January 7th-11th, 2019:

Updated: Jan 14, 2019

DSN 6400 (DAIM Graduate Studio):

• This week we pitched stories about our memory moments. They needed to consist of light being the main influence, so my focus actually ended up being on different times of day that light affected me: mid day sunshine, twilight, and evening. Below I've listed the initial drafts as well as some photos that influenced me on them.

Memory 01: As I sped through the path, I could hear the moss crunching beneath the wheels, indicating its departure from the skies above. Although the motion was cyclical, the colors engrossed the scenery with shades of green ranging from a midnight moss to chartreus, and I continued the repetition of looking up at them. The light between the branches gave a shattering illusion of being underneath a dome of gemstones where the floor mirrored the sky.

Memory 02: I honestly thought I was going to die. Hiking for the first time and we decided to do 7 miles down into this fiery pit of hell, only to remember we have to do 7 miles back up. It was during those sessions of 10 minutes of walking and then taking breaks that I really took in the shadows of the rock and the blues that formed. It was incredible.

Memory 03: I stood atop Griffith Park and look down upon the monstrosity of L.A. The streetlights, cars, and building illuminated the darkness, giving me a feeling of what the space actually consisted of. The city was endless – to the edge of the Earth and lines appeared in patterns of whites and red defining the experience.

After we pitched the stories, I picked my first memory because I thought it would be represented best visually. My plan for this project is to do a motion capture shoot of a person riding a bicycle. I will then take the data from the wheels of the bike, the handle bars, and the person and translate that abstractly. What I mean to do is take the XYZ position and speed and then feed that through a relation constraint in MotionBuilder so that potentially the data from the handlebars is what determines the harshness of the lighting in my 3D scene. Or the rotation of the wheel determines the shade of green I use. I typically create pieces of work that are very literal and linear, and now I want to branch out a little and try something more organic and abstract. So during class I continued to work on editing my story to become phrased better. I ended up with the following.

Memory 01 Revised: As I drifted along the path, I could hear the moss crunching beneath my wheels, giving me indication of its past departure from the skies above. Although my motion was cyclical, the colors engrossing the scenery broke my repetition with their ever-changing shades of green, ranging from a midnight moss to chartreus. My speed determined how light between the branches gave a shattering illusion of being underneath a dome of gemstones - where the floor mirrored the sky, and I lost track of time.

From here, I chose to storyboard this out so I could see me thought process visually.

On Saturday morning, (1/12/2019), Leah volunteered to help me get the motion capture data for it with her bike. So I markered up the bike (14 markers) and then also Leah, and just instructed her to do two takes - one with her going at different speeds in circles, and another going more straight in direction. Below are the two takes along with visual reference. I also included pictures of the bike so that when I go into post-production I know how to reconstruct it in MotionBuilder.

• Leah Take 01

• Leah Take 02


ACCAD 5194.01 (Performance and Narrative in VR):

• For our first meeting, Alex and Vita introduced the subject matter of the class along with the goals of where we would take our final projects. After looking at their syllabus, I am really excited to be in this class because there is a lot of outside research involved - even from day one! Not many classes I feel make you understand the deeper reasoning and history behind the tools your using, they just want you to know the functionality. But in here we are reading articles, listening to podcasts, collaborating in other fields/departments. It seems exciting. Below are some of our first assignments of articles and podcasts to listen to. I've also attached my personal responses to each below.

VR Storytelling Needs to Find Its Heart

Response: One thing that stuck out to me in this article about the types of experiences people have with VR is the comparison of it to the introduction of film in the 1900s. It’s almost a one to one comparison if we break it down into the new innovation happening at the turn of the century with technology in such demand and creativity. To be living in an age where technology is being created before us and our job is to literally study them – researching, play testing, prototyping, breaking – how incredible! The article goes on to discuss with such a new medium we need to “adapt existing techniques from familiar media [and] get busy writing the VR rulebook.” As someone who is heavily stealing from other media (theater, film, videogames, etc.) it is important to know what works and what doesn’t work. But the only way to discover that is through trial and error. I also enjoyed in the article the discussion on fabulous wonder.land and the struggle with the live and virtual environment for the user. We want the entire plausibility of things, which comes with tactile haptic feedback as a desire. So the pulling the toilet chain to get the full immersive experience was an overlook in designers heads, but completely understandable from a user. It’s the little things that can have the biggest ah-ha moment as a designer and a user, and seeing that in VR is a strange concept. This somewhat relates back to part of our in-class discussion we had on Monday about Jean Baudrillard and the idea of simulations/simulacra. The conversation of defining what is real, relevant, or important is nearly unanswerable beyond emotions. So this article helped me with the broader sense of where VR is going and what it was looking at barely two years ago.

David Saltz: Performance and Media: Taxonomies for a Changing Field Response: David Saltz in this piece goes over a multitude of different scenarios encompassing the question of, “What is media technology?” On page 95 this question is asked with the response of “media that encompasses audio, video, 3D animation, motion capture, holography, and robotics, among others.” He then carries onto into fields of media being broken down into scene, plot, actor, costume, and mirror. These fundamental break downs of the factors within media help me think as a designer. Within this 3D platform of building for immersion and interactivity, the field is constantly changing and ever growing, but we need to look at these smaller elements – space, time, and agency – to work into design. Saltz even discussed elements that we don’t immediately think of – like with virtual scenery. On page 99, he discusses how virtual doesn’t necessarily mean visual. It could consists of audio to be ‘virtual’, and this makes complete sense. Maybe that is the element that is required for the composition, and yet we mainly think of sight as the product. This article just had me thinking about the elements and principles of design within virtual reality, but also media technology as a whole.

Voices of VR Podcasts

#130: Richard Skarbez on Immersion & Coherence being the two key components of Presence in Virtual Reality Response: During this interview, Skarbez focuses on explaining his PhD studies of measuring place illusion and plausibility illusion. It’s an interesting concept of not just placing a user inside an environment and having them be in “another place”, but going beyond the concept of presence with plausibility. Is this something probable? Basically what he’s saying boils down to quality over quantity. It’s better to have a user in a space with complete functionality that meets their expectations than to bet on something that has a lot of improper behavior. If their expectation of the real doesn’t hold up, it’s disappointing and disturbing, which immediately draws them out of that experience. It’s all about coherences and fidelity. This relates to my own research by having VR in my thesis and wanting to have the user fully involved in the scene, but also making sure that it comes across clearly and understandable. My scene is a part of history and there are other characters in the scene. Skarbez brings this up at a part of simulations that tend to glitch or not read well, as part as the uncanny valley. To work with other characters beyond the user is a delicate and intricate task that I am ambitious to work on.

#292: The Four Different Types of Stories in VR

Devon Dolan breaks down a roughed up guideline for storytellers wanting to work in virtual reality during this interview, and it’s never made more sense. Listening to him discuss his insight into this, my immediate response is, “Well like duh.” But to have someone spell it out for you is necessary sometimes. Dolan discusses four different types of stories in VR dealing with user type – observant passive, participant passive, observant active, and participant active. They all relate back to if the user has qualities of influence within the story along with existence in the story. Listening to his examples, such as a movie being in the observant passive state of things, a juror in Twelve Angry Men being participant passive, an observant active participant taking part of “Sleep No More”, and participant active being in Grand Theft Auto – all had me thinking about my current VR project and research. Abby and I are working on figuring out the type of experience we want to give our users, and with us bringing different skillsets and theories to the table, that is hard to settle. But we’ve come up with a scenic solution, which uses three of these phases. In our prologue, we have our user as an observer who is a passive participant. They don’t have a character themselves and have no influence as to what is happening around them. In our first scene, and second scene, the user acts as a passive participant – they can move in the scene, but not change the outcome of what is happening to them or influence it. And then when the user gets into the second and third scene, it can be argued that it is really passive participant, but I think the interactivity we give them could even count for active participant depending on their choices. Without having the whole project narrowed down in dsecision making, that’s hard to understand still, but it is nice having a gridwork loosely define aspects of story in 360 video and VR.


FILM 7001 (Feminist Film Theory):

• During our introduction in this class, we broke down the history of feminist film theory during the modern age (second wave feminism and beyond). But we began the class watching Cecil B. DeMille's The Cheat (1915).

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- GRA (Graduate Research Assistant):

• Vita and I met this week to see how the beginning of the semester would take off. Overall there are three major areas of interest that I will be focusing on.

• Dementia VR Project - Gloria Rig

• VIVE Pro, SIM 4, and Wireless headset

• Activision - haptic gloves

So for this week I worked in SIM 4 primarily to do some play testing for the VR station. I set up the hardware for the new VIVE by placing trackers on the new shoes, belt, hand mits, and hat. From there I color coated each system - green for Dementia VR, orange for SIM 4 equipment, and yellow for equipment in the motion lab. Later on Vita and I tested the Ikinema Orion system in SIM 4 with the trackers and the VIVE Pro. She then showed me how to use the wireless system in Molab so that I would be able to demo it to Norah's class next week.

I also worked on the Gloria rig. Since leaving it last semester, there are adjustments that need to be made. We decided to chain the under-bite and resize it - which means I need to repaint some of the skin weights and then also change the facial animation and phonemes. I also applied a previous motion capture take to see how the overall body skin weights appeared and then got feedback from Vita on it. I've attached that video below which showcases there needs to be work done in the hips/lower shirt area. This will be difficult because of the weights in that area and few joints, but slow progress. I've also attached the adjustments needed for the Gloria facial poses going on. Updates to come!

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