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Multimedia Application with Interactive Digital Animation for Music Performances

Multimedia Application with Interactive Digital Animation for Music Performances

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Published by Nuno N. Correia
Correia, N.N., 2004. Multimedia Application with Interactive Digital Animation for Music Performances. In Proceedings of 4th MusicNetwork Workshop. Barcelona.
Correia, N.N., 2004. Multimedia Application with Interactive Digital Animation for Music Performances. In Proceedings of 4th MusicNetwork Workshop. Barcelona.

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Published by: Nuno N. Correia on Jul 02, 2009
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09/24/2010

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MULTIMEDIA APPLICATION WITH INTERACTIVE DIGITALANIMATION FOR MUSIC PERFORMANCES
 Nuno CorreiaInstituto Superior de Tecnologias Avançadas (ISTEC),Av. Engº Arantes e Oliveira, 3 r/c 1900-221 Lisboa, PORTUGAL, correia.nuno@netcabo.pt
Abstract:
The use of multimedia with performance arts has a rich history. This paper proposesan innovative approach for the use of a Multimedia Application with music performances,through the integration of interactive digital animation. The Application and its development aredescribed. The interface, which is part of the visual experience produced by the Application,consists of two rows and two columns of controls, positioned in the edges of the screen. The Application was submitted to an evaluation, which had encouraging results. The evaluationmethod is presented and its results are interpreted. Future developments are discussed.
Key words:
Multimedia applications, interactive animation, digital tools for performance arts
1.
 
INTRODUCTION
The concept of integrated, interactive media has a long history, spanning more than 150years [1]. Performance arts have been, throughout this period, privileged laboratories to conductthis kind of integration experiments. Packer and Jordan [1] trace the origin of multimedia toWagner, who proclaimed that “No one rich faculty of the separate arts will remain unused in theUnited Artwork of the Future; in it will each attain its first complete appraisement. (…) The placein which this wondrous process comes to pass is the Theatrical stage; the collective artwork which it brings the light of day, the Drama” [2]. This citation stresses the importance of the performance arts to the emergence of multimedia.The genesis of cinema provided another territory for multimedia explorations: the“dynamic screen” [3]. And the advent of the computer opened up an even greater number of  possibilities. But they both also provided two more “tools” for performance arts to use in itsartistic “palette”. Throughout the last century, many were the authors that put into practice theinterplay of projected moving images with performance arts. Some, like Bauhaus’ LászlóMoholy-Nagy [4] and John Cage [5] updated Wagner’s concept of performance arts as
Gesamtkunstwerk 
[2] (total artwork) to encompass moving images. Others, like Nam June Paik [6], Roy Ascott [7] and Myron Krueger [8] extended this concept into the computer age.The last century has been witness to many attempts to explore the new “tools” in the“palette” of performance arts. In the last decade, for instance, a great number of software toolswere marketed towards the real-time manipulation of video for live performances. What newterritories are there, then, left to explore? One answer could be interactive digital animation – thatis, the real-time creation of visual elements through the juxtaposition of pre-defined andmathematically generated vector graphics. There are a number of pioneer contemporary artists,
 
most notably John Maeda [9], who have been exploring this new area, but mainly for Web Artand Installation Art purposes – not for performance arts. This paper describes and analyses aMultimedia Application that intends to use digital animation with music performances, adoptingthe former to the latter’s “tools palette”. The aim of the Application is to provide flexible visualresources to music performances, which allow for the real-time creation of animations, based on pre-existing building blocks.The next sections will describe how the Application works, how it was evaluated and theevaluation results.
2. DESCRIPTION OF THE APPLICATION2.1 The Development of the Application
The development of the Application is a co-operative work between designer and programmer. Their purpose was to build an interactive Application for controlling digitalanimation to use along with music performances, through the use of a video projector. ThisApplication would allow for the control of different types of animated and “behavioural”modules that could be combined to create, in real time, a unique visual “experience” for eachevent. To achieve this effect, a great number of animation modules had to be created, separatedinto 4 types of animation modules: “
main animations
”,
animated icons
”,
curtains
” and
interferences
”. These modules could be called up, manipulated and programmed during the performance by a “user”. Therefore, the “user” of the Application would have a great deal of creative freedom during the event. This “user” would also have the role of “composing”, or “sequencing”, in real-time, a digital animation suited to the performance.
2.2 The Interface of the Application
The interface of the Application is presented in the 4 edges of the screen. Each edge has adifferent function. The interface is visible to the audience, and is part of the visual experience.Thus, the audience sees how the “user” of the Application is building, in real-time, the digitalanimation. The Application is divided in 4 layers. The main animation is always in the bottomlayer (layer 4) and the animated icons are all in the front layer (layer 1). The interferences and thecoloured curtains can be allocated to layers 3 or 2.The user can choose between different “sets” of animations. Each set has its own group of “main animations”, “animated icons”, “curtains” and “interferences”. Each set of animations cancorrespond to a “song” or to a “theme”. A set of animation can be assigned to a key on thecomputer keyboard.The
top edge
contains the controls for the full screen animations – entitled “
mainanimations
”. A row of buttons allows for the choice of animation. Different keys allow for thecontrol of the playback of the animation (backwards/forwards, acceleration/deceleration).The
bottom edge
contains the controls for the “
animated icons
” – small vectorialanimations that appear on top of other elements in different nodes of a pre-defined grid (9x9).The animated icons are positioned by choosing the type of icon in the bottom edge and choosingthe location in the grid. Otherwise, the icons can be dragged to their intended positions. Once in
 
their positions, the icons can be deleted individually. The size and opacity of the icons can bealtered.
Fig. 1
Choosing an animated icon (detail)
Fig. 2
An animated icon after having been dragged into the gridThe
left edge
contains the controls for the “
interferences
” – abstract vectorial animations,composed by clusters of small animated elements, that have behaviours with parameters that can be defined in real-time. These parameters are: colour (or range of colours); density (amount of this type of objects on the screen); direction of movement; speed of movement; size of eachelement; randomness of position. Examples of “interferences”: rain (clusters of different sizeddashes), TV static.The
right edge
contains the controls for the “
curtains
” – sheets of colours and abstracttextures, with the size of the screen, and customizable opacities, Example: strobe-type curtain;glowing curtain; 3D texture.

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