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Iain Heath/Ocher Jelly

A Roundup of Sharknado Tribute Art

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Iain Heath/Ocher Jelly

The SyFy original movie Sharknado is so ridiculously over-the-top that it became an overnight sensation. Its unbelievable premise is so spectacular that the film will be shown in theaters this Friday at midnight -even after being shown on TV multiple times. Meanwhile, as we prepare for the annual Shark Week orgy on the Discovery Channel, the Sharknado meme still bubbles on the internet. Let's explore some of the art inspired by the preposterous Sharknado.

Sharknado Cake

Charm City Cakes has unveiled their latest masterpiece: the Sharknado cake! It's a miracle of both engineering and confectionary delight. What kind of party would one order a Sharknado cake for? It doesn't matter -I want to be invited!

Sculpture

Jody Travous Nee makes whimsical small sculptures, and had to make one of a scene from Sharknado, complete with chainsaw. Unfortunately, there was only one, and it was snapped up quickly.

Comic Con Costumes

Grant Imahara spotted this elaborate Sharknado headdress at Comic Con in San Diego last week. He called it "The best costume I've seen today." See more pictures of the wearer, who added more sharks as the weekend progressed, at Business Insider

It wasn't the only Sharknado costume at Comic Con. This one relied on movement to make its intended reference clear.

T-shirts

Many artists are making their Sharknado tributes available on t-shirts. Shelby, who is a fan of Shark Week, created this t-shirt design and sells them through the Etsy store I'm Shark Weak. You can select a light or dark tornado with contrasting sharks to go with your choice of t-shirt color.

LEGO Snarknado

LEGO Sharknado! It sounds almost poetic, doesn't it? LEGO artist Iain Heath, known as Ochre Jelly, couldn't resist turning the SyFy monster/disaster movie into a LEGO work.

Amazingly, this model actually stands up on its own (although its a bit wobbly, being very top-heavy). If I have the time I may add more sharks, improve the lettering, and strengthen it up enough to display at BrickCon.

Here's another Sharknado LEGO creation, from Digital Wizards

Nail Art

You can buy these Snarknado nail art decals from Etsy seller NailSpin. Wear them all through Shark Week!

Art Prints

The SyFy network collaborated with Gallery 1988 to create and sell three art prints centered around Sharknado at Comic Con. The print above is by Glen Brogan

This pinup style print, a riff on the Coppertone Girl, is by Anthony Petrie, as is the chainsaw scene below.

The theatrical showing of Sharknado this Friday may be an attempt to inspire a cult following, like The Rocky Horror Picture Show or The Room, but that kind of phenomenon really can't be engineered. At any rate, it could be a great way to put yourself in the proper mood for Shark Week!

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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Opening Ceremony
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These $425 Jeans Can Turn Into Jorts
May 19, 2017
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Opening Ceremony

Modular clothing used to consist of something simple, like a reversible jacket. Today, it’s a $425 pair of detachable jeans.

Apparel retailer Opening Ceremony recently debuted a pair of “2 in 1 Y/Project” trousers that look fairly peculiar. The legs are held to the crotch by a pair of loops, creating a disjointed C-3PO effect. Undo the loops and you can now remove the legs entirely, leaving a pair of jean shorts in their wake. The result goes from this:

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Opening Ceremony

To this:

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Opening Ceremony

The company also offers a slightly different cut with button tabs in black for $460. If these aren’t audacious enough for you, the Y/Project line includes jumpsuits with removable legs and garter-equipped jeans.

[h/t Mashable]

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