Interactive Code & Art #creativecoding

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In all of the projects that I have undertaken, my coding knowledge has helped me through, my past knowledge of creative and fluid CSS design, javascript and flash variables and being able to dissect html and plugins. My biggest struggle was with Max MSP  https://cycling74.com/ as it was a totally new language and as usual I was trying to do something with it that had never been done before, (link to my research on Max pages) but my determination drove me to hack, tweak and cheat it so I got my desired result.

With my leap motion testing it also needs a specific language to start to develop your own content, and in the past I have used what comes in with whatever software has been recommended, so wanted to look at programming from a different perspective, can it in it’s purest form create art, create interaction and how easy is that?

I found the video below and it covers a wide variety of coding for visualisation, cinder, processing, the rgbd toolkit (which uses a kinect to make amazing video effects) and shows the very powerful way artists could harness code, but I don’t want to just ‘code’ and have virtual art and or sculptures, I want to make it more interactive and perhaps physical, could it be plugged into live reactive projects? How easy is it to translate this into a physical object, through 3D printing, manipulation and processing.

Can you use a leap motion, an AR experience, an oculus rift to help generate the code, and it be wireless?

I’m going to systematically look through the beginnings of this type of code and see if I can apply it to my kind of art…

The text below comes directly from PBS Off Book

Programming plays a huge role in the world that surrounds us, and though its uses are often purely functional, there is a growing community of artists who use the language of code as their medium. Their work includes everything from computer generated art to elaborate interactive installations, all with the goal of expanding our sense of what is possible with digital tools. To simplify the coding process, several platforms and libraries have been assembled to allow coders to cut through the nitty-gritty of programming and focus on the creative aspects of the project. These platforms all share a strong open source philosophy that encourages growth and experimentation, creating a rich community of artists that share their strategies and work with unprecedented openness.

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Articulate vs Captivate

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I love playing with new technology and coming with that is an aptitude for testing new software and in my role as a Multimedia Developer I have been tasked with looking at new elearning software for City College.

I have been assessing and researching two of the leading elearning software brands with their free 30 day trials of each. These were narrowed down from four or five (iSpring, Lectora, Elucidat) by talking to other professionals and online research.

Although I have used Captivate 5 for a while now, I was keen to see what captivate 8 had in store and had previously trialled the first version of Articulate so felt I had a good starting position for an evaluation for my company.

Articulate vs Captivate Comparison

Adobe captivate import choices:

  • For a straight powerpoint import you can check each slide you wish to bring in
  • Comes in with all of the powerpoint timings and bulleted text animations
  • You cannot edit the text in Captivate, but you can edit the linked powerpoint file
  • Opening up powerpoint in a pop up window so that you can adjust text, etc

Every mouse click that advanced the ppt file has been kept and the slides have their individual timings and reveals included, but nothing is editable within captivate itself.

You can also open a ppt file and have it unlinked, but again if you want to edit the text or image or timing, you can only do so by editing the slide in captivates ‘ppt’ pop-out edit area.

So although everything imports from Powerpoint beautifully, I still have to copy and paste the individual items if I want to make them interactive or correct a spelling mistake.

Articulate

The text and images are all immediately editable with Articulate.

With the separate layers you can easily see all of the individual elements. Some of the timings are present, and the audio has come through.

Working in Captivate

Editing images is a much simpler operation in Storyline as all of the options appear on a right click.

Once you have found the edit image section in Captivate you find a more limited set of functions.

Conclusion

Importing projects from powerpoint 5 2
General ease of use 4 3
Quiz questions and options 4 4
Image editing 4 3
Recording & editing a screen simulation 4 3
Customisation 5 3
Output 4* 4*
Active online community 5 2
PPT conversion Time 3 hrs 5hrs

 

Captivate has a more limiting powerpoint feel to it, basic adjustments, working within more rigid boundaries and a harder learning curve, plus there is not the community support group online.

Articulate has a better user interface, is quicker to put simple quizzes together and make minor adjustments within them, and produces e-learning that looks immediately better without having to delve too deep into the settings, and therefore quicker to pick up.

Another plus for Articulate is the very active and lively online community where they promote sharing of new templates and enhancements that will enable the user to focus on the learning design aspect rather than the software obstacles.

I have looked at many comparisons and reviews between Captivate and Articulate and they both have devoted fans of each platform leading me to believe that both are fully capable pieces of software, but, I found Articulate the quickest to get going with, providing the best import from powerpoint and many ready to go good looking templates with varied uses.

In my evaluation and testing Articulate also needed the least time to produce a better looking product, with my starting point for both test projects as a supplied powerpoint.

Using Articulate it took me 3 hours to convert the project into a simple quiz and screen simulation whereas working with Captivate took me 5 hours.

Articulate has the edge in almost all aspects in my testing and I would recommend this as the software.

 

This is my shortened report, if you would like to read the full report, you view it here (Word Document)

History Conversion Articulate vs Captivate Conclusion – TT

Google Cardboard – VR out of a box!

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So at last I had enough time to finally put together the VR Google Cardboard DIY headset. I had previously purchased one off of ebay, but it was so poorly cutout and made, I couldn’t even fit an old ipod touch into it, however, what it did get me was the lenses and the NFC chip that are actually quite tricky to get hold of.

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First step was to cut out the paper printouts and make sure they all would fit into my lovely bit of cardboard, I found that the regular corrugated stuff was not very usable.

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This the lovely thin but firm cardboard I rescued from a magimix box, just the right type of stuff.

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Unlike this rubbish that I bought from eBay…

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Tools needed included plenty of blades and my trusty scalpels…

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plus some good old spray mount, don’t you just love how it covers everything in a fine mist of stickiness 🙂

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Safety ruler at the ready and I start with the complicated section to hold in the lenses.

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Straight sections are a breeze but the circular areas look impossible to get smooth.

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Looking pretty good,  but it does take me 45 minutes to cut all the fiddly bits out, but I am very pleased that I haven’t lost my knife skills.

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Another hour sees all of the areas cut and ready for assembly, unfortunately I don’t have instructions as to how it all fits together and which way the lenses go in so a bit of youtube surfing ensues…

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Lenses and NFC chip ready to go in, but where?

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This is where the NFC chip for Google Cardboard goes!

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Add a bit of double sided to keep the lenses in position and squeeze it together.

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Put into the cut out slots and it’s all fitting together nicely. add a rubber band and some double sided velcro and it’s finished, although there seems to be a fatal flaw that my phone can just slip out either side, hmm, will have to look at an updated design for that bit…

 

Space in the side for my phone to slide out!

Space in the side for my phone to slide out!

Unfortunately, because my box is not plain cardboard it looks like I now have a magimix VR food viewer, but hey let’s give it a go!

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The first experience I want to try with GC is the Paul McCartney and Jaunt 360 app that I have already downloaded onto my phone.

http://mashable.com/2014/11/20/paulvmccartney-vr-app/

When I tried this without the GC it was amazingly clever, as the sound moves around as you turn, and with good headphones on is mightily impressive.

Then I have a look at what’s available within the Google Cardboard app itself on the Play store, it has a few things, one of the nicest was ‘windy day’ a cute little animated 360 film about a mouse with a big hat on a windy day. The funniest thing about this was I was obviously facing the wrong way and didn’t realise there was a character ‘stood’ behind me, I was just looking at the falling leaves!

The next demo was of sculptures that you could look all the way round, very nice, but not very immersive…

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.samples.apps.cardboarddemo&hl=en

I then started to search for a roller coaster 360 demo and I plumped for FiBrums offering, whicvh after I realised I needed to stare at the go lever it was very cool, in fact I was almost glad when it finished, very, very clever.

http://fibrum.ru/index_en.html

I also had a look at another offering from Jaunt – Kaiju Fury  which wasn’t very inspiring, but there are lots of things out there to play with.

I will start looking at things from a slightly different angle with my newly built Google Cardboard goggles and need to put them together with my leap motion for some truly immersive visual feasts!

So yes, it was definitely worth waiting for, and you cannot appreciate the experience without having a go, so I highly recommend making a pair for yourself, but if you don’t have 3 hours to put one together I would buy the official version from one of the 4 big companies that sell them such as dodo case or unofficial cardboard, this link takes you to the google page that explains a little more and gives you a link to the makers sites.

https://www.google.com/get/cardboard/get-cardboard.html

Give it a go!

Dubai 360 – interactive 360 degree timelapse experiences

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Dubai 360

http://dubai360.com/

This amazing project is employing 360 timelapse imagery into interactive experiences available from anywhere in the world.  (a project launched by Sheikh Hamdan back in August)

Fascinating…

Dubai360 was shot with four perfectly synchronized Canon 1Dx cameras.

Lenses on the cameras were Canon EF 8-15mm f4 L USM fisheye zooms.

Over 88,000 photographs were taken over the course of the 30 hours of shooting, with one set of photographs being taken every 5 seconds.
22K Panoramas. These photographs were then stitched using Kolor Autopano Video into 22,000 separate panoramas to create the source frames for the video you can experience above.
and for the ultimate wow, look at this footage of Sheikh Hamdan standing on top of the Burj

Leap Motion, a first look

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There are a few different ways to use gesture to control, rather than a physical button pressing controller.

The Leap Motion is a lovely little device, and promises much.

 

 

Leap Motion

Leap Motion

Leap Motion next to a pen so you can see the size

Leap Motion next to a pen so you can see the size

Leap Motion

Leap Motion

I wanted to see if it could deliver it’s claim of a new way of interacting with the world.

The first thing after unboxing was to have a play in the recently updated Leap Motion playground with some of the v2 apps.

As you can see from the video it’s amazing when it works, how intuitively it takes your hand movements and interpret them into a 3D space, when you can pick up and play with virtual objects.

The Leap Motion getting started zone

The Leap Motion getting started zone

But almost as soon as I’m out of the ‘playground’ area I stumble over the recurring problem of coding the damn thing, not even that, I have to choose my language… Where’s the helpful button that says, don’t know which coding environment to use because it scares you witless? Click here and we’ll help .

I have no idea which development environment I’m going to be able to manage with, but I am always willing to have a look if I get a bit of help.

This is quite a common theme to trying to make art interactive, the code behind the technology is almost prohibitive and I know from experience that you can go so far down the complex track of coding, only to discover that actually, it would have been better to do it a different way, in a different code environment, but not being a coder this is tricky. I envy the guys at Aparna Rao as they have tech guys who turn their ideas into reality by looking after the backend, whilst they create…

But back to the Leap, I have to dive into the code, so I plump for the Javascript option, hoping that my small amount of flash scripting might help.

to be continued…

 

How not to place a pressure mat! fringe foul-up

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The undercroft is a great place to put my interactive sculpture, but I knew I needed to replace my pressure mat as it had seemed quite worn out and unresponsive after my MA show, so I duly ordered a new one and feeling pleased I’d been organised put it in place and was gratified to see it work much more smoothly.

But on Monday night when I was rewiring my sound – it had only been playing in mono, but it hadn’t affected it too much in the echoey space – I noticed the new mat was not functioning properly, in fact I pretty much needed to jump on it to make it trigger the animation

As I wondered what on earth had happened I noticed a small tear in the cover and placing my hand over it discovered a sharp protrusion underneath, I looked under the cover in case a stone had got in, no, then I lifted the pressure mat to find this!wpid-dsc_0075.jpgBlimey…

no wonder the mat was being unresponsive this bit of piling that they would have used to reinforce the concrete had stabbed all the way through the mat and out of the cover as well…sheesh… so much for being organised and ordering a lovely new pressure sensor for the Norwich Fringe!

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look what it did!

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and out the other side…

What a proverbial pain in the rear end…

It’s so disappointing, but this is why I want to look at more gesture based control, I know that can still go wrong, but the physical mat doesn’t take to being used like this very well.

I ordered yet another mat from maplin which arrived this morning, so was able to install it for todays exhibition, it’s so pleasing when it works.

When I met up with Andy Logie the other day, we talked about the possibility of that type of control using a kinect, Andy seemed to think this was a possibility, but we both agreed that the technical coding side of these things just drove us potty!

MAX msp and the pressure mat switch – the hard part #maxmsp #pressuremat

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After successfully wiring up the pressure mat and feeling very pleased as I have never wired anything, ever…

It was over to MAX msp, I dutifully read through the tutorials and they are great, max comes with at least 20 or so basic tutorials and these all have working ‘patches’ or files that you can open, look at, play with and alter to get a feel for making your own and understand the syntax it uses for processes.

There seemed to be many people using MAX, for audio, video and interactive projects, the forums were active and lively and I felt confident to start with my own patch.

What I needed to program was the starting video to play and loop until the pressure mat switch was activated and a second video plays until it’s end and then returns to the original video which is still looping.

Doesn’t sound too difficult does it, but I have been testing and trying on and off from the beginning of July to try and get this to work…

I have looked and googled and tried as many different search terms as you like to try and see if anyone else has ever used a pressure mat directly into a computer and MAX msp, but there is no-one out there, or no-one has ever written about it being successful, and last night I’d almost decided that it wasn’t possible, I couldn’t get it to loop and return and the pressure mat thing wasn’t working or hadn’t been successfully recorded anywhere, my idea for simple activity was looking doomed.

I had been able to find a number of people using an arduino to interface with MAX, but at this point I didn’t want to start with another purchase and more software to learn!

I also had doubts about the pressure mat itself, it had come with 4 wires… which ones made the circuit? No paperwork came in the box, I guess you’re supposed to know what you’re doing…

And of course I had wired it to the plug before checking the live circuit.

I had to find an expert… fortunately Phil, one of the MRC technicians was one of the people who had said that MAX was good in the first place for interactivity, so with promises of coffee and or cake (Earl Grey black for future reference!) I managed to get an hour with Phil.

We started with the patch that my husband and I (I’d even roped him in too!) had been co-working on the night before – him more than me as I was about ready to give up at this point – and Phil was kind enough to say we were on the right lines, but needed to input the videos differently, using a bang, or a button rather than reading in the file to loop or play it. Then he tackled the returning to the original video as we had one switching to another on a click, just not by reading the end of the video to trigger the return to video 1.

We had looked at the delay function, but Phil suggested using the pipe command, we had calculated the length of the clip with ‘length’ but this was giving an odd number, that when worked into the pipe function returned to the original video, yay!..but before the end of the clip had actually played. Phil then set about trying to work out the fps and miliseconds needed as the 2720 ‘length’ number was obviously wrong, as he was looking through some of the reference material, I saw a ‘duration’ function which listed as returning ms, just what we wanted, and when he put into the patch, it worked!

This was amazing, I don’t think Phil will realise just how brilliant it was to see this working, for me…

With that working, he turned to the pressure mat, of course the first thing he did was to check which was the live loop out of the four wires… it wasn’t the ones I had hooked up!

So if you ever buy one of these pressure mats from maplin, the active wires that make the contact loop are the two on the inside of the mat, they actually came with a bit of the plastic casing missing, but no diagram, so here’s one I made earlier!

matwires

The red wires make the active loop.

I connected the right wires up to the extended wires and we plugged the now working jack back into the microphone socket.

He put the adc~ code into the patch, but it didn’t register anything, so we looked at the audio input options and here we found it wasn’t on and it wasn’t defaulting to the correct input, so after a bit of jiggery pokery with the audio in on the control panel of my laptop we got a signal.

Phil had put in what looked like a volt meter in MAX so we could read the base voltage and see what it changed to when the mat was stepped on, then he added a greater than value, which would activate the change in state, this worked well, but when you stepped off before the video finished it would return to the looping video, not good as I wanted the whole video to play, so Phil added a ‘gate’ which closed the activation whilst the video was playing.

To put it bluntly Phil is awesome and it all now works, bar the fullscreen which I will sort when it’s actually on the mac I will use for the show as that is different between macs and pcs (I’m working on a pc for these tests)

So just in case you ever fancy doing something like this yourself, here is a screenshot of the patch!

maxpatch

and here it is working!!!!

MAX msp and the pressure mat switch – the easy part #maxmsp #pressuremat

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At the beginning of my final project I looked into a wide variety of ways of firing off animation dependent on the user interacting with the space, you could choose from Leap Motion, Xbox Kinect and various light and/or motion (PIR) sensors, but I plumped for a very simple (I thought) method, the humble pressure mat.

pressure-mat

I chose the pressure mat because I want a simple interaction, a foot press makes the animation play. The viewer looking closely at my sculpture, stepping closer to read the information label, creates a visual and audio reaction from the very space that they are in.

I was concerned that an electronic sensor, could get confused and react with the presence in the space, therefore never shutting off the switch… The mat makes a closed loop when stepped on and no matter how many people stand on it at once, it will only fire when newly stepped on, keeping it simple… on or off.

It had been suggested that  I use MAX MSP as my user interface in between the mat, the computer and the projector and could control video and audio in a wide variety of ways.

To get output from the pressure mat into the computer so that MAX can process it needed a single audio jack.

35mm-metal-stereo-plug

http://www.maplin.co.uk/p/35mm-metal-stereo-plug-fj99h

I also needed to order a longer length of wire as the pressure mat came with only 20cms of wire attached.

So with all of the hardware in place I rigged the pressure mat into the jack.

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the jack in pieces

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the two ends wired into the jack terminals, although the jack has three terminal points you only need the side two not the top ‘earth’ point.

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and nearly back together with a small plastic insert to prevent accidental connection.

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all wired up.wpid-dsc_0081.jpg

This however was to be the easy part, programming in MAX turned out to be the hardest part…

to be continued…

MAX MSP essential to know and useful tutorials #MAXMSP

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Starting to use MAX msp and feeling very out of my depth. For the past 5 days I have been struggling to get through the tutorials and having major problems with getting any sort of video to play back, even using the tutorial patchers didn’t work. I just kept getting the error message imovie countdown.mov: error opening file whatever I tried. I downloaded MAX onto another machine, just in case it was the machine. no. Then I scoured the internet for different tutorials, thinking maybe it had a bug in the tutorial… no… Finally this morning, typing in ‘imovie dozer.mov: error opening file’ MAX msp’  into google and I get a result

movie playback in 64 bit version of Max is limited for the time being.
the 32 bit version does not have these limitations, and is recommended for users interested in quicktime functionality.
http://cycling74.com/forums/topic/vizzie-playr-imovie-error-opening-file-jit-qt-movie-doesnt-understand/

64bt is not compatible with the video playback.. how frustrating why doesn’t it say that on the download page…

by the way before you download if you want to do video DON’T DOWNLOAD THE 64 BIT!

Uninstall, reinstall (on one machine anyway) and presto bingo, working as it should be…

Cycling74 Max/MSP/Jitter Tutorials: Play a Movie

 

The very basics

http://alhodgsonn.wordpress.com/2012/01/03/maxmsp/

Great Bustard on the move!

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A chance to get into the animation studios and see my artwork on the move.

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I lay out the keyframes in sequence, I am so pleased with how they look, but slightly worried by the size of them and the size of the animation rostrum!

wpid-dsc_0029.jpgIf you look at the mac screen in the image above you can see that the artwork is slightly too big for the safe areas of the video capture for the Dragon animation software.

And of course, rookie error, if this is the bird at it’s most up stretched stroke, there is no room at all for the down stretch…

To make this work I will need to make the work smaller, which I’m not really happy about as it’s tricky enough the size it is working with real feathers. I will need to think carefully and plan this.

wpid-dsc_0028.jpgTalking to Sam – the animation technician – if I take it out of the Dragon software that may not be an issue as I can position the images where I want, but will need to check the technical side of that and make sure I can output to the appropriate file type if I do it my own way, also there’s more scope for incorrect positioning if I do it by eye.wpid-dsc_0027.jpg

However I go through the motions with what I have, to see what happens…

It’s looking lovely actually, obviously too fast as I have only got 6 frames, but an encouraging first test. All of the detail is there, it loses nothing, the trails of the dust look good and add texture and movement, just as I wanted it too, so from here I just need to create the full animation cycle frames, plus the take-off, all of which I don’t have reference material for, but should be able to work it out by careful study, totalling approximately 30 frames.

Still with technical issues on my mind,  a quick test using the raw images from the rostrum camera will be in order, then I can decide whether I have to work smaller to fit under the animation software limits, or if I can sort it independently of that, I can work at the size I’m happy too.

I choose my favourite paper stock and get ready for the hard work to begin.

 

 

 

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