If you saw a shadow monster in downtown Los Angeles earlier this month, you weren’t hallucinating.
Just in time for the Halloween season, Intel and Uproxx put on a live performance in the city’s Gallery Row district, turning a nearly empty parking lot and brick wall into a stage and canvas for a 90-second scene, which included both animated monsters and a real-life actor.
The goal: create a scary performance showcasing the company’s Optane memory products by playing with the notion of what’s real and what isn’t. (This was the second project Uproxx has done with Intel as part of a series with the tech company.)
“We used to live in a time where brands could say anything and [that] was really presentational,” said Uproxx chief creative officer Benjamin Blank. “And so now I think now we’re living in a time where the audience is really looking for brands to demonstrate and do what they say. This is a great example of taking technology and then showing the full process and the end result in a way that the audience can appreciate.”
According to Intel media content manager Katie Lee, Optane memory remembers what a user does while on their computer. That includes most frequently opened applications or files, which hasten the computer’s opening speed while also making sure lesser-used apps and files aren’t taking up precious space. That could result in faster boot times, easier toggling and quicker loading of projects, which Intel says could be twice as fast as the benchmark, depending on if it’s being used for gaming, enterprise or something else.
While Intel calls Optane memory “smart memory,” Lee said it doesn’t mean it’s referring to true artificial intelligence or machine learning. Rather, it’s an updated caching technology that allows for pinning files and folders in a way that lets the computer store applications in another way.
“Let’s say I’m a heavy PowerPoint user,” she said. “By the third time I’ve launched PowerPoint, Optane knows that I’m a frequent PowerPoint user … It really only takes two times. But every time after that, the more Optane is learning your behavior, it’s going to accelerate that performance. So it’s both manual and learned.”
The projection mapping was created by Optical Animal, which worked with the animators at Uproxx to decide what was being created and how it would work in real life.
As the character walks across the deserted parking lot, his shadow appears to be a normal shadow. However, animations and projections are used to turn the shadow into a massive wolf-like beast, which hides and haunts him along the way, taking on a life of its own.
For the shadow performance, the company decided it needed six projectors to fill the entire wall and let the monster grow to nine feet tall. It then needed specific measurements to create a template of the entire space, including column and lamppost locations. (On that wall for the performance, every foot had about 35 pixels of projection in it.)
“What we’re doing is we’re creating some false lighting illusions where we have an actual character that comes out and it looks like their shadow is chasing them and looks like this large monster,” said Optical Animal co-founder Max Nova.
The idea is that keeping programs running faster allows focus to attain the almighty “flow” state. But does it really make a difference to those using it, is it all marketing or is it real but just pointless?
According to Nova, it actually does matter.
“When we’re in the development phase and opening the project file, [delegating] the content where it needs to go for content playback,” he said. “Without that, we might have to wait for it to load, and that really helps, especially on a set environment where it’s a schedule and they need to get the shots done.”
Antonio Cuna (also known as DJ Sweater Beats), who created the soundtrack for the show and the film, which he drew inspiration for from the 1980s, agreed that speed matters.
“When you’re DJing, everything is on the fly sometimes,” he said. “Like you can have a set list of things that you play, but the beauty of DJing live is you can interact with the crowd and so you want that speed. Just how fast your brain works to your hands to do what you need to do to get the crowd engaged.”