Monday, 27 October 2014

Now We Are Six

David Novan, Joshua Westbury, Brandon Butterworth and Molly Brown. Photograph by Michael To

The Sci-Fi Gene blog has made it to exactly six years today, and I have been making short films for almost six years. Saturday's screening of Last Zombie Standing at Croydon International Film Festival was a chance to reflect. This is one of my favourite projects from the last six years and I'm proud of what we achieved in that 48 hour period.

Croydon was also a chance to look forward and be inspired: the films on show were diverse but all packed with originality. The prizes were all well deserved - you can find out more about them on the festival website Hard to pick favourites but I particularly enjoyed the winning animation Mend and Make Do by Bexi Bush, Katie Garrett's experimental film combining poetry and dance, and The Cleaners, a mockumentary about the hard-working staff responsible for keeping the ocean floor tidy.

Meanwhile the story goes on - work continues on Reply To All and on the Broken Bird music video. I'm considering projects for next year, possibly including a 3D film, and I enjoyed connecting with filmmakers and film enthusiasts at Croydon - who knows where those connections will lead?

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Last Zombie Standing [posters]

I'm looking forward to being part of Croydon International Film Festival on the 25th October. You can now check out the full programme and find out more about this event on the extremely friendly festival website. Meanwhile here are two alternative Last Zombie Standing movie posters for your enjoyment.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Stonely's Pet Dinosaur Book Trailer

Book trailer made for the launch of Stonely's Pet Dinosaur, a new rhyming picture book written by Naomi Burman-Shine and illustrated by Callum Graham. This was a lot of fun to make. The book is available now from the Stonely's Pet Dinosaur website here, or via Amazon here - so if you know any kids that like dinosaurs (rare I know) then check it out.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Work In Progress: Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart

Adjusting the mesh, adding auricles, coronary vessels and other details

Combining some procedural textures

Inner glow...

[produced in Blender 2.68]

Work in progress: Heart of the Matter

Modelling a heart in Blender, for use in the Broken Bird video
Basic heart mesh

Adding the major vessels. More detailed work to follow...

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Google's Asimov-Compliant Cars

BBC News Technology reports here on an interesting feature of Google's self-driving cars: they are programmed to break the speed limit in certain circumstances. If surrounding cars are speeding, the Google car may deduce that driving below the limit would be unsafe and so accelerate by up to 10mph to match the other cars.

This is an example of an autonomous robot following Asimov's First and Second Laws of Robotics: obeying the laws given to it by human beings, except where such orders would allow human beings to come to harm.

There's nothing in the article about the Third Law though. Would an unoccupied Google car choose to drive itself off the road if it was the only way to avoid a collision? And what would the same car do if it were carrying passengers, or if there were also a risk of hitting pedestrians? I wonder if we are really ready for an autonomous robot that can calculate the lesser of two evils.

The Three Laws appear throughout Asimov's many Robot novels and short stories - they're a clever framework for exploring and writing about human moral and ethical dilemmas. In the short story "Evidence" robot psychologist Susan Calvin (one of science fiction's greatest characters) spells out the links to human morality. Interesting that we are now building robots that are so complex that there is a need to consider robot ethics.