The Power of Processing #processing #nordevcon #rumyra

Last friday I went to the NorDevCon http://www.nordevcon.com/ and the most inspirational talk was the one using code to control web API’s from Ruth John. Ruth works for the Lab at O2, UXing, designing and front end coding.

She embarked on a journey back into her vj’ing past when using tape and video (heavy on the thundercats) and wondered if she could recreate the entire experience using code loading directly into a web browser.

She started with a ‘simple’ css animation and showed us the development of the stages she took, adding another functionality until she eventually had video dynamically loading in time to the beat of a music track (also dynamically loaded) she also had her working browser reacting to noise input from us!

These web apis are out there, people are animating, drawing and interacting with their browsers, they are being developed and improved and new functionality added day by day.

Ruth John’s slides from NordevCon

http://rumyras-talks.herokuapp.com/web-vs-native-nordevcon/#/

You need to have a play with this… the animating beats are amazing and got me excited about more code interactivity.

Direct link to the fun demos – http://dancing.rumyra.com/

Ruth recommended this – The Web Audio API O’Reilly book by Boris Smus is free to read online!

I spoke to Ruth afterwards, asking if she had tried interacting between a leap motion and the browser and she thought that it would be possible, so not only can images and video load dynamically, but it could be controlled by gesture.

Explaining my interest and where I was in my research – at the beginning – she recommended that I use javascript as my language to get going on this.

But alongside the .js for mobile/web interactivity, I wanted to look into processing, again this is able to draw, animate and interact within your browser, I don’t know if they are compatible, but will endeavour to find out, but lots of things to play with and look at!

processing examples

https://processing.org/examples/

Books

Getting-Started-Processing-Hands-Introduction

Form-Code-Design-Architecture-Briefs form+and+code

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Interactive Code & Art #creativecoding

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.

Articulate vs Captivate

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!

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!

Wearable Tech #wearables

I am loving the new years reports about wearable tech, as an early adopter – did you see my last post! – it’s great to see the wide choices that are being brought out onto the market.

In this BBC  video round up http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-30693142 they even have wearables for dogs… not a bad idea considering how concerning it can be to lose your dog in the dark… but can they get one for my children when they are in the playgroud and I’ve looked away for a second!

Joking apart I have seen a lot of the activity trackers, Jawbone’s up range, the fit bit, the vivofit, smartwear and smartbands aplenty, but I’ll hold out for something that is a watch and a tracker, of these there aren’t many, even my beloved Sony smartwatch doesn’t do the activity tracking, you’d need to buy another piece of Sony for that.

Why can’t my tracker have a watch, or my watch have a tracker… I guess I’ll just have to wait until next year.

And it will come…

Wearable Technology – Sony Smartwatch review #wearable @sony #smartwatch

After hearing Matt Isherwoods presentation “The state of wearable tech” at Hot Source last week I was again quite surprised not to hear the mention of the Sony Smartwatch. You always hear of the new apple watch, that isn’t even out yet, or the samsung version and the pebble, but never the Sony Smartwatch, so I’m going to give you a review of this watch, as I think it’s brilliant and does all of the things a smartwatch should but keeps being overlooked…

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Sony Smartwatch

Admittedly I got the watch as part of a deal with my Sony Xperia Z1 last year, and when it arrived I had a look and put it back in the box, but I was intrigued.

I have always worn a watch, which seems a little old fashioned as so many people these days would prefer to find their phone, turn it on and then see the time but I have always enjoyed the simplistic twist, look and see the time. I also liked being able to swap watches to suit my mood, or my outfit, a big sparkly job for going out and a simple black strap for the weekends, but always there, always able to find the time.

About a week later I decided to give the Smartwatch a week’s trial properly, not swapping for my favourite blue one, but giving over to the need to play with a new bit of tech.

I started searching and researching online for recommended apps and ways to set it up, changing the clock face to a regular one, not a digital readout – I’d been taught properly how to read the time – hooked it up with my email, twitter and facebook accounts and gave it a full charge all ready for the morning.

I found it really easy to connect to my phone, just swipe the backs of both devices together and they both vibrate to say they’re connected, along with a particular ‘bing’ and I was off.

The first thing I recommend to anyone who gets one of these watches is to turn off facebook notifications, facebook literally bombard you with every nugget and nuance that happens and it totally annoyed me, so that app got removed straight away, the twitter one has been much better with the recent update making it simpler to only receive important notifications, but in the early days that got removed for the same reason as well.

At first I found it almost too big for my little wrist, I do have particularly small wrists, so it wasn’t uncommon for many of my watches to have an extra handmade hole in the strap, but this one was rubber, so I couldn’t do that, but due to the large flat face of the watch, it doesn’t have a chance to wander  too far round.

I really like the masculine flat gloss black front and simple black strap, it only has one physical button on the side, the other controls, back, home, settings, are touch areas, just like on any (oh not apple) normal smartphone. Whilst ‘asleep’ it shows the time with a display that reminds me of an e-ink display so it functions just as a watch should. I have a friend who has the first version of the sony smartwatch and I can’t believe he has to press the physical button to get it to tell you the time. If you tap, or bash, or move your hand quite violently, you will find that it lights up by about 50% so you can see the time in the dark, whilst a single press on the button will light it up fully. You need to press on the home button in the middle to access the many screens and apps actually on the watch, which I find a great bonus as you never access them by accident.

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My first wow moment was when I realised I could be James Bond and take photos on my phone, but using my watch, how cool is that!

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Although this is a bit gimmicky, I did find a genuine use for this distanced photography when I tried to take a photo from the highest possible point in a room of a large scale model, I found the tallest friend there and got them to hold my phone as high as they could, obviously they couldn’t see what they were pointing at or focusing on, but I could, on my watch display of what my phone could see, everyone was mightily impressed with that. It only has a short range, but it does work through floors and walls very well!

I can control my music from my watch, which I don’t use so much, but when I’m playing music with my phone laying on a table as a portable stereo, then it is easier to do this from my watch, I can also adjust the volume from within the watch app.

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Of course the essential requirements of a smartwatch are to receive texts, calls and emails and this the Sony does really well, you can see the name and a small preview of the message both with the text and email.wpid-dsc_0052.jpgwpid-dsc_0061.jpgwith just a downwards glance, and this is where I found I grew to like and want to use this watch more and more, until these days I feel a little lost without it.

I like that I can quickly see who’s ringing me, is it worth looking for my phone, or wait til later, also if I have my headset in and my phone tucked deep in a pocket I can answer the call and be straight onto the important calls, and even if I’m not plugged in, I can accept the call and just shout at the caller, as I fumble to the bottom of my bag for my phone, and they can hear me and I don’t miss it. Which I used to do a lot, so this has been a big improvement.

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But the most used app on my watch is the timer, my girls want to race ‘Can you time us Mum?’ the microwave doesn’t have a timer, but I do, eggs need cooking and I can wander away with the clock running, timing the perfect cup of tea.. is that going too far… 🙂

I have now had the phone a year and thought it time that I reviewed how it has crept into being an important part of my life, I see my texts straight away, so can keep in touch and receive vital information at the turn of a wrist and I still have the time where it has always been, on my wrist.

I’ve never had a problem with the length of charge, it usually lasts a week and is a non-intrusive piece of tech, which when people see it in action, they are quite blown away…

It’s definitely one that has gone under the radar, but I’d highly recommend it, the only downside, maybe it could be a bit more smaller?

I feel like it’s a special little secret that only I have discovered and want to tell people about it, so when I see someone talking about wearable tech, they shouldn’t overlook this hidden gem.

Dubai 360 – interactive 360 degree timelapse experiences

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

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…

 

Fringe Festival Wrap-up

I really enjoyed being part of the fringe and even though my installation was a labour of love to go and start and close each day, it did have it’s benefits…

At the end of the show day when I would close down, I could shut of all of the lights and sounds from other artworks and really immerse myself in the sound that I had created, it was peaceful, refreshing and a pleasure to have the wonderful acoustics working for my piece and indulge my senses with my installation in the secret place under the War Memorial in Norwich, all to myself.

I took a short video clip from one of the last days as I wanted to preserve the space’s wonderful impact on my piece.

and a lovely roundup from Rosie Cooper of all the artworks on show.

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

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!