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What is the language of universal meaning

Things that come to mind


NOTE: i couldn’t get the videos to show up. Read the proper version at my blog.

In the game “The Movies”, by Lionhead Studios, is a movie production simulator much like The Sims or Tycoon series; where the main goal is to keep everything in your created world in order (or not). But The Movies adds this whole “Movie Maker” mini game where you can actually make movies within.

Production of The Movies began in late 2002[2] in a Lionhead Studios brain-storming conference. The idea began when Peter Molyneux came up with a new idea for a simulation game. The idea was to create a more diverse and lifelike strategy aspect to the game giving players the option to create their very own movie. GameSpy

So they had to come up with a way to enable players to “make movies”, seperate than the studio management part. The implementation is simple: They created a catalog of “scenes”, which are Maniquins that have a set animation, for example a character shooting another character. Then you have a catalogue of skins to put on these character, much like Mixamo/Adobe Fuse (As of April 2018!). They also let you control the camera movement and the setting to an extent so you’ll end up with a fully formed scene. Now all you have to do is to put these scenes together, add sound/subtitle (or if you’re ambitious, voice over) and you’ll have a motion picture story.


The Movies Advance Movie Maker Tutorial

Here you can see how the Movie Maker system in “The Movies” works. Worth a watch.

Terminator 2 Animated Remake using ‘The Movies’ game by Lionhead

And example of what the Movie Maker is capable of, a remake of a familiar film.


This one’s an original production, although i’ve seen IMO better results, but it’s expression through the medium, so take it however you like.

Story telling doesn’t come naturally to us

Story Appreciation does come naturally, don’t get me wrong: We can’t help but to praise people who can tell stories in the medium of choice and appreciate the level of detail they go to make sure the end product contains all the relevant pieces to deliver that “totality”, that elusive “Gesamtkunstwerk”.

The truth is we don’t really need a lot of information to empathize and understand. There’s a lot of information out there that we are able to parse, but it wouldn’t be viable nor practical to do so. So we use abstraction and compartments stored that contain “just enough” detail to be operational in the world, and add to the detail when necessary. Interestingly we have no problems expressing using those symbolic abstractions as well, meaning we’re quite comfortable with a cartoonish representation of people, and are willing to empathize with literally a couple of lines and circles and humanize them.

So the problem of “Abstraction Level” is something to think about. If you give your random person ALL the details they need to build a full picture, like a real model to draw from, it’s unlikely for them to hit their desired level of detail.
Even a lot of times they think they did, but after reviewing the expression later they can see how it looks “wrong”. So the question is what level of abstraction should you give the creator for them to create with “enough” effort, but don’t get discouraged from their incompetence to utilize it? How high up should be the level of details they should be able to comprehend and articulate?

Grim Fandango: Land of the Living

In the game Grim Fandango, you live in the land of the dead (from Mexican mythology), and you go to the “land of the living” to bring back the newly deceased. The depiction of “the land of the dead” is the image that someone who’s not used to see living things would make. In our example, dead people who forgot how living was.

Adventure Time: BMO in the VR BRB

In the series Adventure Time: The Islands, Fin and Jake (boy and dog) enter the VR world that their sentient Gameboy (BMO) has made. BMO also tried to recreate his friends in a section called BRB (Be Right Back!), but they look horrific, and BMO knows it (well you KNOW you drew a bad car if you never drew a car!). Very dark and very though provoking (Like most of Adventure Time, don’t be fooled by the colors!)

Although, if you WANT your work to look like a collage, go ahead! Using the limitations imposed on you to your advantage is always a good strategy. Also, we never had “enough” juxtaposition, so go for it!

Enjoy this work by the Armenian artist, Sergei Parajanov.

Sergei Parajanov Collages

Variation on themes by Pinturicchio and Raphael


I really felt the split between the conceptual and technical parts of this class this week. I walked away from Remix feeling inspired to go reinvent the way people communicate, only to spend an entire week trying and failing to upload a dancing alien to a website.

Having spent most of the week trying and failing to make one change after another to my previous code, I realized the problem was there was too much going on in the code that I didn’t understand. So I started a new script from scratch to figure out what each individual part of the code was doing. I’m most of the way there:

osc element

It doesn’t do much yet, but it sure looks cool. Can’t wait to see what it looks like when I know what I’m doing a little better.

“Week0 – Presuppositions and Mentality


My Statement of Purposes

So im just going to copy here an excerpt from my 2016 SOP that i used to apply to iTP… and other schools. I never actually intended it for iTP specifically: it was just a statement of my current… purposes!

Anyhow, i thought it’s eerily related to our first day discussions in Open Source Cinema

Interactive media, especially digital, is going through a democratizing phase. High-End game engines are free to use and publish, educational material is either completely free or needs a small fee, and devices are available shortly to the general public after they are announced. This means that our era is experiencing rapid change and trends are quick to adopt and retire. This means an entire avalanche of new experiences and ideas is flowing from all over the world through people who never had the chance to express themselves.

The open source community has thrived even more than before these days and it has shaped the industry to their needs. A whole new 3D Print industry spawned out of online communities. The good old Arduino enabled thousands of artists afraid of electronics to build impressive and sophisticated interactive experiments around the world and create new experiences.

Of course, on the high end of the industry, video games are looking more detailed and gorgeous than ever. Some almost indistinguishable from photograph, plus beautiful motion captured animation and natural physical lighting. However, that is where I believe the industry is going wrong. I am all for higher quality visuals, but it seems like the gameplay and game design, the heart and soul of interactive games, is lost in the way. To me it is a reminder of what Hitchcock observed when sound was added to films and filmmakers tried to remake stage plays and not utilize the cinematic language: “It’s like a lot of films one sees today… to me they are what I call “photographs of people talking”. It bears no relation to the art of the cinema”. This is going against what interactive media has to offer. It is rehashing its predecessor, cinema and television, into easy to play form; sometimes almost like play and pause button.

Although going back to the masses, some amazing experimental “indie” games and interactive arts came out of the democratized section of the industry. People who just had an “itch” in their head, some vision they wanted others to experience, were able to just put it out there with limited but effective resources. Games like “Papers, Please”, “Cart Life” don’t have complicated mechanics or eye catching visuals (they do have unique style), but they act as powerful empathy machines that convey a concept to the players that can only be done with interactive media and nothing else.

New media can rapidly change this closed loop we create around ourselves. For example, the term “empathy machine” is thrown a lot at VR these days as well. Touted as probably the “ultimate empathy machine”, this new media is going through its early days of experimental phase: with static “Cinéma vérite” style documentaries and highly experimental VR environments that is exploring the medium to find its own language. VR might not turn out to be what everyone expects it to be, and it takes a while for a new medium to stop rehashing its predecessors. but spearheading the quest to find a whole new medium’s unique aspects and intricacies is something I am really excited about. Figuring out challenges like how sound should work in VR or how a story should be told in new media is the type of things that keeps excited and motivated about the technology.

THREE.JS setting

My first experiment with a 3D environment in Javascript. I took a panorama of a path through the woods from Flickr, flipped the image upside down, and then crossfaded back and forth between the original and the inverted image.

Having done a bit of work in VR last semester, I’ve been interested for a while in how to cut between scenes in a completely immersive environment. I’m attracted to the hyper-reality created by the gradual fade between a recognizable environment (a path in the woods), a semi-recognizable environment (that same image inverted) and something completely abstract (the fractal patterns created by the interplay of trees, ground and sky as the two images cross-fade). I look forward to continuing to explore and develop this environment as I gain a better understanding of how to navigate Three.js.

Week 1

The Future of Storytelling

The beginning of this course is timing out perfectly with the one-credit course I’m also taking this weekend, “Blockchain Fiction.” There seems to be a similar thread between the two related to democratizing systems––whether they are financial, social, or cultural. Specifically I’ve been thinking about specialized knowledge:

In medieval times, illiteracy was the norm and scribes and clergy were the only ones who had the means and time to achieve the training necessary to read and write.

Are we in a new era where those who can code are the new scribes? Nowadays, computation and filmmaking are the expensive pastimes that only the privileged few with the time and resources––or the sheer tenacity––have the ability to be trained in these specialized, technical skill sets.

The ubiquity code and the image (moving or otherwise) in our everyday lives––whether it’s a logistical tool or entertainment––will necessarily increase the number of people who understand code and cameras and sound and editing etc. What I find lacking in the cultural conversation however is the idea that people will at the same time advance in their visual culture literacy.

The stories we tell and how we tell them affect our understanding of the world and therefore affect our understanding of the possible. What would our world look like if the stories we experienced truly captured the wealth of experience there is in the world?

Save a Story as Data – CONEPTUALLY

Before understanding what exactly we were being asked to do, I created a janky JSON to try and represent what I considered the elements of cinema:

Save a Story as Data on a Server – FOR REAL

Then I figured out that we were supposed to literally make a server and and save visual representations of what we considered elements of a story––in the conceptual sense rather than the literal “how to make a movie” sense. The basic elements of a story in my mind are as follows:

Given Circumstances (an acting term that describes the base reality of the scene/story)
Inciting Incident (a literary term to describe an event that sets off the conflict of the story… the thing that disrupts the given circumstances)
Antagonist (this can be a literal person or not, just whatever the protagonist is working against)
Character Arc/Hero’s Journey
Resolution/Catharsis (I am not of the mind that there must be catharsis in the Aristotelian sense of poetics but there must be some sort of through-line or cohesion for it to be considered a story)

I created a Mlab database, downloaded Dan’s code that allows you to drag and drop images directly into an Mlab… only I couldn’t get it work as I had seen it demonstrated in class. It took me a while to figure out that while the images weren’t showing up in the screen, they were still being saved as object in the Mlab. For some reason, their sizes were defaulting to 0. Then I couldn’t even get the images to save when I dragged them. So I ended up just copy and pasting each object and URL into the object and image dimensions by hand  to make it work. I ended up with this representation of the Aristotelian ideal of drama: