I have always wanted to build an underwater escape room experience and the unity assignment was the perfect foil for doing the same. When I started on the assignment, I knew that I wanted the following things:
Build a terrain of my own in Unity.
Play with lighting of the environment.
Create a responsive environment that acknowledges your presence.
Use the unity animator tool.
While my initial plan was to build an experience in which the person is trapped inside a ship with a shark trying to break in from the outside, it was out of my technical scope. So, I pared it down to something manageable that I could do with the finals madness going on.
Making the terrain in unity was pretty trivial but the models proved to be a huge pain. Initially, I used extra detailed models that I found on thingiverse and other places but they kept dropping the frame rate. So, I had to keep paring down my polygon models to make them work.
The schools of fish also proved to be a big problem. I had 7 schools of fish in the environment but they dragged down the frame rate. So, I had to write a script that they will be triggered only when I am near their start location. Then, I wrote one more script which makes them hurry away from you in a random direction when they come near you. Once the fishes were done, I focused on the sharks.
I created 2 parts of the shark. One was the body and the other was the mouth. The mouth was animated in unity to snap back and forth as it moves towards the player when one ventures into their area. (Basically, a big hit box triggers the shark to come towards you).
You can see the piece here:
For animation class, we were asked to read ‘Understanding comics‘ and reflect on what we have learnt. I have read the book many years ago and it was great to pick it up and go through it all over again after so many years. I had originally read the book before I started design school and I realised that I forgotten so many aspects of the book which emerged to me the second time around. Here is a list of my reflections that I noticed and picked up on my 2nd read-through:
The narrative is more immediate as compared to film. While we demand narrative coherence in film as we respond to the flow of ‘time’, a comic is free because it can move through time and space in a matter of few panels. I hypothesize that its one of the reasons why comic book plots don’t translate well on screen where the audience responds more to the flow of events across time rather than the space of a comic book.
The role of a narrator: I believe that the narration is the anchor which hold the comics together. Which is why I haven’t seen many works where the narration and visuals are at odds with each other. It will be interesting to see a narrative where the visuals and the narration start diverging and running at total odds with each other.
Panel to panel transitions: This was the biggest part of the book that I had totally forgotten. Scott Mccloud does a great job at explaining the various ways in which a narrative can work across time and space using the 2 dimensional paper grid. This got me thinking about the forms that I see back home. Is there an inherent structure to how a story manifests in a mandala or on the wall of an Indian temple? Do similar rules apply> I believe that there should be one but hopefully, I will find a book that talks about it in detail.
One of the biggest things that struck me while reading this book was that the constraint of the medium squeezes out the narrative style and structure. While the boxes might be seen as constraints by some, artists used it to tell their stories in unique ways that have now become representative of the medium. I wonder if there is a similar story with VR. While VR does not have any control over the user’s view-point, what are it’s unique constraints from which VR-only narratives will emerge?
For the after-effects project, I am teaming up with the mighty Cara. During our first brainstorm, I fell in love with the spaceman character that Cara had come up with and we decided to use the character in a museum dedicated to Earth after it has been destroyed.
An anonymous astronaut visits the Museum of Earth, the last surviving vestige of the planet destroyed in the water wars of 2050. The screens consist of short montages of what it means to be human. The animation cycles through 4-5 animations.
Pretty excited to see where this goes. After effects is daunting AF but we can power through this.