Tuesday, 20 January 2015

The Solution: Rendering video onto the inside walls of a 3D room

So after a lot of experimentation, I decided that WebGL was a good way to go ( see an earlier post  about automatically showing videos on a 3D models walls).

I took the video example and simply hacked around, watching where objects move to when I changed values, and then added extra objects, in this case walls.

And it worked! Which is pretty impressive ( I think ) for someone who knows nothing about 3D programming. Here is a live version showing music I loved from the 70s.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Tools For Prototyping A Narrative

Another of the things I'm mulling is how to research and prototype a narrative of some sorts, for a student project. In the past we've used Pinterest as a gathering research tool, to collect sources of inspiration and, kind of importantly, the visual clich├ęs to avoid. We're not sure if Pinterest is the best tool to use.

Some tools you should simply take a look at for the sake of it are:

Amazon StoryBuilder to create a script or screenplay. This is like a corkboard of notes with which you develop your "story".

And then there's Amazon StoryTeller that lets you create a visual storyboard from your script. Interestingly, the tool seems to recognise "people" and places. It has a huge library of people, and scenes and props with which you can create your storyboard pages, like the one shown below where Dr Cutie gets incredibly jealous of Greg's acrobatic cows. Ahem.

The tools themselves are interesting enough, but the really interesting part about them is how, this being Amazon of course, once you have created your storyboard it you can publish it and people can vote on how much they like it, and suggest that a real video advert should be made for it.

Once your video advert is made, people can watch it and vote on how much they'd like to watch the real show. And then, if you're lucky, the show gets commissioned and it's shown on Amazon Prime Videos.  Amazon have thought about the process, from noting down sketchy ideas to actually making a movie or TV show. Wow...

Google Gallery. Look at this gallery of art installations or the way this gallery zooms in to images and text and has audio attachments.

The Problem: Rendering video onto the inside walls of a 3D room

A thinking out loud post...

The Scenario

At the university we have an amazing room called the 3Sixty. It's a room that can have media projected onto all four walls (and there's some amazing speakers in there too ).  Sara Perry runs a module in there for archaeology students to design a museum exhibition. Last year the students created World War I exhibitions using Powerpoint and YouTube videos. They were very moving. I almost cried at one about a loyal Alsatian.

The Problem

The problem is this... The students use a very wide ( four walls ) Powerpoint template to create their 3Sixty presentation, but once made, the only place you can really experience this presentation is in the room itself. It would be good if these .ppt files ( or exported movies ) could be projected onto a 3D version of the room. It's a very simple render, I think, but would allow people to see the presentations without being in the room.

Having no experience of 3D modelling, I dived in and had a go with a few tools.

Google Sketchup

This seems very easy to use. I went for the primary school version, Sketchup Make, hoping the simplicity would be useful.

I found I could easily add images to planes and that there's an extension called Video Texture Plugin  which seems to be able to render video onto a surface but it's Windows only.

Using Sketchup I exported the model as a VRML file and then was able to view the model using an app called FreeWRL.


I then had a play with Blender.  Regular plain ole 3D modelling may be the way to go.  I discovered you can add a video as a surface texture to a plane. The picture below doesn't look very impressive, but it IS a video on a wall ( try to ignore the box .. ahem). Yes, I'd need to learn how to use the software :-)


I tried an online 3D editor called Clara.io (shown below) which I failed to master in the five minutes I tried it :-) It does look incredible, although I'm not sure if I can stick a video onto a plane. This tool did have a large library of objects like chairs, cars and objectified 3D women in bikinis and thigh boots.


Traditional 3D modelling may be the route to follow, I don't know. I bumped into someone while tinkering on this who mentioned the Unreal Engine, but, like 3D modelling, it doesn't half seem a massive mallet for a very tiny nut. 

We almost need a Doom-like clone but with only one room...only simpler... (something like this maybe...)

I was hoping for something that we could automate the conversion from Powerpoint ( or video ) into an online viewable something.... something like WebGL maybe.  Like this... or this below...except instead of web pages, we might have a page with just a video in. In order to do this we'd just need to "chop" each wall of our very wide Powerpoint movie into each individual wall.

This Three.js WebGL HTML5 tutorial might be a good place to start.

Blimey, if this is possible, it must be doable. Here a video becomes a model... Wow! Like this only a million times simpler!