Production Assignments

Weekly observation assignment: lighting moment

Take a photo or video, or choose a pre-existing photo or painting of a scene. Post it online. Instagram is fine, or Google Photos, or Flickr, or Tumblr, or your blog, or the class blog, or whatever you prefer. Describe the quality of the light, and the composition of the light. Estimate the approximate light levels in lux (consider using a phone-based app for this). Describe the sources, the directions, the colors, the focus, and any other property you can discern. Your caption should be 2-3 paragraphs, about 1-300 words. Include the location, time, and date. If it’s the work of another person, cite your sources.

Your goal here is not to take great photos, but to capture the moment in words and images. If your focus is off, or your camera can’t capture the subtle details of the light, then describe it in your caption. Avoid filters and heavy retouching, in order to capture the scene as you saw it. If the  moment calls for video instead of a still image, or a time-lapse, use it.

Do at least one of these every week. Use the notes in the syllabus schedule as a guide if you have nothing else in mind. If you do have another moment in mind, look for these ones as well. Attempt to capture the scene with its natural light, do not use flash.

In some weeks, you will be assigned to make time lapse videos instead of observing single moments. In week 4,  capture an interior space that’s part of your everyday routine in 10-second intervals over 4 hours. In week 5, capture another interior space that’s part of your everyday routine in 10-second intervals over 24 hours.

Post a link to your observation log on the class links page.

Production Assignments

Each of these assignments is one to three weeks long. You may work alone or in pairs for most of them. Only the environmental setting assignment is a group assignment, due to the amount of work required for it.

There are a few constraints for the production assignments:

  • Make sure your fixture casts adequate light on the subject that it’s supposed to illuminate.
  • Fixtures aren’t invisible. Make sure yours looks appropriate to the space even when it’s turned off.
  • Don’t expose the light source
  • No rainbow color scrolling. Choose a color palette and stick to it.

Your assignments will be evaluated on how well you implement these constraints.

All of your projects should be documented online.

Interruptible LED fade (Due week 2)

Create a fading LED attached to a microcontroller. Your LED should be interruptible by either a pushbutton, analog input, or serial input. Your fade speed and fade curve are yours to determine.

Work alone on this assignment.

Candle (due week 3)

Create an artificial candle or lantern using a NeoPixel jewel or other programmable LED. Your candle should include a base and a shade or diffuser. Try to capture the colors and behavior of a real candle in programming your candle.

Work alone or in pairs on this assignment.

Lighting Fixture (due week 7)

Build a desk lamp, reading lamp, wall sconce or chandelier fixture for one of the offices or darker spaces on the floor. You’ll each be assigned a specific space. You may use any lighting technology as your source, but do not make the bare source visible. Add a shade or diffuser to your fixture. Consider what the space is normally used for. Observe people using the space before you decide on your design. Consider the light that your fixture casts on its subject. Make sure you are providing at least the recommended light levels for the activity that the space is used for.

Your lamp must be dimmable using a physical control. You can use existing dimming controllers, or build your own. For the user controls, experiment with different physical controls that match the behavior that you want your lamp to have. Perhaps your controller is a squeeze bulb, or a swipe pad, or a crankshaft.

Your lamp should run off 120V AC, though you can use an AC-to-DC adapter if your source is a DC source. Do not run it off a benchtop supply or other shop supply.  Use something a consumer could buy and plug in at home. Make sure to calculate the correct voltage, amperage, and wattage.

You may build your fixture out of off-the-shelf materials or found materials as you see fit.

Document the construction of your fixture. Include a bill of materials (with links to parts sources if available), electrical schematic, and any construction drawings or links to code as needed. Make a short video of the fixture in action as well. Measure and note the light efficacy (lumens per watt) that your fixture produces as well. Measure the light intensity at the subject. Document not only the lamp, but the light it casts on its subject.

Work alone or in pairs on this assignment.

Lighting Control Assignment (due week 11)

Make a controller for either a collection of Hue lamps or a DMX-based lighting plot. Your controller can be either a physical device or a web-based interface. You should be able to control intensity and color on at least three fixtures.

The goal of this assignment is to demonstrate an understanding of the programming of either of these two control protocols. Concentrate on making your controller functional and easy to use. Don’t worry about being wildly imaginative; buttons, knobs, and sliders will do the job well.

Write your own code, and cite the sources of any examples or API documentation from which you learn. Document your project thoroughly on your blog.

24-hour responsive lighting fixture (due week 14)

Create a lighting fixture that continually responds to the ambient light and physical activities around it, in a 24-hour cycle. Your feature may be a task light, a path light, or a general area light. Build on what you learned in the first fixture assignment: complete details on this one that you may not have had time or experience to handle in the first one. You can use existing sources, and you should work with existing spaces.

Your fixture should also have an on-off control that turns the lamp on at the level to which the user last faded. You may also add color control if you wish. If the fixture has a complex behavior, provide an interface to control all the parameters of that behavior.

Your feature may respond in a variety of ways: it may respond in realtime to ambient light in the space, or it may play back or simulate time-delayed  behaviors, as you see fit. For example, you may make a feature that that brightens when the ambient light dims, or your feature may simulate clouds passing over on a sunny day. Or it may simulate sunny conditions on a rainy day.   Or it may mimic another natural or man-made source like Tom Gerhardt’s FireLight sconce. Use your imagination and the observations you’ve made in your observation assignments to come up with an appropriate behavior.

Other examples:

You may work with existing applications that require round-the-clock responsiveness, such as a plant growing system or public transit area.

Make a 24-hour time-lapse of your feature in action so that you can play  back the 24 hours in a few minutes in class. You may speed up or slow down certain segments, but plan on approximately 4 minutes of playback. This video should be ready by the time the assignment is due in class. That means that the feature you are documenting should be ready more than 24 hours before the assignment is due, so that you have time to make the video.

Work alone or in pairs on this assignment.