Torrey Pines: Questions

“How does Torrey Pines utilize specific anecdotes and perspectives to relate to the viewer on a personal level? Comment on the overall effects of retelling a narrative through a personal lens.”

There are a multitude of anecdotes and perspectives in Torry Pines that many people could relate to. At one point or another we all had to dissect an animal in biology class, had an argument with a parent, wanted to drastically change the way we looked. There is a multitude of ways viewers could relate to the events displayed in Torrey Pines. Personally, for me, the grandmother in the opening of the film struck a chord with me as the vast majority of my family struggle(s) with addiction. Drinking, smoking, you name it. The creators pushed this even further in the small section where the girl has the smoke blown into her face by the grandmother multiple times. We all know what that nasty cigarette smell is like and how unpleasant it is to have it blown directly into our face. When the kid has the smoke blown into their face repeatedly, it is to have that memory (and maybe even the smell for a moment) of having cigarette smoke blown into our faces. By showing the same action multiple times, the film reaches further back into your mind and makes you connect to it on a more personal level; sort of a visual recall effect. Another example of trying to reach the viewers on a personal level is the concert scene towards the end of the film. Almost everyone has been to a concert with someone they know/care about. In the scene, the kid is watching a Whitney Houston concert with their mom and enjoying the moment with the mother and everyone else around them. The artist is on stage singing, the lights are low and everyone is in the same moment together. At the end of the day, the mother and her son enjoyed the concert and afterwards were able to stay peaceful with each other. Though not something I personally relate to, but many others do, is the topic of struggling with being transgender and not knowing what to do. At one point in the film while the kid is showering, she imagines being able to cut her hair shorter, remove her breasts, grow facial hair and become a man. The daydream is suddenly cut off to reveal the kid becoming frustrated, standing alone in the shower, not comfortable with the body that they are in. Though still a common issue for people due to the world’s political state and other factors, being transgender in the early 90s was just as difficult, if not more. People didn’t understand it, people didn’t want to talk about it, it was a very delicate subject. Many viewers of this film will be able to relate to this struggle as many, even some people you may know, struggle with this issue 24/7. Showing the struggles the kid goes through in the film will not only help people relate personally to the story, but also be reminded that they are not alone in that situation.

“How does Torrey Pines develop characters and narrative successfully without dialogue?”

Torrey Pines develops characters and narrative without dialogue mainly in three ways. Through the use of sound effects, exaggerated action and at some points (mainly the very beginning and towards the end) small little plays in which the characters dialogue becomes personified. The only sounds to come out of a character’s mouth are grunts, groans, shouts, etc. At no point to full sentences come out of a character’s mouth. At times a slight utterance of a word may come out (“hello” is said in a muffled fashion a few times), but never a fully and clearly pronounced word. Through the use of exaggerated movements and psychedelic experiences throughout the movie, we are able to see changes in the character slowly progress. Something a character may have done in the ending of the film may be something they wouldn’t have done or supported in the beginning of the film. Once reoccurring visual shown throughout the film is the main character using superpowers to communicate how they feel or what they want. For example, when her and her mom are arguing over what she should wear, the character becomes visibly frustrated. Their eyebrows slant, her mouth shape becomes a scowl, and as mentioned above, they grunt a couple of times. This works to communicate to the viewer that the main character is upset, but the artists take it to a whole other level. When extremely irritated, the main character shoots fire out of their mouth and incinerates various items. While this is not a normal act in the real world and would most likely lead to visit to the ER for a mysterious diagnosis, the mother just seems rather shocked but then takes no further action and acts as if it is normal behavior. This visual exaggeration of emotion gives a shock factor to the audience and makes moments such as this more memorable. We later find out that all of these extreme visuals are hallucinations viewed by the schizophrenic mother. Through the use of these visual exaggerations and limited grunts and groans, we are able to see how a character develops throughout the story as their reactions to certain events change as opposed to how they would have reacted before. At one point towards the end of the film, there is fully audible dialogue during a Beauty and the Beast reference in which the Beast enters the lives of the girl and her mother, but even at this point, not much of the audio is used to convey narrative and character development. That is done after the Beast is first introduced. Audio then goes back to being a compilation of screams, grunts and whines. Narrative is further driven by the visual discussions that the characters have with each other (mainly the mom in the beginning and towards the end of the film. For example, when driving back from their trip to Arlington cemetery, the mom appears to ask the girl about a conspiracy theory (likely one she believes due to her psychosis) she believed involving aliens and the president. How do we know this when no actual words are coming out of her mouth? The artists animated symbols and characters coming out of her mouth and interacting in a manner that goes along with what she is saying. These moments are extremely short and presented in a manner that does not distract the viewer from the main story.

How does Torrey Pines’ animation technique/style speak towards and support the themes explored in the story?

Torrey Pines’ animation style speak towards and supports the themes explored throughout the story by having both contain experimentation and a need to be creative. Much like the animation style itself, the main character comes up with creative ways to get through her day, much like how the animator(s) had to use creative techniques to get through the animation process of this piece. Another way in which the animation style relates to the themes in the story is matching the “unease” factor visually with what is appearing on the screen. For example, in the scene where the girl imagines herself naked in a dark room giving birth, the animation style changes to a darker, more “on edge” visual. This ties in with the overall unsettling factor that most would feel if they were experiencing the same thing. This causes a more direct relation with the viewer and therefore a more intense emotional response to what images are being shown. When the mood in the scene is lighter (such as when the main character begins playing piano with her friend), the animation is smoother. Most films use a higher shutter speed or less frames per second to create a harder edge motion look and intensify the overall visuals. Think of the opening scene to Saving Private Ryan. By filming at a higher shutter speed and creating a more hard-edge look, the intensity of the scene is increased ten-fold. If they were to have used a lower shutter speed (which would have resulted in smoother motion) the scene would not have the same effect. Since this is stop-motion and shutter speed isn’t a variable that can be manipulated to create the final movie, the artists instead move the pieces a greater distance to replicate this effect, while keeping the frame rate the same. At the end of the movie we learn that the mother in the movie is a schizophrenic that kidnapped her child to take her on a cross country trip. Much like her delusions and visual hallucinations, visuals to her can become very abstract and sometimes quite unsettling. Using the watercolor and cut out art process along with exaggerated facial shapes during hallucinations helps match the mother’s overall psychosis to the art style. If the mother is going over the deep end and is currently unsettled by the visual hallucinations she is experiencing, then the art style and technique adapts to this to put the viewer deeper into her shoes. A common occurrence in the film is the kid becoming frustrated with the mother when she begins to speak about one of her delusions or doesn’t let them do something. As the character becomes more agitated toward the mother, their facial features become more exaggerated. Fire shoots from their mouth, eyes turn reptile-like, etc. If the mother is experiencing a hallucination, the viewer is right there witnessing it with their own eyes as well. This abstract style not only helps communicate the story to the user, but also helps them understand the struggles the mother is facing while trying to make a better relationship with her child (even though that involved kidnapping them due to a delusion).

 

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Visual Instrument – Documentation

Video:

 

The input decision for this project went through three different decisions. At first I intended to create the software to interact with an Arduino board, but was then asked if I could do it in a VR system. After developing for VR for about a week I was asked again to do Arduino; finally settling with using the Adafruit Playground Arduino board. I used the two buttons on the Playground to simulate key pressed (left button was assigned the “a” key and the right button was assigned the “d” key). Pressing A would emit a single glowing orb and send it in a random direction from the emitter’s origin point. Holding down the “a” button would cause the orbs to spawn at a rapid rate; each going a different direction. The “d” button was saved for the solo in the middle the performance when the second guitarist (Mark Tremonti) takes over for the second half; the first half being played by Myles Kennedy. The slide switch was programmed to enable and disable mouse cursor movement functionality. This allowed me to disable mouse input through the accelerometer when the rotation speed was at desirable rate, as well as the flashing of the audio spectrum.  When I was ready to accept mouse input to change rotation speeds or flash the audio spectrum some more, I flipped the switch to the other side and tilted the board in whatever way needed; changing the visuals on the screen. In the end the project required seven prefabs: four different colored orbs, one glowing grid that changes size dynamically and the audio spectrum blocks. Five scripts were written from scratch; each responsible for a specific function to help keep implementation clean and not use too many resources (grabbing instances from the scene hierarchy, object pooling, etc). These scripts included a camera spin control to control the camera spin speed as well as the spectrum flash value, an audio visualizer to control the scale of the spectrum pieces on the Y-axis to fit the amplitude of the various frequencies , a script to create the blocks and place them in the correct areas on scene start (amount of blocks depended on the bit rate of the audio), a glow grid script to control the dynamic growth of the grid that is enabled during the second half of the solo and finally a beat action script that would choose a random glowing orb from an array of orbs, choose a random transform to aim the emitter at, and finally, shooting the orb in the direction of the transform.

 

 

Interactive Review 2

For one of the kiosks in the museum, user’s would move kinetic sand around on a table and change the height of certain regions; creating a miniature terrain. Changing the height of certain regions caused the color projected on that region to change. The taller a region was, the warmer the colors would become; red being the maximum. This kiosk intended to communicate that changes in elevation can cause other variables of an environment to change. It communicated this by changing the color of the terrain if the height was a certain difference between two points (Example: “The green terrain zone I have is 3 inches below this higher region, so I will make this higher region yellow”). Strong elements of interaction included the sand itself. The reason for this was the fact that the sand was not normal sand you’d find on a beach, but instead kinetic sand. This type of sand is able to keep its shape much easier and be more easy to form and mold into various shapes. Using kinetic sand instead of normal sand allows for users to form the terrain in any way they like without having to worry about it turning into an instant “mudslide” situation. By physically interacting with the exhibit, you were shown different colors on your terrain based on their “altitude”. The higher you built, the warmer the colors projected on the sand were. This kiosk was an interaction-game-like due to the fact that interacting with physical sand on the table rewarded you with a different mix of colors being projected onto the table. Interaction could be improved at this kiosk by aligning the projector to the correct angle so that the colors for the altitude are not offset. Upon interacting with the kiosk I found that the edges were off by about an inch, which makes a big difference when showing changes in elevation. The interaction could be expanded by including a water system that would create waterways, lakes and rivers in the lower altitude regions; perhaps from table surface up to a quarter of an inch.

Another kiosk I interacted with involved taking hold of a handle with a looped piece of steel on the end and making it from one side of the maze to the other without touching the steel loop to the bar in which it’s contained. To interact with the exhibit, I had to hold the handle piece in one hand and slowly move the handle along the path. Slow movements were needed in order to not touch the handle to the maze line and cause a game over. The exhibit was communicating that patience and taking your time with a task can help you succeed more efficiently. It communicates this by having an intricate path in order to make it near impossible to complete the maze successfully going at a fast rate. The strongest elements of the interaction was the buzzer that would go off if the wand touched the maze line piece. This result of having the two pieces touch acted as a negative reinforcement and made the player want to try harder to further avoid causing the buzzer to go off. This exhibit was interaction game-like due to the fact that there was a result to touching the maze line as well as reaching the other end of the maze. Touching the line as stated above set off an annoying buzzer, but making it to the end resulted in trumpets sounding off victory. The interaction could have been improved by having a system which allows users to change the size of the loop that was on the handle. This would allow players to increase or decrease their difficulty as they please and offer more variables for competition against their friends such as “Who can make it to the end the quickest with loop number one?” As for making the communication as to stay away from the swirly maze line, they could have painted the maze line red. That way the user would associate the color red with danger either before or after they cause the buzzer to go off the first time. The interactive design of this piece could have been expanded with this piece by creating a longer and more elaborate maze experence; perhaps one that went all away around the table.

Asset and Level Design

Preproduction: 9/3/18

characters_sheet

The character on the top half of the sheet above is the player’s character; a dark entity with disproportionate body measurements and other features to make the player feel a sense of unease. Since the character does not have a mouth or detailed eyes (eyes are white dots in a hollowed out area), the two appendages on the top of the head act as a way of describing the characters mood without needing much detail from facial expressions. A mixture of these appendages and body language are what will convey the character’s current mood to the player.

The character on the bottom half of the character sheet above is the player’s enemy; an angel. Since the player’s dark entity character’s idea of a dream is filled with gore, violence and other acts of malice behavior,  a nightmare is filled with joy, laughter, fun and any thing of purity. What better pure item to be subjected to in your nightmare than an angel. These angels will be generated all around the level with AI only driving them to move to random points throughout the map without colliding with each other. Since they are pure and want nothing to do with the dark entity, they will not intentionally come near you. BUT if the dark entity (player) should cross their path, their pureness will rub off onto you and result in a game over.

terrain_sheet

The level in which the player interacts is a basic landscape with a flat floor surrounded by high rising mounds along the edges to contain them and clouds flying up above. The angel enemies will be in three different sections along the level; each increasing the population density as the player gets closer to their goal. The angels will not be able to climb up onto the mounds along the edges nor will the player. This means the angels will have a tighter area to travel in resulting in quicker movements that are closer to the player; increasing the difficulty.

Eternal Play and Frustrations

Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell. Probably one of the most addictive games I’ve ever played. The idea of enemies lurking around every corner but having the ability to become one with the shadows and bypass or take them out without raising alarms leads to some intense and memorable moments. In the recent additions to the series, holding the sprint button down while simultaneously holding the melee attack button causes the character I am in control of to take out enemies in whatever direction he is running in with one smooth transition from one execution to another.  The effect of starting a combination of take-downs is instantaneous with the action of pressing and holding the two buttons in sequence; as long as there are enough enemies in the area to allow for take-down combos. Simple actions such as taking an enemy out from behind cover without being spotted by nearby enemies rewards the player with hit markers which allow for a smooth sequence of pin point accuracy shots to be taken with your sidearm in sequence quickly and efficiently. More complex actions such as taking out enough enemies in sequence as stated above,  you are awarded a bonus on your final score based on how many enemies were taken out in sequence, if you raised any alarms by getting spotted by someone in another area and are at later points in the game rewarded upgrades at a discount price. The levels of the game are designed in a way that challenges the player to take more stealthy approaches to reach the objective. At first you can easily run and gun your way through or play “ghost” and take out enemies from cover, slowly making your way through undetected without raising alarms. But as the game progresses, levels require that you use stealth more in order to make it through the level without being caught (which at this point means immediate game over; restarting the level) or dying. Along with this higher need for stealth, the game does become progressively more difficult as the population density of enemies increases, more high-tech weapons become available to the protagonists, building layouts become more elaborate and a plethora of other changes. The player does receive a bit more assistance from the main character’s team that are communicating from an area off the battle ground. Hints are not quite “in your face” but are more frequent and can assist the player in what decision they believe would be best to complete the level.

A game that frustrates me beyond belief is QWOP; an online sports game in which the player must control a track runner’s legs to help him cross the finish line. I interact with the game by using the Q, W, O and P keys on my keyboard. The runner’s thighs are controlled with the Q and W keys whereas the calves are controlled with the O and P keys. It seems as though a 2D flash game involving something as simple as running would be easy with only four keys required but frustrating is an understatement. The controls immediately impact the outcome of your game with no latency. Pressing down on one of the four keys causes the character on screen to bend their leg by the thighs or calves; allowing the character to “run”. The change in the runner’s legs is instantaneous and changes much quicker than what most people can naturally adapt to for making the next move. What frustrates me about the experience is that even though it is extremely difficult to even get past the 2m mark, there is something about the game that makes you want to stay and continue to become frustrated as you attempt over and over to reach the finish line or beat your record. The constant requirement for interaction from the moment you make the first leg movement results in your focus to be snapped back and forth; from frustration for failing AGAIN to trying to focus and beat your score. This loop could go on forever with the player getting more and more frustrated with each attempt, but that addictive quality of “I almost had it” or “I NEED to beat my record” keep you going on the frustration inducing path. The game increases in difficulty the further you go. The reason for this is at some point you may need to react quicker to the character’s leg positions to keep them upright and continue onward. It also becomes more difficult the further you progress because if you go to a new record point (let’s say your record is 55m and you’re now at 79m) and fall… you have to start back at 0; not your previous record.  The player is led through this increase by the sheer desire of wanting to beat their high score or even a friends. It’s like going to a casino and playing the slot machine every time you get “close” to winning, but in this case, sitting at your computer longer trying to get a 2D avatar with messed up legs to win a race.

Site Revision

UPDATE ON 4/11/18 :Research

For my site revision I’ve chosen to redesign the website for a music shop not too far from my hometown; Speno Music. Below are screen shots of the following in descending order: home page, about page and photo “gallery”.

spenoHomespenoAboutspenoPhotoGallery

For aspects of the site that are working well, the header content is done well. The navigation bar is static and is not in a different location for each page. The image of guitars below the navigation bar is also static and does not change size, shape, color or position on each page. For improvements, there are many. The entire site is composed of various font tags with styling done in the HTML itself; very little at that. The image layout on the home page has no sense of direction but rather seems to have random elements “splattered” on the page (contact form to the left with image of store front sitting next to bottom right corner). The photo gallery is composed of a single image with a dull, static text overlay reading “Store Photo’s” in the top right corner. This text distracts from the single image and does not add anything to the experience. On the “About” page, there are incomplete descriptions about employee’s as well as the company itself with filler text reading “Include a brief biography. List their years of experience and education. Or describe how this person helps meet the needs of your customers”; incomplete and unprofessional. There are also stock photo fills in place of where an employee’s face should be. One of the main aspects about Speno’s Music that makes it such a great place is their commitment to the community and everyone that has a passion for music. Although the store was founded in 2006, Mike Speno’s (current owner) family has been assisting in providing great service for a variety of instruments and artists ever since 1951. They bring this point up on multiple pages, communicating the reason they do what they do is driven by other’s passion for music. Unlike corporate companies like Guitar Center, they have the ability to be flexible with pricing and aren’t afraid to make deals on equipment and offer cheap services, because in the end what they care about is making sure that music is accessible to all; not how large of a price tag they can put on an item. This communication could easily be improved by developing a stronger structured about page with more information and well formatted and developed sentence structure; making the person want to read about the company’s history. The audience being targeted by this site is that of musical artists or people who have a passion for music. Other organizations that are targeting this audience more effectively are mostly corporate companies such as Guitar Center and Musicians Friend. Their websites are much better structured and offer a more interactive experience while searching for a product they have in stock or even just finding a store location

guitarCenterHomemusiciansFriendHome1

One of the main pieces I plan to use on Speno’s redesign is having a message center right on the home page at the top. This allows users to be immediately informed of the deals you have going on. Everyone loves saving money so by peaking the user’s interest on what deals you have, you are quickly and efficiently pulling them into your business. I also plan on using organized drop-down menus to allow for a cleaner experience when it comes to finding the product a user may be looking for. At the moment, Speno currently displays stock images of guitars on their header that are most likely not even at the store and a single image from about two years ago of some guitars hanging on the wall; nothing new and nothing updated to keep user’s accurately informed.

UPDATE 2: REVISION DRAFT LINK 4/16/18

https://xd.adobe.com/view/9d2cdf52-d7b0-43b7-474e-da55c81bf205-eb1d/?hints=off

Screenshots:

Screen Shot 4Screen Shot 5Screen Shot 6Screen Shot 7

UPDATE 3: ADOBE XD DRAFT REVISION 4/19/18

Screen Shot 1

 

UPDATE 3: HTML PRODUCTION LINK 4/24/18

https://blondediabetic.000webhostapp.com/SiteRedesign/index.html

Gallery Write Up #2: Interactive Design

The Queering Space Lounge is located in the Llewellyn Gallery in SET. The Llewellyn Gallery is located on the 3ndfloor of SET on SUNY Alfred State’s campus. The exhibit opened on February 2nd, 2018. I visited the pieces multiple times on various dates to see if my interpretations of the pieces would change. My last day of observing was on February 25th. The exhibition contained two pieces. “teXt” was created in 2004 and “Xq28” was created a year later in 2005.

The pieces in the gallery were both designed by Tammy Renée Brackett. The topic of the two pieces have to do with the way in which genetics are differentiated between different people and the effects that it can have on their lives as well as society. Both screenings heavily relied on text to get their messages across. “teXt” was a composition made up of four-hundred and seventy-three pages of the letters “G”, “A”, “T” and “C” (guanine, adenine, thymine and cytosine). The text is scrolled randomly with random values of light applied to the font. This creates a futuristic high contrast moving image that will keep your attention drawn to the screen at all times. The second piece, “Xq28”, was composed of various words flashing on the screen. This was accompanied by a constant droning sound with little to no bend in the frequencies. The constant drone mixed with the words flashing at random speeds draws your attention to the screen.

The presentation was about the natural occurrence of deformities in genetic code and their ability to be included inside a system with genetic code that has no oddities. What we consider to be the “norm” is not truly normal; nature does what it wants to do and we must learn to accept that. What also grabbed my attention was the speed in which the words appeared and then vanished on the screen for the “Xq28” piece. Changes in nature can occur so fast that we don’t have time to react to them but once it happens we must accept it. The contrast of black and white in both pieces represent the X and Y in the bodies chromosomes and the words themselves represent the overall genetic composition.

This exhibit relates to our course by showing how even in a randomized format, text and certain layouts can be executed in a way that allows them to work. While many artists will try to focus and make everything “perfect”, this exhibit displays that imperfections make the pieces better in their own special way. Some may find this method of execution lazy, but to others this makes the piece have its own special flare that separates it from other works of the same type.