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Submitted by Zsolt Trencsenyi, posted on January 12, 2002




Image Description, by Zsolt Trencsenyi



I know this is not a fancy terrain renderer nor a static indoor poly-pusher, however this might be of someone's interest.

So what is this Generatrix about? Generatrix is an interactive multimedia installation, first presented in Milan/Italy, May-2001, at Anteprima Bovisa Europa 2000 (international exhibition of modern art) hosted by the PAC (Gallery of Contemporary Art). It features real-time generated graphics and audio, which is resulted by some audio input prosessing (FFT, spectral analysis) and real-time video-in capture.

The ideology behind this is to visualize the people's thoughts, which one way of capturing is via their speech, screaming and other vocal "output". In the state of silence, there is only a single drop, particle, ball, sphere or whatever you may call it (in fact it's a metaball). When the audio input gets alive, some other smaller or bigger particles are being ejected by the central body. These particles keep moving, orbiting, pulsating while there is a significant amount of acoustic pressure in a certain frequency interval. The frequency analysis is done using fast-fourier transform. To bring the people's feelings about the whole stuff a bit more forward their faces are captured using a camera (it can be a simple webcam as well) and mapped onto the particles as if they 'd seen themselves in a mirror. To bring even more fun into the game, the audio output was distorted using EAX effects, so even a little girl could sound like an ogre :)

The installation would not be perfect without a proper setup - so we created a big cylinder shaped "room", which the visitors could enter, so they could feel more intimidated in the dark and pulsating environment. Believe it or not, Generatrix was a great success, everyone liked it and came back several times to gesture, scream, belch into the microphone. :) And you would be surpriced how many people couldn't gett it that there is a PC behind all this. Bringing modern multimedia in touch to them was a good feeling.

Finally, something about the hardware we used: SGI Zx10 workstation with Wildcat 4210+ graphics (though it runs on any PC with an OGL capable 3D card), SB Live 5.1 audio. For the graphics I used OpenGL, the audio capture was done using DirectSound 8, and Video for Windows used for the video capture. Binaries will be available soon. For more info you may take a look at http://tren.7gods.sk/generatrix/


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Archive Notice: This thread is old and no longer active. It is here for reference purposes. This thread was created on an older version of the flipcode forums, before the site closed in 2005. Please keep that in mind as you view this thread, as many of the topics and opinions may be outdated.
 
davepermen

January 12, 2002, 05:13 PM

hm looks funny.. have to read it carefully again but it looks cool

 
Kanda

January 12, 2002, 05:35 PM

Yeah !! fun to see new things !!

 
StAn

January 12, 2002, 05:46 PM

Glad to see something different too ;)
The effect looks nice. The installation too.

 
memon

January 12, 2002, 05:55 PM

Apart from the audience, what did the gallery people think about your installation? I have been a couple of times in the Finnish Museum of Contemporary arts and all the multimedia stuff there has been very bad (I really hope I have missed the gems, since the general level has been so bad). So in my experience the people who decide what to show in the museum either disrespects the digital contemporary art or maybe they are not aware of it or something.

The thing that has been bad about the multimedia stuff in the museum mentioned, is that they lack the technical perspective. Yep... digital art needs digital heart ;)


Anyway... your stuff looks impressive indeed.

 
elikez

January 12, 2002, 06:33 PM

sounds cool. I especially like the mapping of the person's face on the balls.
You project certainly does interduce a new kind of intercativity into gaming - imagine Quake where mirrors show your own face and where you can hear the echo of what you say.

Good job.

 
L.e.Denninger

January 12, 2002, 06:50 PM

Although it would be weird - not to say stupid - to see my face *and* my own room reflect in a mirror in a game...

plus the fact that the engine can't rotate the camera so the mirror would always show the same picture nomatter the viewing-angle :)

 
Morgan

January 12, 2002, 08:23 PM

How did you render the glow around the balls.

 
L.e.Denninger

January 12, 2002, 08:25 PM

There's no glow behind the balls, it's just a billboarded lensflare-texture rendered behind each metaball.

 
krogoth

January 12, 2002, 08:44 PM

Very nice... and an original idea at last :)

Is it really dark in the room, or more like the top-right image?

 
Nieuw

January 12, 2002, 09:35 PM

Sounds kinda cool and useless

 
EGreg

January 12, 2002, 11:32 PM

Glad to see the non-game art that's being shown around the world :-)

-Greg

 
DWORD

January 13, 2002, 03:43 AM

That's cool! Are you using any kind of stereo glasses or anything to make the images step out of the wall. I tried this a couple of times with computer generated images, and it's really cool. I could imagine that these metaballs would be even more impressive if they were hanging in the air metres from the wall... ;-)
-DWORD

 
vamecum

January 13, 2002, 04:09 AM

oooh, neat! I love them cool looking art projects, most art is like
making something useless and put a 10000$ price tag on it.
This project was acctualy cool!

 
abdulla

January 13, 2002, 09:01 AM

if i only had one for my living room, damn cool

 
malkia

January 13, 2002, 09:06 AM

art is not meant to be usefull.

 
William Dahlberg

January 13, 2002, 10:17 AM

Wow!
That sure is cool!

 
Christopher Dudley

January 13, 2002, 10:58 AM

If art has no use...well...then that purpose would it have to exist?

Art should and sometimes does indeed have many uses, think of the demoscene, most of that could be called 'Art,' but what it really did was advance the state of computer technology. Think of CGI films...most of the technology for films like 'Final Fantasy' and 'Monsters, Inc' came from a spur to develop better renderers and faster computers after doing earlier pieces.

So you see art can be very useful in technology. Painted or drawn art, though, I don't know. I am not what you would call an art buff, if I see a splotch on a canvas...well...I think to myself, what the hell is that? Did he drop the brush?

My idea of art is really more 'illustration,' but, I don't want to start any kind of flame war over it.

Talk to ya later,

 
hlusnagen

January 13, 2002, 01:10 PM

heh, "... mapping of the person's face on the balls.", mans thats funny!

 
Tren

January 14, 2002, 04:37 AM

Hi there, I'm glad you liked the project :)

Now trying to answer some of your questions:

"Apart from the audience, what did the gallery people think about your installation? "

Well they were absolutely amazed, because they've never seen such a thing before. This installation became everyone's favourite in there, despite the fact it generated a certain amount of noise and low-freq rumble all the time, because the microphone was quite sensitive - it collected even the smallest sounds and amplified out using a distortion. Yeah, that black cylinder sounded like an alien spacecraft even from the outside. :)

"Is it really dark in the room, or more like the top-right image?"

I'm not sure how that image was taken, using flashlight or not (probably not). The amount of light in there depended on the actual image - so the projector partially illuminated the inside of the cylinder. Anyway it was quite dark, especially when only a single drop was drawn in the middle of the screen.

"That's cool! Are you using any kind of stereo glasses or anything to make the images step out of the wall. I tried this a couple of times with computer generated images, and it's really cool. I could imagine that these metaballs would be even more impressive if they were hanging in the air metres from the wall... ;-) "

Yes, Generatrix can also run in stereo mode. I've implemented some simple routines which do the proper stereo setup for 3dLabs cards. For Nvidia, there's no need of that, the driver does everything instead of you.

Thanks for reacting, see you later in a different project :)

 
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