20,000 Processing Particles

I’ve played with Processing a fair bit over the years, but never really got stuck into anything solid – most of my time has been spent fixing up my students’ projects!

Over the break I’ve been playing with some other ideas, working through the very good book by Casey Reas and Ben Fry, Processing: A Programming Handbook for Visual Designers and Artists. It’s probably one of the best books I’ve ever read in terms of introducing and explaining how to code for people without a computer science background.

Inspired by Robert Hodgin’s wonderful Processing work I thought I’d have another crack at particles as they seem to be all the rage at the moment. The particle creation part is easy, but getting them to interact with decent physics was getting too much for my mathematically challenged brain. Thankfully I came across the Traer Physics Engine by Jeffrey Traer Bernstein, which handles a lot of that maths for you.

My “Hello World!” code for any platform tends to be a bouncing ball (or an array of them) because it covers most of the structures – if…then, variables, arrays, etc.

So I started building and engine that has a bunch of particles that are all attracted to each other, but more attracted to a single one which is following a target invisible bouncing ball around the screen. (It would make more sense to collapse the particles into the ball code, but at the moment I’m just plugging stuff together.)

It’s very simple at the moment – just an ellipse as the graphic with some trails going on. The above is a version that rendered out in non-realtime with 20,000 particles. I like the way they seem to rope together and struggle to break free. Sometimes there’s a kind of breakaway flare.

There’s also a bit of gravity going on, which drags everything down. Any particles that go off the bottom of the screen are simply recycled up the top (you’ll see this in the initial explosion). A interesting upshot of this is that sometimes the tail of the flare/rope falls off the bottom and those particles make a break for it from the top.

You can play with a 2,000 particle version of it here (and view the source code)..

There are also a couple of other versions on Vimeo.

[tags]processing, particles, generative, video, vimeo[/tags]

Another Antirom RGB performance

I was clearing out some old CDs and found a Videobrasil XII one with this Antirom RGB performace on it. I think Gisela may have shot the footage as there are also some interviews with us at the Antirom office (looking very young). But I’m not sure where this performance was and have no doubt violated someone’s copyright.

Sorry about the ultra-compressed low quality, it was a Cinepak, tiny QT movie and the framerate seems a bit broken too, but it gives you a good idea of the flavour and atmosphere of the performance all those years ago.

[UPDATE: I’ve re-compressed and re-uploaded the video above (and removed the old one). It’s still pretty rough, but the frame-rate is better.]

Yahoo! Mail Championships

Yahoo! Mail Championships

A few months ago I spent a very fun couple of weeks doing some work for the folks over at Poke where my friend (and ex-Antiromer) Nik Roope is one of the partners. I was directing (though it was a collaborative effort) the video for the Yahoo! Mail Championships microsite as well as doing some of the compositing. It has finally gone live so I can write about.

The basic premise is that Poke really don’t do Nike Pro style sites, not because they can’t but because, well, we all think they’re totally overblown examples of ad guys ‘doing web’. Now that Flash actually handles video well, it’s their dream come true – the ad folks can make shiny videos again.

The Yahoo! Mail Championships was a great chance to make a spoof of one of these and do it really well. The games are very addictive and really communicate the product well and we spent a lot of time with the characters and the shoot, and then making them look completely radioactive purple. The sarcasm of the copy was toned down a little by the end, which is a shame. Iain and a few others wrote some real gems.

I still think it’s pretty amusing though and it was nice to get back into a studio and do a shoot instead of being stuck behind a keyboard all day. Also good to know those studio and After Effects skills weren’t too rusty after all.

Antirom Performance

I love YouTube, it really is becoming the archive of the world. Here’s a bit of the RGB performance Nic Roope, Joe Stephenson and I did when we were at Antirom. We performed a selection of our interactive sound toys – this climax of the show really where we jumped around on pressure pads triggering sounds and animations. Joe is in green, Nic in the Red and I was blue. Way back in 1997 I think. We really couldn’t dance (three middle-class white boys) but it really was a good time. You should have been there.

Thanks to Nic for finding this and whoever Newbrow is for uploading it to YouTube in the first place.

UPDATE: So, Nic reckons this is the Cybertheatre in Brussels and Shane thinks it might have been the performance we did for the 2nd onedotzero festival at the ICA. It was all a blur at the time for me – maybe someone remembers?

Time Sketches (2006)

Time Smear Finger in the Ear  Time Smear Long Punch

Time Smear in action (click to enlarge)

Time Smear and Time Slicer form part of a series of live video works called Time Sketches that experiment with interactivity and the viewer’s image. Using video processing technologies these works play with time; chopping it up into fleeting moments and stretching it out across space. The result is a digital hall of mirrors, where you can see warped versions of yourself.

Time Slicer

Time Slicer (click to enlarge)

Currently on display at the Powerhouse Museum supported by the Creativity and Cognition Studios at UTS and their beta_space project at the Powerhouse. Also supported by a research grant from UNSW.

Read more about this work here.

Photos by Greg Turner.

COFA Annual (2005)

COFA Annual 2005 CD-ROM content interface

COFA Annual 2005 CD-ROM main interface

Role: Interactive Director/Producer

The Annual CD-ROM for the College of Fine Arts is always a significant logistical and creative undertaking. With almost 400 students submitting up to nine pieces of work each, managing the project and satisfying the various creative tastes in an art college was a challenge. Once again, in collaboration with my students, we produced a visually and interactively rich as well as highly usable CD-ROM.

COFA Annual (2004)

COFA Annual 2004 interface

COFA Annual 2004 interface

Interaction Direction and Producer for the Annual CD-ROM of over 320 collected student works for the College of Fine Arts, UNSW. This interface worked on set-theory, allowing you to select subject areas and see the appropriate thumbnails. We wanted to show the range of work in one glance, hence the giant array of thumbnails. It was built with Flash and used an XML structure to describe all the works (which had been uploaded via a Web interface). Each student submitted nine works, resulting in over 2,880 entries – the logistics were complex.