My portrait is a collection of VR environments which describe different aspects of caro. From our discussions, I plucked three ideas she shared and created virtual environments from them. I did this using Maya and Mudbox for modeling and animation, which were then imported into Unity, which provided the underlying framework for interaction. The three ideas eventually developed into their own scenes, which are connected together by a hub world containing portals that transport the subject to and from each scene.

The most difficult portion of this project was definitely the scene based upon caro’s drive to achieve and compete. I thought to represent this drive using procedurally generated staircases, where steps were constantly being added to the top while the bottom steps would fall away, forcing someone on the stairway to climb at a certain pace or fall. Making the staircase assemble itself in a smooth, yet random path involved both calculating the position of new steps in relation to the ones before them, and having them materialize some distance away and fly to their assigned position to give the effect of being assembled out of the ether. I also had a lot of trouble writing a shader that would make the steps fade to and from transparency in an efficient manner. These challenges all provided good learning experiences which will help me in future projects.

The final product is semi-successful in my opinion. I succeeded in creating an immersive VR experience which interfaced with the Vive. I am happiest with being able to create my own song for the piece, as sound and music are integral to immersion. However, much of the piece (the hub world in particular) have nothing to do with caro, resulting in what seems to be only a half-portrait. If I were to redo this project, I would involve caro much more in content creation, rather than building an infrastructure which is then embellished with details about her.

Portrait from David Gordon on Vimeo.