... overall, it is an awesome thing notwithstanding my extremely nitpicky and subjective design criticism.

Now, the conglomeration of the application of various technologies is cool, no doubt. Yet... rfid? Wow, they implemented a bar code! Yay. That's how I feel about AR as well, even though I'm way into it in many ways. I look at the technology, and I'm thinking "these ideas have been around since the 70's, this isn't cutting edge, innovative, or even novel". It's like... I'm simultaneously "this is cool", but I'm also underwhelmed.

I think the killer app is working with the nodes that attach to your forehead, and let you power a mouse with your thought. THAT actually DOES exist! Meanwhile people are doing two finger image resize and logging onto the "internet" via a big LED screen, and going "wow, how futuristic".

Rant off

mattgolsen's picture
Re: Inspiration

Yeah the UI stuff didn't excite me so much as the interaction between the different elements.

I love hearing the opinions from everyone on here, keep this discussion going!

cwright's picture
Re: Inspiration

gtoledo3 wrote:
I look at the technology, and I'm thinking "these ideas have been around since the 70's, this isn't cutting edge, innovative, or even novel". It's like... I'm simultaneously "this is cool", but I'm also underwhelmed.

Not to me-too the topic, but that's my general feel with this kinda stuff too. Multitouch to me actually gets used in exactly 2 places: 1) two-finger scrolling (this happens continually for me, and made me love the trackpad more than the mouse) and 2) two finger+click = right click (this happens less frequently).

I've never actually had to zoom/rotate an image enough for gestures to matter. I don't see it as a particularly useful problem to solve, yet EVERY MULTITOUCH DEMO does it! The guy in the video mentions multi-mouse stuff not being possible, but it's been possible in linux since the early 2000s (I remember specifically researching multi-pointer interfaces while in college), and it's possible in OS X when using HID. It's probably possible in win32 as well, but I don't know the HID/interface model to say yay or nay.

All these interfaces have been researched/implemented into the ground for the past decade (or more), and yet they've never caught on. perhaps that's because, despite looking cool, they don't actually solve problems people face?

Another nit on my end is how crappy the framerate of the demo is -- when they're drawing wires or doing other image loading things, the rotating discs seem to stall/stutter. it's like QC-Leopard when you modify the editor with a composition running :) At one point near the end, the button lag is so severe that the user is holding their finger on the screen for a second or so to get the click to register -- when you're actually working with a device in real life, that kind of lag makes you want to slit your wrists. At NAB, smokris and I test-drove a couple large multitouch screen overlays, and found the performance to be so lousy that even basic handwriting was choppy and segmented. Because, like, sending 2 coordinates of data more than 100 times per second is, like, so difficult/impossible (even though optical mice can do it over 200 times per second, and have been doing it for 5+ years). So, why does this software suck so severely? lack of funding, perhaps. why a lack of funding? because it's not actually solving problems. It lacks a real-world application, or the implementation is so bad it doesn't adequately address real-world problems. (that's my main speculation, but there are likely other reasons as well -- technical difficulty is not one of them).

Contrast this with the Wii remote: A company not even focused on user interfaces single-handedly revolutionized video game interfaces (though I agree it's not a be-all-end-all interface, not by a long shot) on their first try. clearly there's something amiss here, with disparities like this persist for such long periods of time...

[edit: Note that I'm not anti-multitouch, i simply don't see what the big deal is/where it will actually "Change The Way You Think".]'s picture
Re: Inspiration

I have to say I'm with you George, no dis to other contributors or the developers in question. Let's remember this was made for Cannes Lions not Canne Film Festival. SO it was advertising product by ad-men for ad-men. QED.

Having said that I would not be able to pull this off at this stage, as I'm just too slow and a novice hack at QC. Finding applications for our kind of stuff isn't all that obvious. I attend an annual 3-day design speakers forum and I've been trying to think of a really good wall idea to maybe take sms feedback feeds or something more artistic from a custom iPhone app and I'm struggling to justify the bother of even thinking about it let alone design and build it.

First time I saw an interactive table was a you-tube of the light-table / musical instrument which I subsequently saw used on a Bjork tour you-tube vid. That I thought was a real point of departure. I built a monophonic synth or two in my teens (early 80's) and I just loved the way this seemed to take a totally new conceptual path for composition. Admittedly the actual music synthesis could have been arranged in a massive patch-bay of plugs and connectors joining the modules but there was something very playful, magic and inviting about the device none the less.

That wall was essentially for getting ad-men all happy about a new advertising medium, the in-venue/store Blade-Runneresque immersive everywhere-you-look-and-now-touch-we-own-this-space-sorry-billboard. In a word: YUK. And with all that crew you'd think they would have had the courage to bring in a non-techie visual artist for perspective-come-left-field-approach. Too many egos perhaps.

cybero's picture
Re: Inspiration

Imagination [mine]

Music, Film, Theatre, Art, Mathematics, Science Fiction <[imagination]-others> - others works

See Futurismo Zugakousaku Kineme Interactive Media- especially the Applications section, although the Forums also contain example files. qtzlcodex Quartz Candy toneburst - machines don't care

amongst many others besides

dust's picture
Re: Inspiration

i see where your coming from george. i like the future retro design stuff. you know like the old popular mechanics magazine covers and what not from the 50's. your phobia of surround sound is a bit weird seeing you make music and all but i am with you i use stereo emulation on my surround system, the speakers are all in front of me as well. chris is pretty right on as far as the two finger scroll is concerned. its like yeah you can now do two finger rotation in photoshop which is cool but honestly every time i use that feature it is a mistake. like it or not i think things are all going in that multi-touch direction i guess its up to designers to make it interesting. memo is doing some cool multi touch stuff on the more organic level. i love his splatter paint program, gold dust is pretty cool as well.

gtoledo3's picture
Re: Inspiration

Ha! I appreciate intentional future-retro. Stuff should always look intentional even if it's not.

I wouldn't say that I have a phobia of surround sound. I just don't think that people really like it that much despite the hype and want that people have to be in on the cutting edge. To wit, it hasn't caught on, and I think natural instinct is the big reason why.

I understand it's a pretty tenuous statement to say that surround sound as implemented hasn't caught on because people don't really like hearing stuff from behind them, but from my observation, I think it's true. Once people get past the initial "cool, something is coming from speakers behind me", I don't think it's very desirable. I go back again to ... when you hear something behind you, you want to turn around. It's an ingrained response. I think it's distracting. If you are out in the wild, totally natural man, you hear something behind you, it raises the hair on your neck. Also, most musicians would also likely say that the best sound isn't happening when you are up on stage in the middle of all of the instruments! There are exceptions to every rule of course.

At one time I spent a decent amount of time on a vertical four speaker mixing system with someone, and it was amazing. You can mix a kick drum to the ground level, cymbals to the top... getting actual "height" in a mix is about a million times more startling and compelling to the ear.

It's very esoteric to say "something pushes the ear/eye away" or that something else compels attention, but that's just something I look for in my own gut response. If I'm watching/listening to something, and I find myself looking at something else all of a sudden, or going to do some task in the middle... When I find myself doing that, I take note.

Getting into the world of audio... lack of dynamic range and low level digital distortion has been a real downer, and people don't tend to listen to whole records, because they don't feel compelled to... and it's not always the music. It's because the ear has been assaulted and it mildly aches after awhile. With modern recording tracking techniques, surround sound stuff can be especially horrible, because none of it was recorded at the same time anyway, so everything sounds horribly disconnected when panned across 5 speakers. I actually like a really well mixed mono record that is done so well that you hear depth and height. When mixing stereo, I'm a strong advocate of LCR (left/center/right) style panning, and totally axing any of the inbetween positions... the negative space being there makes things sound MUCH better.

The splatter paint thing reminded me a lot of my feedback and accumulator paint stuff, like that Pollock and Petri paint stuff (from the clips I saw), but I really like it. I think it's cool that he did that in OpenFrameworks. I remember a company asking me about using that for a project, making an offer, and then seeing the splatter paint stuff pop up later. I always wondered about that.

Yep, totally agree with Chris's take on there just not being a real reason for some of this stuff (rotating the pics that way, etc., etc.), and about really poor implementation. I hope that it doesn't feel like I started a pile on. Given the right circumstance, a lack of time and sleep, I might be pulling out old Terminator looking stuff too. I can always walk in someone else's shoes! It takes more energy to do something constructive than to write a piddly comment about it... and what one person views as a weakness, inevitably is it's strength in someone else's eyes.

Also, there are many people that just like that look, so it's not like I can't see validity in the design choice.

mattgolsen's picture
Re: Inspiration

All these interfaces have been researched/implemented into the ground for the past decade (or more), and yet they've never caught on. perhaps that's because, despite looking cool, they don't actually solve problems people face?

Yeah this is definitely something that occurred to me in watching this and the multitude of other multi-touch videos floating around. Does this solve an existing interface problem for users?

I'm noticing this trend of making the user interface mimic the real world, which.. seems like a really bad idea to me. For example BumpTop (a desktop replacement) creates a 3d desktop with files that you can shuffle around and put in stacks, pin to the sides etc. But, really this doesn't seem to be a more efficient way to interact with files, it seems grossly LESS efficient. Compare shuffling through files on your desk with opening up Finder and browsing to your User folder and opening a specific picture etc. A windowed with tree based browsing interface really is a brilliant way of accessing data.

I think giving this sort of dumbed down interface is almost insulting to novice computer users, even though it may be a more supposed "natural" way of interacting with a computer.

I think what I actually find exciting about these sorts of videos is novel ways of viewing existing data, and ways of interfacing/presenting that data. This is one of the reasons that I mentioned flowingdata in my original post. And in that interfacing/presenting the data is why I find QC so exciting because it's a veritable swiss army knife with a very easy barrier of entry, but is incredibly complex.

Thanks for the thoughts guys, keep them coming!

dust's picture
Re: Inspiration

yes i want to see the old terminator style stuff.