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At the end of May, I had the incredible opportunity to do live drawings in Mental Canvas on the Surface Studio at the Microsoft launch events in Shanghai and Tokyo. It was a whirlwind tour, but action packed! I was there with Panos Panay and the Surface team, and they are super serious about what they do – it was interesting to be behind the scenes at these launch events and see all the work that goes into them.
Above is a part of the drawing I made of the Shanghai skyline, which is such an exciting skyline by the way. Feels like a space station, and at night, it lights up like a jukebox. Shanghai is such an interesting combination of old and super-modern: I didn’t really have a chance to see much of it as I landed on Monday afternoon and left on Wednesday noon time, but the impression it made on me makes me fairly certain that I’ll visit again some day.
Here is a photo of me doing the live drawing on stage at the event:
It was so much fun to do, and when the doors opened, a lot of people were taking photos of me and the projected drawing – even running up on stage and directing me for the perfect shot! haha, I love China. Below are a few more stills from the drawing, and a video of it projected:
I decided to draw the view from the Bund, and then shift the scene to a famous shopping street in Shanghai. With the Mental Canvas technology, you can set up dimensional views and then bookmark them for a fly-through playback.
The software is in soft launch now, but will be available soon for the general public on the Windows store. Right now you can download the Player from the store to view some other scenes. It’s really an amazing tool for anyone who draws or designs with drawing. Sorry if that sounded a little ad-like, but I really do love drawing in this system. :)
Click this link to see the video: IMG_4769
After the stage event, there was a press room for people to check out the Surface first-hand, and many of the Microsoft partners had tables set up where we could demonstrate our programs one-on-one.
The day after the Shanghai event, we were back on the road to Tokyo, for another event there on Friday morning. Quite the schedule! The Tokyo event was just as well attended, and the Surface was very well received, as was the Mental Canvas technology and my live drawing. Of course, the Japanese people were much more reserved in their appreciation, I was asked to take a bow after my live drawing session, to much polite applause. Culture is an amazing thing – one of the (many) reasons I love to travel is that you see just so clearly how social norms are different from place to place. Of course I also love Japan and was so happy to be there even though, again, it was a short few days in Tokyo, one of my favorite cities. Here are some photos of the Tokyo skyline scene I designed in Mental Canvas for this event: starting in the famous Asakusa temple, and moving to the jam-packed Tokyo skyline. One of the ladies on the Japanese video crew showed me how to add the Japanese characters to spell out Asakusa, which was so nice of her and really very sweet. It’s not in this screen shot below, but I did add it at the event which was fun to do (and I was told that it was accurately written, haha.)
Here is a video of the scene on the Studio, it’s slightly low rez but you’ll get the idea:
Click this link to see the video: IMG_4909
(That’s Panos Panay speaking in the background, by the way.)
What a wonderful experience! Many thanks to Julie, Sydney, and everyone at Mental Canvas, as well as Panos Panay, Jamie, Avi, and the Microsoft Surface team. You never know where reportage illustration is going to take you, and this particular adventure was very memorable. Toward the end of our brief tour of Asia, Panos and the Surface team gathered for a group photo in front of my projected drawing of Asakusa. What a dedicated group of people they are!
Next stop: Hong Kong!