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From Birds to Graphics

Today on my way to work I saw something that drew me back to my long abandoned love for simulating natural systems using computer graphics. My initial reaction to seeing such beauty in nature was, “how do I replicate this movement in a computer?”

A flock of around 100 black birds were moving in a beautiful fluid motion and I couldn’t help but stare at them for a while and marvel at their grace. Lucky, I was sited at the front seat of a public commuting bus in the seriously infamous Thika Road traffic jam, so watching them did not take any major sacrifice on my part. I did wish a couple of things though.

First, I wished that I had stuck to reading this book long enough. This would have imparted in me the knowledge I need to simulate their movement.

Second, I wished that I had at least some decent knowledge on birds which would enable me to correctly classify them, in order to research on them. This would basically entail inputting their name into Youtube and obsessively watching videos of them in flight. Their movement can only be likened to that of the starling bird, but I am fairly certain that this wasn’t their identity. I asked around and someone mentioned that they might be sparrows, but everything was purely speculative. I am a scientist. Speculation is not good enough for me.

Third, I wished that I owned a phone with a better camera so I wouldn’t end up with this shit

I intended to use this video to uncover the birds’ identity and as a memory marker. If you look closely (you might have to squint), there is a faded cluster of black dots at the middle of the video. Those are supposed to be the birds. Yes, underwhelming indeed.

Fortunately, all of these things are attainable. So I’ve set up a Trello board, broken down each of these goals into their SMART components and set timelines to make it happen. Because life is too short not to.

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