This year we were invited back to beakerhead to revisit our previous years project. Unfortunately due to many circumstances surrounding alberta and it’s art funding there wasn’t as much budget or time to create as large of an installation. We decided on just doing the light element and reorganized our triangles to look more like crystals. It just so happened that the star alpha lyrae was going to be directly overhead for this solstice edition of beakerhead so we decided to use the star’s name.
I’ve used Blender for all my animation work but never seemed to have the time for rigging. I decided it was about time to go down that particular rabbit hole and what a rabbit hole it is. Rigging is definitely a huge area in on itself and although I got the basics I realized it would take a very long time to correctly rig an entire human model. Luckily as is often the case other people have been working on solutions. One such opensource program focused entirely on the human-ish form is called Makehuman and they have a blender compatible rig as well. It doesn’t take long with makehuman to fiddle with proportions and come up with a human that fits the bill. I then exported and brought that into blender but animating every tiny bone takes a lot of work, even with inverse kinematics. I decided I’d find some motion capture data and apply that to the rig. And viola! Since I was also playing with the dome visuals at the time I decided I’d also try a 360 export.
Our team of talented Artists, Engineers, Lighting Experts, Engineers and Musicians brought our concept to fruition. Our inital goal was to utilize some ancient circuits and button pads from an old science centre exhibit to control a lighting array on a
sand rock bar that had formed from the flood in 2013. When the buttons, which were electric field sensors, were triggered they would play a sound and light up a line of lights. The idea was that it would take many hands to fully activate both the sound and light components, in this case 10.
To read some more technical details of this project keep reading.
A new project me and my dad have been working on is creating wooden vessels with the CNC machine at work. This project started as a tribute to my late grandma who had her own interpretations of vessels through her years of pottery work. We thought up a bunch of objects that would be near impossible to do by hand. Of course there is still a lot of hand work that needs to happen for these objects to truly shine. It was a bit of a challenge, not only in holding down the pieces but aligning them when cutting out the other side, designing the objects and fine tuning the tool paths.
A bit of an introduction. There’s many libraries for making graphics in computers but one that has been around for quite a while and is used in many places is called OpenGL. It takes care of a lot of the underlying details so you can specifiy a box or a cube or just triangles and have it draw something on your screen in a 3D world. GLSL is a subset of OpenGL written specifically for GPU’s, ie your graphics card. This allows you complete control and very low level control over exactly how those triangles get converted to colored pixels on your screen.
It was the year of the dome. After being confined to single planes, generally square, occasionally shaped, this year was the full meal deal. We were playing on a full dome, 360 degrees around and 180 degrees above. All this extra screen Realestate, of which I was informed was 2k video, was going to need a new computer. Apparently 2k video is (1920×1080) times 2. I didn’t learn this till after and though it was 2048×2048, so I had the right vertical resolution but I could’ve had twice the horizontal. I don’t think anyone noticed.
It was the year of the dome. After being confined to single planes, generally square, occasionally shaped, this year was the full meal deal. We were playing on a full dome, 360 degrees around and 180 degrees above. All this extra screen realestate, of which I was informed was 2k video, was going to need a new computer. I put together a new hackintosh computer with an almost current NVIDIA 960 graphics card. Apparently 2k video is (1920×1080) times 2. I didn’t learn this till after and had used 2048×2048, so the vertical resolution was ok but I could’ve had twice the horizontal. I don’t think anyone noticed. The Nest Dome group that had setup the system was also bringing the dome to Beakerhead and I was invited to play. Domes are quite interesting compared with regular video, you have such a large area and there is not really a specific focus point. Some areas such as behind the dj or the first 30degrees up the dome are easier to view but it doesn’t mean you can’t have an element waundering around. With such a big surface one has to make sure it doesn’t move too fast or you don’t change too much background too quickly since motion sickness is a real issue.
I got a last minute invitation to do visuals at beaker head. The NEST dome guys from Montreal that were out at motion notion this summer were being brought to town to showcase the full dome. Time was tight so we only ended up jamming for an hour while Essete played some nice beats. Was still a fun nite and great to see everybody’s faces as we took them on a journey through our imaginations.
To be able to keep up with rendering 2k or 4k video I decided I needed a new computer. Laptop’s weren’t really cutting it these days, I can’t put new Nvidia cards into them. Plus mac’s are overpriced for what they contain. I’ve been following along with mackintosh’s for awhile and even managed to boot up an old Pentium 4 shuttle box I had at one point, but it sounded like now things have started to stabilize. After many hours researching on tonymacx86 I took the plunge and started ordering. For roughly $1200 CDN I could put together a pretty powerful unit, Core i7, 16gb ram, 250gb SSD drive, Nvidia Geforce 960. There was relitively few snags on setting it all up. My main problem was because I was trying to triple boot, Windows 10/ OSX/ Linux (Mint). It seemed every time I installed a new OS it would blow away the boot manager from the previous ones, I’m looking at you windows. After some trial and error I have it all up and working. Now which OS will I find myself in more 😉
It’s been awhile (3 years) since the first raspberry pi, the $35 computer, came on the scene. Three years is a pretty long cycle not to have any major significant change in the computer industry . Sure they doubled the ram and added a few usb ports over the year, but original processor that drives these beasts was definitely showing it’s age. Then just recently they dropped a full refresh from what appeared out of nowhere. I’ve bought both of the last two significant upgrades and was about to drop money on the third but thankfully I hesitated that weekend and much to my chagrin the announcement came out. So I quickly ordered up a couple with some wifi dongles, it’s really too bad they didn’t include wifi but, it’s only a $35 computer for pete sake’s.