Month: January 2016

Cardboard Reality

I finally got around to getting my hands on a Google Cardboard VR headset. Cardboard is a low-cost, easy-to-get virtual reality viewer that transforms a phone into a basic VR headset.

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Film Auteur Werner Herzog had been ranting on about VR [1],

“What reality is the cockroach at my feet in the kitchen experiencing? It is not my reality, we only share the same space.”

so I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

Is Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality really a new 21st century art form? With not too much bother I assembled the Cardboard viewer, its a cheap alternative to the myriad of other viewers out there…HTC Vive VR headset, Durovis Dive, Homido, Samsung Gear VR, Carl Zeiss VR One, Cmoar, OSVR, Fibrum, HTC Vive, Sony Morpheus, Oculus Rift DK1 etc. The Oculus Rift and Sony Morpheus (which is more game orienteted) looked the most promising to me.

Anyway back to my poor man’s version, the cardboard…I downloaded a few apps that looked interesting.

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First up was Bjorks Stonemilker, which was good, especially the way she seemed to jump out from her own body and into a new position…but I managed to ‘break it’ by trying to take a screenshot whilst it was playing, but this was interesting in itself as it threw up some code and ‘inner workings’ as to how it might be made. Stonemilker was directed by Andrew Thoamas Huang and produced by VRSE.com. They seem to be ahead of the pack in the VR game, Chris Milk is a former video artist who runs it.

The next x3 pieces I watched were all produced by VRSE, ‘Take Flight’, a marvellous short excursion into the heavens above New York City. ‘Evolution of Verse’ that takes you face to face with a foetus in the womb, quite amazing, and finally ‘Catatonic’ a creepy wheelchair ride through an insane asylum. All three were fairly amazing, you the viewer being immersed directly into their environment. Catatonic was the most unsettling, as when you swivel 360 degrees and look up directly at the orderly who is pushing you in the wheelchair right above you…you realise its not an orderly anymore!

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So how does film making for VR differ from traditional film making? some main points below;

  • You can’t frame a 360 shot
  • There are no cuts
  • Death of the Close-up?
  • The character can know you are there, and be right beside you
  • The main protagonist sacrilegiously cuts through the fourth wall, and makes a direct connection with you via eye contact
  • You must try and draw the viewers eyes to the different places they can look at and explore
  • Scale. Object sizes aren’t always in real-world ratios. Sometimes certain scale ratios are based on what feels right, rather than what would be mathematically correct
  • Focus on movement that matters, so that movements are computed in real time to adjust to the viewers perspective
  • Sound. Directional binaural sound
  • Don’t overload your rendering machines, Oculus headsets show images at 90 frames per second which is a huge computional burden. Reduce the load in a CG production, mathematical bounding boxes are calculated around objects, if the viewer isn’t look at something in particular, then it doesn’t render

The Cardboard was the best $10 I ever spent.

Note to Self:

  • Not sure how this impacts on my making, if at all, as the technology seems to be customised or else priced out of reach.
  • There is a great 360 degree camera called ‘Neo’ by a company by Jaunt, but they aren’t even for sale, they envisage leasing them out to interested parties in the future.

Tutorial v2.0

Tutor: Jonathan Kearney

I discussed with Jonathan what I have been up to, a lot of reading and experiments with Arduino and Processing mostly.

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I have been using the Blynk app to trigger Arduino events in the physical world, but Blynk is no longer free so may bin using it.

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I have been generating visuals on the screen by getting Arduino to talk to the Processing app but the imagery is not what I envisaged. I want the aesthetic to be more 3D rendered/gaming look + feel, not sure I can achieve this via these methods.

Note to Self:

  • The end results with the Arduino experiments are not producing the visuals I though they would, so I’m having a re-think about my approach and methods.
  • I have been increasingly drawn to the world of 3D scanning, 360 films and VR.

Inspiratio

We have been asked by Jonathan to present an artist/Group that inspires us, and that impacts on our own making of work. I could not just put x1 Artist or group that inspires me as I am still exploring various avenues of making…Sensors + Arduino, VR/Augmented Reality, IoT/Video.

So I chose x3 artists and aspects of their work that get me excited.

Andrew Thomas Huang: (VR/Augmented Reality)

I first came across the work of Andrew Thomas Huang when he directed the video for Bjork’s Stonemilker [1] track, it was a 360 virtual Reality experience.

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Also Her ‘Vulincura, moving album cover’.

Some of his instagram ‘sketches’ are below. He seems to combine constructed objects, puppets etc..

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…with 3D imagery and CGI effects.

They seem to be of strange, fierce and mythical 3D rendered creatures, which are beautiful. He is Asian/American and seems to have that affinity for a bright and powerful colour palette, oranges and turquoises mix with deep reds and day-glo limes.

TeamLab: (Sensors + Arduino)

TeamLab are a Japanese ‘Ultra Technologist Group’ comprising of UI engineers, CG animators, web designers, software architects and mathematicians.

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Their founder Toshiyuki Inoko believes…

“Technology and culture can evolve society, and that the start of the information age was a revolution in Society and it will be looked back on in a few hundred years as a Renaissance and a new dawn.”[2]

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I like the fact that they take from ancient Japanese culture and thorough experimentation and innovation blur the boundaries between science, technology, art and design. They use sensors a lot to trigger particular events in their installations.

Mark Leckey: (IoT/Video)

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A performance work of his, GreenScreenRefrigeratorAction (2010) touched me as it seems to me he is trying to give a plaintive voice to the object, the thing. There is a strange kind of brutal pathos in the thought of an object trying to find its voice in the world of humans and sentient beings.

The Fridge stands on a green screen infinity cyc while ‘he coaxes it into revealing its thoughts and actions’. It shows a shiny black Samsung smart fridge pondering its existence and mingling with like objects. In a scientifically-charged description that concerns its inner workings, the fridge’s anguished, robotic first person voiceover renders audible its inner life and its potential dreams. As we create increasingly smarter objects, Leckey predicts a world in which things become sentient, start communicating, and alter our environment into new digital ecosystems.

“Now, instead of wanting to seduce an object into offering up its meaning, Leckey seemed to want the object to consume him. The work began with his inhaling the gases used as coolant for a Samsung fridge: a kind of shamanistic ritual in which, in order to understand the fridge, he took on some of its characteristics. The fridge sang back a kind of mournful plainchant: “See, see, see we assemble. See we assemble. See we assemble; Samsung, Viking, Gaggenau and Whirlpool …” The work, Leckey said, is a kind of fantasy: that he could bring himself into “a state outside of myself, fridge-like, less-human, feeling like an image”. As if he wanted to dissolve into pixels.

You could see the work as nodding to the notion of the internet of things – the technology through which objects, especially consumer appliances, will be connected online and see it more broadly, as a reaction to the fact that technology is triggering strange, disruptive new relationships between humans, objects and images; people, animals and machines.” [3]