My Future Goals- Film and Games (University)

It’s been a while since I have written a blog post here, for that I apologise. What’s my excuse? I’ve been sorting out my future, or at least attempting to figure out what sort of future I envision myself having. But I guess we never really know where we envision ourselves being in ‘5 years time’, so instead we just have to focus on what makes us happy and what we feel most passionate about.

Which has brought me to university! I had a lot of doubts about university, mainly because of how ridiculously expensive it has become but the more I thought about spending 3 years immersing myself in what I’m passionate about, developing my skills and emerging my own styles, I knew that I wanted to go. I still have such a yearning to learn, a thirst for knowledge that hasn’t been quenched yet! Not to mention the wonderful, creative people that I have already started to meet along the way!

Left to right- Chloe Debonnaire, Nicole Harman-Smith, Natalie Hodgins, Connor Albinson, Billie Williams

Left to right- Chloe Debonnaire, Nicole Harman-Smith, Natalie Hodgins, me, Tarald Tvedt, Sugini Nageswaran, Billie Williams, Connor Albinson

But, what knowledge do I hope to achieve through my 3 years at university?

Originally I was studying Digital Film and Screen Arts, with a strong passion for film in a new-age sense. Living in a world where reaching out to the other side of the world is just a keyboard click away I see the film medium as the best way to reach out to these people, through websites such as YouTube or Twitch we can easily reach out to one another, influencing and connecting with others lives through a screen and hopefully having a positive impact on them. This is the kind of film that I have a passion for; it’s the social side, the interactive nature, the communication and impact that happens around the video itself.

However, since starting the course I began noticing that the interactivity that I so craved to learn and innovate with does not reside within the film industry already and so cannot be taught by a film-based course. As it’s not the professional quality that I’m looking to delve further into, it’s the impact that I can have on viewers and the community that I can create through offering a more interactive and immersive experience with my videos.

I love games. I’ve always loved games. They offer what films never have, a chance to become the starring role; to become truly immersed in the narrative by developing emotional attachments with the in-game characters and ultimately controlling the flow, or even nowadays, the outcome of the narrative itself.

lava monster

Painted in photoshop

So perhaps I’ve been following the wrong route and instead of trying to bring new interactive elements into the already well-established film industry, I could take what I so love about film and bring it with me on my journey through understanding and experimenting with the interactive and immersive elements that are offered to me within the gaming industry.

Plus, being able to create 3D worlds, draw 2D characters and put them all together using object oriented programming to tell an immersive narrative is pretty darn cool!

If you would like to follow my progression within this Computer Game Arts course then follow my university blog: http://yagmanx.blogspot.co.uk/

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Art Hackathon – Emoti

emoti

Update: Check out the Emoti web page!

I’ve always heard about how awesome Hackathon’s could be; they’re a chance to surround yourself with intelligent people who share the same interest, come up with inspiring ideas together and become engrossed in a project, with everyone chipping in to turn concept into reality over one weekend.

Hacking at Hackathon

But I’m going to be perfectly honest with you here; however awesome this sounds, I can’t help but feel a tad intimidated by it all. There’s still so much I feel I have yet to learn and I always worry about how much of an asset (or a nuisance) I would be.

So when I saw an opportunity to go to an Art Hackathon, which aspired to mix teams with different skill sets and types, I knew that I had to attend, and I’m so glad I did! With the Hackathon holding presentations by many talented people including as Joel Lewis, Di Mainstone and Nick Rothwell, as well tables full of various tech and art supplies, there were no limitations to the amount of creativity that we could muster!

All of this inspired a creation that managed to win 2nd Place for Peoples Choice, and I can proudly say that I was a part of its development:

Emoti – Visualising our Emotions

Emoti shows the emotional state of the world through combined visual colours and audio, resulting in a beautifully chaotic representation of the emotional state of the world- or at least the twitterverse.

Using Twitter Widgets, our team was able to pull certain keywords from tweets being posted in real time and assign them to different emotion types, which meant being able to have constantly updated data on how people were feeling on twitter through these emotion-related keywords. The emotions we assigned them to were: Happy, Sad, Surprised, Afraid and Angry.

From this data we then created a simple HTML web-page with 5 divs, or blocks, of colour relating to the different emotion states. These would constantly change width depending on the data that was being collected from the tweets to give a visual representation of how many people were tweeting under each emotion:
Emoti colours

  • Green = Happy
  • Blue = Sad
  • Yellow = Surprised
  • Pink = Afraid
  • Red = Angry

To make this experience of witnessing how the world feels and how frequently these emotions change more immersive, these visual representations are also accompanied with audio. We chose five audio tracks, one to depict each emotion, adding them into the web-page using the HTML5 audio tag, and adjusted their volume depending on the emotion-based twitter data with some JavaScript wizardry. This ended up with the clashing music types seemingly battling against each other, reflecting how hectic the live emotion states were and how rapidly they would change at random; one moment showing solely happiness, the next ultimate anger.

This was an Art Hackathon don’t forget, so, of course we had to present this data in a beautiful and intriguing way. What’s more intriguing than creating the illusion of 3D colour-changing ripples?!

emoti fullFor this effect, the designers in our team lazer cut clear plastic to create the individual ripples and slotted them into a black board. I decided this would be the perfect opportunity to whip out my Raspberry Pi!  We ran the web-page through the Pi and hooked it up to the HDMIPi, allowing a bright screen for our structure to be placed onto, so that the moving coloured blocks from below would shine onto the clear plastic and give the illusion of a 3D object.

Finally, the structure was put together in a dark, enclosed space, and the end product came to life, completely exceeding my expectations! Colours danced gracefully across the ripples, making us forget that there was even a web-page below. It was easy to get lost in the entrancing movement of pattern that the object seemed to create. As soon as you immerse yourself in the full experience, with audio as well as these entrancing visuals, it becomes a little overwhelming. Watching the colours is one thing, but hearing the clashes of audio really brings the message across that this is how people from around the world are feeling right now.

It’s both a marvel and a mess all at the same time; both beautiful and chaotic. Just like the emotions we feel and the complexity behind them. 

Yes, it’s open source! Find the (somewhat messy) code here: https://github.com/itomblack/emotion-twitter

What I Gained…

Aside from the obvious: an awesome project, a better understanding of how to work in a team and improved coding skills, I managed to come away from the Hackathon feeling much more positive about what I, an as individual, can achieve. I may not be have been the most skilled coder in the room but I was still able to have meaningful input on the project, both creatively and through my development skills, which leaves me wondering what I was so worried about in the first place!

As well as this I’m so grateful to have had the pleasure of meeting many creative and genuinely lovely people. It was so interesting to see all of the various projects that everyone had made, each one entirely unique and fascinating in its own right.

Thank you to the people behind the Art Hackathon event and those intelligent folk within the Emoti Dream Team who helped bring it to life:

P.S. This is my very first blog, how am I doing? Let me know! (If you want to… No pressure…)

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