Reflection: Welcome 2024

by | Sunday, December 31, 2023

Since December 2008 we have been creating a video to welcome the new year. When we made our first video we had no idea that we would still be doing it 16 years later, and, frankly who knows how long we can keep it up. These videos are usually typographical in nature, often with an optical illusion thrown in for good measure. These are fun to create though we have no budget to speak of, nor any special talents or CGI skills to fall back on.

This year’s video was a special challenge, since the original idea we spent days working on fell through. But at the end of the day (year) we do have something to share.

We hope you enjoy the video embedded below and we hope you will have a wonderful and joyous 2024!

As I have written elsewhere:

Back in 2008, one winter day in Michigan, when it was too cold to go out, we decided to make a video, more to keep ourselves occupied than anything else. And then we made another one the next year, and then the year after that and the year after that… Along they way we have experimented with and explored a wide variety of optical illusions and visual tricks. Our production values are not very high, and (to be fair) neither is our budget. That said, it has been great fun, and a somewhat unique and wonderful family tradition.

You can see all the previous years’ videos here. They ARE fun to watch (and educational as well).

Note: This is our 17th video, and just in case you are keeping track, and suspect we got our math wrong, we made two videos in our first year.

There are two different illusions in the video – both of which rely on the same visual principles but with different results.

The core idea behind these two illusions comes from Dr. Kokichi Sugihara, professor of Engineering at Meiji University, Tokyo. He is renowned for his work in creating three-dimensional objects that defy our intuitive understanding of perspective and geometry and has won numerous awards for his work. Check out his webpage or his Youtube channel more mind-bending examples. More about the science behind these illusions can be found here:

Sugihara, K. (2018). Topology-disturbing objects: a new class of 3D optical illusion. Journal of Mathematics and the Arts, 12:1, 2-18, DOI: 10.1080/17513472.2017.1368133.

Essentially Sugihara is a master of creatively messing with our visual system, particularly when it comes to interpreting 2-D and 3-D objects. He cleverly uses perspective and the brain’s tendency to seek familiar patterns creating paradoxical, counterintuitive visual experiences that challenge our understanding of perspective and geometry. There are obviously deep questions these illusions raise about how we perceive the world and make sense of it – but at the end of the day these videos are meant to be enjoyed as they are.

The first illusion, the “arrow that points in just one direction,” involves cutting and folding a piece of paper in a specific way that fools our brain into thinking it is always pointed in a given direction, even when rotated 180-degrees (and points in the opposite direction when reflected in a mirror). The arrow used in the video was created using an index card and colored in the inside with a marker–as low tech as you can get. You can make your own “always pointing in one direction” arrow using just paper and scissors, and even using a roll of used toilet paper (like explained here).

The second illusion is a ring where top and bottom flip when reflected in a mirror—also an idea first proposed by Dr. Sugihara. His design was was recreated in Adobe Illustrator, printed on a regular color-printer and then cut out. The vertical object with 2023 and 2024 written on it is nothing but an old cigarette lighter we found lying around, wrapped with a piece of paper with the numbers printed on it. (Of course, 2024 was written in reflected form so that it would read correctly when reflected in a mirror).

The setup was pretty simple – shown below. A cardboard box was topped with a 3M board to form the platform. The mirror was one that was lying unused at home (from an old dresser). The arrow was rotated using a small “lazy susan” I had bought from Amazon over a year ago. The camera was my old Nikon (that has seen better days, and since the advent of the iPhone is increasingly sitting all by itself in a drawer, and is brought out once a year, in late December for these videos). Assorted sheets and throws were used to cover up the less interesting parts of the room that were visible to the camera.

The titles in the video were created in Keynote and exported out as a movie. Final editing of the titles and the footage was done in Adobe Premiere Pro. The background music, a piece called Son of a Rocket, is composed by the amazing Kevin MacLeod who makes so much of his work available royalty-free. We have used his compositions for multiple new-year’s videos over the years. He has pieces for every mood and style, we recommend him highly.

Topics related to this post: Ambigrams | Art | Creativity | Design | Film | Fun | Games | Personal | Representation | Video | Worth Reading

A few randomly selected blog posts…

Day 3: Meetings & Workshop

Day 2 ended with my meeting KHari (aka Chairman) and Rags (aka Chore) - two BITS batchmates, whom I hadn't met in almost 18 / 20 years. It was great catching up with them - but what that meant was that by the time I got back to my room I was totally exhausted and...

Postdictable, the commercials

I had written earlier about the idea of "postdictable" which was defined as something that is "surprising initially, but then understandable with a bit of thought." It lies at the spot between predictability and total chaos. The movie Sixth Sense is postdictable in...

AACTE Major Forum Presentation

I include below a copy of the AACTE Major Forum presentation (announcement here) that I made at New Orleans on Saturday, February 9. There were other things that I participated in (as listed here) and I will post about them later. Matt was supposed to do this talk (as...

TPCK book covers

I finally received a copy of the Handbook of TPCK for educators (which I had blogged about previously here). It looks great! Matt and I have a key chapter (Introducing TPCK). I hadn't read this in a while, and after I got the book, I skimmed it... and it reads well....

Video on MSU/Azim Premji University collaboration

Over the past year I have been involved in an exciting new initiative - a partnership between the College of Education at Michigan State University and the newly set up Azim Premji University in Bangalore, India. (A previous post about our ongoing work can be found...

Tweaking the design

I have been blogging pretty seriously now for 10 months now and am quite enjoying it. I have made some changes to the design of the site that may be worth explaining. As I have blogged over the past few months, I have come to realize that I typically make three kinds...

TPACK newsletter #31,

TPACK newsletter #31,

The latest version of the TPACK newsletter (#31) can be found here December 2016 (pdf). All previous issues are archived here. A shout-out to Judi Harris for all the work that goes into this. As I had said in a previous post, based on Judi's...

A defining moment!

Barack Obama is the democratic nominee for the president of the United States!!! Five months ago, after he had won the Iowa caucuses I had blogged his acceptance speech video (see it here) and had asked a question, "Is this a defining moment of our time?" Today I am...

Does the Internet mean that knowledge is obsolete?

I was recently interviewed by Wired magazine for a story about Sugata Mitra's (of Hole in the Wall fame) experiments with minimally invasive learning, or more recently what are called SOLE (Self Organized Learning Environment) classrooms / schools. I have been...

1 Comment

  1. Kevin Dev

    Best of luck for 2024


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *