Shortlog - a log of everyday things



I've had a major headache since I woke up this morning, so that colored my day slightly darker than usual. I was somewhat detached from the world all day - had a hard time tracking discussions and thinking critically.

I had an interesting idea in HCI today - a tool that helps automate dialogue replacement for movie producers by logically binding speech tracks to audio channels (or combinations thereof) based on video and voice recognition. About ADR: most of the audio from the original shots can't actually be used due to noise on the set, wind, and so forth. As a result, the actors have to come back in, sometimes six months after they originally acted that scene, and rerecord the dialogue in a studio at exactly the same rate of speech and with the same emotion. This is a pain for all parties involved, so tools that can help speed along the process would be quite useful for the movie industry.

Since Picasa and other photo software can auto-tag faces in pictures not only as faces, but also with (correct!) names learned from past taggings, I don't see this idea being too difficult on the computer vision side if one throws some object tracking in as well. I'm not sure how effective computers are at distinguishing and recognizing different people by their voices - this comes across as a much less-easily-solved problem (probably because audio interfaces are the unloved child in HCI). Heck, if the algorithms are crazy good, perhaps it's possible to extract the voices from the background, reducing the amount of ADR needed for a movie. I should see if these ideas already exist in products or patents.

I'm kinda surprised that I came up with this in the midst of being unable to hear/process what my brainstorming small group was saying. It feels strange that one of the few marketable ideas I've had recently came to me when I was mentally falling apart. Brains are weird.

I went to the Amazon tech talk, which was all about computing of the future. The takeaway: computing used to be hard to use. Now it's gotten fairly usable. In the future, it needs to be fun, because everyone likes having fun. It was an interesting talk. I missed the pizza at the end, but that prompted me to go home to make dinner, which turned into the beginning of today's Epic Adventure™!

Well, perhaps I'm being a tad melodramatic. I took my normal route home, and on the way I passed a rather long green couch on the sidewalk that appeared to be in decent shape. It had a sign that read "FREE COUCH - GOOD CONDITION." I walked by it, but when I reached the end of the block, I couldn't continue. I SMSed my housemate, Andrew, noting the couch's status and location, and that we might want to pick it up. We agreed to claim it, and I sat down on the couch to establish and fiercely defend my new territory until Andrew arrived. In the meantime, I broke out my laptop and tethered with my Nokia N900 (I love that phone) to read a few emails and grab a paper. As the sun went down, I got more nervous about having my laptop out with me on the street, so I packed things up. Andrew arrived shortly thereafter, and we carried the couch the few blocks home, taking breaks along the way. The couch wasn't terribly heavy, but hauling a couch around town is no mean feat. We successfully got the couch back to the apartment complex, but it was too long to fit in the elevator, so we let the hydraulics take the cushions up and we toughed it out to get the couch up the three flights of stairs. Turns out the stairwell was quite crowded with that couch. We finally got it up to our floor and through the stairwell door, only to discover that we couldn't get it into our apartment from the hallway - the hallway was too short, and the couch so invitingly long. At this point, Andrew and I are both exhausted and our arms and hands are shaking something fierce, so every new angle attempt is punctuated by a minute or two of rest. We tried to partially back the couch into the room across the hallway, which has a better angle from the stairwell, but that too proved unsucessful. On the upside, we met our neighbor Peter! A slight feeling of panic and despair began to set in, as we realized that we would have to take the couch back downstairs and out, since we couldn't get it into our space. Knowing my arms would give out catastrophically at this point if I tried to carry the couch downstairs, I opted to take a two-minute break and get a glass of water and think about the situation again. And when I finished that glass of water, I came up with the winning solution.

We tilted the couch on end in the hallway by lifting one end straight up and swinging the other underneath, moving by the wide dimension of the base, and carefully avoiding the ceiling lamp that obstructed the path that normally tilting the couch on end would have taken. With the couch now standing in the hallway right in front of our doorway, we were able to lift the couch enough to move the end-turned-base in through our doorway, rotating the couch back down. Victory.

So! Now Andrew and I have a free couch to join our free coffeetable, and can entertain guests. This was a good end to a long day.