Content Losses

Just a note that I suffered some serious content loss recently, and the entire website is being restructured and rebuilt because of it. I’ve got the interactive elements most restored, and graphic design is up next. Sit tight — I’ll be back to operating speed soon!

February Update

Not a whole lot happening here at the personal blog, since my life has been taken over by Project Starscape — which is a pretty excellent thing to take over one’s life. Click on over to check out our blog and a summary of our client meeting trip to Orlando, which included a visit to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

In March, I’ll be heading out to Los Angeles again, this time for the Themed Entertainment Association‘s annual summit. It happens to coincide with Carnegie Mellon’s spring break, which makes it the perfect excuse to not only take in some amazing guest speakers, but also a trip to some California themeparks! Most of our project team will be attending, so it will inevitable turn into a bit of a working / brainstorming trip. We may even have to visit Disneyland twice. For research, of course. What a hard life.

Juries Are Over

Juries were presented and decided yesterday, determining the order for the 2010 Building Virtual Worlds show next weekend. One of my worlds — A Pawn’s Tale — is featured. Although I am disappointed that “Switch” (video coming soon) did not make the final roster, I think the show features a very interesting and exciting assortment of interfaces, themes and skills. And, barring a change in favor of pulling up a guest from the audience, I will get to participate in No Strings Attached, a puppet-themed game show operated by wiimote. Regardless, I recommend watching via the live stream that will be running. Saturday December 11 at 1 pm, Eastern Standard Time!

Thankfully, we also presented our final videos for Visual Story today (see ours, for Andrew W. K.’s “Party Hard“!), which means that for the first time since beginning grad school, I may have a real weekend! Or, at least, a semblance of one. Instead of spending 16+ hours at my desk, I plan to do laundry and go grocery shopping. This is a much-needed little reprise before the final push for the show, since I slept over in the building too nights while tweaking and finishing the interactive costume pieces for “Switch” (pouring rain outside helped with that decision).

Interims Today

It’s 1:20 am on a Tuesday, and I’m back at home after a very, very long day which included 6:00 am registration for classes, a pancake outing, quite a bit of sewing of felt dolls, and some testing of our Sound and Light world. Verdict? It’s looking good! There are some latency issues to work out and the mics are a bit over-sensitive at times, but things are working and now it’s just a matter of tweaking. Hurrah! We videotaped a portion of our testing, which I hope to put online tomorrow. We’ll be presenting bright and early at 9:30 am so that our professors and peers can provide us with feedback and advice on what is working and what still needs work.

In other exciting news, I’ve been named Assistant Head TA for Building Virtual Worlds next semester. It’s the first time there will be a spring semester class, and it will be populated with even more international students than usual (purportedly 75% Korean and 25% Portuguese, or at least studying at the campuses in those countries). The class itself is worth 24 credits — even very time consuming classes usually top out at 12. As far as I’m aware, it is the most credits one can obtain in a single class at Carnegie Mellon University.

My dear friend Dani Belko and I will be wrangling the 25 or so students as well as the team of 9 TAs. We’ve already begun the early learning and planning stages. I’m thinking that this year will be the one I finally break down and buy a smartphone. There is not earthly way that I will be able to stay on top of e-mails without one.

Progress and Misc

There’s plenty to do, but some exciting developments are in progress for our performance world. Cassandra has been playing with PureData for translating all the audio input to something we can use, while Dave is busy building contact mics and Noah has over 50 independent planes, cubes and spheres that will make up the dynamic visual projection elements. I, meanwhile, have the basis for Cassandra’s jacket constructed and tested and need to obtain some ribbon cable in order to get it to a danceable state, so that she’s not flailing around with alligator clips hanging all over her.

The jacket, currently, has four patches, two on each hand, that can complete a circuit when touched to each other, or when something mental is held/hit with the palm. All of these actions will be causing sound, so making it touch-activated is a nice work-around for our sound-generated theme.

The closing of the circuit is read by an Arduino Lilypad, which will be dictating the output — some manner of light effect (LEDs), to be determined once our dancers start practicing with them. I’ll have to determine what the most dynamic locations on the body are.

Tonight will involve working on my Adventure Modules report… which is going to take the form of felt dolls, since we’re welcome to produce non-written work that expresses our experiences (whitewater rafting and going to a fancy resort/spa/adventure course). It also happens to be the birthday of my fellow Doctor Who fan, Ian Bowie, as well as the release of Series 5 on BlueRay. Who party tonight? I think so.

Light and Sound

The project currently consuming my life is a collaborative performance constructed with the ever-fabulous Noah Bench, David Francus and Cassandra Ichniowski.

Our hope is to present our effort at the Building Virtual Worlds show in December, at Carnegie Mellon University. We’re trying to leverage our collective talents which include tap dancing, laser shows, interactive costume design, and a whole lot of excitement and enthusiasm.

We’re still in the early stages, but we’ve got a limited timeframe, so we’re going to be powering through. We’ve done some experiments in drumming, rhythm and sound. I’ve got a simple prototype interactive glove ready for meeting tonight, and the others are looking into assorted coding languages as well as how to best interface with Panda and projected on-screen imagery. All in all, it’s a pretty exciting process!

Some of our reference/shared material can be found at our delicious account and YouTube playlist.