Brainwash Yourself – Google Chrome Extension

Have you ever heard that story about subconscious Coca Cola advertising in the cinema? Well, if you haven’t here’s a bit of text quoted from Businessinsider.com:

The birth of subliminal advertising as we know it dates to 1957 when a market researcher named James Vicary inserted the words “Eat Popcorn” and “Drink Coca-Cola” into a movie.

The words appeared for a single frame, allegedly long enough for the subconscious to pick up, but too short for the viewer to be aware of it. The subliminal ads supposedly created an 18.1% increase in Coke sales and a 57.8% increase in popcorn sales.

Vicary’s results turned out to be a hoax. But more recent experiments have shown that subliminal messages actually can affect behavior in small ways.

Inspired by this story, I wanted to experiment with the concept of subconscious messages inside an internet browser. Instead of companies and other external parties trying to influence you, wouldn’t it be nice if you could influence yourself with something you choose?

Brainwash Yourself is my first attempt at making a Google Chrome browser extension. It allows you to choose one or more images that will be shown for only a fraction of a second during browsing. If you want to be happier, you could choose an image that makes you happy. Or if you want to be reminded that you need to drink enough water, you could choose images of water bottles, waterfalls, whatever makes you thirsty. Or motivate yourself to work-out more or think of your friends or family. The default image is a sunflower.

Brainwash Yourself Default Image - Sunflower

Currently the image flashes every 10 seconds, which may be a bit too often. Why? Well… according to the story the single advertising frame was visible too short for the viewer to be aware of it. Maybe too short to be fully aware of what is shown in the frame, but it’s quite obvious that something is flashing! Especially when browsing on the web, where pages are usually static with a light background and a lot of text, it’s distracting when an image is suddenly flashed all over the screen. Even if it’s just for the duration of a single frame.

The plugin uses window.requestAnimationFrame() to show the image as short as possible. But it still makes me blink every time the image is shown. So this approach is not very successful at influencing yourself subliminally – but you can still try to influence yourself with it!

The code is on GitHub. To install it in Google Chrome you need to go to download the code from GitHub. Then go to chrome://extensions/, turn on developer mode, load unpacked extension, choose the ‘brainwash_yourself‘ folder. You can choose images via the plugin settings. Toggling the plugin on or off is supposed to work by clicking on the plugin icon, but that’s not really working. So you should turn off the plugin in chrome://extensions/.

Rapping.Reviews has been released!

It’s almost 4 weeks since I released my Rapping.Reviews project. After about a year of hard work, crazy rap auditions and a long search for affordable and performant managed WordPress hosting the website is finally live. Check out the trailer!

Rapping.Reviews automatically analyzes the reviews from Movies and TV Series and presents them in the form of a rap battle music video. Currently the site contains raps about more than 13.000 Movies and TV Series and automatically updates itself every day (provided that there are enough new IMDb reviews). You can read more about the concept on the About Rapping.Reviews page.

Some raps work well, some don’t – that’s part of the joke. Personally I liked the rap from ‘50 Shades of Grey’, it’s quite a hefty battle! Especially the ending…

Continue reading Rapping.Reviews has been released!

Friends Season 1 – An Average Episode

I recently read an article about average faces which made me curious about moving average images. How would an average movie of a certain director look like? Or what would the average ‘I love you’ phrase in a movie look AND sound like? While I was thinking about this, somebody told me this has already been done with the first season of the Friends TV Series. So I looked up the YouTube video “Watch Every Episode of Friends Simultaneously” (embedded below).

Continue reading Friends Season 1 – An Average Episode

Rap Karaoke in a Costume @ Minerva Open Day

The ‘Rap Karaoke in a Costume’ event was a big success! I hosted the event during the Open Day of the Minerva Art Academy on Saturday November 7th. Everybody was welcome to give a (lip sync) rap performance in the Green Screen Studio while simultaneously express a positive or a negative word to review a move.

What is this all about? The ‘Rap Karaoke in a Costume’ event is part of my current project: Rapping.Reviews. This is a website with over 13.000 computer generated rap battles made from IMDb movie/tv series reviews. The lyrics will be ‘rapped’ by a computer voice (the eSpeak speech synthesizer) and have been combined with a hip-hop beat, the video trailer, and a rap performance to present you movie reviews in a new way.

This is an example video of how a rap battle could look like:
One rapper presents the positive opinions of the movie and the other rapper presents the negative opinions. Because of this I want a variety of rappers that also look like a positive or negative word that could be used to review a movie. The words should in a way be synonyms to ‘good movie’ or ‘bad movie’. Some examples are ‘Badass’, ‘Beautiful’, ‘Cool’ or ‘Shit’, ‘Weak’, ‘Regrettable’. I made a spreadsheet containing many positive and negative words that could be used to review a movie (using a.o. Urban Dictionary as a reference). I would like to visualize as many of these words as possible with original rap performances! That’s where the ‘Rap Karaoke in a Costume’ event comes in.

Continue reading Rap Karaoke in a Costume @ Minerva Open Day

Batch Download Tracks from YouTube Music Library

The YouTube Music Library is a good resource of free music. But when quickly trying to find a suitable track, I was slightly annoyed that the YouTube Music Library doesn’t allow you to scrub through the track. This forces me to listen to the whole intro. I wrote a small script that batch downloads all track on the current page. This way you can easily listen to the tracks in your favorite media player and scrub as much as you like 🙂

// Anonymous "self-invoking" function
(function() {
    // Load the script
    var script = document.createElement("SCRIPT");
    script.src = 'https://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/2.1.4/jquery.min.js';
    script.type = 'text/javascript';
    document.getElementsByTagName("head")[0].appendChild(script);

    // Poll for jQuery to come into existance
    var checkReady = function(callback) {
        if (window.jQuery) {
            callback(jQuery);
        }
        else {
            window.setTimeout(function() { checkReady(callback); }, 100);
        }
    };

    // Start polling...
    checkReady(function($) {
        // Start download
        
        $('.download-link').each(function(){
            $this = $(this);
            $this.prop("download", "");
            this.click();
        });
    });
})();

Run this code in the JavaScript console (Command+Option+J on the Mac in Google Chrome) or execute it through this Batch Download YouTube Music Tracks Bookmarklet. Drag the link to your bookmarks and click it when in the YouTube Music Library.

Resources used: Stackoverflow.com

Update:
The same method works on the Vimeo Music Library too (where you’re also unable to scrub through songs). You only need to change the class selector from .download-link to .download. Vimeo doesn’t show all tracks on one page so you may need to run it a few times. Here is the Vimeo bookmarklet: Batch Download Vimeo Music Tracks Bookmarklet.

Pyro: The experiment of my first Nikon 1 4K RAW film

Equipment used: Nikon 1 V2, Canon FD 28mm f2.8, Canon FD 50mm f1.8, Canon FD 70-210mm f4, Pentor Auto 135mm f2.8, 128GB Komputerbay SD card, Fotodiox FD-Nikon 1 Lens Mount Adapter with tripod mount, tripod, Zoom H4n audio recorder, Macbook Pro Retina 15″ 1TB SSD

Software used: Custom Perl script for sorting the burst photos, GoPro Cineform Studio, Adobe DNG Converter, Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe After Effects, Adobe Audition, Pro Tools

Music: Grenade – Fire in the Hole by Andrew Haze

Third party audio:
Brandweerwagens passeren met sirene by Robin Koek

Another Sky by Yukihiro Kaneko

high_pitch.wav by VTK Productions (vtkproductions.com)

ScreechGuitar.aif by HolyGhostParty https://www.freesound.org/people/HolyGhostParty/sounds/71145/

BottleDrinking02.wav by Abolla

The process:

As a student and technology enthusiast I don’t have a lot of budget to buy equipment. But I’m always interested in experimenting with new technology. One of those experiments I’ve been doing for a while is producing videos with a cinematic look, on a budget. I bought my first DLSR in 2011 (Canon 550D) and installed Magic Lantern straight away. The fire-brigade shots in Pyro are from the 550D before I sold it. I bought the Canon 50D and briefly experimented with it for RAW recording with Magic Lantern, but that wasn’t the right camera for me.

Then I found video’s from Javier Sobremazas and Tom Beal that inspired me so much! They’ve been using a small and cheap Nikon 1 V1 camera to capture 4K RAW footage in really short burst shots. It would be a great experiment to capture and work with footage that looks so beautiful! I quickly bought the Nikon 1 V2 (second hand €350 with kit lens), a 128GB Komputerbay SD card and two adapters so I could use my fathers old Canon FD lenses (which didn’t work without corrective optics on my EOS camera’s) and the few old M42 lenses I had laying around. For little money I had a 4K RAW camera and already 7 lenses to use with it…

Continue reading Pyro: The experiment of my first Nikon 1 4K RAW film

Product Development – The Beacon

My favorite course at ADM was Interactive Devices where we developed lamps that visualize information about a person. As you can hear in the video, my concept is like this:

The Beacon – A smart lamp for lovers.

Do you like to feel connected to the people you care about? We do! That’s why we’ve developed The Beacon: a lamp to feel connected when your partner is away from home.

When at least one person is home The Beacon gently lights up when the other turns on the screen of their phone. A signal of life that makes you feel the presence. That way you can feel connected without effort. You can also shake the phone to signal your partner a light message. This means: contact me! It obviously works the other way around too. The Beacon knows exactly who is home.

Coming home will not be the same without it! The Beacon enhances the warm feeling of reuniting with a loved one by creating a pleasant light scape.

That’s what The Beacon is all about: staying connected when separated and enhancing being together.

To develop the lamp, I used a Raspberry Pi model A together with a LPD8806 LEDstrip. I learned how to properly connect everything from the Adafruit tutorial but in the end decided to use Node.js for controlling the LEDstrip.

Continue reading Product Development – The Beacon

Reflection on Ubisoft Visit

A Sound for Interactive Media Field-trip

An image of the group sitting in the Ubisoft Singapore Sound Studio
The group sitting in the Ubisoft Singapore Sound Studio

My first field-trip with The School of Art, Design and Media of Nanyang Technological University was the visit to the Ubisoft Singapore studio. Our professor for the course Sound for Interactive Media, PerMagnus Lindborg, had arranged for us to speak to the sound designers at the game studio. In the morning of Thursday October the 9th Kayleigh and I were picked up at a bus stop Blk 271 CP by PerMagnus who had already picked up our two fellow students. Luckily there are just four students registered for the course, so we all fit in one car. The mood was good-hearted and exciting.

On our arrival at Ubisoft we were greeted by Alex Lim who showed us around. There’s a lot of game concept art on the walls in the studio that’s been used in the development of the Ubisoft games. Especially a lot of Assassin’s Creed artwork. We had to sign a Non-Disclosure-Agreement but it’s a pity we didn’t get to see anything we’re not supposed to disclose.

Continue reading Reflection on Ubisoft Visit

Music Video – A Tropical Memory


Memories from our summer holiday in Singapore and Malaysia.

Video by: Jip de Beer
Music by: Flo Rhythm
Song: Rude, by: Magic!

Shot on Nikon 1 V2. The V2 has just one frame rate option in 1080p, which is 30fps. That doesn’t intercut well with the burst mode, for which I always use a 24fps time line to get the most out of the footage.

Continue reading Music Video – A Tropical Memory