04 November 2014

Natimuk STT launch - the Verj - the Thing

Just quickly, here are some photos of the Thing doing its thing after dark. A camera in its "head" lets you do light painting by running around in the skate park with a head torch on (or waving your phone/lighter etc) whilst turning dials, pressing buttons, pedaling like fury all feed in to the mix, distorting and re-colouring the light paintings or adding generating new visuals to go along side the light painting.

I have video too...but it still needs a bit of an edit before its worth looking at.

17 October 2014

Nati STT

Eeeeee! So many things happening and so little blogging of it all.

Where does that time go?

Im just on the home straight now of the Natimuk Small town transformation project wherein lots of great stuff happens in the middle of town including the creation of a large scale kinetic sculpture by Sam Deal that is going to drive a bunch of visuals that will be projected from the sculpture up onto the freshly install shade sails above.
Scribbly sketch of mine inspired by the start Sam had already made on the sculpture (trying to work out how to manage the projector mounted in head concept)
Again its all part of this idea of making work that people really need to actively participate in rather than just sit there and consume it. Its something I spent a lot of time exploring during my fellowship last year...Something I hinted at with the Virtual Bike and Something's Afoot... at the the Nati Frinj last year and something that's probably going to be playing a much bigger part in at least the next few projects I'm involved in.

Heres a couple of stils of me experimenting with a kind of real-time light painting idea (these are screen grabs rather than long exposures). The idea is that a camera mounted high in the sculpture will allow people with lights (torches, phones, lighters, whatever)  to paint onto the shade sails by running around in the skate park. Meanwhile people operating the sculpture will be able to manipulate this raw material to create even more variety. The idea is that one person on their own should still be able to create something pretty interesting but that mutliple people working as a team will be able to take it to a whole different level.

And here are a coupel of shots of the sculpture slowly coming together in Sam's workshop.

 Between the solar panels on its head and the pedal power inputs the sculpture aims to generate enough power by day to keep the projections going at night (with the option to keep it topped up with the pedal power should it start running low).

 A host of big chunky knobs and dials all hooked up to electronic sensors provide the input that will drive the visuals.

the mirror on the back bounces the projections up and out to fill the shade sails (planetarium style)

So Ive been working on the visuals side of things, Sam's been working on the sculpture and this coming week it all comes together for the first time with a whopping 4 days to make it all work before the launch.

Exciting times...

17 February 2014

Captives of the City

A short compilation from the workshop I did with chamber Made Opera last year.

Captives of the City - Demo from dave jones on Vimeo.

Whether it makes the final show or not I think my favourite thing was the little pico projector getting towed along as JAcob manipulates the projected puppet. I think theres some great potential here for hand held battery powered projectors to get animation into some pretty interesting places.

There another workshop coming up in March so hopefully another chance to keep experimenting.

Firstly though I'm about to head up to APAM2014 to help unleash the MadeInNatimuk brand upon the world and see if we cant get any of the shows we've made remounted. Some of those projects were so much work to bring together it seems a shame not to give them a chance at another run.

So fingers crossed....and more in a bit.

27 December 2013

Art Pumping Action - Bike Tech

As I brace myself forthe onslaught of the Falls Festival in Lorne, Here's a hastily slapped down  breakdown of the bike powered computer game concept we launched at the Nati Frinj. There were 3 games made but they all hinged around the use  of  an arduino to forward a bunch of information capture off the bike via a range of sensors into  Unity which generated the visuals in response.  The Oculus Rift was a late but excellent addition to the setup. I had originally intended to build a little head sized projection booth so that only cyclist could see.
Compared to this though, a pair of goggles that responds to the orientation of the riders head and provides the visuals in 3D just takes it a step beyond the original concept. When we were building this rig the plan was that the entire power for the game be generated by the cyclist and the power consumtiption of the goggles beat out any comparable projection system (without even factoring n th nightmare of me trying to sculpt up a firbeglass projection  dome). I must be the only person ever to have bought an Oculus Rift for its relatively low power consumption.

The 3 bikes were placed radiating out from the central table so that we could get away with one of the riders throwing themselves off the bike without setting off a domino effect.  

You may snicker but I was genuinely surprised at how strong the compulsion was to throw oneself of a stationary bike whilst trying to lean into the corners.  The more experienced the cyclist was, the bigger the leaning issue. During the early test run Callum (who actually rigger these bikes) threw himself off and kicked in my favourite laptop screen (which would have been a complete disaster if I hadnt got some pretty good footage of him doing it).

So all the goodies, arduino etc are packaged up in the blue water bottle container there (genius idea courtesy of Callum)

The light mounted on the front of the bike and powered by the generator on the back wheel provided the load. By turning up and down the brightness of the light up and down then makes more work for the  rider.
 A hall effect sensor on the back wheel measures how fast the wheel is turning and sets the speed of the bike in the game.

 The  dial rubbing against the front steering fork (scavenged off an old oven) is stuck to a potentiometer and feeing back the steering info.
In the background, the screen is displaying the riders eye view. I hadn't intended to leave this here for the duration but it was such a crowd pleaser that I left it there the whole festival. It was great actually when the people queuing up to have a go were cheering on the rider.
In this particular game the goal was to round up sheep and flick them into the trailer you are towing (by running them down). The game was conceived by one of the students during a workshop at the local primary school.
In the background you can see the  Regulator and battery setup courtesy of Greer Allen of Magnificent Revolution. Does a great job of capturing an storing all the spare power generated by the bike. The Bike is more than capable of generating the power to run the laptop (35watts) and oculus (5 watts +  maybe some coming out of the computer USB???)

The generator sits up against the back wheel replacing the standard roller in one of those bike training stands. Having the adjustable height feature of the training stand was pretty convenient. In the background you can see the regulator (in the old ammo box) that could take the surplus power from all the bikes and feed it into the (yellow) deep cycle battery.

The bike when it was going hard was able to put out about 100 watts
The more electricity  the bikes had to produce the  hard it was to spin the generator.
This was hooked up to the gradient of the hills the rider had to climb in the game. The steeper the hill the brighter the light, the harder it was to pedal. The result was surprisingly convincing.
Just for good measure I wired up a bunch of bells and horns at the front that could be used to jump, fire or whatever. I didn't end up taking as much advantage of these as I thought I might have...the main reason being the oversight that when you've got the Oculus goggles on its actually pretty hard to find the bells.

Heading off in the morning to go down and install these beauties at the Falls Festival in Lorne over new years and, quite frankly, a little daunted about how they might hold up to the onslaught of 16,000 adrenaline-fueled youths over new years.

Perhaps this shall be my last post....

16 November 2013

Nati Frinj 2013 - part 1

The dust has settled on the 2013 Frinj Festival and, after a week of being gut-wrenchingly,  head-poundingly, bed-riddenly, ill I'm starting to feel vaguely recovered (both from the festival and subsequent sickness). Almost human.

Lots of good bike powered things this year (if I do say so myself). No single big show as in years gone by, but rather a whole suite of smaller things. This was part of a deliberate attempt on my behalf to avoid another high stress all or nothing moment like the final showing Highly-Strung show of 2011...

Basically just spreading myself so thin I couldn't possibly fail at everything.

Genius, or idiocy?

Only time will tell.

Right now my gut response is that it was more of a juggling weasels experience than a pushing a rhinocerous into box type experience but not really less stressful in any meaningful way.

Still a few good things came out of it. A few things I'm really quite pleased with.

Such as the dueling unicycle puppets, concieved by me and realised by Anthony Schellens. Its a race and these larger than life-sized puppets get propelled around their course by two punters pounding away on their respective stair-masters.

And then there were the games, a series bike-powered virtual reality machines, my first experiment with the Oculus Rift and still very much a work in progress. With the help of an arduino (and another big learning curve), I managed to take a bike covered in sensors and hook it up to the rift to give festival goers their first taste of Virtual reality (in exchange for a pint of sweat). It really feels like there's a lot of potential for this and its definitely something I plan to flesh out in the near future.

And last but by no means least... "Somethings afoot in the dead of the night" a performance event and LED lighting spectacular with 8 Foot Felix where the entire energy needs of the show were created by just four bikes with the audience being invited to step up, take a turn on the pedals and help to make the show happen. It was really create to have the band throw themselves into this so completely and embracing the spirit of experimentation and risk taking that has always been the strength of the Frinj. I'm really happy with what we managed to achieve with a whole bagful of unknowns and not a whole lot of time to bring it together.

I'll come back and revisit each of these three bits with loads more photos, videos and a bit of behind the scenes type stuff but just wanted to get something out there for now,  just to prove to myself that it all happened.

Thanks so much to the Frinj folk, the committee and the volunteers for all pulling together and making this the most action packed festival yet. And thanks especially to Callum and Anthony for stepping in to pick up all the pieces I'd scattered so widely and helping to turn them into something better than I could ever have done on my own.  Thanks also to the funding bodies VicHealth and Festivals Australia for having the vision to back us in the development of these ideas.

11 September 2013

The Rhyme of The Ancient Merino

The Rhyme of the Ancient Merino...

...In full...

The Rhyme of the Ancient Merino from dave jones on Vimeo.

The story is based upon the 50 year history of the ACT (Arapiles Community Theatre) and the recent influx of new arrivals and the changes that has brought about. The puppets were constructed life sized from local farm machinery and filmed in-situ where possible the wheat-fields surrounding the town, the local grain silos and the nearby mount Arapiles.

The film was made in memory of Tim Beohm who, amongst many other things, was the president of the ACT for most of its existence.

With its life sized puppets made of old farm machinery sometimes film haing off the side of the nearby Arapiles or the grain silos, bringing this film is probably still the hardest thing I've ever tried to do.

Hats off too to Ian Van Gemeren too for an fantastic score. And everyone else who helped with the animation, there were a lot of long days and late nights that went into this one.


05 August 2013

Feed Development Video

Here is a 5 minute edit from some of the Feed development workshops (mostly from the Natimuk workshops).

Feed: Development from dave jones on Vimeo.

Currently working towards the next Nati Frinj Festival. We've been extremely lucky with our funding applications this year and it looks like a lot,lot, lot of good things are starting to come together. Worth another blog post in its own right.


....no really!