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Run Length Encoding

Our first assignment in our Learning Machines class is to implement a run length encoder and decoder. This is a simple data compression algorithm that benefits from repeated patterns.

It happens that I previously had an idea for an Arduino project that requires a light-weight data decompression algorithm to decode audio data. I was going to use run length encoding because it is simple to implement and the code itself won't take up much of the Arduino's precious memory. I'll also need to encode the audio files in Python, and I'll use the below code to do it.

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Stratasys 3D Printing

The 3D prints for my final Tesseracts project were done on the Ultimaker 2+ printers available at the NYU Makerspace. The print quality was good but the Makerspace also has professional 3D printers that can print at much higher resolutions. After our 3D printing class was over, I printed my tesseract models on a Stratasys Dimension Elite printer. Not only was the print quality excellent, but the print process was reliable and stress-free.

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Playtesting

Tomorrow we will begin Playtesting for our final project. I'm feeling good about the direction of our project and am looking forward to answering our user interaction questions.

New Design

We made some changes to our design. Most notably, we are going to drop MIDI sounds in favor of sampled sounds in mp3 or wav format. This simplifies our design and also removes the requirement that future users of this device will need to buy relatively expensive MIDI software to make pretty sounds. Additionally, we discovered that there might be some shortcomings in a Mac's MIDI subsystem that may be behind some of the technical challenges we faced during the midterm.

We are going to continue referring to our device as MIDI Meditation until we come up with a better name. The name of the project is probably the least important thing for us to think about right now.

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After Effects

We started learning about Adobe After Effects, a video editing and compositing tool that I enjoy immensely. I spent more time than I should have going through After Effects tutorials and learning about what this tool can do. This tool is super useful; there were many moments when I realized that some cool thing I've seen can be easily done with After Effects. I want to become proficient at this and use it for creative work.

We were asked to build a short composition with animated shapes but I got carried away building an animated character that walks across the screen. The character is built in Illustrator and animated in After Effects. I added some sound effects using Premiere. Enjoy!

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Final Brainstorming

Camilla and I decided that for our final project we will continue working on our MIDI Meditation device. We did well working together and we have a good project idea. The feedback from the midterm presentation is that if we improve the interaction and user experience we will have a great final project and an intriguing submission for the final show. Rather than try to build some kind of crazy flying robot, I believe that working on the interaction and user experience design will be a good learning experience for me.

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Stop Motion

Our first group project is to create a short stop motion animation using Dragonframe. We created a short story about an apple tree.

This video is hilarious and cracks me up every time I watch it. This was a lot of fun to make.

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Tesseracts

I am interested in using 3D printing to model and visualize mathematics. To explore this, I will analyze and study a tesseract. A tesseract, or hypercube, is a 4 dimensional cube. It is analogous to a cube in our 3D world. Tesseracts are challenging for 3D beings to visualize and understand. They are theoretical structures that can be understood mathematically. Tesseracts can interact with a 3D world in a way that is similar to a cube interacting with a 2D world. A 2D being cannot understand, visualize, or fully experience a cube, but as a cube rotates around, they can gain a better understanding of what the structure is like. Similarly, a rotating tesseract can help us understand what they are like.

Using math and 3D printing, I can create multiple versions of a rotating tesseract. These 3D printed tesseracts can be assembled in a stop motion animation to show what the tesseract looks like as it rotates around 4D space.

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This project was inspired in part by the book Visualizing Mathematics with 3D Printing.

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MIDI Meditation

Camilla and I built a MIDI Meditation machine for our midterm project. The device is equipped with a heartbeat sensor to detect when the user's heart beats. It plays a single MIDI note in sync with the heartbeat. The main idea is to help the user become more aware of their heartbeat while meditating and possibly get needed feedback for lowering their heart-rate through meditation.

The interaction is intriguing and stimulated the curiosity of our classmates. Several people gave it a try and enjoyed the experience. I'm not a meditation practitioner but I did give it a try. My heart-rate stayed constant throughout while I became more aware of my heart beating. Hearing the same note play in sync with my heart was surreal.

A photo of the device, taken by Camilla, is below:

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