I have always been interested in art; as far back as I can remember I would draw along side comics and story books. As I matured as an artist I realized how important it was to study the works of artists and craftsman of our history and learn from them. I live and work in and art rich environment here in Chicago land; The Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of Science and Industry, The Field Museum, and other institutions such as these have always inspired me. In light of my interest in institutions such as those mentioned, I have realized that access to such places is somewhat limited by many factors: Money, proximity, and some peoples lack of mobility are just a few factors that might keep one from taking part in the rich experience that these places have to offer. How do we allow those who cannot experience the enriching potential of our history due to limitations do so? And how does a museum, a place of learning and reflection, expand beyond its physical borders to grow with time? The advent of virtual reality in a feasible and tangible form (ie Oculus Rift, and Project Morpheus) has the potential to bring immersion into these great halls of history without the limitations before mentioned. Creating a virtual interactive museum environment with photo real visuals is not outside our reach. The beauty of such an endeavor is that it never need be limited to walls, nor does it need to replace the current infrastructure, rather it could exist alongside, in concert with the current establishment.
Topic 1 Method
The beginning of a Virtual Museum would begin with creating a central hub, a foyer if you will. Within the foyer a site map would allow the viewer to see multiple topics that they can go and visit within the facility. Just like a real museum the visitor would choose one of the topics and advance to that area. Through the halls accurate representations of historic objects would be placed and have a description, as well as information on the artist who created the piece. When a visitor reaches a particular area of study, they would enter into another level, and that study could be much like a traditional museum, but it would not have to be; for instance if a student wanted to learn about Medieval Castles, the level loaded could be an actual representation of a castle, with interactive descriptions of its construction. Much of the building of a level like this castle would be appropriate for a Environment Artist. The museum hub and different subject packages could be downloaded from the web and launched from any computer.
Many of the challenges of starting to create such an infrastructure remain to be seen. Embarking on the journey to begin digitizing and including interactive elements into the halls of history is a noble endeavor, and has potential to bring a new method of visiting the halls of history.
Living in Chicago has its ups and downs. The culture here is great, but the weather, at times can be rough.
As I write this, my son is in the other room playing at home because school was called off today due to the extreme cold (-5 is the low today). The old adage "cabin fever" is very applicable after spending a harsh winter here. To combat cabin fever I try to get adequate exercise, without it I feel stagnate and less alive. I have a treadmill, but in all honesty, exercise could be more interesting. I have seen people who have tried to make repetitive workouts on stationary equipment more interesting through the implementation of virtual apps, some of those can be seen here: Virtual apps. After reviewing the options out on the current market, I see a need for something more immersive; something that has the potential to really allow one to forgo the immediate environment, and become lost in the scenery. Virtual reality has the potential to offer a greater level of immersion than ever before. Beyond just a VR environment, creating a VR game that networks people together to allow some competition would be without a doubt a motivator for those of us stuck indoors on the treadmill, bike, or elliptical. Within the parameters of a three month project I believe that a virtual environment created to be walked or run through on a treadmill while wearing the Oculus Rift to deliver a more immersive experience, is an attainable goal. I would like to test the capabilities of VR to help people forgo the monotony, and physical anguish of static exercise machines, as well as inquire of its potential to motivate people to exercise more.
Topic 2 Method
Creating a prototype level that allows the user to input a speed they wish to travel is attainable. The camera would be set on a predetermined path, and after setting the speed a player would simply put on the VR mask and walk or run. Starting out with this simple prototype would be an adequate way to test the potential hoped for (total immersion), and it would allow us to understand the roadblocks, like disorientation and motion sickness, that would need to be addressed before this idea could be feasible for the general population. Using test subjects from different age groups, gender, and at various health levels, I will gather research and
I have long been interested in feature animation, and I have worked on a number of cinematics for current titles on the market, Blitz the league 2, and Saints Row 4. In previous iterations we used Maya for rendering, and full motion video was added to the build of the game via bink video. In recent history the potential of next gen game technology has impressed the general population, but I believe that in days to come the potential to use game engine technology in television, and perhaps eventually in feature film is possible. Taking the current technology and putting it to the test to see if the quality bar of game engines is now at a level that could match or surpass the look of the typical cable TV 3D cartoon (i.e. Nickelodeon) would serve as a proving ground for a new application for game technology. If the real time game engine could be a viable alternative to the classic rendering we are used to, it could be implemented to get a "what you see is what you get" instant feedback, and dramatically speedup the animation pipeline.
Topic 3 Method
To test the theory I would create a small animatic, and then create a character and an environment to a film quality level to push the boundaries of what a game engine can handle. Some of the questions that need to be addressed would come in areas like rigging limitations, post processing pipelines, visual effects, camera controls, resolution limits, texture resolution limits, real time lighting limitations, rendering in layers and of course poly counts. The specialized tools needed to smoothly create the bridge between games and film would be researched and discussed. Upon completion of the final animation, it would be recorded to use in comparison to current market examples. Production cost analysis must be examined to determine if creating on a real time engine is fiscally responsible. Bringing the two disciplines, game and animation, together may carry with it discussions in the area of transferable skills, and opening more freedom in a challenging job market. Emerging unreleased technology should cap off the study and look to future of real time technology.
Daniel Triplett, is an artist that worked in game development for over 6 years, and now teaches in the Computer Graphics Technology department (CGT) at Purdue University.