Tuesday, 25 September 2012

When your imagination made the game (a new kirigami tutorial)

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We all know what a gaming experience can feel like, nowadays: thanks to technology, you can see the most amazing words unroll in front of your eyes, no matter whether real or imaginary, futuristic or from the past, and the ways you may interact with those words and its wonders and dangers can be so detailed and involving (Wii revolutioned that, we can say, by letting you move as your avatar on the screen) that you almost feel immersed in those places.

But all of that above wasn't (and still isn't) the only possible way to make a gaming experience.

Word games, riddle games, outdoor games, society and board games, puzzle games, adventure and book and role playing games (and the list could go on and on) have been there for a while; some of them, maybe, since the human kind discovered the power of making art or talking or writing... and many, many of them, and that's the point of today's blog, since men began to consciously use their own imagination.

Let me spend two words about one of my weak spots, please.
I have always been fascinated, at least since a did put my hands, as a teenager, on my first home computer (a Commodore C=64), by adventures games.
More specifically, textual adventure games are experiences (to define them "games" wouldn't make justice to them) where you are given a situation (for eg. you're in a wood on one side of a mountain and at some point you fall in a hole in the ground), a goal (getting back to the surface, possibly alive), a description of the places you may visit through your effort to rescue yourself (caves and passages which might be locked and unlockable, by doing specific actions), of the many different situations you may find yourself in (useful objects to pick-up, dangerous objects to leave alone) and even of other creatures you might meet (monsters, other people trapped in the underground, animals having a role (or not) in the solution of the quest)...

All of that above, without a single imagine; all of that above, with (and only with) written descriptions.
As much detailed as a description can be, there's still space for your imaginations to fill the blanks, by adding the physical sensations of being in a specific situation and condition... and well, the great part is that it's up to you to decide what to do!

How do you pick up that object on a pillow of stone? Is there anything, around... or maybe three rooms ago, if only you had payed attention to that rock of a strange colour hiding a rope... that could actually serve to that? And, how do you react to that monster suddenly growling in front of you? Is attacking it the best thing you could do... or maybe playing that flute you picked up at the entrance of the cave is a safer way to not become its dinner?

The point is that, often, the ways to escape from dangerous situations and solve problems aren't so easy to guess and it might take hours and hours and hours of tries (and subsequent failures and deaths of your imaginary avatar) before you're successful.

It's like in real life... but it's safer, for sure, because if it doesn't work (and that monster doesn't like your improvised singing, because it only can be tranquilized by means of that flute (that you didn't picked-up, of course, because you didn't check the floor after you falled from that hole in the ground!)), if it doesn't work you can restart from the last, safe saving point (because you remembered to save, right?) and try in a different way.

Resuming, in games like these, it takes imagination to visualize the places you're in, the sensations you're feeling, the things you're seeing, the actions to take... aren't you already excited about all of this?
Don't you feel the *need* to try to play one of those good old textual adventure games?

Let me know if you do it... and if you like them, of course! :-D

But this is just an example amongst many, many others... about those types of games where imagination is everything!

Like in today origami tutorial!
Well, technically it's kirigami, because you need scissors.

It's about a hen... able to lay its egg! Isn't that cute?
Of course, the hen is stylized and the egg is stylized too... and it takes you to manipulate the head and the tail of the hen, to actually see that egg slide down... but with a little imagination you can smell the flavours and the smell of the hens, of the grass just cut, of the grains... and you can hear the cock sing its song in the morning, a dog barking somewhere... and you can feel on your skin the gentle heat of the sun beginning its run in the sky...

And, most of everything else, you can feel the softness of the of the hen's feathers, and her - CO-CO-COCCODE'! - when she just lays her egg...

Hm? Do you already feel the taste of the egg, when you drink it?
Ah, it's your imagination: it's up to you to decide what to do with that egg!
Only, don't be surprised if the hen runs after you trying to hit you with its beak!

Happy folding... and happy imagining!
:-)

Imaginatively yours,
Dan


Thursday, 13 September 2012

When crabs dance... and martians fly (an original animation)!

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I like being creative: having an idea, playing with it in my head... and coming to the point where I can't resist anymore and I need to make it "real", whether it's going to end in a video, an image, a score or an audio file!

Sometimes I end up with a multimedial project, involving both drawing, filming, composing music and editing all of the stuff above... like it happened in this case!

Because of that origami crab for which I made a tutorial (it's right below)


I came up with the idea of showing him dance around... now, don't imagine million frames and such... sometimes you just can suggest the idea of the dance, by a few well-placed touches... and the illusion is there, real!

I usually have more ideas than the time to actually apply them (xD) and even this time I quickly began to play around with a music which is symphonic, yes, but only made with the percussions... I mean, think to a crab snapping its claws: how would you render that sound, if not using the orchestral castanets?! ;-D

(Sometimes I wish we all had an USB plug at the base of our head to better let us download on a Pc the ideas we get... sometimes, I said: not too often, I add. Still, running against the time to take note of all the ideas in order not to risk to leave any detail behind is a run that never misses to make my heart beat faster!)

And after the music the drawings... I'm not new at drawing toon characters... but each single time it's a challenge, especially for someone like me, not officially trained to do that, because I fear not to be able to give to my character the look & feel I want...

And after the drawings there come the video editing, which is a complicated back and forth between Windows Movie Maker, on which I easily render the patterns that will be used all around the video (the longer, alternated clapping of both the claws with the crab's eyes pointing up, the sequence of combined clapping and alternatively standing on one leg), and Wax, on which I compose (chroma-key à go-go!) the various layers forming the animation, with figures in the foreground, and other figures behind and in the background...

And after that there come the special effects: in this video, I like to point out how I recorded all of them (apart from the sea) with my mouth, and then I digitally processed them until I achieved the effect I was searching for! Yes! That's how I made the starship effect too: with my voice... and some heavy post-processing, of course... my natural voice doesn't naturally sounds like that, haha! xD

And then there's the final montage, with all the pieces and the movements and the sounds to be combined!

I don't want to bother you with how many layers there are and technical stuff like that... but let me tell you, for example, that that "deconstruction" effect during the abduction wasn't so easy to achieve... and that quite some tuning was needed!

Ok, enough talking for now. Here it is the "Crab dance" video, in all of its glory (I presume, haha!).
Only, please, watch it till the end... you'll be surprised! :-D



Creatively yours,
Dan