Category Archives: Video/Animation

Pop-Up Window Display – Sock Monster

 

For our 7-week Pop-Up Windows class, we were tasked to form teams and design an interactive window display for a vacant building on the NYU campus. During this time, my team and I planned and installed a window exhibit in which a sock is lowered into a giant washing machine and is eaten by the monster that lives there. The project involved animation, puppetry, fabrication, set design, projection, and physical computing. We built the washing machine by stretching fabric over a wooden frame with an open back so that we could project onto its front. A button was placed on the outside of the window display, and when it was pushed, a stepper motor lowered the sock into the machine, and then animations played of the monster interacting with, and ultimately pouncing upon, the shadow of the sock. After that, the lights would dim on the display and the sock would retract to its original position, ready for the next user.

 

popupwindows

The Sock Monster display next to its neighbor The Internet.

 

An Arduino controlled the stepper, the DMX lighting, and the button control, and interfaced with MAX/MSP to randomize and play the different animations at the appropriate times. My role on the project was primarily creating the monster’s animations and doing the MAX/MSP programming. I also assisted with the construction of the frame and with the Arduino code as well.

Here’s a timelapse video showing an early stage in the construction process – our team comes in in the second half of the video to start work on the frame:

 

Large-Scale Projection – The Lighted Window

 

 

The Lighted Window was our final project for Poetry Everywhere. The assignment was to create a video piece based on a poem to project onto three stories of a building across the street from ITP. You can see the space that we were given to project on in this early projection test (involving chickens from our previous animation):

 

 
Xuedi and I decided that we wanted to make a final piece that would seem like a visitor from another world is breaking a barrier from their world into ours. We chose the poem “The Lighted Window” by Russell Edson because it fit well into the theme we envisioned. In the poem, the narrator is chasing an illuminated piece of paper that seems like a door to another place. For our projection, we decided to film Xuedi slowly exploring, feeling, pounding against, and ultimately tearing through a paper barrier that separates her environment from ours. We imagined that the paper barrier is similar to the paper that the narrator chases in the poem, and we filmed our footage on greenscreen so that we could easily insert an alternate world into the background of the video.

We wanted to make the video only viewable against the building’s six windows, so the black area in the final video was us masking out the rest of the building. Unfortunately, we were not able to get quality video footage of the actual projection on the building, but it was projected during the ITP 2013 Winter Show.

 

Last Night I Dreamed Of Chickens

 


I am currently in a class called Poetry Everywhere, and the aim is to create projects that represent existing poetry in new media. One of our early assignments was to create an animated piece based on any existing poem. Both me and my project partner, Xuedi, thought we would have more fun with this if we picked a whimsical poem. Neither of us are very well-versed in poetry, so after a long digressive search we settled on “Last Night I Dreamed of Chickens” by children’s poet Jack Prelutsky:

Last night I dreamed of chickens,
there were chickens everywhere,
they were standing on my stomach,
they were nesting in my hair,
they were pecking at my pillow,
they were hopping on my head,
they were ruffling up their feathers
as they raced about my bed.
They were on the chairs and tables,
they were on the chandeliers,
they were roosting in the corners,
they were clucking in my ears,
there were chickens, chickens, chickens for as far as I could see…
when I woke today, I noticed there were eggs on top of me.

 

For the animation, we decided to go with the concept of a chicken dreaming of other chickens. Naturally, in order to get anything done, we had to photograph a ceramic chicken I own and also order a giant chicken suit from Amazon. After it arrived, we filmed our friend, chicken enthusiast, and all-around good sport David Rios against a greenscreen performing various actions that fit the poem.

We even made a shot list and everything. You know, real professional.
We even made a shot list and everything. You know, real professional.

 

Keying out the green screen was a new experience for me and it allowed me to learn the ins and outs of After Effects’ Keylight plugin. Before I knew it, I was a master of keying out adult human chickens. After that, both Xuedi and I set to creating additional assets in Photoshop and then animating. We also recorded Mary Fe narrating the poem and used it as our audio track.

In the end, after the whole process was finished, we ended up returning the chicken suit, much to my chagrin. However, I’m pretty proud of how the animation came out in the end.

Peanut Gallery

Peanut Gallery was my Live Image Processing and Performance project that also unintentionally became my Digital Fabrication final.

I knew that, for this final, I wanted to do something physical with video; I didn’t want to make a project that you simply observe and don’t actively participate in. At the time, I also was interested in trying to create my own inflatable figures, and figured that would serve well as an interesting video interface.

From these ideas, I came up with the concept for Peanut Gallery, which is an interactive TV movie watching experience in which the occasional obnoxious person pops up next to you on an inflatable tube to disrupt your concentration.  The different people that pop up can adjust your TV’s signal in different ways according to their own preferences. Some of these disruptions include adjusting the colors or the contrast, rewinding the movie, muting the movie, changing the channel, turning off the TV, or turning down the volume. To restore peace and order to your TV time, you must strike the inflatable with the interloper on it until it deflates.


An example of one of the disruptors – he turns off the television completely.

I started by fabricating the enclosure out of plywood on the CNC and sewing cylindrical shapes out of ripstop nylon. I hooked up IR rangefinder sensors inside each inflatable near the base so that I could sense when a figure was hit by a user, and I inflated each of the 2 cylinders with a reasonably powerful 12V boat fan. These were hooked up to an Arduino that interfaced with a Max/MSP patch that controlled both the projections mapped on the inflatable tubes and the video effects applied to the movie on a nearby television. I used a dual head video splitter to route video to both the television and the projector.

Unfortunately, not much media remains of this project because the computer I was storing it on was stolen (a painful lesson in backing up my content more frequently!), but some pictures and video remain. Here are two photos from the ITP spring show:

And here are some (very short) videos of people interacting with it:


My friend Alex really going at it.

 


These kids stayed to play for about 5 minutes – probably my favorite moment over the project’s lifespan.