Friday, June 22, 2012

OTAKON PREP (1) AND TOTEM

(AKA - One way to make a wall scroll, part 1.)

There are 4 asian-styled wall scrolls I'll be creating for Otakon 2012, and I'll be detailing how everything goes here. Since my ink cartridges arrived in the mail today, I thought I'd test out my transfer paper and spray-on adhesive. So I printed a dummy picture onto a sheet of the Lazertron "Iron on Inkjet Transfer Paper for White or Light coloured [sic] Textiles" and took it to MITERS to iron it onto some fabric.

Above: Transfer sheets, sharp scissors, fabric. Iron not shown.

Above: (Left) Original image on regular computer paper.
(Right) Image ironed onto off-white fabric.

As you could probably tell by the above pics, I did a botch job of ironing. Be sure to (1) have a clean iron, (2) iron the corners of the sheet as well, and (3) wait for the fabric to cool before trying to remove the back of the transfer paper! Note: The colors on the fabric are truer to the colors on my computer screen.

Next, I wanted to test out my two adhesive methods - spray on and fabric tape. Except, don't be like me - read all the instructions before starting. My major mistake? My transfer paper instructions told me, "DO NOT USE STEAM." On the other hand, my fabric tape instructions told me, "DO USE STEAM." But I didn't read that. Until I started wondering why my picture was bubbling and yellowing and the transfer sheen was starting to come off. Hmm.

So then I just applied my spray-on adhesive (after reading the full instructions), and things stuck.

Above: Adhesives and the dummy red fabric backing for testing.

Above: After applying the spray on adhesive.
Not the greatest job in the world, haha, but for a test run, it'll suffice.

Add some round dowels at the top and bottom, and voila - final prototype:

Above: Wrinkled and rough-edged, but still feasible.

So all in all, the effort was educational. I've tweaked my wall scrolls plan a bit and will try again after my final images are completed. If I get it right the next time around, maybe I'll write an Instructable on it.

~~~

In other news, I got to see Totem, the newest show by Cirque Du Soleil, a few days ago. And it was amaziiiiing! :D The stage mechanics, the acrobats and performers, the music, the costumes - they were all awesome. (But if I had to choose, my favorite act involved the duo on a single trapeze...)

Above: The Cirque Du Soleil tent. I came outside during intermission with some friends to try
and figure out where the performers went when they disappeared into the ceiling... MAGIC.

Above: Inside the tent before the show. The giant turtle shell structure actually
blocks the coolest part of the stage, in my opinion.

Check out their official website (CIRQUE DU SOLEIL - TOTEM) for more pics, videos and info! If you get the chance and are interested, do go and see it! :)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

MIT CLASS OF 2012

Graduation day - June 8, 2012. Degree - Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. I don't think it's quite hit me yet that I've graduated from MIT.

Above: Procession down Killian Court.

Commencement day started early for graduates, who had to check in to an assigned station and wait for two hours before the administrators finally let us out to walk towards Killian Court, where the ceremony was being held. Salman 'Sal' Kahn, our youngest Commencement speaker and founder of the online Khan Academy, humorously joked about MIT love relationships and likened MIT to Hogwarts, which brought laughs and settled my nerves quite a bit. ("Because sometimes, what we do is considered by the rest of the world to be magic...") And as this was also Susan Hockfield's last Commencement, having her say "...Today I'm graduating with you" nearly shook me to realization that I was really, truly, graduating.

When it was my turn to shake her hand, I gave her a strong shake, a 'Thank you' and a nod, and walked, stunned, down the aisle, past the cameras, past the other graduates, back to my seat. Only when I sat down and took a good look at my diploma did I notice the fluttering of my insides and the shaking of my hands. This was it - this little paper was symbolically everything I had worked for in the past 4 years.

But, through it all, the whole event was really baking hot. Under a smoldering midday sun, we had walked down Memorial Drive to Killian Court, only to sit for a few more hours in our heat-collecting black gowns. Several people even shed their gowns and only put them back on when it was their turn to walk. The event runners were thoughtful enough to provide bottles of water for us graduates, who had to sit in the open field with no tree shade or white awning. Since I sat on the end of a row, I started noticing, amusingly, that the volunteers roaming the aisles passed out bottles of water almost as frequently as names were being called on stage.

Probably the most amusing thing I noticed, and family and friends have also commented on, happened later in the ceremony. Whether it was the heat of the day, the wisps of rain clouds that started hovering near the end of the ceremony, or the impending late projected time of event completion, the announcers started calling out the names much quicker. My department was called early, and I remembered having to wait about 5-6 seconds before my name was called. But sometime close to the end, they were waiting only 1-2 seconds, if any at all. My guess goes to the rain - after a few gray strands passed and no rain fell, the announcers slowed down a bit.

~~

The night before Commencement, I couldn't sleep much, mostly in anticipation. I remember lying in my bed and wondering how I had managed to get through all 4 years. I definitely had doubts in the beginning of whether I'd survive at all. There have been definitely times when I have cried, and times when I strongly doubted myself. However, I was fortunate enough to have had many good memories here that trump much of the bad - good memories that I owe most to the friends I've made in the past 4 years.

It's times like these that I'm truly grateful for inventions like email and Facebook. After meeting and befriending such a diverse group of people on campus, I'm really glad I can instantly stay in touch with all of them. Censorship, firewalls and network connections aside, the fact that our relationship can best borders and oceans really makes me feel that MIT wasn't just in my past, but will also be with me wherever I go.

Above: Under the awning, some of the most powerful wizards of our technological time!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

A WEDDING, THOUGHTS, AND A QUICK ANIMATION

On Sunday 5/27/2012, a friend who lived a few doors down from me got married.

Above: Abby and Dave,  pronounced wife and husband.

There were so many things I didn't know about a Christian wedding. Like how I had to sit on the bride's side because I knew her better, or how the bride and groom had to kiss every time someone tapped the side of their wine glass with a knife (during reception). But it was quite fun - we stood up and sang hymns, prayed and blessed the couple quite a few times, danced to swing and classics at the reception after. And it was very sweet, especially when the bride waltzed with the groom.

We had a few tears shed, a couple of baby wails, and a duo (siblings of the couple) who played the violin and piano preceding and following the ceremony. Due to the groom's association, there was also quite a large fraternity gathering, who mobbed the groom after the reception for a fraternity group hug and picture. All in all, I felt incredibly special to have been part of that moment. The bride looked beautiful, the atmosphere was magical, and watching their grandparents dance to the "Cha Cha Slide" definitely made my day.

The realization hit me a little later that I was already at that age, and that I would probably be attending a few more weddings involving my friends in the next couple of years. I respect the decision of couples like Abby and Dave, who have thought long and hard before taking this next step, and I understand marriage is large commitment many men and women shy away from.

There are always quotes and sayings that poke fun at marriages, equating them to business relationships or captivity. Perhaps it really is for some people. But after witnessing my first wedding ceremony, marriage seemed to mean something more than having a wife or husband. It means accepting another person into your life, and having a constant companion with you to help you battle your worst moments, and be there with you when you celebrate your best. It means a man or woman you choose to share your life story with as it unfolds. That, in itself, is such a special position.

The part of the ceremony that really got me came just before the vows. Abby and Dave told each other their faults, like how he may forget her at times, or how she may lose her patience. But despite those faults, they declared their acceptance of the other, their care and love for one another, and the mutual will to talk and work things out together - to face each other and confront their problems as a team, one at a time. Their vows reminded me that it takes two to maintain the relationship - if one person is only giving, or one is only taking, that bond would collapse.

Their maturity and honesty really moved me. For them, it was hurdle they tackled early. And for Abby to find someone who loved and cared for her as much as she did him made me feel so incredibly happy for her. I suppose if such a hurdle ever comes within sight in my own lane, I'll also do my best to decide on this important decision with my significant other.

~~~

In other news, a few days ago, I found this cute little animation program called "Pencil", and drew up with the following quick sequence:

video

Unlike flash programs and other digital animation software, this program mimics traditional animation, like a flip book with see-through layers. The interface looks a lot like paint, with the addition of a timeline and the ability to create frames. They also give you the option to see before and after frames, like a digital version of applying a lightbox. Unfortunately for Windows and Linux users, you can't export your sequence into a movie. But you can export it into a flash file, which you can then convert into mp4, avi, etc, using your own (or free online) methods.

I'm finding Pencil to be a really good tool for learning and practicing animation, though working on sequences with a tablet is still a little awkward. In the future, I think it would be nifty to try and animate a fight sequence...

Above: A sketch made to relieve stress just after my big final.

So here's to you, Yutaka Nakamura, genius fight animator and key animator for so many of my favorite anime. If I ever went and created an animated fight sequence, I'll send it to you as fan mail.

~~~

To leave off, here's a pic of a resistor menorah that I made for my laser harp in my Microcontrollers class:

Above: I only realized its resemblance afterwards...

I think it looks pretty cool - made the board a bit tidier, too. Too bad my class wasn't in the fall, because then this little resistor menorah would have been made around the appropriate holiday. ...Happy [early] holidays? :)