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Shades of City

Project Concept

The main theme of the whole project is about city. The overall concept of the project is a projection of an animation to a white wall inside a dark room that is surrounded by black curtains and yellow LED lights that hung around the ceilings. The unique point of this project is user is expected to stand in center point of the video that will be indicated by a circle in the start of the video. The animation will revolve around the user as if the user is a part of the video. The user does not face the white wall but to face the mirror that is placed in front of the user so the user will enjoy the projection through the mirror instead of looking directly at the white wall.

The content of the animations actually merged both city aspects from Melbourne and Kuala Lumpur. Some of the settings happened in Melbourne such as the Flinders Station, Melbourne CBD view. Some settings from Kuala Lumpur are the pavilion shopping mall and the KLCC Tower. The merging of the sceneries allows the user to feel and enjoy the aesthetics of both cities. The lights on the ceilings are to signify the metropolitan city, as during the night, the environments of the city are full of lights.

The target user age for this project is 18-28 years old. The position of the center point will be placed according to average height of 18-28 years old. Considering the target user, the team decided to go with split complementary color scheme. Split complementary color scheme allows one visual to stand out and still maintain the color harmonies. The duration of the animation is aimed to be around 1-2 minutes.

Concept visualisation
Inspiration from local gallery

 

Project Settings Paintings

Design Response

As the main concept of our project is about projection, the dimness of natural light plays a big role in the project. Initially, the plan is to let the project space to be surrounded by mirrors instead of curtains. But realistically thinking, it would be hard to find big mirrors that can cover all sides of the project space. Therefore, only one mirror will be placed in front of the user and the project space is just surrounded with black curtains. The output of the project is a 2D animation video as the team only has 2 weeks to complete the whole project including setting up the project space. The initial concept is to let the projection to detect user’s movement. So the user doesn’t have to stand at the same position for the whole time and the animation’s center point will follow user’s position. We thought of using Xbox Kinect or motion sensor to achieve that idea but then the lecturer and mentors suggested to bring that into future improvement instead considering the time limit and one of the team member need to leave due to family problem. For the projection, the team chose a flat smooth white wall as the surface of the projection. As the project space is a space in the E-Gallery of MMU University, the team decided to not use screen as the installation will be more complicated and a portable white wall is already there ready to be used.

White wall set up

Design considerations

We began this assignment wanting to make something with Xbox kinetic or leap controller, and use interactive still animation as the backup plan. But as none of our group members had the experience in using motion sensors, and we only had two weeks to complete this assignment, we decided to leave the motion sensor till we return to Melbourne. After discussing the idea of interactive animation with our lecturer, we decided to aim for an animation around 2 minutes. The main inspiration for this assignment was from the music video Golden Touch by a Japanese music artist Namie Amuro. Instead of a finger, we wanted the animation to be projected on the audience to create a greater sense of being emerged and surrounded by the interaction.

To decide the content of our animation, we first concluded similar thoughts we had on the topic of the city:

–   Lights/ illumination

–   Traffic

–   Food

–   Public transport

–   Crowd

Initially, we wanted to create a long animation with a storyline, but as we wanted the animation of Malaysia and Australia to alternate, therefore it was difficult to come up with a reasonable story that would take the user back and forth from two countries. As we each drew few storyboards from the animation, we decided to connect each scene with camera movements in After Effects for a smooth, seamless transition. Although this meant our project will not have a strong storyline, we thought that the alternation between two countries was engaging for the user.

Traffic, food and public transport were easy to incorporate into the animation. We decided to have scenes that make the user feel involved, such as riding on public transport and being surrounded by crowds. To make the user feel more immersed in the experience, we decided to have physical lights surrounding them. To achieve a better result, we wanted to surround the presentation area with black curtains to create a dark environment for lights. The use of light in dark space with a mirror was very similar to a Japanese Artist Yayoi Kusama’s work Light room, although her work was not meant to represent city lights, we thought it was very similar to city lights from a far distance. We decided to have fewer LED light and only yellow LE lights in our exhibition as we want the user to focus on the animation rather than the environment, the lights should only act as background.

As the user will need to be standing fairly close to the wall for the animation to feel interactive, we decided to make them face the projector, and stand a large mirror in front of the user. This will not only allow the user to see the whole animation, they can also take more notice of the surrounding lights, and take photos of them with different scenes.

Before making the animation, we thought about leaving out a blank figure in the middle of the animation for the user. But as we are not using any sensors, it was too difficult to estimate an overall size for all audience. As a result, we decided to have a center point rather than a blank figure, and animation will mostly interact around that point. To create the center point by the average height of MMU students (155cm) and RMIT students (175cm), which was around 160cm, and this worked well with most users.

For the overall color aesthetic, we decided to adopt a split complementary color palette for Malaysia and Australia, we thought that the strong contrasting color can make the 2d flat style art merge with surrounding LED lights and dark environment. We first decided to use yellow to represent Malaysia as it is the color of the star on Malaysian flag, and as it is vivid and bright, we hope it will lighten up audience’s mood. To draw contrast from this intense color, we decided to use red and black to represent Melbourne. The color decision we made was mixed during the process of creating the assets, some Melbourne scenes had bright colors, and some scene had other colors that we have added. Nevertheless, as the scenes we drew was very iconic to the country, we think it was still clear for the user.

Color Scheme

Team Members and Digital Media Skills

Team Members

Nina Yongying Li is an experienced video and special effects designer. She has been doing few projects that involved video and special effects that involved real experiments and export them into after effects. She’s also have been experimenting kaleidoscope effects on videos. Instead of video editing, she’s also an illustrator. Her main role in the team is as the main animator. She also lent a hand in few background paintings such as the sushi train setting, Melbourne CBD view, and the rain effects on KLCC tower.

Winnie Siwan is in charge of the illustrations in the animation. She painted the backgrounds and most of the assets of the animation. She’s the one who decided the color scheme for the scenes. Aside from illustration, she has been experimenting on simple 2D animation. She lent a hand on animating few animation scenes such as the raining scenes when a girl comes with an umbrella, opening window frames, monorail scene where the train door opens and crowd entering, and sushi train scene.

Siti Nur Baqlish is in charge of the side characters illustrations. In some scenes of the animation such as the crowd crossing the street, a girl with umbrella, there are some side characters needed. She is mainly in charge of the character design. She also lent a hand on the poster design of the project.

All of the team members participate on the storyboarding of the animation.

Team Members

Design Iterations

Setting up curtains.
Setting up the lights

Few days before the final exhibition, as we were setting up the projector, we realized it was not possible to cover users whole body with the projection. The space between the projector and the wall was too small, thus the projection could only cover waist upwards. if we tilted the projector to cover the user’s whole body, the projection will be distorted, and it would not be able to cover the whole body for tall users. We decided to delete scenes that interacted with the whole body and adjusted the projector to cover waist up of users.

 

The audio side of the project was one of our most concerned problem, as no one in our group has experience in sound. One of our team member Winnie tried making some music with a mini keyboard in Adobe Audition. However, as we didn’t have any experience in making music, it was a long and difficult process. This problem was resolved with the help of our classmate Vlado Vragovski, who kindly offered to let us use one of his remixes, the audio worked very well with the animation and environment, users seemed to enjoyed it very much.

 

Final output

Lights and the feels of the project space
Joe testing up the project
Together in the project space

The final output of our project was a 1 minute and 40-second animation, projected on to a white wall with a center point of 160cm. The animation content will interact around the user, giving them a sense of being emerged in the environment. The presentation space will be surrounded with blackout curtains, and inside will be decorated with LED fairy lights to imitate city lights. A large whole body mirror will be placed in front of the user, and the user will view the animation from the mirror. For the audio side of the project, we used a remix of the song Finally, created by Vlado Vragovski.

 

Conclusion/Summary – Future Work

During the exhibition, the team received few feedbacks from the audience. Most of the feedbacks are positives as they enjoy the combination of the music and the overall mood of the animation. A lecturer from MMU University gave us an idea of how to bring the project into another level. The suggested idea is to allow the projection to be projected on user’s body instead of projecting it in the wall. The projection should be able to adapt to user’s human body as each individual has different height and shoulder’s width. We had a similar idea such as to incorporate motion sensor to our project. So the user is able to change scene by the motion of wiping the screen. The motion sensor will detect user’s hand movement and imitate the action of wiping window to change from one scene to another. Another idea is to use Xbox Kinect to detect user’s position. No matter where the position of the user, the animation will always revolve around the user. The purpose of the position tracking is to enable user to move around instead of standing in one still position that is indicated in the start of the video. The team is also considering adding motion tracking so that the music and video will play automatically when user is entering the project space and stopped while user is exiting the space.

Video Animation via Google Drive

Video Documentation via Google Drive

Project Posters