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A picture of Ellen Lo

Ellen Lo

Creative technologist, dancer

in dancer, mac, technologist, windows

Who are you, and what do you do?

Hi, I am Ellen. I am a freelance creative technologist and dancer based in Brooklyn. When I am not making websites, I am working on this series about Chinese characters and Hong Kong.

Before COVID-19, I was also working at HYPNO, where I designed an RFID scanner + iOS integration flow, developed a motion-triggered camera app for a slide, and made a face filter.

What hardware do you use?

For the first LED installation I did in 2018, Fluid, I used a Garmin LiDAR-Lite sensor and an Arduino Uno to calculate viewers' distance and filtered out noise in TouchDesigner. To keep the playback on the LEDs in sync, I used Syphon to share textures with the PixelPusher interface.

Before the lockdown in NYC, I was doing ARKit dev with an iPad Pro 12.9". For lights and electronics stuff, Adafruit HUZZAH32 is my go-to board for prototyping, but the Arduino Uno is easier sometimes because I use the Ethernet Shield and DMX Shield a lot. If USB is available, the ENTTEC DMX USB Pro Mk2 is the least confusing DMX interface to me that does both send/receive. For the RFID scanner, I used a Raspberry Pi 3B+ and the ACM1252U-Y3 module.

In my experience, Kinect for Windows on PC running TouchDesigner is the only answer to Kinect skeleton mapping. Otherwise, a MacBook Pro 13" (2019) and Kinect V1 is okay for a home setup, only when absolutely necessary. 🤠

And what software?

I am language agnostic – I've used Matter.js, p5.js, Three.js, Hanzi Writer, OpenCV, openFrameworks, and ShaderToy, but it's been mostly the good old Processing for sketches. And I usually end up creating my own tools to do things like extract outline and signed distance functions of Chinese characters. Sometimes I add feedback with TouchDesigner to get the extra procedural look. Then I use QuickTime to record my screen and document the sketch.

Atom is my default text editor, if I am not using any IDEs. Tower is a great Git client, but I also just like to stick to the command line when developing my own projects.

For website stuff, I use Safari Technology Preview to prototype and check for responsiveness. Sketch is my favorite when designers do dev handoff. I use GitHub Pages to share prototypes. When a CMS is needed for a project I've been using WordPress, but I'm looking to explore other prettier options.

What would be your dream setup?

A Sketch plugin that returns CSS code in viewport units. A physical notebook that lets me cmd+f 🤖. A custom EEG headset that would put up a Do Not Disturb sign for me whenever my brain activity is high (when working with people.)