This is footage from our presentation and performance at the VIST show.
Our documentation video that explains our concept and process.
The video itself that was projected on the wall created in After Effects.
Rachel: Orginal concept, concept research, materials testing, illustrator visuals, video editing, documentation photo editing
Rhiannon: Visuals research, storyboarding, illustrator visuals, video and music editing, documentation video editing
Cameron: Technical research, set up/equipment testing, storyboarding, illustrator visuals, video editing, documentation music editing
During our presentation, we let audience members come up and test out the system themselves before and after Brittany’s performances. I wanted people to be able to experience the videos we created and the set up is a more personal way. People seems to have a fun time seeing their silhouettes on the screen. Chris Weachock was pretty entertaining to watch, using his scarf as another part of his silhouette. Ashley Stineman described the experience as surreal while standing in front of the kinect. We also had some sophomores come in and try it out. Mostly it was one sophomore trying to impress his friends by mocking the videos.
The performance itself was completely amazing and got nothing but serious emotions from the audience. Brittany’s performance really captured people’s attention and brought them into the emotions we wanted to portray. After all three of her performances I only heard reactions of awe. Most people said they were stunned. Oscar Camorlinga said he got chills watching the performance. I think Brittany brought our project up to such an amazing level we couldn’t have reached without her. Our videos and system alone were ‘cool’ and ‘interesting’ but mostly because it just had potential. Having her as a part of our performance got the audience to take our narrative seriously and to look at it as more than just a fun set up.
Overall I am really happy with how the project turned out. There were a lot of major changes along the way and the ending concept really wasn’t about fashion at all, but the story of a search for identity was still there. I am grateful to everyone that helped us make this happen. Thank you to Brittany, again, for making the meaning behind our project more visible to our audience. Thanks to Morgan, for helping us with Max MSP and to overcome technical difficulties. And thank you so much, Hwaryoung, our studio professor who met with us repeatedly and cared about our progress!
Download our presentation slides here:
The Rorschach Project
Our biggest hurtle to get past for this project was the technical side of getting the projection mapping correct. The original idea was for the projection to be mapped to the dress alone, not appearing on the rest of the body or the background. Since we decided the dress was too small a space to project on, we developed the idea of having 2 videos running. Our main video would be on the wall/background big enough to be really experienced, and another simpler complimentary video would be running mapped to the performer.
Morgan, our TA for the studio helped us by writing a program in Max MSP that used a Kinect to take in information on the placement of the performer. The problem with this system was that the curved projection surface of the room caused the kinect’s detection to be a little off and created a rather messy silhouette. With both videos running at the same time and the dancer in front of the projector, the kinect couldn’t get the foreground video clean to just the performer.
On a random whim, Cameron decided to try redirecting the kinect to a different part of the wall. This way the performer was off to the side and not in front of the projector. At first the idea seemed to be sidetracked from the original plan, because now there wouldn’t be a person projected on at all. The idea of a person’s emotions being literally shown on their body seemed lost. But soon after experimenting with it more, it began to take on more of the original meaning of the project than I had expected. Instead of directly using the performer, the system interpreted her body as a mask to create a flat silhouette with our foreground video on the same wall as the background video in the projection.
With the performer not directly in the projection, her shape captured by the kinect was a lot cleaner and had much less lag.
As well as solving many technical problems, Brittany also seemed much more comfortable performing without the bright blinding light of a projector on her. It made it easier to set up where the audience would observe and what area Brittany was able to perform in. She did a few test routines with choreography she had created from our emotion graph and watching her perform reassured me that the emotional connection behind the project wouldn’t be lost. Even with her not being directly projected on, her movements and the music really communicated the mental stages of our narrative.
At this point, we already had our videos completed and held a few rehearsals before the upcoming VIST show. During these meetings, we fine tuned the placement of the set up (projector, kinect, speakers, stage) and made a few guidelines for the performance. Brittany created more of an improvised routine based on a few key moments in our emotion graph. The performance was interesting because it was never exactly the same twice and it was great to see her interpretation of our story. We didn’t really have to help her with the choreography at all, which was a huge help to us since we weren’t sure most of the time. The only positions we requested were her to be dead center in the butterfly and eagle as well as small and closed in during the octopus. We taped down markers for the edge of the kinect’s range and the center of the projection.
We knew from the beginning that we wanted to be inspired by rorschach prints. We liked the idea that these ink blots were used to gauge a personality in a psychological analysis. In the same way that what is seen in an ink blot is open ended and free to interpretation, we didn’t want our visuals to be fully representational. That said, we knew the visuals needed a narrative to pull the audience in and create the different ascending and descending emotions we wanted. To create this story, we ended up using animals to represent different stages. Animals each have a persona already attributed to them so it was easy to use their shapes to play with and carry the narrative.
The animals we decided on to tell our story and the stages they represent are:
The process we used to create the video began with an illustration created in Illustrator and then taken into AfterEffects. In AfterEffects, we followed an inkblot tutorial we found online and a lot of mesh warp and masking layers. I created the illustrations for the butterfly, lion, wolf, and eagle and did the video editing for the butterfly and lion. Cameron did the illustrations and videos for the deer, chameleon, and seahorse. Rhiannon did the illustrations and videos for the shake and octopus as well as the videos for the wolf and eagle.
We ended up finding the song Gleypa Okkur by Olafur Arnalds for our project and got the rights to use it. Rhiannon edited the song down to the shortened 4 minute length of our presentation and synced all of the separate videos we each made together with the music.
Because the story had changed so much, our project became less about my original idea of representing fashion and more of a pure search for identity. The shift from using live video to making animals as well as the switch from projecting on the dress to on the wall made for a different meaning than I had first thought of. The aspect of making a dress and using projections as part of the design wasn’t really part of the project anymore, but I was still excited for the new direction the project was headed towards.
When this project started, it began based on the idea of projecting a video on a white dress being worn by a performer. By using the wearer as a sort of canvas for moving visuals, there were many meanings that could have been portrayed through it. I wanted to represent the idea of fashion being a method of communication; a way that we as individuals choose to express ourselves to others and how we wish for the world to perceive us. Our first storyboard included ideas of morphing images on the dress that represent the emotions the wearer is going through and illustrate literally the concept of wearing how you feel. We decided that the performance would start off with the basic projection of a real dress on the white dress disappearing to communicate the wearer’s loss of identity. From there the morphing projections would start until the wearer settled on a new real dress projected on her to represent the new self she has found. Until of course, another girl would walk by in the exact same real dress, which would trigger another search for a new unique identity. I wanted this conclusion to communicate the idea that fashion tends to be a search for some individual persona that winds be being just a trend produced and commercialized by the clothing industry.
A lot of beginning work on this project ended up not being used in the final product. I first started research on the concepts of identity and fashion by checking out 6 books from the library on the subject. The most helpful books were ‘Fashion as Communication’ and ‘The Psychology of Dress’. I also went through the process of learning how to operate my sewing machine and making a draft dress from a cheap white cotton to test with. I had never sewn anything in my life before with a machine so it was definitely a learning process. It took me a while to figure out what parts to buy for the my hand-me-down machine, how to wind a bobbin and how to actually use the machine. I found a free basic pattern online and used it to make the dress. It was a long process to make a garment that eventually was scrapped anyway. In the beginning we tested projections on the dress and realized that it was just too small to really have any space to play with visuals. We also came to the realization that we really needed a performer (not just me awkwardly standing) to really be able to pull this off.
Thankfully, on my search for a performer I asked my roommate Savannah, who is a dancer herself, if she knew anybody who could help us out. She referred us to Brittany Hardin who had done work for the Viz lab before, and therefore would be familiar with the odd, conceptual, abstractness that is the Visualization department. Automatically within our first 2 meetings, Brittany brought so much life to our project that we couldn’t have found without her. We presented to her a few of our visuals and an emotion graph of the story we wanted to portray. From there, she developed the choreography while we continued work on the technical aspects and videos.
Our project has progressed a bit in the last week. We decided to create a performance piece that would illustrate the emotions of an identity crisis. By projecting moving shapes on a white dress, we hope to convey the stages that a human goes through while searching for the answer to the continuous question: Who Am I? We took this idea from the concept that fashion is an expression of who we wish to be. As individuals, the clothes we wear are our way of telling the world how we want to be perceived. We want the performer of our piece to act out losing her sense of self and searching through influences and inner thoughts for her identity.
Visually, I am drawn to the idea of a moving rorschach print. This concept was used briefly in an episode of Project Runway a few weeks ago, and the idea of a duplicated mirrored video has been used in Alexander McQueen advertisements for a few seasons now. Recently I’ve come across a new designer, Prabal Gurung’s Spring 2012 show, which showcased a few dresses that had abstract symmetrical patterns. Since the garment we create must be shorter to stay within the detection range of a kinect, these dresses are a good example of what we could incorporate in our design.
Nicola Formichetti — CCP Games Collaboration from CCP Games on Vimeo.
These are a few ideas to get us started on the new Project 3. We aren’t sure exactly starting off what we would like to do. But we would like to incorporate mapping animation projection to a live moving model wearing a white garment. Most of these brainstorming ideas aren’t what we plan to do exactly, they are more of inspirations to give us an idea of how fashion and technology can merge together.