Week Seven Newsletter

Project: Take Shape
Week Seven Newsletter

Week Seven: Prep to Test

Coming into week seven the Take Shape team was anxious for the upcoming client and faculty meetings that were primed to either propel, or derail, the project. With a play test scheduled for the coming Saturday and our advisor out of town, we met as a team on Monday to begin defining our goals for the week. Most important is a unified package of our many assets in order to play test at the museum and show to our incoming adjunct faculty.
An overview of the project would show that we have a number of different subsets that we have divided up amongst the group to speed up productivity and ensure the workload is equally distributed. Dan, Ryan and Kevin have been working on the various art assets that include the kinetic typography, texture mapping to display colors for the modifiers in use, the background animation/environment and an idle screen to be displayed while the machine is not in use. In the programming department Kai and Andy have been sharing the burden of programming our modifier controls into Unity3D. So far they have been able to code more than our schedule planned to have done in two weeks from now so we have all been discussing ways to make all of the modifiers run smoothly. A big hurdle is determining whether two modifiers can be used in conjunction, what the output would effectively look like and which modifier, if any, would take precedent over the others as in an order of operations functionality. When we discovered the possibility to effectively use multiple modifiers it was a relief to know our machine could indeed function as a multi-guest experience as we had originally intended.
As stated earlier our new goal was to take all of this information and condense it into a unified Unity scene to give our guests a look at the direction in which our overall experience is heading. In order to round out this accomplishment we needed to make sure we have functioning physical modifiers to accompany the digital assets.
In order to do this we overnighted the necessary Phidget sensors, in this case sliders, to wire up our set of extruding blocks. Kevin and I modified our blocks to include stopping points for both inward and outward motions to ensure no stress would be placed on the Phidget sensor itself. The sensors can give a range of 0 to 100 and we’ve come close on our limits by moving the upper and lower bands to 10 to 900. Although each sensor will be slightly different in its limits we will be able to account for this programmatically and therefore adjust the primitive on screen to visually match the distance our physical input moves. Again, it is all about delivering the strongest correlation between the physical and digital environments to expose the possibilities in each.
On Wednesday we met with our clients at the MAKESHOP as well as a member from the main exhibits department that oversees the entire Children’s Museum. Our goal in this meeting was to pitch the overall design and implementation plans of our modifier and machine as a whole. The outcome would either be an acceptance of the design or a push for a redo on the basis it is too much like a kiosk; something the museum as a whole tends to lean away from. Fortunately, after less than an hour discussion we had the approval from the exhibits team to continue. Of course, there were suggestions made about color scheme, graphics and things of the like, which were all highly welcomed as we want to gel with the museum theme as much as possible. We were also given a one hundred six page document regarding building exhibits for children both handicap and not that we have been reviewing as a team to ensure our machine design is the best it can possibly be.
Coincidentally, upon leaving the MAKESHOP that day I received an email from our local 80/20 (the aluminum framing material we will be using) dealer that was a completed quote on our purchase order. Since we have been given the green light we will be confirming the order and hope to receive our packages within the next week for assembly prior to halves presentations in two weeks.
In order to prepare for our halves presentation, one that is given to the entire ETC community via in person attendance and a live stream, we will be meeting with Arnold Blinn this afternoon and Susan Dansby on Tuesday afternoon to review our project from start to finish. With half of our team leaving for conferences next Thursday we will be gathering and preparing our presentation materials prior to leaving to ensure we are ready to rehearse and give a strong halves presentation upon returning. We look forward to our play test on Saturday and will have more updates soon.