dimanche 22 février 2009

Day One: A is for Animation

Today, Aaron and I paid a visit to the Montréal Science Centre, one of our favorite places to go together. As part of the Science 26 exhibition, there are 3 activities that deal with some of the concepts we’ll be exploring in the animation workshop so this was a great interactive environment to get started with the workshop.

The first activity was the chromakey machine. We sat ourselves in front of a blue screen and from the computer screen in front of us, chose a background image to superimpose ourselves on. Aaron’s favourite scenario was the roller-coaster ride so went on it twice. And the best part…no lineups though even the virtual ride can leave you feeling kinda dizzy.

Next up was the pixellating machine, a simple yet fascinating invention that consists of thousands of tiny 2 inch plastic pins that can be pushed back and forth. The pins form themselves into a 3 diminutional model of whatever object is pushed against them.

Because the model could be easily coded into binary information, we could imagine sending instantly 3D representation of objects around the world.

The final activity functions similar to a tool we’ll be using later to create our video animation (Toon Loops). It consists of a video camera mounted over a horizontal surface the serves as the ‘stage’. Objects are arranged on the flat surface, and by taking successive still frames of the images as they gradually move around, the illusion of movement is achieved when the images are then rapidly projected. Aaron caught on quickly to how minute and consistent changes translated to the illusion of fluid motion.

Another exhibition Aaron really liked was Imagination!, which featured interactive devices that extend the human senses. Aaron was able to physically interact with these machines and have them respond to his gestures. In an online course I'm taking on Autism & Technology offered by MIT open-courseware there is much discussion on how these types of interfaces can be used to teach and make the world easier to navigate for autistic persons. Seeing Aaron engage with these exhibits brought a lot of that literature into perspective. Aaron really enjoyed the mist-screen faces, basically a video of a talking head projected onto a water-vapour mist.

After running around all afternoon, we were happy to sit down and rest in front of the giant IMAX screen. We saw the film Océan Sauvage, a stunning film shot in 3D portraying the migration of sardines through the Southern coast of Africa and the extensive repercussions it has on the surrounding environment.

I was most impressed by the soundtrack, that I would best describe as an intense Philip Glass composition performed by a behemoth orchestra of African instruments.

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