The past couple of weeks have been a bit of a blur of trial and error. Testing lights, interactive materials, table designs and of course a heap of Max/MSP/Jitter code. Although I’ve just had a 2 week break from classes, there certainly hasn’t been a break in work and this now marks the final stretch of my undergraduate degree, with just 4 weeks remaining.
My lack of blog posts probably represents my focus elsewhere, so this will be one of those ‘catchup episodes’, to try and get things up to speed. I’m sure some of you will be happy to see a few more pictures and a few less words this time around…
I tested not only materials for interaction, but surfaces for these materials to sit upon. Trialling silica gel; stones; sand and salt, it was clearly the former that was the most useful for this project. It’s translucency lets through just enough light to allow the camera to make out some change in depth.
Although I had a pretty good idea already of which would work best, I looked at different surfaces for the material to sit on. I expected that the frosted acrylic would be ideal, because like the silica gel, it would let through light, but diffuse it enough to dull down any hot-spots. I created a reference video for anyone interested in the very dry details…
Pretty clearly I needed to test things on a more realistic scale, so I created a setup closer to what will the final project will be like. This included silica crystals on a frosted acrylic surface and setting the camera a good distance below the surface. I also upped the power of the infrared light, by borrowing this from Julapy. Diffusing paper and a bounce off the ceiling later, it works fairly well…
The image at the top of this post shows the first real mockup of the interactive table. With the acrylic surface recessed in the middle of the table top, there will also be a speaker set either side of this surface.
With the above plans now with the manufacturer, we’re looking at the realities of the table – mostly my student budget. Fingers crossed, I won’t need to compromise too much.
This is probably my greatest concern with the project now. Whilst the mechanics of the interaction are more or less in place, the workings of the Max/MSP/Jitter patch feel a long way from being ready. My worry is that the camera tracking isn’t creating anything meaningful in terms of visual projection. And so, instead of arbitrary shapes, I have toyed with the idea of more literal feedback…
Although the latter is not the visual style I would like, it is at least a rough and ready solution for the time being. What I am realising with this project is that I do not have time to get caught up on one specific element for too long. If something isn’t working, I need to move on and hopefully I will have time to come back and take another look at it once the project is up and running.