I also built a wall (with literal wallpaper even!) in order to create the cover for a genealogy book that I created.

I knew what a wanted — an old fashioned looking wall with old-timey pictures of my relatives hanging on the wall. I also wanted a mantel with more photos standing on it that would run along near the bottom of the book cover.

I tried initially creating the cover in a paint program — layering elements together (wallpaper, photo frames, photos), adding drop shadows, but it wasn't coming together.

So I went to Lowe's and bought a 4' x 8' sheet of 2" insulating foam or some such, bought what looked like the oldest-fashioned wall paper, a gallon of paint, etc. In the end I messed up the lighting, but I suppose that is something I am still learning in photography. But I still liked the result.


I've been spending a lot of time on photography (though mostly w/ film cameras) during recent years, and only recently realized this is actually photographed. (It took long because I'm a long-time Linux user, so I barely seen the image.)

Many people say this would've been easier with VFX, but I disagree. The image has highly convincing details that would take a long time even for highly talented VFX artists to nail. Instead, with a camera, you can let the world do the work for you. The studio setup is also very simple (cardboard + acrylic panel + projector + fog) and easy to experiment with. I'm pretty sure photography was the right tool for the project.

Despite having seen this image thousands of times, I never considered it might have originated from practical effects, even if it was composited. Very cool.

The composite sounds like no picnic, either:

>With over 3,000 photos captured from the shoot, the initial stage of the composite was an exercise in patience as Munko diligently went through all of the assets and picked the best ones suited for the final image. He then dusted off his old 40 year-old designer fingers and brought them into Photoshop where he tirelessly combined exposures at a blistering 9k resolution.

He first build up the base image, which was obviously the foundation for the hero still, flushing out the core logo design with a variety of laser-infused illuminations.. These core layers were varied, ranging from minimal rim-lighting to a multitude of laser lines fanning through the central portions of the logo, lighting up the volumetric haze in a variety of artful ways. Compositing all these layers together was an extremely iterative process and was done in collaboration with Daddy Bear Art Director Ryan Vulk and Creative Director Christopher Ashworth, the two senior Directors on the Windows Brand Team.

Once the lovelies at the Windows team and up the ladder at Microsoft were happy with the aesthetics of the logo foundation, Munko then composited in the environmental passes, which consisted of separately shot layers of smoke and haze to create a very moody palette and accentuated the qualities of the practical approach.

The final touches were the lens flares, which were again shot as separate passes but were flaring the lens with a light source positioned in the same place as the laser projector, so the flares lined up perfectly with all the other passes. The final grade was applied to bring everything into the signature ‘Microsoft Blue’ palette, but still leaving a tonal range that kept everyone happy. The final 9k file was then sent to the magicians at XYZ Creative Production Agency, who specialize in high-end photo retouching and did the final optimizations on the hero image.

When I saw the headline I confused it with the one from XP [0], and was imagining a team constructing that hill, laying the grass, etc.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bliss_(image)

Also interesting: Brian Eno on his work composing one of the Windows startup sounds:

> Q: How did you come to compose "The Microsoft Sound"?

> A: The idea came up at the time when I was completely bereft of ideas. I'd been working on my own music for a while and was quite lost, actually. And I really appreciated someone coming along and saying, "Here's a specific problem -- solve it."


Although this is great somehow in my opinion this was the best windoze wallpaper

It somehow captures my soul, perhaps because i was very young when i saw it


Something I find deeply funny about this is the amount of work invested here just to have the default background quality setting in Windows 10 still be < 100%.

That's the Microsoft I am used to ^^

Shame MS don’t spend this much time on effort on… every other part of their design for everything.
The original Windows 10 wallpaper. In a later release, it was replaced by a brighter and cleaner version that was drawn on a computer. I personally prefer the later revision.
If you have a chance and are interested in the subject, I highly recommend the Musée Cinéma & Miniature in Lyon, France: <https://www.museeminiatureetcinema.fr/>.

A lot of the promotional material highlights the sets, costumes and props from films on display, and they are certainly interesting, but far more interesting to me are the two floors of cinematic miniatures--diorama after diorama of physically-built miniature sets used as "virtual backgrounds" before they were mostly generated using CGI art (which I do appreciate). They are remarkable and remarkably interesting as pieces of art as well as cinema history. This story reminded me of this--sometimes the effect you want needs a tactile realism that is hard to replicate digitally, and is rarely as neat and toy-like.

> Our approach involved a live-action shoot using different variables and customizations.

What does "live-action shoot" mean in this statement? Wouldn't this just be "still photography"? When I think of live action, I think of people or at least ... action?

Recently I came across this minimal Linux logo: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gnu-linux_minimalist...

Although I like the 'amateuristic' style of the old Tux, I must say this new minimal penguin looks really good.

I think the wallpaper is minimalistic, elegant.. and boring, which is why I usually end up using a wallpaper from KDE Plasma.


This is so over-engineered, it tells you that when you have billions, you do the most whacky things. A 5-minute VFX job will yield the same results. But no, there's so much f*k you money, they had to do this.
This is one of my favorite examples of practical effects. I hate windows as an OS, but I still admire this every time I log in at work.
Note that the latest version of this wallpaper is CGI. [1]

[1] https://mspoweruser.com/new-default-windows-10-light-theme-w...

I don't know if there's a name for this genre of photography (it's not exactly "abstract" since clearly things are being represented), but another example is the cover of Modest Mouse's Good News for People Who Love Bad News [0], which looks like a digital drawing or composite but was physically built and photographed by bandleader Isaac Brock.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Good_News_for_People_Who_Love_...

We must not forget the legal side of this. Microsoft knows everything about intellectual property rights. If I were going to design a logo to be displayed literally billions of times across every screen running the windows OS I would make very sure it was beyond any conceivable infringement allegation. A generated smoke image might be up for some allegation of copying, that the generated smoke or some other aspect was "created" by the software. A physical photo shoot means zero possibility of any outsider having any contribution in the final image.
I always found that wallpaper a weird choice, being dark-depressing and uninviting to the average user.
I remember the good old days when I would spend so much time choosing the right wallpapers for my PC and phone. Nowadays, the wallpaper is completely hidden from me because I am constantly switching between apps on macOS thanks to my Raycast custom keyboard shortcuts and I never see whatever picture I set...

It's a weird feeling. Kinda like letting go of the desktop-oriented computer in favor of window-manager-oriented. There's beauty in the former, and simplicity and elegance in the latter.

I hope someone will one day talk about me the way corporate america talks about its logos.
Oh, how I wish my cloud workstation was just a HD cam pointed at boxes somewhere in Pennsylvania, and people just changing things very quickly.
Unpopular opinion, the windows logo peaked at 3.1.

My only other though is that I'm surprised this many people were needed to take that photo.

The alternative versions of this wallpaper are extremely pretty. I think it's awesome that they've been made available like this, I just wish they were available at a higher resolution. Would love to use one of the red or purple ones on my 4K display.
The very first thing I did when installing Windows 10 was changing the desktop image. It amazes me how many resources companies put into stuff that users don't give a peanut.
To me as a photographer and as computer vision expert, this sounds wayyyyyy over-engineered and -produced. I get that there's a big vision (and budget) involved, but c'mon!
It's a really cool project, but the video presentation was just horrible to watch. All I really wanted was to see the fixture in plain form, but they tease you the whole time.

* Blasting loud music * Saturated with bragging, useless testimonials * Blurring-in was more common than actually seeing the work * Cutting away from the work to a human too quickly

Maybe I'm coming off as miserable, but this video was totally unsatisfying to watch.

When I was young we had a PC running Windows 3.1.1 (not the first computer I remember using, but the first one whose OS I remember the name of), and I recall it having this neat feature where you could draw an image in a tiny box and it would tile it across the screen as background image.

It probably wouldn't work so well for a "4k" monitor, but I thought it neat at the time.

That's a lot of effort for something god knows how many people change as pretty much the first thing after they first login to a new system.
Reminds me of someone once asking me how I got the hand-drawn pencil look to the type on an article in the typography magazine I published about the T-26 type foundry.

I drew it by hand with a pencil and scanned it.

I had another article headline where I commissioned an artist to carve the headline in stone and had it photographed for the printer.

I have an vertical monitor (1080x1920) I use mainly for browsing and the site is basicially not readable: https://i.imgur.com/5Klt2Ls.png

I scrolled to the bottom for contact information but it keeps loading stuff so I never reach it.

I saw a photographer who mimicked the style of early 90s raytracing. Chrome spheres on checkerboards and such.
It still doesn't measure up to xp's rolling hills or just about any macos default wallpaper. Nature is really pretty and hard to compete against. Small things like this say a lot about the overall product design philosophy in my opinion.
This reminds me of the famous photo from filming the Star Wars intro text:


Brilliant! Just today, I was listening to a panel of world class artists being asked (now trite) questions on AI taking over their jobs and they concluded something like:

"For mediocrity, turn to AI. If you want masters, call us".

A bit more information about the default Windows 10 wallpapers: https://www.raykovich.com/project/windows-imagery
The guy who did this also did some of the incredible work on Tron 2. I’m a big fan.
Seeing that they put that much attention to detail into a wallpaper, it seems petty to get hung up on the fact that their software is a shit show. So it's all forgiven.
Previous discussion on HN (2019): https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21854161
I certainly can appreciate the artistry in building it and also I'm happy that the artists found joy in making it, but I can't help but wonder why MS bothered.
As impressive as this looks (and is), the effort strikes me as monumentally oversized. This particular picture, with its straight lines and everything artificial, could have just as well come out of a renderer. For substantially less cost, the result would have been the same.

Doesn't mean you don't need to have the creative vision first. But executing it with a camera and a light/laser/fog set and all the effort that went into it, seriously, just take a talented vfx artist and you get the same result.

It's different with nature photography and especially with humans. But there was nothing natural with this image.

Never knew, always assumed it was just a render. Very cool!
Wow, they must have spent $1 million to make that wallpaper but now you could do it in 15 seconds with ChatGPT.
Shame they went a little overboard with the smoke and post fx really. A cleaner sharper image would have been nice
I love the way the smoke evokes Windows making your computer overheat, melt down, and burn up.

I can almost smell it immolating.

This wallpaper is definitely less appealing without the story to go with it behind the scenes.
It's remarkable to know the process behind this work of art truely
This rather speaks against Microsoft than for them. There was zero sense in creating a physical installation to capture it. The result feels digital and should have been digital. This speaks of Microsoft's poor planning and bad execution of plans and ideas.
They made a video showing off how it was made: https://youtu.be/ewmXizBqjl0
Gmunk is awesome
It was tacky and horrible from day 1.
Very cool but I would prefer spending all that time and money on building a better product and what they delivered.

This is like a startup spending hours upon hours on logo and name instead of actually building something.

should somebody tell them about ML models?
So much for generative art in product design.
Whenever I have to use Windows, I feel dirty, like Microsoft's filth is slowly contaminating my spirit through my interaction with the computer.

So, the last thing that I would want to set as a wallpaper would be a reminder of that fact that I'm using Windows.

I hate myself for saying it, but this feels like an artistic variation on "we spent 500 hours manually perfecting React button animations" or "I built a Lisp so we can have more interesting configuration files for our ... todo list app".

I guess I'm jaded.

> Creative Director: GMUNK

> Managing Director, Live Action: Oliver Fuselier

> Managing Partner, Digital: Dustin Callif

> Executive Producer: Robert Helphand

> Head of Production: Amy DeLossa

> Producer: Mary Church

> Associate Producer: John Stern

> Production Supervisor: Liz Welonek

> etc ...

I mean, come on.

The technical ingenuity is impressive.

I personally find this visual quite cold and soulless, compared to previous Windows wallpapers, mostly XP's of course. For me this also coincided with Windows becoming completely useless and my moving to a Mac.

I don’t want to be a fanboy but the wallpaper is so soulless and industrial. I like how Apple always tries to bring nature to computing with wallpapers and screensavers.

For example


Also the Ariel videos of nature and cities for Apple TV and Mac is another example.

Windows feels so corporate and boring tbh

> Windows 10 wallpaper was physically built and photographed

And then photoshopped. /s

You always need 2 programs in Windows to do a thing right. /s

Why do this when you can get an identical picture from photoshop?