Submitted by , posted on 15 April 2004
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These are screenshots of the BAMZOOKi Zook Kit - a toolkit to build
virtual creatures, Zooks, using a realtime physics simulation. It was
developed by Gameware Development Limited for the Children's BBC
gameshow, BAMZOOKi; all 24
shows were shown on TV last month in the UK. Kids used this software to
build Zooks which were submitted to the BBC. Teams were selected and
invited into the studio to compete their Zooks in various contests.
The software is still freely available from the BBC site here along with the
manual. Although designed to be easy enough to be used by kids, it is
highly flexible and can be quite complex. Zooks are built from the
bottom-up with elemetary component parts that the user shapes and sticks
together. You are not restricted to particular body designs or
topologies, although the control system uses a standard Braitenberg
The BBC's Virtual Studio technology was used to enable realtime
composition of the 3D rendered graphics with live camera feeds. Each
studio camera has a dedicated render PC to render the virtual scene from
that camera's perspective. To know what a studio camera's perspective
is, each camera is fitted with a second 'Free-D' camera which points
towards the ceiling. On the ceiling are reflective, circular bar codes.
The Free-D camera data is fed to a computer system that identifies the
targets on the ceiling and calculates that camera's position and
orientation, 50 times a second.
The contest runs in realtime on a networked PC. All the clients receive
contest scene information and render their scene from their studio
camera's point of view. A bank of chromakey boxes then composite the
virtual and the live feed together to provide a realtime composite. This
video stream can be sent to the studio camera monitors so that camera
operators can view the composite and hence follow the action in realtime.
There is a non-childrens user-base establishing itself, using the
toolkit for their own purposes. Take a look at the Gameware Development
forums if you
want to see what other users are doing with it.