Chanamon Ratanalert

15 Jan 2014

New-Media Arts/Design

An Admirable Effort:
A project I admire is an interactive adaptation of The Little Prince. While the story goes through each page from the actual book, the reader claps, changes room lighting, blows into the mic, and other various interactions in order to communicate with the characters in the story. The words in good stories fly off the pages and immerse the reader into the store by themselves, but I like that this project took it further and made the story entirely interactive. When reading, you can imagine that you’re there in the story, witnessing and participating, but very rarely are you given this opportunity. Additionally, the various methods of how to interact with the story and the story’s response was delightful.
The video doesn’t show how the reader is to know how to interact with the story though. It seems that we’re just supposed to know when to clap, blow on the mic, etc. That would be very troubling if you didn’t know how and when to do such things.
What the creator got right was being able to keep the emotion and tone of the story. The involvement of interaction did not seem to take away from the story itself. Additionally, the interactions were related to the characters, which also helps with continuing to convey the story.
The creator was inspired by interactive children’s books, particularly those of Bruno Munari, who explores non-traditional interaction with paper. This project was created to be analogous to such books but in computerized form and outside of mouse and keyboard interactions.

A Surprise:
A project that surprised me was the Reach for the Sky Game. This is a version of a common game where the player moves upwards into the beyond to collect coins, avoid crashing into dangerous objects, etc. as far as they can go. When I watched one of the videos on the game (the screencast), I was pretty disappointed. I didn’t think that the game had anything special and actually lacked some features that games similar to it always have. For example, movement of the playing figure in space seemed to be entirely controlled by the player and not coerced by the movement of the background, making the game a lot easier. However, this was the second video that this person put out; I had been going through videos from most recent to least recent so I watched the second one first. I also have this habit where I don’t read the description first. After reading something about a “self-made jetpack” in the description, I looked for another video on the project, and lo and behold, the game was controlled by a physical “jetpack”. The player hits buttons on controllers in both their hands to turn left or right, turning on and off dual-fire engines–essentially mimicking what we think a real jetpack would do. So this project truly surprised me. The game itself? Not so much, but how the game is played? For sure. Being able to create whimsical things but with great fervor and amazing results is what inspires me.
From what I could find, this project was developed as a school assignment for a digital media and design class, aiming for an installation for children 12 and under. Everything else I could discover about this guy was that he really likes music and has a band. I think it would have been interesting to fire discover this person through his music, follow him for a while, then come across this coding and design project and be completely surprised by his abilities to do things other than music. People always surprise you.
First video I watched, Screencast:

Second video, Game Promo:

A Disappointment:
A project that disappointed me was this drum and bass synthesizer. Essentially, it detects the color green on a piece of paper that you hold up to your video camera and changes drum loops based on the tracked color. Though I do admire this project a good amount, I think he could have taken it much further. I suppose there are limitations on what the developer was able to do, but I would have liked it better if there was more depth to the variation. It really only seems to have two modes (2 colors are demoed) and varies only slightly based on the location of the colored paper he holds up to the camera. In addition, I think the actual sounds created by different colors and movements could have been more distinct. I cannot really tell whether a certain sound is intentional or just part of the synth sound.
The fellow that created this also seems to be involved in music. The reason behind the development of this project is actually very admirable. He often encounters people at live electronic music concerts complaining that the DJ could be checking his email or playing pre-recorded tracks on the computer he is DJing with. The developer of this project decided to come up with a more interactive way to mix sounds in order to create a deeper connection with the audience, giving them a clear correlation between what movements they see the DJ make and what sounds are produced.