Joe Medwid – Project 4 – Ice and Fire

by Joe @ 8:55 am 29 March 2012

A Stroke of Genius
Inspiration came to me in a flash for this assignment. As Evan was describing his excellent web project to me, an idea came like a thief in the night, spiriting away my fancy – A simulated environment where the user becomes a Rain God.

Let There Be Life
The concept was lofty, but straightforward. One hand would control the flow of a rainstorm, while another would serve as a platform for verdant plant growth. If the rain stopped or the hand serving as soil was taken away, the plants would wither, or at the very least, fall to pieces.

It would also be gorgeous. I would use bleak, grayscale aesthetics inspired by the video game Limbo, incorporating its fog and mystery and fragile interpretation of what it means to be alive. It would be art.

Godhood is Complicated…
Unfortunately… issues arose. I quickly found an excellent rain algorithm for processing and energetically proceeded with code. However, even the help of Legitimate Programmer Kaushul hacking away for two hours could not load the OpenNI library on my machine, and the functionality of Shiffman’s Kinect library left something to be desired. Additionally, I discovered (too late?) that the chosen rain algorithm didn’t play well with any other sort of visualization.


All Work and No Play…
As I slaved away in an attempt to salvage my masterpiece, yet another serendipitous inspiration struck. Shiffman’s Kinect program couldn’t do much, but there seemed to be a unique interaction opportunity posed by the constraint of only being able to track one hand at a time. Just as quickly as the first, this concept seized my fevered, sleep-deprived imagination. Time was running short, and the only choice was total commitment.

[vimeo=http://vimeo.com/39394932]

Takeaways
• Never base a project around a single element, especially one you’re appropriating from others.
• Don’t assume usability or compatibility from crowdsourced libraries.
• Plan interactions with limitations of the tools in mind.
• Don’t jump into coding too hastily.
• If fortune gifts you with inspiration, it’s never a bad thing to follow it.

1 Comment

  1. Your video was pretty awesome
    Nice. Good exploration with the Kinect. I liked the rain physics thing.
    It seems like drawing and illustration is more your passion than anything else. That and Scify stories. It seems like something to really keep in mind for your final project. The more engaging parts of the video was your fun documentation and drawings.
    WIN. Nice documentation, good concepts.
    Really great documentation and awesome sketching skills.

    I love the process video, and I really love that your exploration of your original idea lead you to a discovery of something completely different and even equally as entertaining.
    * Agree!
    will it be cool, if it is going to be on the stage on live?
    Amazing video, it really helps to raise excitement about the project, which is pretty simple due to all the technical difficulties.
    Definitely make the new fire spheres appear in the back of the stack, instead of on top. Right not it looks like the fireballs are trailing back in depth, rather than forward.
    Whiteboad is my favorite part. +1
    I like it.
    It’s a shame that the final thing doesn’t make use of the fact that the tracking point centers when you use both hands. There are some cool things you could do with that beyond spouting fire with one hand and ice with the other.
    Also, WIZARDS!
    I like the ice and fire effects. the whole video is fun and clear!

    Comment by admin — 29 March 2012 @ 11:45 am

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