This Week in Making: Putting Your Face in a Video Game, Being a Cosplayer, and More

This past Wednesday, I was able to attend Nvidia’s 2017 GPU Technology Conference (GTC). I expected to leave with a new wealth of technical know-how, but I had no idea I would also have such a good time. Jensen Huang’s keynote presentation left me in a whirlwind of emotions.

I was stunned with how impressive Nvidia’s holodeck and new smart car platform, Drive PX, were. Seeing what companies like Square Enix, Microsoft, and Amazon were going to be using Nvidia’s new Volta GPU made me excited for the future. Then, seeing Nvidia’s naïve, yet highly intelligent (almost child-like) A.I. made me nervous. Don’t get on my case. I watch a lot of Terminator and Matrix movies.

The exhibit floor was, without a doubt, my favorite part of the conference. Getting to interact with so many creators and inventors was awesome. The video game and entertainment media sections occupied my time the most. Another World Studios’ Digital Doubles booth was by far my favorite. Learning how Nvidia’s technology can map people’s faces for use in video games was fascinating. I was sure to grab a business card. Be on the lookout for my face in the next Mass Effect or Tomb Raider.

We announced the winner of…

Cosplay, Cotton Candy, and Disco Shine Bright at Maker Faire Cairo

For a Westerner, traveling to Egypt is dominated by the fame of the ancient Egyptian makers. The pyramids! The hero of Saqqara, royal architect Imohep and his stepped pyramid (the first pyramid ever) date back to 2650BC. The incredible sculptors behind the carved tributes, like the breathtaking giant Ramses II at Memphis, all thousands of years old. The art of mummy-making, with decode-able bodies and personalities, thousands of years dead. This is durable work, and people have traveled for years across the globe to experience these treasures of human history.

Now, though, Westerners meandering Egypt aren’t so common. Since the uprising of 2011, tourism in Egypt plummeted and the ongoing economic hose of tourism has twisted into a stubborn kink. Over just the last year, Egypt’s currency devalued 100% against the dollar. So to be frank, it’s hard times in Egypt. Add that economic and political context to frequent-enough terrorist acts by radical Islamist militant factions, and well, a growing West/Middle East divide is not a surprise.

So amidst all that, from these Californian eyes, Maker Faire Cairo 2017 shined so bright. So bright. Over 11,000 mostly college-age people showed and attended the day-long affair on April 8 at Smart City, at an international tech office campus 45 minutes outside of central Cairo. With backing from the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, the show organizing team out created a platform for the healthy and diverse maker community, and pulled together a brilliant program with world-class and varied maker headliners.

Headliner Ahmed Zahran, Egyptian maker hero, is CEO and founder of KarmSolar, Egypt’s largest private off-grid solar integrator and one of the leading innovative companies in solar energy applications in the country.
Daytime science show with Indian edutainer and Toys-from-Trash evangelist Ashok Rupner.
David Neevel, the U.S.-born maker behind the Trump Tweet Burner Robot and the Oreo Separator Robot, was totally selfie-mobbed after his talk.

I have to mention up front one of my exhibitor faves, this robotics club BigHero6. Apparently they have won a ton of competitions, but to have fun at Maker Faire they had a crazy-strong desire to make a cooking robot. This first short video is a WAIT-FOR-IT gem; the second is a bit of conversation with these quick and sweet young makers:

An awesome element at Maker Faire Cairo was a whole tent devoted to the Geek Fictions Convention — a Cosplay gathering and competition. The MFCairo team brought in YouTube cosplay “stars” from the Netherlands, Ukraine, and the U.S. to be celebrity judges. This all made for super fun mobile content all over the place, and apparently the name of the game is SELFIES with your fave character.

Coolness. Available for selfies.
Superhuman superheroes everywhere!
I believe this Captain Jack Sparrow won the contest, and a trip to a cosplay competition in the Netherlands!

The Maker Faire Cairo organizing team is unusual for a larger Maker Faire: it’s comprised primarily of college students involved with the Cairo makerspace, FabLab Egypt. Their energy and edge is palpable, and their collaborative curatorial process resulted in a superlative range of imported talent.

One such brilliant choice was bringing in up-and-coming…

Weekend Watch: Cosplay, Painting, and Drumming with Gladzy Kei

Next time you find yourself needing a cosplay fix, look no further than Gladzy Kei’s YouTube channel. Packed with time-lapse videos and exquisite costume results, this channel is a treasure trove of tips and methods. She doesn’t come out and explain every single tiny step she takes, but I did learn quite a bit just by watching how she put things together.

Moana seems like a simple enough costume to piece together, but what about that necklace? Watch as Gladzy creates it from scratch! Instead of going out and hunting for a cabochon that happens to look similar enough, she sculpts what she wants out of hot glue and worbla thermoplastics.

Worbla is pretty amazing stuff. I was mesmerized watching how Gladzy shaped it to create this Wonder Woman breast…