Postmortem: “Swing” at LAFlashapaloozastock III

Events, Flash, Flex, Interactive Design, LA Flash, Music, Typography, Wii
12/9/08

Swing projected on a brick wall next to the Wii menu

“Swing" was briefly installed outside next to a Wii running
Wii sports, but otherwise spent most of its time inside.

LAFlashapaloozastock III was another well put-together event—I enjoyed Ralph Hauwert’s talk on Flash effects and 3D as it was one of the best at bringing some perspective outside of the immediate world of Flash. Hauwert wove Escher, Pink Floyd, and the Amiga demoscene into the mix in a talk that otherwise would have just been a sequence of “ooh, cool!” demos (though they were quite cool… fluid dynamic bump maps on 3D objects, for instance...).

It was a challenge getting people comfortable enough with “Swing” to try it out—I had only one song request ("This Is How We Do It” by Montell Jordan) and that came early in the day, before a lot of folks started showing up. Over the course of the day I started calling the piece “karaoke for introverts” since no singing was required, but all the same people seemed reticent to pick a song and give it a go, just as if I had brought a real karaoke machine to the proceedings.

A student asked if I had considered adding greater variety to the visuals (color, etc.)—a valid question, given the apparent simplicity of the display. I explored this both during the original development of the piece and for this new version, but in both cases found that adding additional visual elements or processing made the experience too complex cognitively. While the YouTube video makes it look easy, trying to synchronize motions, syllables and pre-recorded music is actually a pretty challenging task for a novice, and glitz just makes it harder.

All in all, I came away with three keys to a successful “Swing” experience:

  • You’ve got to feel comfortable
  • You’ve got to love the song you’re performing and know it inside and out
  • You’ve got to be tuned into the rhythmic implications of whether your text is broken down into words or syllables

All of these things are easier to realize at home than in an installation space, so I’m planning to post the new version of Swing (which will now run in a browser for both Mac and PC users) soon, probably after Ruben & Lullaby is released.

Speaking of which, I met a lot of great folks during the event and got a lot of interest in Ruben & Lullaby (my upcoming iPhone/iPod touch game). I’ll be putting the finishing touches on over the next week or so, so stay tuned…

 

New version of Swing, the Wii Remote typographic karaoke Flash experience, to debut this Saturday

Animation, Announcements, Events, Flash, Flex, Fun, Interactive Design, iPhone, LA Flash, Music, Typography, Wii
12/5/08

image

For those in the Los Angeles area, stop on by LAFlashapaloozastock III in Venice this weekend for a full day of Flash goodness, including the debut of a new version of Swing. Swing has evolved into a typographic karaoke experience—we’ll use online services to stream your choice of song, download the lyrics, and get you waggling your way to Wii happiness. I’ll also have a number of “tuned” song/lyric combinations for you to play (yes, your dream of finally seeing a type animation of every single “ee-oh-oh” in Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic is about to be realized).

I’ll also be handing out postcards and generally talking up my upcoming iPhone game “Ruben & Lullaby,” which should be released in the next few weeks and has already garnered notice in TouchGaming. For more information visit opertoon.com.

Hope to see you there at LAFLashapaloozastock!

 

BAVC’s Producers Institute kick-starts innovative online documentaries, serious games

Events, Games
6/27/08

BAVC logo

I was recently invited to be a mentor at the Bay Area Video Coalition’s Producers Institute, a week-long intensive workshop in which teams of independent documentary producers are immersed in interactive technologies and techniques and then develop pitches for interactive projects based on their work. At the end of the week the project teams pitch their ideas to potential funders and hopefully get a kick-start on the path to getting their proposals underway. Though I was only able to help out for two days towards the end of the workshop, it was still a pretty amazing gathering to see and be a part of.

The main project I was involved with at the Institute was the forthcoming work from Take Action Games (TAG), the company best known for Darfur Is Dying, a game about the crisis in Sudan which received a lot of media attention and helped to put serious games on the map for many people. I’ve had the pleasure of consulting with TAG team members Susana Ruiz and Huy Truong before, and have found their professional style to be a wonderful mix of a strong vision combined with a genuine excitement about the medium and an openness to new ideas. Looking forward to finding out more about their latest project, In The Balance: The Death Penalty Game, I wasn’t disappointed, as Susana, Huy, and Ashley York are again bringing their talents to bear on a challenging social issue and stretching the boundaries of the medium in the process (the project was recently written up in the Washington Post).

I met with a number of project teams while at BAVC—the whole atmosphere of the gathering had a lot of camaraderie and intensity as the various groups, flush with new information from the Institute’s various speakers and events about leveraging documentary content online, sought to assemble compelling pitches for a host of fascinating projects. For a taste, check out the following video from The Drax Files, whose creator Bernhard Drax was documenting the goings-on. This clip touches briefly on In The Balance during a chat with Tony Walsh, a veteran BAVC mentor and founder of the game development firm Phantom Compass. Drax filed a number of reports from the Institute, so check out The Drax Files if you want to see more.


 

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