Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Shpongletron fully live for the first time! So it begins.

The folks at Royale Boston have been gracious enough to let us test the full power of Shpongletron in their venue last night. Today we're packing up and hitting the road to perform with it in Philadelphia tomorrow and NYC on New Years Eve. See you there!

Here are some pics, or if you want to see the full progress - feel free to browse my facebook photo album dedicated to this project.

We're likely to upload some videos of Shpongletron in action soon as well. Keep checking this blog for our progress - and feel free to submit for video treatments for it before our spring tour fully kicks off.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Extensive After Effects Templates

I made a CS4 Template that should help you guys along if you'd like to use it.
Here's the download link:
I've separated the entire structure into:

Template Masked Wings
Template Masked Face (outline only)
Template Masked Eye
Template DJ Booth
Template Bottom Main Frames
Template Bottom-most Rectangles
Template Frame Outline 

Load your own content in, preferably something different for each of these presets.
Then open up one of the presets above, select the missing/replaceable clip on the time line, then option-drag the clip you want to see there.  Adjust for size as needed.
Your changes will instantly reflect in the TEMPLATE MASTER01 sequence, which is your master sequence.

If you put effects or distortions in your composition, it could cause the image to spill outside the frame. For an easy solution, I created this template mask, just put it on top of your composition and it cuts out all of the unnecessary pixels:

Also - here's a variation on this theme, a CS5 Template, created by VJ Peter Parker:


And send me some video updates when you get a chance, our time is running short.

We'll be doing the full Shpongletron setup/test on Sunday night most likely.

Monday, December 20, 2010

3d Shpongle Mask download (courtesy of Dado)

One of our main 3d artists Dado has provided some 3d templates for people to play with.  This could save you some serious time if you were planning to use a 3d video program.

Here's the latest and fullest set of assets for anyone considering taking on the challenge of creating visual imagery for Shpongletron:

3 .obj 3d Shpongle Masks in varying complexity:

a 2d jpeg of the Shpongle Mask I was using as a template for our projection sculpture (reference your dimensions/proportions with this one, as well as the video mapping template:

Latest video mapping template (true to resolution):
Color coded:
Green = opaque screen show
Blue = transluscent 3d screens show
Red = scaffolding pipes show
And of course Shpongle logo with a few outlines for ease of lineup of your 3d or 2d Shpongle Mask treatments.

As always, if you have any questions about any of this, read through the blog or email me  directly at

Friday, December 17, 2010

Shpongletron skeleton assembled / Template Master

Template mapping image source is finally here!
Click the jpeg on the right for the full size image.
Please use this one as your final template to line everything up to.
Color coded:
Green = opaque screen show
Blue = transluscent 3d screens show
Red = scaffolding pipes show
And of course Shpongle logo with a few outlines for ease of lineup.

I will post more assets as they develop, but definitely wanted to get this one out there, as everyone needs a mapping master asap.

It was a loooong and cold night, I finally got everything 95% lined up by 6 am.
This should give you everything you need to get started with though.  Please keep your videos the same resolution as the jpeg map - 1024x768

Thank you Tess, Ike and Blake - for spending these bitter cold hours with me to assemble and test the Shpongletron skeleton.  Love you guys!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Question/Answer: Shpongletron video production plan sample

Alex Ezorsky-lie (Question):

This is so awesome of you mr Zebbler!  Just the thought of having something I made be near shpongle makes my brain curl.  So.
Before I get started, if I do, what exactly do you require?  A video that when played at 1024x768 assuming the projector projects only a little above and a little below the structure will play black where it wont hit the structure and then corresponding video wherever it will hit?  And then once I get that concept down, should I try and pull off some silly 3D mapping stuff?  Since the structure is relatively 2D I guess the only illusion I could play with is that of perspective...As in if something pops out in the z axis we can assume the viewer is looking up at it.  

Is this rightish?
Zebbler (Answer):
I would want (if you're trying to do a mapped video for the entire structure all at once) a single 1024x768 video (we'll be projecting one video at a time), where it's ALWAYS black everywhere that's not within the physical parameters of the structure.
So the easiest (and mostly wrong) way to do it, is to create a .png mask, where the shape of the structure is transparent, and the negative space is opaque 100% black.
What is better visually is to create a visual guide (I'll share mine as I make them, but you don't need them to get started - they are easy to make - even my latest map file would work fine to get started) of your video confines, then create something like this:

I imagine (this is just an example of work/thought flow) creating an outline for the edges of a wing, perhaps blinky smooth green.  Then perhaps collapsing the outline into the middle side - where it connects to the structure, and out of the flash resulting from the collapse growing a leaf/sprout that takes the exact shape of the wing again, and does a blinky light show.  Perhaps trigger the blinks at the precise bpm (130 is pretty neutral and would let me easily speed up or slow it down to match the DJ's tempo).
So then I know my other wings are similar in shape to this new show - and I can simply duplicate, scale and flop the video treatment to make it match the other 3 wings.
Then I would set out to create something for the eye.  A lazy method would be to just record an eyeball, and shape that image to fit the eye shape that we have in the structure/template.  More creative things obviously can also be done.
Then there's the cubes - three cubes on the bottom and the DJ one.
I would do a blinky outline, then transform it in some 3d way to fuck with people's perspective - as the cubes will have screens on the sides and back as well as a translucent ones in the front.  So it would start looking 3d when you collapse an outline into the middle.
Then there's the Shpongle logo.  We are re-creating it in 3d, so you shouldn't worry about it, unless you want to.  An easiest thing would be to line up an actual logo to the template and once again, play with lighting, shape, etc.  The 3d replica will let us cast shadows on it, make it blink, stick out the tongue, etc.
The DJ booth will also have lighting, so the VJ show there can be and should be limited at times.
Another version of the show could just outline the entire structure, following the path of the pipes.  It would be actually sick to make it look all Tron-like, not that I was inspired by the movie when naming it, but it would be cool (the name Shpongletron comes from Zebblertron, which is the name of the custom a/v software I've been using for a while, developed by interim_descriptor).

When creating anything, remember not to start with the full on orgasm.  The magic of this thing is the tease of possibilities and not revealing all of your cards all at once.  It gets overwhelming and boring otherwise.
It's in that blend in between subtle and full on that real magic happens I think.

Hope this example of thinking helps to get things started.

It will get clearer when we start projecting on the structure, but due to limited time, I would encourage immediate thoughts/tests to start regardless.

I am probably going to post this description on the blog, as it might be helpful to others as well.

Thanks for your question,


Shpongletron video challenge - introduction

Hello friends.
It is likely that you know something about this project already, if you are here, looking at this post.
It is likely that you desire more details, because, well - you want to show your video art on a really cool mapped structure in front of thousands of screaming Shpongle fans.

So here's the deal.  A bit of history first:
I've been approached by Shpongle's management to create an entirely new VJ/Lighting package for Shpongle's 2011 US Tour.  It is going to be a two-three story scaffolding structure, with custom metal wings and eye projection screens, screen-covered framing, a custom 3d logo/mask and a space in the middle for the DJ.
The entire structure is getting video mapped, so that the video projections go exactly where they need to go.  I am calling our new visual beast Shpongletron.

We are preparing to premier Shpongletron at two NYE shows in a few weeks, and at this point would love to open up this project to original video submissions.  If you can create video for Shpongletron - we would love to see it!  The more the merrier.  In return, if your video is featured in the show - I will gladly document it for you, and you will have an awesome resume piece to show off to everyone.  The best submissions could win some VIP passes to several Shpongle events on our tour, backstage and all.

To make this simple for all of you video designers, here are the details of what needs to be done:

Check up on our progress via our facebook photo album.
We are using ONE projection to cover everything, going at max resolution of 1024x768
We will provide the master mapping template image with perfectly defined boundaries of each object really soon (perhaps in two days).
Please communicate with me, subject line Shpongletron if you'd like to contribute any video.  Let me know if you want to develop something for a specific track, or just a loop for a specific element (i.e. a great loop for a wing could also be integrated into the event, no matter how short).
Here's the latest, very close to scale gridded map of Sphongletron, feel free to use that as a starting template:

Everything you see on the graph will get projected onto, the scaffolding (currently black in the image) will get painted white and can have separate projection elements for it.  In between the scaffolding we'll have screens, as well as in the back of it.  The wings and the eye will be covered in screens.  The mask/logo in the middle will be white and also getting projected onto.  We're currently developing a 3d model of the logo/mask to really take advantage of the mapping techniques.  The DJ booth will have screens on the sides/back as well.  Keep all of this in mind when designing a show or elements for the show.

One of our main inspirations for the project was this beautiful VJ performance/mapping:

Time is short!  Email me for more details, or check here for the master template file I will be uploading soon.  Or get started using our current template.

Godspeed, editors.

Zebbler (Peter Berdovsky)
(617) 271-4709
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