Performative Avatars: Unreal Engine Short Film

For the short film assignment I wanted to play around with version 4.26 of Unreal Engine. I was very excited to find a brand new environment available for free on the marketplace that I could use as my setting for experimenting. I also wanted to bring back the old man with the cigar character.

When I tried to load in the pre built worlds I was running into space issues even though everything was on my separate drive, some things were constrained to my local disk. This along with the large textures kept crashing the site. Instead I began working with an HDR background texture which looked realistic and was fun to play with and I began working in the sequencer to create some shots. I was definitely a little in over my head, trying to animate the cine cameras and I’ve realized 24 fps looks quite bad coming out of unreal. I need to keep working on creating animations and spawning events.

Ideation and Prototyping: 50 Renderings

For the 50 renderings project I decided to explore cameras, what it means to capture an image & explorations throughout that process.

I chose to work only with physical sketching and use of objects as I have found myself relying too much on the digital fabrication tools that I use.

To begin exploring I broke down the renderings into five camera categories.

classic slr style

Point and shoot

medium format

polaroid

video camcorder

slr pt.2 (first is mirrorless but in style)

exploring never used shapes

flash placement

optical mechanism

shutter

leaf shutter example

modular system

trigger placement

bolex style

solenoid shutter/mechanisms

building blocks using parts

gearing mechanisms

grip placement

Performative Avatars: Week 1

The two online avatar systems I chose were the South Park Studios online creator and the Pop Yourself avatar creator on Funko.com.

They were both very fun, with the South Park one having the more offensive and weirder options while the funko product was cute and funny. It really is a difficult task to set up a successful avatar creator. How can we create a tool with enough agency to truly represent anyone who comes across it? It is quite an impossible task and makes me re-examine what an avatar truly is. As the PBS video “Controlling vs. “Being” your Avatar” brings up, are we creating a character or a true representation of ourselves? It makes me think of the video games like NBA 2K and others that allow you to take a photo of yourself so they can wrap those pixels around your avatar. That would be a better example of a truer representation of self. But what are the desired outcomes for your avatar? In what world will it live? The South Park avatar is very successful because all of the options are within the language of South Park characters. It was like re-living an episode of South Park choosing through all the different options available. There was enough abstraction that I did not feel it resembled me at all. Instead I chose things like the “New Jersey” skin tone which was a jab at bad New Jersey spray tans, as an Italian from New Jersey I thought it was funny. This kind of character building I find more interesting.

The Funko avatar creator also had quite a bit of abstraction as there weren’t that many options to choose from. I chose the 3D goggles as a student learning 3D environments and being able to add the cat was a nice touch. I believe the avatar creators with fewer options must allow the user to buy into the environment in order to care about the characters they are creating. South Park was definitely the more successful builder for this reason.

Discussion Questions:

Are we more empathic towards avatars that look like us? Is this a tactic used for engagement by game designers? In what context is that ethical or unethical?

Makerspace Unlimited Final

I am continuing to work around Chris Wiles’ design for a mask with a snap on filter. The rubber I wanted did not come in time so instead I decided to use Meshmixer to select the outer ring and create the same effect using the PLA design. It gave the mask a more aggressive look.

I created a photo series to document the time we are in and to use as a timestamp. These masks were created for doctors and front line workers as emergency backups, resorting to HVAC filters to breathe through.

I chose black and white as my canvas to show the isolating nature of quarantine. I used the mono-light function to achieve this effect.

Week 3: Goldilocks Thought Experiment for Project Development Studio

Further developing the idea/imagining it in different scales.

Currently I want to make a midi controller that illuminates the relationship between pitches and water. In practical terms this will look be a device for adjusting and exploring the entire pitch spectrum. I want to do it in a way that can still be used in the music production pipeline, so I will be locking scale/key into the process.

Two big inspirations are the Roli Seaboard and the RC-20 plugin. The Roli seaboard gives access to all of the pitches outside of the traditional piano structure. When playing a note the user can move up and down to explore the pitches in between notes. This video also demonstrates how that sounds when playing a chord. I want to explore similar principles, but away from the piano. I want the sounds to feel like an ocean, explored through controlled movement.

The RC-20 plugin also demonstrates how exact pitches have their time and place, but often times our ear associates slight wobble, with a vintage texture. This is because analog devices like tape and vinyl have texture to them like a pitch wobble and added noise.

The things I want to experiment with most:

—Pitch modulation as exploration

–Added noise for texture

–Locking melodic scale while allowing for interesting/unique compositions

–Getting the wah effect of a guitar string

Practical interfaces I can utilize:

Pads

Knobs

Accelerometer

I’m really inspired by this project from Amanda Ghassaei where she uses an accelerometer and gyroscope to change notes.

Surfboard metaphor

Why not ride the audio wave with a surfboard? What if that surfboard had an accelerometer and gyro attached?

Let’s imagine the project in three scales/formats

Surfboard

The controller is a literal surfboard where the user modulates pitch with their movement and angle. There are hand controllers to change notes.

Physical Tape

If audio that has been printed on tape is suspended in the air, the user can pull it to adjust the sound. There is a direct link to the hardware and audio. This isn’t music creation as much as it is performance. How can one manipulate their movements to achieve what they want from the tape. Pulling it will adjust pitch and speed. The more it is stretched and used, the harsher it will sound, adding even more noise and texture. Eventually it will completely degrade, which emphasizes the physical nature of the medium.

Can digital audio degrade naturally? Can there be a link between real physical degradation and digital audio degradation/distortion.

Online Audio Manipulator

If this project was online as a tool, you could drop an audio file into the program. There will be an advanced audio visualizer that also lets you edit. I am inspired by the spectral display function in Adobe Audition where it shows you a heat map of frequencies and let’s you manipulate it. This is mainly used to erase spikes in the frequency spectrum cause by unexpected things while recording audio.

Adobe’s waveform display

Week 4 In Class

During class I’m going to set up an Arduino Nano with some push buttons to start prototyping the accelerometer feature/sending midi information to the computer.

ICM Media Final

For my final I built upon some of the work I’ve made this semester. I made a randomized sound looper, that changing uses the alphabet and a 10print operation to display whats currently playing.

When you press a key, a 9 second sound file I created will be triggered. In order to keep the sounds together, they do not play until the looper restarts. This is something I will improve on in further versions as it can be time consuming to always wait 9 seconds to hear changes to what is going on.

I built on my LetterToNum class and object definitions to attach letters to music files I imported.

I made all of the sounds in Presonus Studio One, at 107bpm. There are wurlitzer, drum, guitar, jazz organ, and bass tracks.

This is all of the code for the looper.

Intro to Fab: Mounting Motors

This is the link to an interactive view of my 3D modeled camera housing. https://skfb.ly/6P88O

The motor I will be mounting is an electrical shutter driver. It has a small motor that takes 5V and opens the shutter mechanism. As long as voltage is supplied it will open.

From the front you can see the mounting space for the shutter. I have two 3/4″ mounting holes to further secure the shutter.

I created the viewfinder based on a rangefinder camera I took apart. This gives about a 35mm view from the beginning of the focal plane.

Below you can see my snap fit design. There is a very small gap between the components and a chamfered edge on the lid. This way it will stay locked but isn’t so hard to get into place.

I modeled the film holder after the original Minolta 16 design.

The two pieces on the side will be glued after and will be used to advance the film.

I measured and added a oled screen hole to display shutter speed and battery life. There are four m3 screw holes to mount this display. There is also a hole for the rotary encoder that will control the shutter speed.

Intro to Fab: Project Enclosures

For my project enclosure I decided to finally house an old project of mine. My roommate and I created an automatic watering system for plants with a sunken reservoir. This would take water in through one hose and pump it through the output house into the water basin.

I took a trip to the hardware store and I was immediately inspired by the electrical boxes. I thought it would make a great enclosure for our system based on size and mounting holes. I found a plate with an S hook that would be used to attach the box to any plant base.

The look of the electrical boxes isn’t too pleasing so I decided to paint it with one shot. I was told that this would be the best paint for metal. Although the fact that these boxes will be used indoors only I probably could have spray painted it.

After installing the S hook on the outside, I began measuring for a 3d printed piece. This would enclose the large opening but leave room for two hoses.

I modeled and printed the piece.

This is what the enclosure looks like hanging off the side of the planter.