Raduno di fine stagione 2016 by Elbafreeride

Domenica 30 ottobre, sul molo di Portoferraio si sono dati appuntamento un centinaio di amanti delle ruote grasse provenienti da Toscana e da altre regioni d’Italia.
Completate le iscrizioni si contano ben 120 partenti, puntuali alle 9.30 si parte in direzione San Giovanni, per attraversare l’ormai famoso passaggio “lagunare”.
Passaggio molto suggestivo, ma purtroppo non sempre praticabile, per fortuna il meteo è stato clemente e ci ha regalato una giornata primaverile in pieno autunno: il cielo era completamente libero da nubi, l’aria pulita e 25 °C, impossibile chiedere di più; ma l’Elba è anche questo: una palestra a cielo aperto dove praticare sport outdoor praticamente in ogni periodo dell’anno.
Arrivati in zona Schiopparello iniziamo la risalita verso il Buraccio.
Breve sosta per ricompattare il gruppo e andiamo ad affrontare il sentiero del Cinghiale Azzurro, caratterizzato da uno stretto single track con sali e scendi con una prima parte esposta fra la macchia mediterranea e una seconda parte che attraversa un bellissimo bosco di lecci.
Terminato il primo trail arriviamo alla zona del ristoro, allestita nell’area panoramica sulla strada del Volterraio. 
Terminata la merenda a base di frutta, bibite e dolci preparati in casa, inizia la parte più impegnativa del raduno… LA CONQUISTA DI CIMA DEL MONTE!

Fra i partecipanti si cominciano a sentire diversi accidenti rivolti agli organizzatori, ma una volta giunti in vetta, si dimentica la fatica appena fatta, ammirando un panorama a dir poco mozzafiato.

Una volta arrivati in vetta a 483 mt slm inizia la discesa del Pastore, caratterizzata da una prima parte su sfondo smosso, misto scoglio per poi addentrarsi in una valle con macchia alta e bosco di leccio.

Giunti a fine discesa, ormai l’adrenalina si è sostituita alla fatica e possiamo andare ad affrontare un ultimo piccolo single track immerso nel bosco che ci conduce finalmente al meritato ristoro finale dove tutti i partecipanti hanno potuto gustare le prelibatezze sapientemente preparate da moglie e mamme del nostro staff.
Vi aspettiamo ancora più numerosi il prox anno con altre interessanti novità. 

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Happy Halloween! SuperMad Toys 1:6 scale custom made Scream Face 12-inch action figure

Happy Halloween!
Now you scare the $h!t out of your 1:6 scale figures LOL

Scream is a 1996 American slasher film written by Kevin Williamson and directed by Wes Craven. The film stars David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, Matthew Lillard, Rose McGowan, Skeet Ulrich, and Drew Barrymore. Released on December 20, 1996, Scream follows the character of Sidney Prescott (Campbell), a high school student in the fictional town of Woodsboro, California, who becomes the target of a mysterious killer known as Ghostface. The film combined comedy and “whodunit” mystery with the violence of the slasher genre to satirize the cliché of the horror genre popularized in films such as Halloween and Friday the 13th.

SuperMad Toys 1:6 scale custom made Scream Face 12-inch action figure Parts List: Head sculpt with Scream mask, Approximately 30 cm tall Body with over 28 points of articulations, 2 pairs of interchangeable gloved hands, Dagger, Shawl / Cape with wire for pose-ability, Black paint, Shoes, Walkie talkie

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"Untitled (Creature Series)" The World of Tim Burton: An Art Piece for Collectors by Hot Toys

Tim Burton is taking his international touring exhibition “The World of Tim Burton” to Hong Kong from November 5, 2016 – January 23, 2017. Hot Toys is honored to be invited to create a high-quality collectible art piece from Burton’s 1980s drawing known as “Untitled (Creature Series)”, one of the signature artworks in the exhibition.

“The World of Tim Burton: An Art Piece for Collectors” features a self-manipulating puppet creature which, adorned with Burton’s characteristic stripe motif and composed of a simple color palette of black and white with a hint of red, is representative of one of the central themes of his work—that is, to be emotionally felt. And the talented team at Hot Toys has faithfully brought Burton’s artistic vision to life, transforming the 2D graphic work into a stunning 3D sculpture and collectible art piece that fans and collectors should not miss out.

As a prelude to the opening of the Hong Kong stop of “The World of Tim Burton” exhibition, 300 sets of this limited edition collectible art piece will be exclusively available for pre-order on FringeBacker for fans around the world. Each collectible is marked with a unique serial number and Tim Burton’s printed autograph.

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Related posts:
Happy Halloween with Jack Skellington from Tim Burton’s 1993 The Nightmare Before Christmas posted HERE and HERE
T’was the night before Christmas featuring toys from Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)” – pics HERE
Hot Toys MMS-82 Movie Masterpiece Series 1/6th scale fully pose-able action figure of Johnny Depp as Edward Scissorhands reviewed HERE
Batman Movies vehicles by Tim Burton posted on my toy blog HERE
Hot Toys DX09 Tim Burton’s Batman: 1/6th scale Michael Keaton Batman Collectible Figure PREVIEW pics HERE
HoT Toys DX08 Tim Burton’s Batman: 1/6th scale Jack Nicholson Joker Collectible Figure PREVIEWED HERE
Tim Burton’s “Batman Returns” 1:6 scale Michelle Pfeiffer Catwoman figure reviewed HERE and HERE
Hot Toys 1/6th scale Johnny Depp as Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street Collectible Figure previewed HERE

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Great Industry News, Great Websites & More

One of the bigger stories that came out of GlassBuild America was the co-locating of the GANA Fall Conference with GlassBuild in 2017.  The Fall Conference brings some crucial technical pieces to the forefront, along with other important industry news and updates.  Having it now integrated with the largest trade show in North America will surely open it up to more people who had never attended before, those that used to attend but scheduling prevented them from doing so, or additional members from a single company when normally a company would only send one person.  Moves like this are very good for the industry- we have so much out there education wise, but I think only a small percentage of people are taking advantage of it.  Hopefully with a wider base things like this and the newly re-launched MyGlassClass.com will reach the larger audience and we can continue to grow and prosper as an industry!

Elsewhere…

–  Speaking of education and growth, one group who I admire is the Efficient Window Collaborative.  I have written about them a few times here and I am fan.  Recently they launched an updated website, and it is absolutely fantastic.  Please check it out at http://www.efficientwindows.organd remember this too is a great training tool for your folks and resource for your customers.  Kudos to Kerry Haglund and team for a job well done!

–  Also on the website resource side, Mark Spencer of SAPA turned me on to www.Shapes.Al and it is a really interesting and helpful resource for all things aluminum.  They took an interesting approach with writing more feature like pieces than technical articles.  Lots of content and worth visiting.

–  The industry lost another long-time player last week with the passing of Tom Petersen.  Tom spent 46 years in the glazing world and was extremely well known and respected in the Missouri/Kansas region.  He will certainly be missed and condolences to his family and friends. 

–  Anyone else suffering on the health care costs side?  My monthly costs will now be 110% more per month than they were 3 years ago.  It really is an issue that has gotten lost in the absolute mess of the US election.

–  As you may have seen the Architectural Billings Index did decline again last month making it now into a mini-trend of 2 downers in a row.  The analysts think the election may have some bearing on that- I guess we’ll see.  Overall though the metrics out there are solid as Dodge did their annual outlook conference and from the reports I have seen, they are still bullish on 2017/2018.  I have been gathering those reports and will have some additional takes on that on next weeks post.

–  Last this week… amazingly this blog just celebrated its 11thanniversary.  Every time I note a milestone, I seriously get more blown away that I’m still plugging along and this thing is still alive.  Anyway I thank you for following along and putting up with me every week.  It still is my therapy and while my content has surely changed (I’m much more kind) I hope you can find at least a nugget or two worthwhile each week.    Thanks again for reading- I truly appreciate it!

LINKS of the WEEK

–  Thank you to Paul Wagner who left a comment on the Glass Magazine.com posting of this blog.  Really interesting stuff here on solar roadways…. These need to happen!

–  Man dressed as a pine tree.  Blocks traffic.  People have issues. 
 Great story on the backgrounds of the old Neiman-Marcus cookie recipe debacle.  Company was brilliant in their handling!
VIDEO of the WEEK

If you happened to miss GlassBuild or you missed the video recaps- here’s Day 3.. a look back at a fun day and great show!

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DollsOddSaga 1:6 "Outer Heaven" Exo-skeleton collectible figure Review II (think "Elysium")

continued from previous toy blog post

More pics of DollsOddSaga DOSN-002 1:6 scale “Outer Heaven” Exo-skeleton Collectible Figure, this time with the Electro-Magnetic Rail Gun. This figure is inspired by the character Max Da Costa portrayed by Matt Damon in the 2013 science fiction action thriller film Elysium. Max Da Costa has a powered exoskeleton surgically attached to him after he is hit by a lethal dose of radiation during an industrial accident. When I watched the film, I was thinking to myself how cool it would be to have a 1/6th scale version of Max Da Costa with a powered exoskeleton attached. I never would have imagined that a company could actually produce this figure and the best part of it all is, they weren’t asking for some ridiculously high price for it either.

So now that I have the figure in hand, I really appreciate the nice details and the effort the company DollsOddSaga put in to make this figure possible. The pistons / cyclinders all work nicely and you really get a rather realistic and movie-accurate depiction of the Matt Damon Max Da Costa character in the exo-suit in 1/6th scale. That’s what I love about this 12-inch action figure collecting hobby and this outstanding figure is certainly one of those that goes up there on my list of top ten figures for 2016 :) Enjoy the pictures of 1:6 Max Da Costa with the fictional “ChemRail” rifle which supposedly has a high rate of fire, and its high-velocity rounds can rip right through walls and shred enemies.

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Check out the close-up pictures of the 1/6th scale Matt Damon as Max Da Costa head sculpt as well as the nice details on the powered exo-skeleton. I’m really liking this one a lot.

Related post-apocalyptic posts:
What the Mickey? DAM TOYS (ZP002) 1/6th scale MindGame – Sewer Soldiers – Sacker preview posted on my toy blog HERE
Review of Devil Toys War of Order Vol. 1 – The Secret Master 1/6th scale collectible figure posted HERE and HERE
Tinface Toys 1:6 scale Tinface: Cleveland (1st Son) 12-inch figure looks Ashley Wood inspired – pictures HERE
DAM TOYS 1/6th scale MindGame – The Gobi Squad – Black Eight – Frank Chambers (ZP001) posted HERE

Related exoskeleton posts:
Review of Hot Toys 1/6th scale “ALIENS” Power Loader with 12-inch Ellen Ripley figure posted HERE
Sega “Aliens: Colonial Marines” Collector’s Edition 8-inch (20cm) tall Power Loader Figurine – pictures HERE
P is also for Power Loader posted HERE and S is also for Slugfest OR Bitch Fight: Ripley vs Queen Alien posted HERE
MK-6 Amplified Mobility Platform / AMP suit collectible vehicle from Avatar reviewed HERE and HERE
ThreeZero The Matrix 1/12th scale Armored Personnel Unit (APU) with Pilot figure previewed HERE

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Limited Edition Star Wars Han Solo in Carbonite Sixth Scale Figure by Sideshow Collectibles

“I know.”

Unlike the Empire, Sideshow has a long history of working with carbonite which is why we are able to bring collectors the latest addition to our ever-expanding line of Star Wars Sixth Scale figures – Han Solo in Carbonite.

The Han Solo in Carbonite Sixth Scale Figure manages to capture (HA… get it?) the heart-stopping moment when we thought our favorite scruffy looking nerf herder might be doomed forever.

Multiple display options allow the carbonite slab to be positioned both horizontally, as it is moved through a Bespin hallway, and vertically, as it rests in the freezing chamber. The base includes swappable floor decos to simulate either scene, the somber exit from Bespin or the dramatic carbon chamber confrontation. Illumination in the base and along the carbon slab control panel completes the impressively detailed presentation.

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Han Solo in Carbonite Sixth Scale Collectible Figure specially features: Illuminated base, Illuminated carbon slab control panel, Multiple display options, Horizontal display with Bespin hallway base design and illumination, Upright display with carbon chamber base design and illumination. Magnetic vertical stand, the side panel lights up and is switchable with both sides. Product Size: 15″ H (381mm) x 8″ W (203.2mm) x 8.25″ L (209.55mm)

Related posts:
Sideshow Collectibles 1/6th scale Boba Fett, Han in Carbonite and 12-inch Stormtrooper escorts posted on my toy blog HERE
Star Wars Bounty Hunter Boushh with 1:6 scale Han in Carbonite (pics HERE)
Hot Toys MMS261 “Star Wars Episode IV A New Hope” 1/6th scale Han Solo 12-inch Collectible Figure Review posted HERE and HERE

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Supercharging Style Transfer

Posted by Vincent Dumoulin*, Jonathon Shlens and Manjunath Kudlur, Google Brain Team

Pastiche. A French word, it designates a work of art that imitates the style of another one (not to be confused with its more humorous Greek cousin, parody). Although it has been used for a long time in visual art, music and literature, pastiche has been getting mass attention lately with online forums dedicated to images that have been modified to be in the style of famous paintings. Using a technique known as style transfer, these images are generated by phone or web apps that allow a user to render their favorite picture in the style of a well known work of art.

Although users have already produced gorgeous pastiches using the current technology, we feel that it could be made even more engaging. Right now, each painting is its own island, so to speak: the user provides a content image, selects an artistic style and gets a pastiche back. But what if one could combine many different styles, exploring unique mixtures of well known artists to create an entirely unique pastiche?

Learning a representation for artistic style

In our recent paper titled “A Learned Representation for Artistic Style”, we introduce a simple method to allow a single deep convolutional style transfer network to learn multiple styles at the same time. The network, having learned multiple styles, is able to do style interpolation, where the pastiche varies smoothly from one style to another. Our method enables style interpolation in real-time as well, allowing this to be applied not only to static images, but also videos.

Credit: awesome dog role played by Google Brain team office dog Picabo.

In the video above, multiple styles are combined in real-time and the resulting style is applied using a single style transfer network. The user is provided with a set of 13 different painting styles and adjusts their relative strengths in the final style via sliders. In this demonstration, the user is an active participant in producing the pastiche.

A Quick History of Style Transfer

While transferring the style of one image to another has existed for nearly 15 years [1] [2], leveraging neural networks to accomplish it is both very recent and very fascinating. In “A Neural Algorithm of Artistic Style” [3], researchers Gatys, Ecker & Bethge introduced a method that uses deep convolutional neural network (CNN) classifiers. The pastiche image is found via optimization: the algorithm looks for an image which elicits the same kind of activations in the CNN’s lower layers – which capture the overall rough aesthetic of the style input (broad brushstrokes, cubist patterns, etc.) – yet produces activations in the higher layers – which capture the things that make the subject recognizable – that are close to those produced by the content image. From some starting point (e.g. random noise, or the content image itself), the pastiche image is progressively refined until these requirements are met.

Content image: The Tübingen Neckarfront by Andreas Praefcke, Style painting: “Head of a Clown”, by Georges Rouault.

The pastiches produced via this algorithm look spectacular:

Figure adapted from L. Gatys et al. “A Neural Algorithm of Artistic Style” (2015). 

This work is considered a breakthrough in the field of deep learning research because it provided the first proof of concept for neural network-based style transfer. Unfortunately this method for stylizing an individual image is computationally demanding. For instance, in the first demos available on the web, one would upload a photo to a server, and then still have plenty of time to go grab a cup of coffee before a result was available.

This process was sped up significantly by subsequent research [4, 5] that recognized that this optimization problem may be recast as an image transformation problem, where one wishes to apply a single, fixed painting style to an arbitrary content image (e.g. a photograph). The problem can then be solved by teaching a feed-forward, deep convolutional neural network to alter a corpus of content images to match the style of a painting. The goal of the trained network is two-fold: maintain the content of the original image while matching the visual style of the painting.

The end result of this was that what once took a few minutes for a single static image, could now be run real time (e.g. applying style transfer to a live video). However, the increase in speed that allowed real-time style transfer came with a cost – a given style transfer network is tied to the style of a single painting, losing some flexibility of the original algorithm, which was not tied to any one style. This means that to build a style transfer system capable of modeling 100 paintings, one has to train and store 100 separate style transfer networks.

Our Contribution: Learning and Combining Multiple Styles

We started from the observation that many artists from the impressionist period employ similar brush stroke techniques and color palettes. Furthermore, painting by say, Monet, are even more visually similar.

Poppy Field (left) and Impression, Sunrise (right) by Claude Monet. Images from Wikipedia

We leveraged this observation in our training of a machine learning system. That is, we trained a single system that is able to capture and generalize across many Monet paintings or even a diverse array of artists across genres. The pastiches produced are qualitatively comparable to those produced in previous work, while originating from the same style transfer network.

Pastiches produced by our single network, trained on 32 varied styles. These pastiches are qualitatively equivalent to those created by single-style networks: Image Credit: (from top to bottom) content photographs by Andreas Praefcke, Rich Niewiroski Jr. and J.-H. Janßen, (from left to right) style paintings by William Glackens, Paul Signac, Georges Rouault, Edvard Munch and Vincent van Gogh.

The technique we developed is simple to implement and is not memory intensive. Furthermore, our network, trained on several artistic styles, permits arbitrary combining multiple painting styles in real-time, as shown in the video above. Here are four styles being combined in different proportions on a photograph of Tübingen:

Unlike previous approaches to fast style transfer, we feel that this method of modeling multiple styles at the same time opens the door to exciting new ways for users to interact with style transfer algorithms, not only allowing the freedom to create new styles based on the mixture of several others, but to do it in real-time. Stay tuned for a future post on the Magenta blog, in which we will describe the algorithm in more detail and release the TensorFlow source code to run this model and demo yourself. We also recommend that you check out Nat & Lo’s fantastic video explanation on the subject of style transfer.

References

[1] Efros, Alexei A., and William T. Freeman. Image quilting for texture synthesis and transfer (2001).

[2] Hertzmann, Aaron, Charles E. Jacobs, Nuria Oliver, Brian Curless, and David H. Salesin. Image analogies (2001).

[3] Gatys, Leon A., Alexander S. Ecker, and Matthias Bethge. A Neural Algorithm of Artistic Style (2015).

[4] Ulyanov, Dmitry, Vadim Lebedev, Andrea Vedaldi, and Victor Lempitsky. Texture Networks: Feed-forward Synthesis of Textures and Stylized Images (2016).

[5] Johnson, Justin, Alexandre Alahi, and Li Fei-Fei. Perceptual Losses for Real-Time Style Transfer and Super-Resolution (2016).


* This work was done during an internship with the Google Brain Team. Vincent is currently a Ph.D. candidate at MILA, Université de Montréal.

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Hot Toys Suicide Squad – 1/6th scale The Joker (Tuxedo Version) 12-inch collectible figure

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“I can’t wait to show you my toys.”

In the DC Films blockbuster Suicide Squad, Academy Award-winning actor Jared Leto delivers an edgy new take on the Joker unlike anything we’ve seen before. The flamboyant makeup and wardrobe certainly makes his ballsy performance even more fun and memorable.

Today Hot Toys is excited to announce the new 1/6th scale collectible figure of the Clown Prince of Crime in formal wear – a black tuxedo that highlights his manic charisma! The movie-accurate collectible figure is specially crafted based on Leto’s image as the Joker in a black tux, which traces its origin to the classic comics. It features a newly painted head sculpt, newly developed body, finely tailored costume, detailed weapons and accessories, and a specially designed Suicide Squad-themed figure stand with character backdrop.

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Hot Toys Suicide Squad 1:6th scale The Joker (Tuxedo Version) Collectible Figure features: One (1) new head sculpt with authentic and detailed likeness of Jared Leto as The Joker in Suicide Squad | Movie-accurate facial expression with delicate makeup applied | Approximately 29.5cm tall | Five (5) pieces of interchangeable gloved hands including: One (1) pair of relaxed hands, One (1) pair of hands for holding weapon, One (1) gesturing left hand

Costume: One (1) specially tailored black tailcoat with a sculpted boutonniere on the lapel, One (1) white vest, One (1) white dress shirt with bowtie, One (1) pair of black pants, One (1) pair of black-and-white shoes

Weapons: One (1) golden AK assault rifle, One (1) purple pistol, One (1) grenade

Accessories: One (1) purple and gold-colored cane, Specially designed Suicide Squad-themed figure stand with movie logo and character backdrop

Release Date: Q1 – Q2, 2017

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