It’s been a decade since my last big project that I am really proud of. It’s time for a change. Actively working at the moment with a team of friends on codename Project One. Coming 2020, or sooner.
AI Enhancer composes accompaniment to music melodies and it works refreshingly well in practice. The input and output can be polyphonic, of varied length (up to 30-40 seconds for best quality), arbitrary key and time signature and in one of several supported genres. The machine learning technology which underpins the project is an Encoder-Decoder architecture (seq2seq) of Long Short Term Memory (LSTM) Recurrent Neural Networks (RNNs) which are used for machine translation. This blog post gives a good intuition behind the acronyms.
I hope to spare a bit of time in the coming months to put a demo online. A PDF of my dissertation and some version of my code is available on GitHub (apologies for the PDF length of 74 pages – it could have easily been 4 pages but ahem, academic requirements).
Clouds Fly West is a 20-minute documentary which I wrote, directed and produced (yes, I actually raised capital) in my last two years of high-school. The film features motions graphics, 3D and hand-drawn animation combined with original video. The plot follows the effects of migration of Eastern Europeans to Western countries like Germany after the fall of the Iron Curtain. I started working on the movie when I was 16 and completed it a few months before turning 18.
The film appeared in the official programming of two dozes film festivals (US, Canada, France, UK, Sweden and Poland), such as Newport Beach Film Festival and Palm Springs International ShortFest in California. The film won the audience award at NFFTY in Seattle, which is the largest film festival for youth in the world. After the award ceremony, my home country’s national media (Bulgaria) went nuts. The film made headlines in national newspapers and I was interviewed in prime time on the evening news of the main TV channels for a week in the summer of 2011.
A few curious facts: The film is made of 37,000+ separate pieces – video, text, tables, vectors, textures, objects, fonts, models, drawings, sketches and ambient sounds. The raw data size exceeds 1.6 terabytes. The final scene, the mighty thunderstorm, is only 15 seconds, yet it took me more than 10 days to model it working 12+ hours a day. The rendering of the scene was a massively computationally expensive task. I convinced the principal of my high school to let me connect multiple commodity desktop computers in a rendering farm to parallelize the workload and reduce the export time.See on IMDb
Every year since 2008 people across nations turn their lights off for an hour on the last Saturday of March to show support for the need to take action against climate change. The event is known as Earth Hour.
It was 2009 and I was disappointed that my home town, Burgas, had not participated the year before in the global climate change awareness movement. I wanted to bring the event home. At the time, I was a member (later elected a president) of Interact club Burgas Primorie, a Rotary club chapter for youth. I led ~15 of my fellow members at Interact to engage city council official, local businesses and non-profits. We organised an hour-long programming of fire shows, step dancing, live music and business and local government turned their lights off in a sign of support in 2009, 2010 and 2011 (these are years during which I was involved; the event went on afterwards).
On a scorching summer night in 2006, Dad took me to his job at the inner secure grounds of Burgas Airport and I was in awe. Imagine a 14-year-old boy hear the roar of airplanes just feet away from the runway. I was fascinated by the symphony of cars, people, buses, trucks, planes and equipment moving in what seemed like a chaos but was a directed masterpiece. I was in love at first with what would later grow into a fascination with the inner workings of complex systems.
FOLLOW ME is a 15-minute film which shows Burgas Airport in the summer of 2006, the busiest in the history of the airport, a decade after the enterprise escaped a near bankruptcy in the 1990-s. Burgas Airport was then Bulgaria’s busiest hub, a gateway for tourists to to the Black Sea and a NATO airbase serving 1.8 million passengers annually.
I shot the film with a hand-held camera and edited it in Adobe Premiere the summer before I started high school, 8th grade. The editing won me a special laudatory mention by the jury at the My Europe Film Contest, an EU-sponsored festival in Germany. The award motivated me and I went on to do my next film, Clouds Fly West.
The Great Reading of Newspapers was my first attempt at making motion pictures. I was 12. The movie was technically a PowerPoint presentation with music and carefully timed transitions but, I promise you, no one could tell the difference! You would hit play and the presentation will play all by itself for 12 minutes. You can say I had a high start in making presentations. That came useful a decade later when I took on a consulting gig with PwC in Chicago (more on my LinkedIn).
Anyway. The Great Reading of Newspapers follows my two twin sisters and their best male friend, all aged 8, in our backyard. One day in the garage, they find several boxes with old newspapers. Each newspaper boosts on its last page an erotic picture of a semi-naked woman. Luckily, their older brother is just around the corner to record the mischiefs and The Great Reading of Newspapers begins. You wish you could see the faces of their parents, friends and our our neighbors when they saw the film which became a sequel with The Great Reading of Newspapers II and 5 Stars at Home making a splash the following year.