Monday, December 1, 2008

A Few Prototypes

This week I focused on getting information about the monastery at Palpung and trying to develop the quicktime vr idea. I spent many hours at the Latse Library and spoke with several key members of the library staff who helped me to develop my project idea. At the library, I was able to get a few images of the monastery but only exterior views. However, after researching a few books on Tibetan architecture I was interested in reading about the surrounding buildings including the Dege Sutra-Printing Academy. The academy is a fully functional print shop! Anyway, based on this research I have a different concept for the direction of my project which is to have a game that will require participants to venture to the surrounding regions of the monastery in order to solve the mystery of what has happened to the art. More on that later.
It took me a little bit longer than I anticipated to understand what goes into creating a quicktime vr movie. I tried to prototype a friend's room to understand how the qtvr functions.
The steps to make the vr are really quite simple:
1. take photos (this involves taking pics with a tripod)
2. stitch photos
3. import into cubic converter
4. export

step number 1: really should be done with a wide angle lens- otherwise you will need to take something around 80 photos for the panorama as I did and still did not get an entire picture.

step number 2: i did the stitching in adobe photoshop cs3. There is an auto align and auto blend function there, however they are quirky and do not always work.

I am still trying to get my stitching to work correctly. I have done two major efforts:

The second set is from the Rubin Museum of Art's 2nd Floor permanent collection exhibition What is Himalayan Art? I spent all day Saturday photographing the images with a tripod and 360 head. Unfortunately I did not have a fisheye lens so things are still coming out funky. Because of this, I just did a drawing identifying where the images should go in relationship to the final placement on the cube.

After the realization that I am basically constructing a cube, I went back to my first prototype and started to divide it into sections as in walls. This is as far as I got so far:

It's not perfect, however I learned a few valuable lessons here, mainly that auto align doesn't work with multilayered panoramas so I had to hand stitch again. But, I think that I made some good progress at least in terms of understanding what needs to be done. The real question here though is whether I should continue this effort. I don't have any images of the monastery. I only have the images of the art. I would need to create everything or somehow get the people at the monastery to give me some help which doesnt look like a good prospect. not giving up- just questioning. Im glad to have this understanding of qtvr.

So this idea was a bit of a new idea for me. I am definitely still working out the kinks. But the basic concept is to create a game that asks the viewer to look at art by examining the absence of the art.

Look and Feel Prototype: some potential characters. (The yak would not be standing like this but I wanted him to pose for the group photo).
Role Prototype

So this is clearly storyboard A. I need to develop this idea more but I was getting so excited by the prospect of the game that I got overwhelmed. Anyway, I had this other thought that the game could be done in Flash and then integrated into a website that would raise awareness about provenance issues and war- related art. It could be a forum of sorts, or a community. The goal would not be to restitute the art, there are tons of other websites and organizations that are devoted to that cause, but maybe to allow people to understand the importance of these kinds of acts of political violence.

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