Filed under: MFA
Great week in the realm of coding and Flash. I spent the bulk of Thanksgiving break rebuilding my website in Flash, teaching a virtual mouse to be ‘smart’ in action script 3.0, and built a wall in Second Life and made it explode using the programs physics engine code.
First, the website. Originality the site was designed in Photoshop and built in Dreamweaver. Although CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) are interesting, I imagine for my personal website when I launch a new look and feel, it will be drastically different. As we where learning flash for the second half of the semester, I was amazed by the power of the program layout tools.
Finally started to put in some content, portfolio work, artwork, links, etc and that makes such a difference. You can check it out here. Still filling in some areas, but I will spend the next week fine tuning and debugging (Photo section does not work on all browsers – Yikes).
I must take a moment to thank my wonderful girlfriend Michelle for all her input. She convinced me to simplify and tone down the aesthetic and put some clothes on. Original comp had the intro page with me in my underwear. Hilarious, but maybe not the best idea. Also photosopped some PJs and a tee shirt on my coffee time page were I am wearing a robe. Much better. Proud of how much I have learned in such a short amount of time.
Second update, Second Life. For one of our classes we are required to do ‘Captured Responses”. They are reflections on the reading and lectures that are supposed to push you artistically and technically. I always seem to pick some super advance concept that takes hours (days) to pull off. The concept was to build something in Second Life and film the event for a video.
What I didn’t anticipate was the ‘random event factor’ of the virtual world and the time setting up camera shots. You can’t set up actual cameras, so I had to borrow Michelle’s avatar and use her ‘eyes’ as the camera and capture the action with SnapZPro (image capture software) and brought footage into iMovie to composite.
Falling off the structure, random people walking through the shot, walls falling down, somebody building a castle around me while filming all became challenges I didn’t expect. At the end of the process, I ended up making a second movie from the outtakes. I will post both videos on my website in the next week.
Final update is on Action Script 3.0. Again I pick a project that pushes my skills to the limit. I wanted to make a maze, and have an avatar run through it. The movement was supposed to be based off randomness but I wanted to give a tiny bit of intelligence so he could navigate long corridors more easily. I started to build a tiny virtual memory and based decisions depending on what happened the last couple of moments.
Don’t misunderstand, the avatar is very dumb but it can turn corners and walk down halls (slowly and spastically). As I am testing the sim, I included a trail, so I can see where he has been (also it has a habit off sometimes jumping over a wall, cheater). What is funny, the trail starts to look like the avatar is bleeding. Still tweaking but getting close to completion. Here is one of the attempts.
Back to work. Final projects for one class due Sunday at midnight. It will be nice to have something crossed off my list, but I miss sleep.
Filed under: MFA
We are fast approaching the end of the semester. Here is where things start to get interesting.
First up we are planning a Symposium for the program in early December. The date is still up in the air (most likely the 15th) I will post as soon as it is official. The event is going to be a mix of innovation, technology, and collaboration. One of the highlights is going to be a modified Pecha Kucha (pecha-kucha.org) in which everybody in program does 14 slides for 14 seconds. The theme is creativity. Should be very informative.
Second thing that is capturing a lot of my attention these days is ZBrush. The first day of orientation we got a demo from Joshua Buck on what the program can do. I was instantly drawn to it and ordered a copy. Two months later it showed up, which is probably a good thing because I know it would have distracted me from learning Action Script 3.0. It is a 3D modeling program used for character design. One of the greatest things is you can output your model to a 3D printer. I have always been interested in toy design and this would be a way to explore that.
The user interface is very intuitive. I showed the program to my niece and nephew (11,7) and they picked it up fast. You can push and pull the surfaces (similar to clay) and add textures using bump maps and alpha channels. I know you can also paint the models but I haven’t figured it out. I will continue to work on this monster dude and post more as it progresses.
Here are some shots of my first creation. Check out the detail. Amazing.
Third thing I wanted to mentioned is that I am redesigning my website in Flash. I will keep the same look and feel but really like the programs coding tools and the ability to integrate motion and animation. I will post url when it is complete.
Lots of final projects in the works; A Collaboration Manifesto, A Farmville Painting Application, and a Maze of Good and Evil just to name a few. I have learned so much in such a short period of time, I am looking forward to a time when the technology is not an obstacle but a tool to help me explore and create new digital worlds.
Filed under: Uncategorized
Holy fun. Super challenging but very rewarding. A couple of cool projects I have been working on.
First, update on the web front. Got the first draft of the website up and running. Using HTML (I am using Text Wrangler for markup. It is easy to understand for novices.) and Adobe Dreamweaver to help with layout. I like it a lot, but now that I have Phase I complete, I can think of a million updates I would like to implement. Check it out at www.coberlin.com.
Second, update on Action Script 3.0. Scripting is the reason I stay up late every night. Luckily I am slowing starting to see the patterns of code language. It has been a struggle but I am happy to say I finished the Beta version of my first ‘game’. It is a drag and drop Flash based piece of Generative Art. The characters you can make are so darn cute. I will update to my website, so you can try it out.
Final update, I finished my ‘Still Life’ project. I was excited to play around with Maya again. I hadn’t use the program in about 4 years and was feeling very rusty. It was a long process but was a great way to explore ways to use all the tools at my finger tips to be creative. For this project I used Photoshop, Illustrator, tradition media(photography and drawing) and Maya.
First we had to document the still life with what ever tools we had in one hour. I used my digital SLR, Photoshop, a Wacom tablet and my iPhone video camera to capture as much reference as I could. Here is a quick sample:
It was an absurd collection of a two headed skeleton, a cat treat jar in the shape of a kitty that meowed when opened, a plant, ceramic church, fruit, and an ferret pelt. Crazy, right? I was drawn to it instantly. The coolest thing I noticed was when I looked very close at the photographs, you could see the pixel grid from the projector that we were using to project the blue light.
I came up with the idea of recreating the still life in Maya and then creating a custom ‘grid’ to use as a light source for the render. First I created grid in Illustrator and used the hollow point tool to remove certain parts of the grid. I chose to use concentric circles in the grid to represent one point perspective. I then printed out grids and went back into them with a pen and eventually an Exacto blade, splicing different grid papers. This took a lot longer than I thought, but the repetitiveness of the process was kind of relaxing. Here are some of the artwork used to create projection grid.
The final stage was to build Maya model and cast new light source so it would wrap around digital shapes. I chose to simplify the composition and focus on the Kitty, which I also reduce to it’s essence. Here is the final render. I would love to explore this technique some more in the near future. Really happy with results and process.
Filed under: MFA
Program is going full steam ahead. I wanted to give a little update on progress of a cool project I am working on for the Vermont 3.0.
We were tasked to complete three different self portraits in three different mediums. The final portrait I created in Google’s free 3D program SketchUp. I started to play around with the program a couple of month’s ago but had only attempted to create architectural based drawings. I wanted to find a creative way to use the program that went beyond my comfort level.
I was helping a fellow graduate student Shaina with a technique in Photoshop to create a low res pixelated version of her face to help her visualize one of her portrait concepts. The process involves resampling the photo to a very low number of dpi. I started to imagine the pixels on a 3D grid. What if you could extrude the pixels to represent the tone (greyscale value)?
I started with a photo from one of my very first ‘photo collages’. Silly picture, but more expressive than a boring straight on photo and, I love Mac and Cheese. I then converted picture to a greyscale image and used guides to help focus on the pixels that I had to transpose to the 3D grid.
This was a very long process, but I chose it because I am hoping by the end of this program, I will be able to automate this process using scripting and code.
Scan a picture, program converts to greyscale, resamples to established grid parameters, assigns a depth value to each pixel and it extrudes grid coordinates to assign values. I am hopeful.
Here are the source photo, pixel grid and top view (Orthographic projection) of the final SketchUp model.
The next stage was to extrude the grid based on the value of the pixel. Example: The grid dimensions where based off each division equals 1ʼ X 1ʼ, so if it was a 10% grey itwould be extrude 1ʼ. If the value was 50%, the height of the structure would be 5ʼ and ifthe value was 100% black, it would be 10ʼ tall.
When you change your viewing anglefrom the top view to the side the portrait morphs into an elaborate cityscape.
Here is a sequence view to show the final transformation and a stylized version of the result.
Link to small Video on Youtube.
I am going to be addressing an audience at the Vermont 3.0 in October on what it is like being a graduate student, and thought this blog would be a nice place to capture my experiences and explore some of the concepts we are studying in the MFA in Emergent Media at Champlain College.
CREATE. COLLABORATE. INNOVATE.
These are the three main themes driving the program. Even though we are only in week three, I have found evidence of them in everything we are doing.
I thought it would be nice to show some of the work in progress, to get a feel for the process and pacing of the program and be able to come back and compare it to the finished work and reflect on what we have learned.
One of the best initial experiences has been getting into the practice of creating art everyday. Here is sneak peek at some of my Daily Art Journal entries. The concept is that you would continue the same theme for a week and then you would tweak the approach and riff in a new direction for a week, etc.
My routine consist of getting outside everyday and creating something with found natural elements. I was inspired my a cool article on the New York Times Technology website Your Brain on Computers – Studying the Brain Off the Grid that talked about a group of professors that decided to go on a nature getaway and reflect on their experience with no technology. If you check out article make sure to click on the video links to the Unplugged Challenge, very insightful.
Also, I am a huge fan of Andy Goldsworthy as is obvious in my Week Two exploration. Nice to get away from my computer now and then (I will keep my iPod, thank you very much).
Another quick example of being creative.
I love using Photoshop and look for every opportunity to use it. I also love that one of our first assignments is self-portraits. We have to execute a total of three portraits; one in a medium we feel very comfortable with, one in a medium that we are familiar with but want to learn more about and finally one using a technique you no nothing about.
There seems to be a strong theme running through some of the lectures, so I thought my first should take advantage of the fact that several of the professors are huge Trekkies. I guess this is a modern day equivalent of putting an apple on the teachers desk.
There is a huge thrill in being a part of something new. As this is the first year that the MFA program is in operation, we are forging the uncharted waters and the adventure is going to be a blast.
I have also had the pleasure of being part of another ‘first’ at Champlain.
The Perry Barn is an amazing new space on the main campus that is set aside for the graphic design program. Two floors filled with super sweet 27″ iMacs, a chill zone with round tables covered in paper (very cool), a meeting room, and a big area for cutting and mounting work. Lucky for me as part of the program, I am acting as a mentor / teaching assistant for the space, available for questions, concerns, and advice throughout the week.
On thursdays, I have the advantage of sitting in on the the GDD program director David Lustgarten’s GDD200 – Design and Communication class. First project is Fossil: Harnessing the Random Mark. Could be fun to follow guidelines and create an icon for the Barn. They have done some nice things with the landscaping, including a Sun Dial by Vermont artist Kate Pond, that would be worth exploring.
Last, but not least, innovation…it is everywhere. This is why I am here.
“What is that? You have never designed a website before? No problemo. You will be an expert by the end of the semester. XHTML, CSS, Flash, scripting, we will cover it all…”
Here is a quick look at my initial comp for our personal website. The idea for the navigation is that you change the outfit on the paper doll to look at the different parts of the site. It will start very simple as I learn the basic concepts of web design and as I learn more, I will incorporate new technologies to make the site more exciting and functional.
This concept of Coberlin 2.0 is one I have been playing around with since I first heard about the program and will continue to explore during my time at Champlain. How will I use collaboration, innovation and creativity in the future to the make the world a better place to live? I can’t wait to find out.
Filed under: Uncategorized