Thursday, May 1, 2008

Using game technology to explore the "unreality" of virtual landscapes

Scalable City - a project by Sheldon Brown and Experimental Game Lab - creates environments, from urban to rural, via a data visualization pipeline.

Now Scalable City has opened at one of my favorite museums in the whole wide world, The Exploratorium in San Francisco. As you move through the interactive exhibit, you literally "paint" the flying landscape with highways, buildings, and automobiles. According to Sheldon's website, "Each step in this pipeline builds upon the previous, amplifying exaggerations, artifacts and the patterns of algorithmic process. The results of this are experiences such as prints, video installations and interactive multi-user games and virtual environments."

Here is the trailer...

In addition to exploring artistic opportunities arising from computer technology, Sheldon is Director of the Center for Research in Computing and the Arts (CRCA) at the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) where he is a Professor of Visual Arts and the head of New Media Arts for the California Institute of Telecommunications and Information Technologies (Cal-(IT)2).

Many thanks to Tezcatlipoca Bisiani for bringing this to my attention.


Douglas Story said...

An absolutely spellbinding piece of video - this is the gold standard for the class of trailers that are meant to arouse interest in a 3-d work.
It is of course physically beautiful, with a very high "wow, how'd they do that?" factor, but the lesson for other film makers in the Second Life is the great sound design in this piece. Note the changes in music, and the richly layered sound effects --- like the faint sound of children playing way back in the mix as we see the strangely deformed suburbia.
Most SL machinima are deadly dull, and far too long. But even though this one is rather long at 5 minutes or so, it does not feel that way due to the masterful pacing, and building energy driven by the audio. This is a first rate piece than I'd be very proud of had I edited it.