VR tribute: SYD MEAD

Syd Mead (born July 18, 1933), is a "visual futurist" and a neofuturistic concept artist. He is best known for his designs for science-fiction films such as Blade Runner, Aliens and Tron. Of his work, Mead was once moved to comment: "I've called science fiction 'reality ahead of schedule.'" (End of citation, source: Wikipedia).
With no doubts, Syd has definitely motivated the whole generation of designers and his influence is far from fading away even today. Along the Star Wars, his work was the reason for most of the designers of my age to dream about an art career. We all wanted to draw spaceships and robots.

I’ve met Syd in Montreal, during the ADAPT 2007 conference, where he held an amazing speech about his career, about his process and where he also signed an event catalogue for me. Yes, I came late to his booth to purchase a book. They were all sold out meanwhile. However, meeting my hero changed totally my life. Syd was not a myth anymore, he was a friendly living person I could talk to. Suddenly, his inspiration went from “dream” to “goal”. By the way, I’ve also attended Ian Mc Caig’s class that week and it was exactly the same experience. And while their skills could remain out of my reach forever, they both are holding the flag for me and illuminate my path.
Although there is undoubtable and visible Syd’s influence on my work, I’ve never attempted to copy or mimic his style. So when the article at Core77 (
http://www.core77.com/posts/20127/flotspotting-michael-jelineks-mead-esque-transportation-designs-20127), I was horrified. Did they just accused me from plagiarism? Well, I must admit that it took me a while to realize that it was the best compliment I could ever earn. Just see for yourselves. Yes, I am still flattered.

Brushes, gouache, pens and markers ... these are Syd’s weapons, and as they may appear too traditional or old school, his style is definitely current and futuristic. On the other side, my tools are digital and experimental. So here comes my desperate attempt to say thank you Syd, steal bit of your style and draw it my way. In virtual reality.
Bellow are few thumbnails and moving gif’s from the process, and at the bottom you will find full 3d sketch hosted at Sketchfab, which you can view with your VR headset and experience the space. Enjoy and leave me a note!


Animated GIF’s from the process, posted on Tumblr:


3d sketch on Sketchfab.com:

From Tiltbrush to 360 panorama


Tilbrush by Google is an amazing artistic tool. Unfortunately, there is only one way to fully admire and enjoy the artwork. Viewer has to dive into Tiltbrush application ... which somehow limits your audience to HTC Vive owners only. Yes, there are ways to share your art via Sketchfab or through the 360 stereoscopic video on Youtube - if you have enough bandwidth and CPU power. So what if you want to consume such art on a mobile device? Here is a little hack which will allow you to export your creations as 360 panoramas and share them on Facebook in example.

Setting up your scene and exporting the 360 video

Before we start, make sure that you read the Tiltbrush release notes (link). The process of rendering the 360 images and movies is not really for dummies and requires bit of computer knowledge.

First of all, find a good spot in your Tiltbrush scene, set up the scale and save your Tilt sketch. After I’ve done that, I’ve renamed the file and copied it to new folder at C:\TILT. (This is just to keep the things simple and organized.)

In the next step you should locate your TiltBrush.exe file. The best way to do so is to use the Steam application where you can browse files associated with Tiltbrush. Mine was located here: C:\"Program Files (x86)"\Steam\steamapps\common\"Tilt Brush”.

Now open the Command Prompt and paste following lines:

cd C:\"Program Files (x86)"\Steam\steamapps\common\"Tilt Brush"
... or your path
and then

TiltBrush.exe --captureOds --numFrames 10 C:\TILT\NoMoon.tilt
... or replace the name of the Tiltsketch with your name and path

Don’t forget to press
enter each time you paste the commands Winking


Tilt brush boots up and loads the sketch. After some time (Depending on the number of frames) the windows closes and you will find your movie in the Documents/Tilt Brush/VRVideos. Although we have an mp4 VR video, we are not going to use it. We are interested in the files hidden in the folder of the same name as our project.

Note to number of the frames: I’ve chosen 10, as I’ve used some animated brushes and I wanted to pick the best look. If you don’t want to wait, just change the number of frames to 1 (set
--numFrames 1) before you start generating the movie. Your command line should look something like this: TiltBrush.exe --captureOds --numFrames 1 C:\TILT\NoMoon.tilt




Crop and adjust

As Facebook does not support stereoscopic panoramas (Yet?) we have to crop the selected frame down to 2:1 proportion. Open up Photoshop and create new 4096x2048 image. Then simple paste (drag and drop) the PNG file into it. If everything goes right, the frame should be perfectly aligned and there is no need for any adjustments. In other cases position carefully the frame - newer version of Photoshop should automatically snap to the edges and the center. You can also crop the PNG manually, just make sure that the ratio will be exactly 2:1.

Once you are done, feel free to adjust your colors and levels, you can even paint in it Winking Save it as





I am quite happy with the free online EXIF injector (http://www.thexifer.net/#exif-general). But feel free to use any alternative. There are tons of these tools available.

There are basically only two changes required to force Facebook to accept your image as 360 panorama: Just set Make to "RICOH" and Model to "RICOH THETA S"

Once you are done, don’t forget to download your injected file. See the process bellow.


Testing and publishing

In order to preview your file locally, I am using the free panorama viewer: http://www.fsoft.it/FSPViewer/download/. If you want to test in Facebook before anyone else see it, just set the privacy to “only myself” and upload your image as a regular photo. Facebook should accept it as 360 panorama.


Now you are ready to go! Don’t forget to share your creations with me and leave me a comment bellow!