Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Xmas Break Work

Not posted in a week or so, because as you may very well have known, it was Christmas! And I was worked like a slave at work, and had to cram in time to shop, play with the nephews new toys, you know, the usual.
But, I have done some thinking and produced some things for this project.

The first thing I am going to post is a test for the instructional video for the audience explaining the pads. However, I would like to begin with my research into coding on Flash.
I watched about 6 or 7 videos about coding on Adobe Flash, read several introductions and had a go myself. I got as far as drawing a rectangle.... Coding is mental! It just seems like a mass of symbols and half-words! If one character is wrong, if a colon, a comma or a letter is out of place, NOTHING works! So after nearly giving myself a brain haemorrhage trying to get my head around it, I gave up to battle another day. I decided to focus on the instructional video...

The instructional video will do exactly as it is called; instruct the audience how to use the pressure pads and how this will create visual representations on screen.
Below is a short clip which I intend to build upon showing the screen animating.

My next step is to create a storyboard for the video, so I know exactly what shots and angles are going to work together to create the full video. I will also use some text or animated slides to link shots together which explain what is happening.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Further Development

Iv'e had another chat with my tutor about my idea and which direction it is going and came up with some really good ideas.

I was struggling to come up with what my final outcome is going to be. The obvious way to go would be to create a longer video of my mock-ups, using the real letter set-up and lights to create the visuals and using all the letters of Alight. However, this would still not show how the visuals are working with the pressure pads.
So, as a short video for an outcome, I could flick between or pan to the feet tapping the pads and to the screen visual. This would show how the screen works, and could also be used as a demo to play for the audience to show them what they can do.

Another thing I could also do is look into coding, and how I could make things happen on screen by doing something in the real world, like tapping the microphone, or pressing a key. This would give me a better insight to how my idea would work. I could create something simple like a square changes colour when the user presses the space bar, but this could lead to something even more interesting. Which leads to idea 3...

Idea 3
Following the idea of the rectangle seating plan, I could replicate this using a keyboard. Look down at you keyboard. Go on, take a look, i'll wait here.
You back? Good. Thats sort of like a grid seating plan. If I look into the coding and get good enough at it, I could create a screen similar to that being used at the City Hall, and use each key to represent a pressure pad being tapped. The user can see what the screen will look like when each light comes on. This will take a bit of research into coding and how to do it using software like Flash, but I think it would look really good!

Next step is to start with research into coding and how to use simple ON/OFF codes in Flash. Watch this space, it could get pretty interactive!

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Full Tap of letter 'A'

I added the dimmer lights to the screen visuals which are used to represent the tapping of the audience members not in the selected 'A' seats.

Again, still a bit rough, but with some work, I think this could look amazing! It would create a really exciting atmosphere in the audience, even for the ones not involved.
I love that this idea relies ENTIRELY on audience participation; if the audience did not join in, or only a few did, it would make sense or look attractive at all. In fact, it would look like the screen had broke! So it means the audience must work together to create beautiful imagery on screen.
To combat the audience involvement, a sheet of instructions would have to be placed on every seat connected to the screen. This way, the audience would know what the pads in front of them do, and how they can create the imagery by tapping or applying pressure to them.

Tap Test

I have had a play on After Effects to see what the visuals on screen could look like. It's pretty rough just using yellow light fades to represent the visuals. The result is below:

As I said, a bit rough, but I like the way it would look. If you think to yourself, each light is someone pressing down or tapping on the pad with their foot in real-time, and in representation to their seat, its pretty cool!

I do intend to add the dimmer lights to this too which are used for the audience members who are not sat in a selected 'A' seat, allowing them still to take part. I'll get to work on that now!

Budget issues aside, it is possible!

I checked out how my idea could realistically be achieved, and got to searching for different forms of pressure pads/mats. Here is an example:

Exciting, huh?
This pressure pad is one of many I found for sale online. This one in particular was found on Maplins' online store at http://www.maplin.co.uk/pressure-mat-3091?c=froogle&u=3091&t=module

Most pressure mats I looked at were used for security purposes. The idea being that when an intruder steps on one it triggers the alarm. However, due to my mighty electronics intellect, I know this sends a digital signal to the input device. This signal, being digital, is either ON or OFF. In terms of my idea, this ON/OFF signal would represent whether the on-screen visuals are ON or OFF. I have little-to-no knowledge of computer coding, so unfortunately I wouldn't have a clue HOW to code each input to the screen to show the visuals.

Using the price of this pad at Maplins, and the seating plan intended for at the City Hall, a figure has been worked out. The seating plan holds 25x7 seats, equaling 175 participating seats. Multiply this by the price of each pad (£7.99) and we get the very reasonable price of £1398.25. I don't see the issue here, do you? :p

But this is a step towards how the idea would become reality.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Final Pitch

So after generating this new idea, I added this to my pdf presentation and showed it to my tutor today. The response was AMAZING! Not only am I really happy with it, but my tutor and fellow designers really like the idea too. It a risky idea, as it completely relies on audience participation, but hey, aren't risks the most exciting things in life?

I will find out later if I am to be shortlisted to present to the client. As my tutor and I both mentioned during my pitch, the budget for the festival is pretty tight, and even though he would like to shortlist me for the simple fact the idea is great, both of us know it won't go ahead due to money issues. But the experience of presenting an idea like this to a client could be useful, so i'll find out later about that!
A piece of constructive criticism out tutor gave not just to me, but to everyone who pitched, is that we were very apologetic about the budget in our pitch. Almost all of us were guilt of saying things like 'due to budgeting this idea would have to be stripped down a bit'. A good point he made was if the idea is good enough and the client is interested enough they will find a budget for it. So YES, screw the budget they have warned upon us, my idea IS brilliant, I AM happy with it, and if it needs shrinking, that is something for them to worry about, not me :)

New Idea

After presenting my idea and gaining a bit of a negative response, I was a bit annoyed, but I payed much more attention to the other pitches and the response my tutor was giving to others. And pure inspiration struck...

In my nature I tend to tap beats and rhythms, pretty much ALL the time. In fact so much, that even as I type here, my feet are tapping to themselves! This definitely comes from my passion in music, and the fact i'm a drummer.
So I was sitting on a table in the session (there was no chairs left >:S ) and my legs were swinging, and I was tapping my feet in mid-air, to no music. And I thought, what if the I used the audience for the Twilight event to create the projection for me. I would give them the tools and they would do all the work. So here it is, my new idea:

The city hall seating plan looks like this:

View from the Stage

Birds-eye-view of Theatre

In the section at the front, there is a rectangular section of seats containing 25x7 seats. In a grid, that looks like this:

Grid structure of seats

So my idea is this: I would use pressure pads/mats across the feet of every seat in this section. When the pressure pad is tapped on, an on-screen projection of that action would be represented with a flash or colour, or, depending on the seat, a section of a letter, in the relevant screen-space.
The image below provides a more visual representation of this:

If someone sitting in a white seat taps the pad, on screen they would see a small flash or light or colour. If someone sitting in one of the red seats which spells 'Alight' taps the pad, a small section of their letter would flicker on screen. By the audience working together tapping feet, they would spell the word 'Alight' complete with a vibrant background together. A little bit like this:

If this was used during a performance, and the audience reactively tapped their feet to the beat, the screen would mimic the rhythm. This would look very visually interesting and engage the audience in the performance itself.
This could also be used with other letters in the strap-line;

If some clever coding was involved (which I don't know how to do!), the screen could change throughout the show between each letter.

This idea engages the audience in the performance itself, becoming part of the overall experience, and would definitely be something they would remember.

Dummy-Run Pitch

I am going to be adding 3 posts here explaining what has happened over the past 2 days, so pay attention viewers, because things change pretty drastically!

I'll start with yesterday with a dummy-run pitch to one of our tutors.

We were asked to pitch our ideas to our tutor who would then be selecting a small amount for shortlisting to present to the actual client next week. Yesterday was a dummy-run for today, so we could work out any kinks or issues in our presentation ready for the final pitch today.
I explained what research I had done (which is all here on this blog) and where my thoughts were going. I explained my idea about the short animatic sequences blending into one another to celebrate the iconic and memorable parts/aspects of Sheffield. This did not go down well.
It didn't include any interactive elements which engages the audience (like the CrowdSpeak exercises we had done), which I wasn't aware we needed. It actually doesn't say in the brief this is needed which confused me, but our tutors thought it would be a good way to approach the brief. And because my idea so far hadn't got very far in terms of content and only showed Sheffield F.C., Steelworks and Tinsley, the images didn't seem to work very well together, and did not achieve much of a response. Bummer. Back to the drawing board!
Which is where I started to think differently...

Thursday, 1 December 2011

First Sketches

I have done a few initial sketches based on my idea of celebrating Sheffield.
The 3 sketches I have done show just Sheffield F.C., the Steelworks, and Tinsley Towers.

If I progress with this idea, there will be may more aspects to the projection. I would like to show some significant buildings such as Meadowhall, the Winter Gardens, Kelham Island and more.

The basic idea is shown below:

This section would show a footballer in a Sheffield F.C. kit, dribble the ball a bit then kick towards the camera.

This ball will enter full view of the screen, getting directly in front of the camera, showing just the colour.

This colour then zooms out to show a molten liquid pouring (possibly out of focus like shown).

As the camera zooms out we see this is the Steelworks smelter.

Smoke from the furnaces could then be focused on and zoomed back to show...

The Tinsley Cooling Towers.

From here, this scene would flow to another in a similar way, creating a celebration of Sheffield in one seamless motion.
It needs a bit more development and thought, but as a basic idea I quite like the way it will move on screen.