Cradles To Crayons

February 15th, 2013 by Rosie

This week, the Boston Business Journal and the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce held their 2nd Annual ‘Cradles to Crayons President’s Day Celebration of Service’ . Boston area executives were invited to come to the Cradles to Crayons “Giving Factory”, for a chance to roll up their sleeves and spend a morning helping out with this great charity. Our very own Rebecca Allen and Dominick Accattato were on site, helping to prepare and package goods to be delivered to the community.

Cradles to Crayons is a Boston and Philadelphia based charity that provides essential items to under-privileged children. More than 305,000 Massachusetts children under the age of 12 live in poor or low-income housing, and more than 100,000 will experience homelessness each year. Cradles to Crayons aims to provide necessities such as warm coats and shoes that fit to these children, as well as age appropriate toys and a variety of other essential items. The organizations mission statement says they are able to supply these items free of charge “by engaging and connecting communities that have with communities that need,” – a simple, yet profound concept.

Rebecca had this to say about her time at Cradles to Crayons: “Volunteering with Cradles to Crayons was an wonderful experience. The organization is run so well and with so much kindness. Knowing that we impacted 100′s of children’s lives in such a short time was really amazing! Dominick turned to me as we left and said ‘let’s go back some weekend together and do that again’.”

There are a variety of ways to get involved with Cradles to Crayons. Click here to find out how to donate or volunteer for this fantastic organization.

From Pixel to Paper – The Story of A Mural

September 10th, 2012 by Rosie

Last month, Infrared5 unveiled something exciting- an 11 foot high custom designed mural in our entry space. From conception to completion, spanning almost an entire year, this project was a labor of love. The work was designed by LA based artist, Bradley Munkowitz. Rebecca Allen, Infrared5’s CEO and the fearless leader of this project, met Bradley at a FITC conference many years ago where Bradley made a lasting impression. “His work is just as engaging as his personality,” says Allen. When it became time to look for an artist to create a mural for our entryway, Rebecca knew just the person to call. “I was initially taken by the scale of the piece; being 11 feet square… So I wanted to create an artwork that had a great deal of dimensionality, because on that grand scale it’d feel immersive, which would really make for a captivating entryway mural,” says Bradley. The artist went about creating a series of images digitally, using Autodesk Maya and procedural textures, which allow for rendering at any size. “I think I submitted about 20 different designs and Rebecca and I chose the best one for the application.” If you feel like our entryway is playing a trick on your eyes, you are right- Bradley is heavily influenced by Op Art. “I just love the visual movement, the graphic nature, and obviously the trippy dimensionality,” says Bradley.

one of several options created by Bradley Munkowitz one of several options created by Bradley Munkowitz one of several options created by Bradley Munkowitz

The task of getting this mural hung fell onto my plate sometime in late spring, 2012. I was new to Infrared5, still figuring out what my position here really meant, when Rebecca asked me to look into having someone come to hang the mural. I’ve come to think of myself as the resident ‘figure-it-out-ologist’.  Much of my job entails putting the time and focus into getting things done that take a lot of research time, tasks that have historically been put on the back burner in favor of focus on client work. I try to adapt IR5’s motto ‘yeah, we can build that’ into my own ‘yeah, I can research that’ in order to get things done.
I knew that finding someone that had the skill to hang this mural was going to be a tricky task. After all, the mural was shipped to us as three panels, 11 feet tall by roughly 3.5 feet wide. These panels have a back that peels off to reveal an adhesive that would stick to the wall. As our project manager Kelly Wallick said, “Its hard enough to put contact paper into drawers!”
I hit the internet. Companies that specialized in large scale vinyl installation wouldn’t install anything that they had not produced, and finding contractors proved a challenge. After weeks of telephone tag, multiple early saturday morning phone calls from one terrifyingly overeager applicant, and many frustrating stops and starts, we found our way to Abigail Newbold.
Abigail, a fellow MassArt graduate, is an artist who creates installations that confront ideas of comfort and survival.  On her website, Newbold states “I am motivated in my quest to evaluate and distill by a desire to be able to feel at home anywhere.” We were referred to Newbold via her coworker at the Decordova, and she proved to have just the patience and attention to detail to take on this project.
Abigail and her partner Ricky Marsee arrived at 10 am Sunday morning to begin work. Stunningly confident in the face of a meticulous task, the duo set to work. It was nearly 7 pm when they wrapped up. It had been a long battle, but the mural was finally up.

Taking almost a year from conception to execution, Infrared5 is thrilled to be displaying a mural as dynamic and contemporary as the work we hope to put out. No one is more excited to have the mural up than Rebecca. “I am so glad that we all persisted and have an amazing piece to enjoy and set the tone for clients!”

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Frederick Heads Home

June 25th, 2012 by Frederick Jansen

Frederick Heads Home – by Frederick Jansen

All good things must come to an end, I guess. The end of my three month internship at Infrared5, the culmination of many more months of preparation and a whole lot of red tape. Three months being away from home, friends and family. Three months of soaking up the American culture, working for a great company and generally enjoying life to the absolute fullest. Time passes quickly when you’re having fun, I wouldn’t have minded everything to last just a bit longer.

The entire journey went really well. I made some great new friends, both in and out of work and got to experience some of the things only America has to offer. Boston certainly did not disappoint me. The weather was great with a virtually non-existent winter and plenty of sun. The city is rich in history yet provides plenty of opportunities to go out for an evening of fun. Whether it’s the local bands and tasteful food or simply spending time in some of its beautiful parks, there is always something to enjoy.

They say it takes three things to be successful in life. Dedication, talent and knowing the right people. Only one of those three is under your direct control, the rest is mostly left to luck. I consider myself very lucky to have been at FITC Amsterdam when Chris was there as well, that we started talking and managed to stay in touch afterwards. It took me awhile to make this internship happen and at times it appeared as though nothing would come of it. Being persistent paid off and I’m glad it worked out so well. Things could have turned out completely different.

Infrared5 is an extraordinary company, in more than one way. Take a group of highly talented developers, mixed with awesome project managers (not unimportant!) in a culture that is both engaging and rewarding. This may seem like an obvious combination, but it’s one that’s easy to get wrong. The website states “we engineer solutions” and that is no lie. Projects are challenging, even more so with the limited experience I have. As an intern, I was given the opportunity to prove my worth and feel like I made the most of that. Yes, work can be and will be hard. But part of the culture is making sure that developers are able to do what they do best. Unlike getting to the US, there’s no red tape here.

Although it’s only been three months, I feel like I learned a lot being here. Not just about programming, but also about working on real life projects for real life clients and what it’s like to function as part of a team. I sincerely wish that this wasn’t the last of my experience working with Infrared5 and hope to be back in the US, more permanently, in the near future.

It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane…It’s Steff Kelsey

June 8th, 2012 by Elliott Mitchell

Steff Kelsey

Today I’d like to introduce you all Steff Kelsey, Infrared5′s most recent full time employee. Steff has worked for Infrared5 as a contractor the past few months and this week leveled-up to an All-Star team member! I have personally worked with Steff on a particularly challenging project recently and have been very impressed by his skills, attitude and beard. I had the pleasure to interview Steff this week with the goal of uncovering some more details about his background, goals and ambitions.

1) How did you first learn of Infrared5?

I had worked on a few projects that used the Red5 streaming server in 2008, so I guess I knew about the group from that.  For whatever reason, I did not realize that Infrared was in the Boston area until I met Michael Oldham performing a demo for the ad agency I was working at last April or May.  After meeting Michael, I took a closer look at who was in the group and the kind of work they were doing.  I really wanted to be a part of it.

2) What is your professional skill set?

I have a BS in Mechanical Engineering and that brings a lot of math with it.  I started off doing animation for broadcast, so my first pipeline centered around After Effects, Illustrator, and Photoshop.  I had experience coding in High School and college, so it didn’t take long for me to start scripting animation in AE and 3ds Max (rather than keyframing everything) and also get into developing software for kiosk and the web.  Then I read my first design patterns book and I was hooked.  Now, most of my time on the job is spent writing code.

3) Do you have a favorite programming language and why?

I think its important for developers to get exposed to as many different languages as they can.  As far as favorites go, I prefer languages that are strongly typed.  I like getting quick feedback when I code.  When working with strong typing, your IDE lets you know right away if you have done something wrong.  If you’re working with a compiled language, compiler errors and warnings are you’re next layer of feedback.  And unit tests are the next round.  In an uncompiled language without strong typing, unit tests can be your first feedback loop from the system, rather than giving an error right in the IDE.  I like tools that help you, so I guess my language preferences are really about the toolset.

Steff Kelsey Pugs

4) What is your favorite 3D tool and why?

I have spent the most time in 3ds Max and once you get comfortable in a package it can be hard to switch.  I really like rigging with CAT and I got  very familiar with their particle system and with RenderMan.  At this point, I just feel good about the pipeline.

5) Are there any development platforms or languages you’d like to work with more?

I am getting into Unity3D and am very excited about it.  It’s a great end point for someone who is into motion math, creating 3d assets, and creating simulations.  I also got exposed to GPU programming on my last project and want to explore that more.  I really want to harness the GPU as an implicit solver of systems of linear equations.  Once you get a framework in place, you can simulate a variety of things from more complex realtime physics to fluids and also geometry processing and image filtering.  I am also interested in using Python to write plugins/scripts for Maya, but would have to break my bias toward 3ds Max to do so.

6) What are a few of your hobbies?

I run, draw, and have recently been getting into

woodworking (mocking everything up in 3ds Max before cutting any wood).  I have a piano I used to bang on that I need to get back to.  Honestly, most of my spare time is spent trying to keep up with things in the field.  Everything changes so fast in the tech world and there is always so much to learn.  It is both awesome and terrifying!

7) What super hero do you most identify with and why?

I have a Batman keychain, but who doesn’t want to be Superman?

8) What one nugget of advice would you give an individual thinking of getting into either game or web development?
Work hard.  Work hard.  Work hard.  And never stop learning.  Being able to teach yourself new things is an invaluable skill.  And don’t worry if you’re not a rock star right away.  Just keep churning out work and the quality will come with experience.  Take time after each project to review what went well and what didn’t.  Make a lot of mistakes and then recognize them and learn how to not fall into the same traps on your next sprint.

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Welcome to the new Infrared5 HTML5 site!

February 1st, 2012 by Kelly Wallick

Not only have we upgraded from Flash to HTML5 but we’ve re-designed the entire site. From a cool new dynamic background (hint: try clicking around to see the site’s Easter egg) to updated bios and work sections. We’ve been expanding our company, our clients and even our office so it’s only appropriate that our website should join in as well!

Designed and developed by our team internally the new site has been a labor of love and we couldn’t be happier with the outcome. Take a look around and check out all the neat features and new content. Head over to twitter and let us know what you think or drop us a line on our new contact page. We’re thankful to all the people who have helped us grow over the years and look forward to all the new and exciting work ahead!

ps…Keep an eye out in the next few months for our updated mobile site as well :)

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Meet Infrared5′s New CEO – Rebecca Allen

July 26th, 2011 by Chris Allen

As many of you who follow Infrared5’s progress know, we’ve recently created a new company around a product we developed. This company, Brass Monkey, allows a smartphone to become a game controller. We are doing some amazing work, including winning awards, landing clients like LucasFilm, and closing in on a seed round of fundraising. Needless to say, Brass Monkey has been taking more and more of my time and focus over the last year. So the partners and I have decided it is best for me to step down as Infrared5’s CEO.

I’m excited to announce that my business partner and wife, Rebecca Allen, will be taking on the role of CEO for Infrared5. Infrared5 wouldn’t be any where near where it is today without all of her expertise in art direction, customer relations, finance, company operations, project management and overall leadership. She’s actually been acting in this capacity for a year now, and the partners came to the conclusion that it made sense that she officially come on board as the CEO of the company. While Rebecca has been at the helm, the company has continued to flourish and grow even in a down economy.

We are beginning to get many more repeat customers, and we have been and are continuing to look to hire new employees. Rebecca has a knack for keeping customers happy and understanding complex problems. I can’t think of a better person to lead our service based technology business.

With all this said, I will continue to serve as Infrared5 President and be involved on strategic level decisions for the company. We are all excited this year with the growing success of all of our businesses. Please join me in welcoming Rebecca to her new position. Read the rest of this entry »

The Evolution of Infrared5

June 21st, 2011 by Keith Peters

I joined Infrared5 back in November 2007. Those were very different times. We were a hard core Flash shop, focusing on Red5 Server based applications and Papervision3D. The iPhone had been out for less than six months and only Apple could write apps for it. The iPod Touch was just a few weeks old. Nobody had heard of Android. Tablets were just a failed venture by Microsoft that most people had forgotten about a few years before. Nobody was particularly excited about HTML (5 or otherwise) or JavaScript. If there was any perceived threat to Flash at the time, it might have been Silverlight, but nobody was particularly worried about that.

Now, the landscape is very different. I’m not going to say Flash is dead. I don’t think it is. I don’t even think that it is dying, per se. What is happening though, is that there are so many other cool and interesting things out there now, that Flash has lost its place in the spotlight for many developers. Also, I think that Flash initially had a very low learning curve and very little barrier to entry. A lot of Flash developers grew up as Flash did, learned real programming, object orientation, design patterns, best practices, etc., and were then able to branch out to other languages and platforms.

I have to say, that Infrared5 has not only rolled with the changes very well, but has completely embraced the change. I think virtually all of our front end developers are now seasoned iOS developers. Several have embraced Android development as well. We have Windows Phone 7 knowledge (mostly me), and our 3D platform has moved from Papervision to Unity. We’re doing HTML5 stuff as well as Flash and Flex sites, iPad apps, kiosk applications. Many of our projects even span multiple platforms – a Flex 4 app with an HTML5 public facing site, Flash or Unity 3D games with a companion iPhone app via Brass Monkey.

The company’s tag line is “Yeah, we can build that.” I’d say we’ve lived up to that.

In closing, I ran across this quote the other day that I really loved. It comes from a free on line book, “Learn Python the Hard Way”, by Zed A. Shaw, which you can find here: http://learnpythonthehardway.org/ . In the last section called “Advice From An Old Programmer”, he says:

“What I discovered after this journey of learning is that the languages did not matter, it’s what you do with them. Actually, I always knew that, but I’d get distracted by the languages and forget it periodically. Now I never forget it, and neither should you.

Which programming language you learn and use does not matter. Do not get sucked into the religion surrounding programming languages as that will only blind you to their true purpose of being your tool for doing interesting things.

Programming as an intellectual activity is the only art form that allows you to create interactive art. You can create projects that other people can play with, and you can talk to them indirectly. No other art form is quite this interactive. Movies flow to the audience in one direction. Paintings do not move. Code goes both ways.”

The full quote is here: http://learnpythonthehardway.org/book/advice.html

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Entrepreneurship & Team Work

August 20th, 2010 by Rebecca Allen

Last week, I was interviewed for a blog post on how Entrepreneurs Play Well With Others for BostInnovation (read original blog post here). This was a welcome distraction from my normal schedule of business.

Following is my correspondence with Alexis Schroeder:
Read the rest of this entry »

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