Thursday, November 3, 2011

Birdie Installation

I haven't come up with a name for it yet, but I'm putting together an interactive video installation for the Lansing Media Theater Project (which may or may not have a new title these days).   Professor Alison Dobbins gave me a prompt of making something with Boids, and I thought she was spelling it funny.  Turns out, it's a flocking thing, and Processing has a demo patch built into its examples.  I was up super early today, so I made a pretty solid start to the whole thing.  Here's what happens:

  1. Birds fly on the screen
    1. They flock using this Boids stuff
      1. Each bird is an instance of the Boid class, called by the Flock class, which is started in the main patch
    2. They flap!
      1. actually, it's just a picture of a bird that is alternately squished and not squished. :)
  2. Three ways to interact with the birds so far
    1. Whistle a descending third, and a new bird is born
      1. Pure Data and Processing are talking over Open Sound Control, and Pd listens for a note in whistling range, then waits for a note somewhere between 2 and 5 half-steps lower.  If it hears it, it tells Processing to make a new bird/Boid
      2. There is also a tweet sound :)
    2. Make a noise too loud, and the birds go away for a while all flustered
      1. There's a decibel threshold in Pd that, when crossed, tells Processing that the birds are "scared" and the boundaries of the screen are removed, allowing the birds to disappear
      2. You also hear a fluttering sound, as the general bird noise loop fades out
    3. Wave something green in front of the camera, and you can herd the birds on the screen.
      1. There is a grid made out of groups of the pixels from the camera.
      2. Each group is checked to see if it is mostly green
      3. If it is, it is recorded in an ArrayList
      4. Then, a function checks how far the elements in the ArrayList go left, right, up and down, and draws a box around the whole thing (drawn as an ellipse on the screen).
      5. That box is now an object that the birds avoid.
As I learn more about capturing video from my screen, I'll post more detailed things with pictures and such.  Here's one!

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