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,



  1. Assuming a white shape- would it be too luminous in ambient light to NOT fill the entire projection shape with video all the time? Of some bits were sometimes "dark" in video you could play with the outline, make edges wavy...? (I'm not a video artist, just trying to imagine possibilities)

  2. Yes! Your thinking is spot on. Of course it would be great to play with outlines, etc. There are so many ideas that could be used here for an awesome show, this is kind of exciting really.

    The ultimate goal is always to make it seem like reality is coming undone, when someone looks at the structure in action.