Monday, October 29, 2012

DSDN 112: Final Video!

So, it's that time! Done with everything, I composed the video in Premiere, brought it into After Effects, added my special effects, brought it back into Premiere, added re-recorded voices over the top, added my sounds, then re-exported. And now it's here!

Travelling 10 years into the future, our heroine seeks to discover what has been invented by then, however she is sorely disappointed by the encountered future, meeting an android with a penchant for extermination, while she herself has nefarious intentions with stolen technology. Presenting my navigation interface, the story was mostly created on the day of filming.

People to thank:

Skye Webb: For being a patient and very capable main actress.
Mark Lindsay: For being an efficient and inspirational camera man.


Mostly self recorded.
Time Portal Sound used courtesy of Sibegg, acquired from:

Sunday, October 28, 2012

DSDN 112: Time Lords & Re-Voicings

One of the elements that I ended up having to redo for my video was the voices, so I needed to re-record them and overlaying them over the other sounds. However, to combat the video then being nearly completely silent except for the voice, I needed to keep the main original track, so that the ambient noise was still there.

Otherwise, things would sound a little bit unnatural. The drawback of that was that I needed to do a really good job of lining up the audio. Sadly, due to human error and how we talk, the voices didn't always line up, so there are a few moments where you can hear the original audio...but oh well. Not ideal.

Another thing that I had to sort with sounds is the noise that is heard when Skye portals in from the present and then when she returns there. Since Skye is a time traveler, the noise needed to be suitably Science-Fiction-y.

I found this sound by Sibegg on, which I think will work quite well! However, the way I have decided to do the portalling is have it occur with a white flash on the screen, so I'll reverse the sound and have it build up to that point.

Sibegg's sound:

DSDN 112: Aesthetic & Post Production

Incorporating the aesthetic of my interface with the video was a challenge. I wanted to make it a subtle connection to the video, but one that still doesn't go unnoticed.

Overlaying the flash pieces over the video and matchmoving them was damn hard... but I ultimately got something that I think works quite well. It's not perfect, but it's the best I can do with what I have and the skills I have.

It's a subtle thing, but still has its own parts in the video. Thank goodness for open briefs.

Powering on!

A Quick Escape!

Friday, October 26, 2012

DSDN 112: SCRIPT!! Actors, Read The Damn Script!

Sooooo, for starters, the title of this post is a complete lie. There was no script. After an intense brainstorming session with my friend before the filming, I decided that by creating a script before the filming was going to happen might be limiting myself in terms of humour, and damn was she right.

Some of the funniest parts of my film were invented on the spot, and had I have had a script, those would never have happened. So thank you, Henrietta [Whose blog is here].

DSDN 112: Humour Is Good. Schadenfreude Is Better.

Schadenfreude (Shaa-den-froi-duh) is a German word that means joy at the expense of others. In my video, one of the funniest scenes is when the android is tripped by it's own stupidity and a well placed chair by Skye.

In a way, using Schadenfreude as well as general humour should really lift my video. People love watching others fail! I mean, look at shows like Wipeout or other silly programs like that.

Sneaky chair placement!

Help! Help! Error! Error! Error! Error!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

DSDN 112: Orchestration

So, today was filming day! A lot was accomplished, many laughs were had, and general shenanigans were perpetrated. I felt like Steven Spielberg, directing my camera and actress around and telling people what to do. I'd quite like to work in the film industry to be honest...

Setting up the very first scene, looking at how best to initiate the film. Working with the elevator as the time machine was seen as the best option for my planned story.

Skye was going to essentially drop from mid-air for the arrival in the future, so we shot her jumping and landing, so that I could cut out the first half and just have her falling.

One of the problems that has arisen out of filming with a built-in microphone is that the voices from the video are drowned out by the ambient noise of Te Aro, which results in almost inaudible speaking. Looks like I'll need to re-record the voices so I can overlay them over the top.

We used one of the podiums that are used for display in the atrium for the Geo-Tool. The First Year Studio was sadly unavailable due to it being set up for an exhibition, so we used a whole range of different locations to the ones I scouted out in one of the previous blog posts.

Adding humour into the video became one of the main missions for the day. Having Skye fool me and actually turn to the camera meant that she was suddenly, unexpectedly engaging the viewers, which in my opinion makes you feel like you're also in on the joke.

The android was meant to be a bit stupid, as well as significantly less capable than a human, and Skye was meant to exploit that. No-one here is really good or bad, just one character is more stupid that the other.

We attempted to get a lot of decent shots of Skye using the interface, so that it was something that could be well incorporated into the video. I want it to feel like something that is integrated into the video, rather than just added to be clever.

The chase, or the second half of the film was meant to be the funny part, incorporating the ultimate demise of the android.

Hopefully, humour will carry my at present lacking skills at special effects.

DSDN 112: The E-41: Fully Autonomous Human-Robot Hybrid

This is the E-41 Android. A fully autonomous self-aware hybrid human/computer system that is ready to assist you any time. Your household should not be without an E-41.

Fashioned out of real human with a tri-layer cardboard exoskeleton, this model of android is guaranteed to be resistant to wear and tear for up to 10 days! It comes with the latest E-level chip, which ensures 10% of human intelligence level!

The robot responds quickly to theft, as well as to other negative impacts on its family or institution. Installing an E-41 in a university is the perfect way to keep your university students up to date on the latest news, while also giving them access to a range of information that could be of assistance.

An E-41 in hot pursuit of a criminal!

This android will be the supporting actor in my video of awesomeness.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

DSDN 112: Scouting The Set

So, considering I want to start shooting the filming the coming days, I thought it would be a good idea to get some shots of the scenes I want to film, just so I can get an idea of what I'm getting myself into and am not floundering around and wasting everyone's time when I actually want to film.

The story arc that I want to pursue is still the same one as I had earlier on. I'll probably make some considerable changes on the day, but for now, the story is still the same. I have my crew: Skye & Mark, so it's just about showtime.

For the initial point where Skye portals into the future, I was thinking the Atrium would be a good location. Well lit, and plenty of space to ponce around.

As an interim space where the android takes Skye to the technology, a hallway signifies transition, which is what I obviously want to achieve at this point.

Looking forward to the destination, the doorway shows where the odd pair want to go.

With the First Year Studio cleared at present, I thought it would be the perfect location for the main introduction to the Geo-Tool to happen. The large empty space has a very industrial, almost Avant-Garde feel to it, which would go really really well with the whole theme of the future.

The actors exit the hallway into the room, walk across screen into the room.

Like I said, the large expanse just feels very special and like something important would be contained at the very heart of it. The space feels so raw.

At the time there were two guys in there, but but hopefully on the day of filming there won't be anyone there...

Now I've just really got to get onto filming this project!

Friday, October 19, 2012

DSDN 142: Final Interactive Mouse Toy

So, I've gotten there. It's as complete as I can manage with the time I've been given and the knowledge that I have.

The interaction that I've created revolves around one element of control. The user only has one input. All they can do is create suns, by holding down their mouse button at any given point. The suns cause the little tree to become enlivened, and it starts to grow.

The user has a degree of control over the plant growth. The more suns the user has on screen at any one time, the faster and higher the plant will grow. Once the tree gets to a certain stage in its growth, it starts to sprout leaves, and then when it reaches the ultimate point of growth, it starts to sprout flowers too.

While the user has complete control over solar creation (a nigh-on godlike power), they are limited too. The creation of the tree is only partially controlled by them. They have one input which controls whether the plant grows, and also a remote control over where, but overall, they don't control the tree.

Having the tree grow remotely towards the suns (as long as they aren't placed below the highest branches) gives the user a sense that they know what's happening, but at the same time sometimes that won't always work, reinforcing the idea that Nature isn't our servant.

I'm pretty pleases with the project as a whole, but there are somethigns I wish I had had the time and knowledge to add.

Major source of code: Gaia Beta

Below is the code! Play!

DSDN 104: In Hindsight...

On recommendation of my marking tutors, I decided to include a combination image as well. Quickly composed on Photoshop, I think it actually captures the sense of my project really well! I'm kind of disappointed I didn't end up including it in the original submission!

Mathematics, Science, and simple geometry expressed in a single form!

DSDN 112: An Update On The Actors...

So, today one of my friends, Skye [whose blog is here] offered to star in my Oscar-worthy film. So now she's going to be the main actress, and I will be playing the cardboard android. Fun, fun, fun!

The cardboard android is looking very shit, which is exactly what I'm trying to achieve. Another element that I created is the projection device which is also made out of cardboard, because it's a crap future. While I initially made it so that I can track the points I need for my special effects, I decided it would be quite nice to feature in the film because it looks so crap.

Another friend of mine, Mark [whose blog is here] has offered to do the camera work for my film, which is an extremely generous offer. So now I have myself as the supporting actor/director/cinematographer, Skye as the main actress, and Mark as the camera man. It's a full crew on the most budget film ever!

Scavenged cardboard, rubber bands, old wire, sorted.

Crap stuff. It's the future! Crap stuff everywhere!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

DSDN 142: Final Alterations

Wish hand-in now looming, the project has taken on a significant amount of changes. Once of the things that I was told about my project was that the tree simply wasn't a big enough feature. It lacked a degree of prominence that would elevate it to the next level.

I solved this lack of presence by means of  adding leaves into the element of the trees growth. Once it splits into different branches, the leaves begin to appear. I tried some leaves that were attached to the branch, but they were far too regular and it looked really, really bad. So I made them a little bit more random and also much smaller, so that they added to the overall tree shape, as well as what a tree generally feels like in our minds.

Another element that I incorporated was a background that seems far more becoming of a tree-on-a-hill-in-sunlight. Having a background steeped in darkness just doesn't seem right. I wanted to try and have a dawn-type change, but ended up running out of time and knowledge of how I could alter my code to allow for a background that refreshed in the draw function.

Another thing that I added was a sort of ultimate goal for the user. Despite the fact that we were warned to not go for an interaction that has a definitive end, I kind of think it seems like it should for mine. The tree matures, and then if the user wants they can destroy the trees leaves and flowers. So ends the trees instance of life.

For the flowers, I wanted to create something that is both subtle and simple, so it doesn't immediately become a ridiculous feature. I want it to be a part of the tree, not something that overrides the tree in terms of importance.
So I created these little puppies. Okay so maybe they aren't puppies. But they're pretty cute.

DSDN 104: Final Photos & Render!

And...this is it. Kind of scary really that I've reached the very end of one of my favourite courses. Yes it was hard at the start, yes the programs were a nightmare to learn quickly. But actually looking back, it was all absolutely worth it.

Definitely do Digital Creation if you ever get the chance. You will and at the same time won't regret it.

Anyway, this project here for me was all about the mathematical, analytical side of design. Inspired by an illusionistic Grecian fa├žade based on simple forms, I extrapolated out the difficulty and complexity of that form. The idea of something being impossible when you look at it front on in two dimensions, but it then being completely possible in three dimensions has been absolutely at the core of this project.

The notion that something can be so simple, while hiding a massive degree of complexity is how I created my form. If you look at it and dissect it into its most basic forms, it is simply a circle that has been extruded along a complex path. But the way this path intertwines and overlaps itself is what makes this design stand out. Deceptive simplicity, all derived from a series of simple mathematical equations, values and vectors.

My render deals with the idea of a product shot, and a "perfect" composition. I tried to perfectly balance the image with the structuring of the models,  as well as balancing the shadows all around the models. The duality of the shadows, and the resulting overlaps forms a dark, evocative scene that speaks of a dynamic, translucent model with a material that immediately connects the model with the render.

Final Render 2.tif
The Final Render

The elements that I tried to capture in my photos were meant to be a juxtaposition to the render. While in the render I tried to create as much of a product shot as possible, in the photographs, I made a much more obvious link with the projects design and it's mathematical roots, while exploiting an emotional tie to the model itself.

The sketchbook detailing the derived angles and inflections in the design just makes sense as a stage. Mathematics doesn't change. The interior angle of a heptagon will always be 128.571 degrees, and this was what I was trying to convey in the second shot. Mathematics doesn't change, it can only change in the way it is expressed.

In some respects, the way I designed the model is almost representative of the way data can be presented visually. If you pare it back to the basic data and vectors that create the shape, it is presenting the data for a specific type of heptagonal star in a 3-D, tangible space.

For the first and third photos, I tried to capture both elements of craft and elements of rhythm that exist in my design. Craft is interesting, as the whole point of 3-D printing (in my eyes) is that is removes the element of craft. Something is machined, it's always going to be the same, and yet I've refined my model further by applying a degree of craft to it. Sanding parts of the model in one way and then other parts an alternate way has given the project a dynamic element of craft that results in a unique visual experience of the layers being featured and hidden mere millimetres away from each other.

Image 1 

Image 2

Image 3

I'm really proud of this project! :3

DSDN 104: Photo Favourites!

Now that I've taken my photos, it's time to narrow it down to the best of the best. The images that I want to achieve are images that show hidden elements of the model, as well as shots that display the general theme and inspiration for the images.

This shot here shows some of the craft that I built in to the model. For the outer main legs of the model, I sanded them soft and like frosted glass, while the inner struts I sanded lightly along the "grain" of the 3-D printer. I tried to show that off in this shot.

Trying for a more elongated shot, I wanted to capture the vertical height as well as improve the overall composition of the previous shot.

This shot explores the concept of rhythm in the Hepta-Knot. The heptagonal design results in a consistent rhythm around the models exterior and interior.

Experimenting with different lighting, I tried illuminating the model from behind, which gives it a totally different feel. I actually find that it cheapens the model a little bit, because I associate the white plastic look with the cheaper 3-D printers that are available to us.

For this shot, I explored the connection between the model and it's design. My sketchbook was the perfect backdrop to achieve the connection of the model and the maths behind it.

Trying to capture the sense that was achieved in my most recent render, I wanted to duplicate some of the inherent translucency of the models materiality.

DSDN 104: Show ALL The Photos!

So, I've taken all my photos! Feast yer ayes on that which be sweet!

Contact Sheet-1

Contact Sheet-2

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

DSDN 142: We Have Bark! And Working Suns!

So, I've managed to meld the two codes, and get the suns causing the trees to grow. We have a success! However, I'm still working on the issue of the suns relying on a refreshing background while the tree does not. This is however only an aesthetic decision, so that's something I can leave till a little later.
One of the things that I want to have functioning as well as the tree growing is that when it ages, it also changes colour from green to a more bark-ish brown. This was easy enough to set up in the ageing loop, and I got a tree that went from green to brown and then went on into red and then hot pink. 
While this did make me laugh, it's not exactly what I wanted. Mistakes make learning so much better though! Without this mistake, I wouldn't have taken the initiative to adapt the code further to suit my needs!

So, to rectify that issue, I placed some lines of code that inhibited the growth as soon as it got to the colour that I wanted. This resulted in a very pleasing brown finish when the tree reached "maturity".

Another part that I discovered when implementing this is that each branch ages separately, rather than each individual segment of the tree ageing separately, as I had anticipated. This actually looks really cool, because then there are little green segments that show new growth!

And now to the major clincher. I managed to fix my suns! That's so damn exciting. After thinking about it long and hard, I figured out that if I had a growing black circle that was drawn first before each frame of the sun, it would be just like if my suns were being refreshed! 

Managing to mitigate the problem relatively simply without having to re-write masses of code is great, and I can definitely say I'm very happy about that. The suns look great, however, because they are refreshing 60 times a second, there is a slight problem when they overlap with the tree.

What happens is that the tree flashes at a much slower framerate than the suns, causing it to feel very erratic and almost as if the tree were in pain. Now that's really interesting, because one of the things that I wanted to do in the beginning (when I had no idea quite how hard this all was!) was to make the tree die when the sun was placed too close to it. Now, I still don't know how I would code that, but this might be a simpler alternative to work with.

For some reason, you feel quite bad when this little tree flashes like that. It feels really painful, so it actually fits perfectly with my theme of care and prevention of damage. The suns don't actually damage the tree at all, it just flashes in an awful sort of way! Now, to make the flower!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

DSDN 104: Final Render Developments

So, now that I've got my composition nailed, I can start perfecting my rendering. I've decided to go with a material that best emulates the material that the actual model is made of in real life. Sadly I'm having to create that material myself, so we'll see how it goes!

Compos Render 1
This first render is the ideal sort of colour I want for my main model. It's pretty much the colour my model has come out as, the only problem being though that this material isn't transparent at all, which is a bit of an issue, considering my model is pretty much translucent.

Compos Render 2
This render shows the main model is now a lot more transparent, however it's pretty much lost any semblance of colour, and it's also letting a lot more light through than I want it to. The light is completely splashed all over the sides of both of the other models, and they seem to lose a certain degree of their depth, too.

Compos Render 3
This render here is definitely starting to head down the right track. The material is sort of starting to take on the shade that I want, and the amount of light starting to fall through is really good. However, it's still got a bit of a grain to it, and doesn't really have the frosted glass look that I'm going for at present.

Compos Render 4
This one is almost there. The colour is perfect, and the transparency is jsut right. However, the surface is still too damn reflective! A frosted-feeling model shouldn't be reflecting like that at all.

Compos Render 5 this is what I'm looking for! That render could quite literally be the actual model sitting there. I'm actually very lucky that I managed to get the material to this point! However, for the final render, I want the proportions to feel even more stretched, so I think I'll pull the top edge of the render down a tiny bit, just to pull the models up the frame a little and make the image feel even wider.

Final Render
I pretty much maxed out all all the settings for this render. And it really does look amazing, but I feel like I've cropped away too much of the top layer now. The image feels a little bit short. So for my final final render, I'll give it a little more in height, but not as much as was had before. I also get an ever so slight vibe that the image isn't centred and that the shadows at the bottom of the image aren't quite parallel. So, some minuscule things to fix up for the ultimate render!

DSDN 104: Concepts For Photography

So, for this project I decided I would have a look at some photography precedents as inspiration. I found some 3D printed objects that had been photographed in interesting ways, but that were also beautiful in their own right.

One of the things that I have begun to realise when looking at these images is that there is a major difference between a product shot and a shot that is really trying to sell the product. And yes, there is a difference. There are amazing product shots, and often these look simply stunning. They simply show the product with perfect lighting and shadow and how perfect it is.

Sometimes however, this isn't always the best thing. Yes, product shots show the product in it's most flattering light, but that might not be what you want to achieve with the look of your product. Maybe your product is about getting dirty. Maybe its ability to stand up to the weather is what you're trying to show. Maybe you're trying to show the inspirational elements for the product's design, in which case it might be presented outside in the midst of a plant, since it was inspired by a flower, or possibly it was inspired by the water, so maybe it needs to be in water to convey that meaning?

Image acquired from:

This flowing blue piece could possibly have had a more interesting setting to convey its roots far stronger. We really don't get very much from where it is presented in this product shot.

Image acquired from:

Products serve a purpose, so maybe showing how they get used would be the ideal photo? This cutlery set that was 3D printed in silver shows a clear purpose, and seeing it in action makes this such an effective piece of photography. I love this cutlery set. It conveys perfectly the idea of loss of structure and decay, which is exactly what you don't want to associate with your food.


Monday, October 15, 2012

DSDN 112: The Future Can Be Better

So, today in class we presented our storyboards and told our tutor groups our idea for our short video clip. Mine was met with relative glee. People thought it was a really novel and less blatant-product-explanation approach to the whole project.

The robot character was one of the elements that people really liked. The idea of a shitty future was rather amusing as well, however, the general consensus was that the concept felt unfinished, which I definitely agree with. The idea that the robot could then start chasing the user and the user could then use my device to escape and find their way back into their own time was thrown out there.

So I decided to significantly extend the length of my video to include an element about how the user then steals the tech "the only cool thing the future has", which then evolves into an awesome chase sequence with the shitty cardboard android running after the hero, shouting "EXTERMINATE" as he chases them. Meanwhile the hero uses the Geo-Tool to escape the android and then make their way back to a time machine that transports them to their own time, where the Geo-Tool promptly blue-screens and ceases to work, to the hero's obvious frustration.

Next, the script!