20 Jun

OFFF 2011 Barcelona: 'Let's Feed The Future' workshop

20. June 2011 by George Profenza

To follow up on my previous post about ‘Aaron Koblin: Let’s feed the future workshop’ at OFF, I’ll talk about some of the projects created in the workshop. It was held by Aaron Koblin, Ricardo Cabello AKA Mr. Doob, Filip Visnjic and Eduard Prats Molner.

offf1 Unfortunately, the elusive Mr. Doob was nowhere to be seen on stage during the talk which was a shame. The workshop consisted of 10 applicants who had six and a half hours to create something cool. I think the time restraints affected the output of the workshop a little bit and as a result we saw 3 or 4 completed projects presented by four of the applicants. These consisted of some work using the Kinect and Cinder to route the Kinect output to a browser and then modify it using Chrome and WebGL; some work involving compression of images and audio to visualise what content is actually lost during compression and the ‘Receipt Racer’ a basic racing game re-worked to run on a receipt printer using a playstation controller and a projector.

To start, I will discuss the Kinect and WebGL. This was demoed by Marcin Ignac and from what he said Mr. Doob helped him to get it working. It’s nice to see a browser processing Kinect data in real-time and using WebGL, however, I don’t think it demonstrates a real life usage of the Kinect whereby users at home could use their Kinect to interact with a webpage. I don’t think this would ever be possible without the use of some kind of plugin so it is still impressive to see it working in a web browser. This image posted on twitter by Marcin Ignac shows a preview of the demo and the image below it shows a grab of the demo during the talk.

offf3 The work involving compression of images and audio was an interesting topic and seemed like a good starting point for some more interesting work. Unfortunately, I can’t remember who presented it and I don’t have any images of it being demoed but I will try to explain what went on. Firstly, they took an image at full quality and an image that had been compressed; they processed the images to find the differences between the two and then outputted this difference as a separate image which visualised what the compression had actually done. Because there’s no images of this, I have tried to re-create this which can be seen in the displayed .gif file. First frame is a full-res version of an image, then a compressed version and finally a version where anything missing from the original image is shown in black.

After showing the image version, they used this same concept on audio files, so they compressed an audio file, compared it with the original and then played out the difference so we can listen to what has been stripped out by the compression. It was interesting with the audio because to me, I couldn’t hear a difference between the compressed and un-compressed versions.

Finally, what I think was the most interesting project was the Recipt Racer. This was created by Joshua Noble, Martin Fuchs & Philip Whitfield. There is a video of the project being demoed at the top right of this post; you can also watch a clearer video here. Joshua noble also has some photographs of the project on his website. Using a thermal receipt printer as the ‘screen’, a projector to project the player on the ‘screen’ and a playstation controller to move the player around the ‘screen’ they have created an interesting combination of physical and digital mediums to re-hash a simple racer game. The receipt printer prints out a basic track which curves from left to right and prints out random blocks to avoid. The projector projects a little dot which represents the player or the car onto the track; the receipt printer then prints more track which causes the movement of the car and finally, the player must move his car around the printed track using a playstation controller to avoid the walls and obstacles. Watch the video to get a good idea of how it works. I particularly like the way the projector shows the crashes using pixelated red explosions.

All in all there was some interesting work as an outcome of the workshop. It would be interesting to see what would have come out of it given the attendees more time, but I think that the time limit was an important concept of the workshop.

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