Paul Bodman – Interactive Media Development
And it burns..like the sun!

Feb
15

Well I write this slightly belated, but here we are, the end of the module. All work has been handed in, the artefact, the workbook, but despite this, the reflection does not stop there! Time to look back at the last few months..

The module structure has been fantastic. I’ve loved the balance of theory and practical work, which hasn’t been too demanding, yet challenging enough to really open my eyes to the world of interactivity. I’ve particularly enjoyed the look at immersion and future projects. I’d love to have a go of CAVE or experience one of those 19th century rooms which have vast paintings all over their walls.

In terms of the practical knowledge gained, I’ve learnt lots of new skills in Flash, a program I had hardly used before, and developed my skills in Photoshop to an even more advanced level to the one I already had.

I was really glad when it was announced that the projects would be individual – it gave me full creative control, and also gave everyone a chance to experience a range of ideas and give critiques on each others instead of in small groups.

A full evaluation of my work can be found in my workbook, but I will leave you with the final thought…

Interactive Media was Fab!!

Feb
04

Since the days of the Ancient Greeks, when huge room walls were painted with vast landscapes in a 360 degree environment, Immersion and Panorama have been a key theme of art. Man has always yearned to create exact replicas of environments and experience them in a deeper level than just looking. Having these 3D environments have allowed people to escape reality and get fully involved with their surroundings.

The use of digital technology has allowed these environments recently to become even more realistic and immersive, through ultra-complex simulators and 3D experiences, and in some cases 4D (which interact with the audience through actual physical means, such as squirting water during a 3D shower experience). Of course the audience have now become more sophisticated, and demand more than just seeing and interacting. The new standard is reactive environments, which don’t follow a linear program, and learn as they go along. An example of this is the new CAVE project, which, based on the Unreal Tournament engine, allows the user to control the games and view products/objects, in a complex environment replicated in a full room or a 4 wall screen system. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cave_Automatic_Virtual_Environment

This could, in the future, develop into an enviroment which runs independently from human programming, which is highly complex, creating an environment which is as close to reality as possible – a bit like the holodeck from Star Trek! And judging by Warwick Uni researchers..it’s already happening – http://www.warwick.ac.uk/news/pr/230

I can link this to my project, because a 3D immersive version of my artefact would allow the user to see the desert in more detail, and experience the sounds in a 5.1 surround sound environment, plus perhaps also a 4D version would be feasible in the future with the heat of the desert being felt, along with sand brushing on feet, etc???

Feb
03

Well I sit here 1 day before the presentation is due, and I’ve almost completed the project.

I have just 1 scene to impliment, and just a little bit of info to go in the workbook alongside the evaluation for next week.

It’s been really fun creating this project, I’ve learnt alot about Flash and Photoshop. There are a few things I might have done differently like researching better effects in flash and recorded some better audio such as narration or in-game music, and had a more complex puzzle environment, but overall I am happy with what I’ve done. Fingers crossed for tomorrow!

Jan
28

Examples – Flight Sims (used for training/leisure), Virtual rides (3d and sometimes 4D..Space mountain springs to mind at Disney World)

What’s next?

The Holodeck realised? Multi-interactive features..the simulation responds and interacts with the user in a non-linear way, makes own decisions (already here in prosthetic limbs, but not on high level of complexity)

Panoramic digital theatres are here…Charlie And The Chocolate Factory at Alton Towers, CaveUT 2004

CCF is a very elegant sim, CaveUT is reactive/interactive.

Whilst writing this I have the picture of a 3d immersive version of my artefact which allows users to ‘play’ the characters and perform stuff such as walk through the environment and control the music, etc 🙂

Jan
21

In my narrative, instead of using a voiceover to tell the story, there is text which is readable on-screen. Obviously this would make the artefact a bit boring, so I have decided, where I can, to use some of my favourite music to illustrate the scenes.

There is one band who influenced me more than any, perhaps the greatest band of the 21st century in my opinion. Muse.

Their music, spanned across 4 studio albums and 2 live albums, has touched me and stimulated me in ways other bands wouldn’t come close. It is full of weird and wonderful sounds, ranging from classical, to contemporary rock, to dance, to space age guitar music which encapsulates and provokes thoughts on everything from politics to the supernatural.

A particular album which has inspired me in this project is ‘Black Holes And Revelations’. Recorded in Italy, it is intensely post-modern, full of Italian influences, which makes the album sound like the perfect soundtrack to a spaghetti western. On closer inspection, the tracks Assassin, Hoodoo and Knights Of Cydonia are the key tracks which I want to use in my project. These all link perfectly to the Salvador Dali painting ‘The Elephants’, because the desert in it looks like the Cydonian desert from the BHAR cover. The track Hoodoo is so ‘wild west’ sounding, it is as if it was designed especially for the scene in my project set in the shack – yet it also possesses a space age quality that would elevate the project to a whole new level.

My plan is to post a link to the final artefact on the Muse forums once it is completed, to allow fellow Muse fans to enjoy my work, although due to copyright issues this might be problematic, unless I contact Warner or Muse directly to ask them if I can publish it online..

Here is the Black Holes And Revelations cover which has also inspired me during this project due to it’s desert landscape – to view it, click on Discography on the bottom of the website. You can also listen to clips of the tracks mentioned above!

http://www.muse.mu/index.php

Jan
20

In last week’s lecture we were discussing points of view in films and games – just to let you know that my chosen POV in my artefact is a first person exploration – although some of the initial scenes are in 3rd person. As you progress through the narrative however, it becomes predominately 3rd.

We discussed POV in quite alot of detail, relating this to the 3 types:

Omniscient – Narrator knows everything about the story – can be distant – shows many points of view and opinions from different characters – thought processes

Limited 3rd person point of view – Narrative narrowed to a few characters – used in mysteries to limit knowledge. More engaged, due to single protagonist structure. Popular in films because it’s easier to market, cheaper, and the audience has a mindset where the whole world revolves in relation to them, making it easier for them to relate to a single protagonist whom the story revolves around.

1st person singular/plural – I was, I did, etc (singular) or We did, We are (plural). (Lisbon girls). Unclear about who the chorus is addressing. Greek Chorus (background and summary of information to aid performances in theatre) Represents the population. Author makes the audience identify with the narrative.

In terms of example media, there are 2 films which defy these 3 solid states: The first is Man With A Movie Camera – in this there is a reflexive point of view – with a cameraman filming another camera man – showing the process of the film being edited. This allows us to engage in the film by stopping movement to identify with the characters. The film itself aimed to prove one thing: that narrative is the opium of the people. It controlled the audience, and in MWAMC, the director aimed to let the audience or cast dictate the film in their movements and lifestyle.

Another film which is a great example of ‘bending the rules’ is Blade Runner, directed by Ridley Scott, released in 1982. At the time it was seen as groundbreaking cinema, in that it looked and felt way ahead of it’s time, with special effects never before seen in a film. One thing the movie was accused of by purists was the fact that the narration switched between 1st person and 1st person singular, using words such as ‘we did this’. Science Fiction was traditionally third person, and some saw this use of 1st person as a distraction, however the film remains an important aspect of new media in it’s postmodern state.

Here is one of my favourite clips from the film:

Everything about this scene is beautifully crafted, using some amazing lighting effects to create a feeling of utopia, and the music from Vangellis compliments this perfectly

Jan
14

Completed work reflection

Resources gathered so far: 4 images, 1 MP3

Resource Reflection:

The images used are Salvador Dali’s ‘The Elephants’, which I am basing my artefact on. This painting struck me as both eccentric, and intriguing, using a range of watercolours in a way that made the painting look almost digital. The one problem I have had so far is animating the actual elephants: they are drawn using extremely thin lines, making it hard to extract using Adobe Photoshop in a tidy and accurate way.
The other images used so far are the interior and exterior of the ‘shack’ scenes. The exterior is an actual photograph of a real shack, however it has been edited in such a way to suit the feel and look of my artefact, by using Adobe Photoshop to remove colour and enhance the lines. The same is true of the interior, albeit the original was a digital drawing found on Google images.
The MP3 used for the shack’s radio is Muse’s Hoodoo, taken from their 2006 album ‘Black Holes And Revelations’. The reasoning behind this is that this particular track is based on a themes of distopia and the control the government has on the world, and sound a lot like a piece of music from a spaghetti western. Looking at the Salvador Dali painting, the landscape of the desert actually looks like Muse’s album cover, which gave the inspiration to use the name ‘Cydonia’ for the desert in my artefact (Muse have a track called Knights Of Cydonia on that particular album, and Cydonia is also a desert on Mars)

Artefact production process reflection

I am pleased with how the artefact is coming along so far. The narrative is not yet fully structured, however I seem to be producing ideas as I go along. I’ve never been a person to fully plan work ahead, instead I work better by spontaneously coming up with ideas, so whilst there is a schedule in place to produce, my storyboards will probably be complete by the end of the project.

The narrative so far is 2 men trying to get out of a desert, and trying to find the correct way out. There are 3 pathways at the beginning – the shack (telephone?), the mountains, or carry on across the desert. If the user chooses the shack, then so far there is a radio which plays music, but unfortunately the telephone is out of action. If the user chooses the mountains, they come across a jackal, who doesn’t give any help, but seems to be able to reel off quotes from famous philosophers. Finally by carrying across the desert, there are two links here: One which calls the elephants, who take the men to the nearest village, thus completing the narrative, however the other link would see the men back at the house after taking a wrong turning…

I know this idea might sound simple, but simple does work, and in the timeframe we have to produce our artefacts, I thing this idea is the best one for me.

Obviously as the weeks progress this narrative might be changed somewhat..

Production timetable

21st January – Aim to get workbook up to scratch, at least 5 scenes complete
25th January – Continue Workbook, all scenes complete
28th January – All work complete, presentation nearly complete

Jan
11

Well I havn’t posted on here for a while, and since I missed last week’s lecture there isn’t really much new to say. I’ve been busy getting other module’s work done, so now this week I will be concentrating on getting Interactive done too. I’ve been thinking about a couple of ideas for wednesday, which I will be putting into my workbook over the next 7 days. The one i want to share is the idea of a murder mystery which might run alongside the narrative of the men trying to get out of the desert, or perhaps one of the men could be missing, and the other one has to find him? I’ve decided to keep it simple and have a sort of point and click narrative, but unlike the really simple one we watched in lecture, I want it to be properly animated.

Dec
09

Well I’m pushing to get my presentation done for Thursday at the moment, which is quite a struggle seeing as I don’t have flash on my laptop, only on my pc at home (I’m in Stoke On Trent at the moment until Wednesday night), so I’m just gonna get all my plans together until then, my narrative has been decided upon – a sort of point and click adventure through the desert, trying to find the way out. On each page there are a few fun clicky bits which play short bursts of music (perhaps Muse), then there will be about 4-5 pages of a story to follow through. Its not gonna be the most complex of narratives, although this may change later on…see the post below for the gist of what the story is about!

In other news, I was looking at other people’s blogs and noticed one which mentionned Minority Report and how it had that cool interface where you could drag and open pictures with your hand instead of a mouse…well…

Microsoft Windows have released details for their next operating system, which actually contains primitive versions of this system! Check out the demo here…

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=3pUQeq60G1M

Dec
04

Using the Dali painting… –

Two men travelling across a futuristic desert discover weird and wonderful things, including two giant elephants, a mysterious musical house and a jackal which seems to know an awful lot about philosophy. On their way however, they run into trouble with a storm, and end up lost. They must somehow find their way across the desert, with a little help from the elephants…But will they make it?

Could be a good idea 🙂

Anyway here are a few rather funny and sometimes rude flash animations, created by the good people at Weebl’s stuff

http://www.weebls-stuff.com/toons/

Check out the somalia one!