Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Gathering

     The Gathering will open on December 1st.  Please be sure to accept the dialogue box that says "do you accept being in Bryn Oh's experience?" or something like that because.. well.. it's more fun if you do.  It simply allows the rolling balls to kill you and send you back to the start of the sim as well as give me access to your credit card information, your webcam, your Granny's phone number and your deepest secret.. ok not the latter bits but just the rolling ball thing.  I quite understand automatically declining any box that pops up as I regularly do it myself.  It is this irrational go away box! reaction
that I get. 

     So this new build is kind of an experimental one where I have been testing out some ideas but still trying to keep it cohesive.  In a notecard at the end I explain a bit where some of the ideas came from, and as you can see with these two images the Gathering story came from converting some pen and ink drawings that I did into 3D scenes.   I had received a commission to do pen and ink illustrations for a coffee table book based on my paintings but I had actually barely did any pen and ink before.   So I had to learn how to do it.  I studied the works of John Tenniel, George Cruikshank, Van Gogh's lovely drawings and others including Edward Gorey.  And these pen and ink illustrations were what I did to learn the techniques, but I really loved the final ones and wanted to do something with them.. so here it is.  Pen and ink using a nib is a difficult yet very rewarding way to illustrate.  You have an ink pot and dip your pen in to get a bit of india ink, then spend hours putting in little markings creating the sense of depth in light and dark.  Then after two hours you drop a big blob of ink right in the middle by accident, swear like a sailor and then start over.  Anyway I hope you will enjoy the machinima and build.

Monday, November 23, 2015

New artwork opening December 1st "The Gathering"

Umbrella Girl

The Gathering
 On December 1st I will be opening a new artwork called "The Gathering" on my region Immersiva.

An evening walk
projector room
     The work uses a variety of lighting techniques and material shaders so you will need to follow the directions at the very start.  Essentially, like in most of my recent creations, you will need to put on advanced lighting with shadows with projectors (sun/moon + projectors).    Materials essentially can be seen in the topmost image which is a rainy room.  The "wet" or shiny reflections over the floor and mannequins are created by using layers of textures (diffuse, normals and specular) to create a more textured reactive surface.  Another thing you really should do is accept an invite to allow "Bryn Oh's experience".  An experience or experience tools are fairly new for builders and they let you combine a bunch of things that would normally require people to "accept" an interaction to only need to accept at the very beginning.  So for example if you went into a room and I wanted to make your camera move to a painting on a wall, then you would have to accept a dialogue box asking for me to take control of your camera.  You would say ok sure you can take control this time, and then your camera would move to the painting.   Then if you walked down the hall a bit more I might ask to control your camera again.. and again you
would have to accept and so on over and over down the hallway with each painting.  With an experience you essentially give permission at the very start to always accept without needing to be asked repeatedly.  Those dialogue boxes break the immersion in a work so experiences are great for removing those unfortunate barriers to becoming immersed in a virtual narrative or environment.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Lobby Cam - part six

August 11th

     Last night I fell asleep on the couch with the lobby
 cam channel on.  I am a sentimental fool, I wanted to
 see Fern one last time to say goodbye.  I picked up the
TV remote to turn it off and there she was.  She came in
and opened her mailbox.  She peered inside, found nothing
 as usual, then closed the door.  I watched her look down
 to her letters on the table and hesitate.  With the
appearance of being defeated, Fern slowly picked up a
 letter and I can see on her cheek a tear to match the one
 I shed last night.  She lifted the letter and for the first
time I could read the address on the envelope.

Ruth Anderson
555 Gladstone Avenue,
Toronto, Ontario

and in big black letters ... MOVED

I watched her open the letter and the mystery that
eluded me for so long became clear.    
"Oh dear Fern, you don't have anyone to talk to.  You are so alone and live through the discarded letters of someone who has moved away.  You hold the leftovers of a full life and pretend they are your own.

 In the August 11th letter the toymaker discovers that each time he has watched Fern stand and read her letters she was instead reading, smiling and living through the correspondence meant for a lady who had moved away from the apartment building yet still received mail.  Despite the teeming city around her Fern was as alone and secluded as the toymaker.

August 12th
Dear Fern,

Well Fern is what I call you.

  I know this letter is destined to fail, for how can it not?
 It is addressed to a lady who has moved away, yet meant
for the girl who secretly reads her mail.  I decided though,
 that I would try, for if I don’t then I will always
wonder  to myself what may have been.
   What I am about to tell you must surely convince you
that I am crazy, or that you are the recipient of an elaborate joke.   Either way I wouldn't blame you in the least should you throw this letter away never to respond.
 Eyes you have never laid upon me, nor have we ever
 spoken.  In fact we are 3,000 kilometers apart.

Yet despite this, I think that I am in love with you.

Please let me explain...

And so ends the story for Lobby Cam.  The toymaker has decided to write to Fern and try to explain everything that has happened.  One side of him feels that he should just stop watching her and try to move on.  That he has imagined a connection to Fern.   Another, winning side, has convinced him that, though perhaps inappropriate, he would try to contact Fern and see what happens.  He knows that she may well be alarmed and never respond and in fact he expects that.  Placing himself in her position he is not sure that he would respond either, but he also knows that if he does not try then he will always wonder what may have happened.

The story ends here but for those who are persistent, then there is more.  For those who have collected all the diary entries and also found five parts along the right side of the hud (with no explanation of their purpose whatsoever) then they can do one final thing.  If, over the course of exploring, they have clicked on the pen and ink, paper, found a stamp and now Ruth's address.  If they have those and have also found the blank envelope in the red toolbox... well they have all the parts to
write to Fern.  When all these parts are collected an object called "Letter to Fern" is sent to your inventory.  Wearing the letter gives you a blank page to write a letter to Fern.  After completing the letter and by standing close to the red mailbox you can send it to Fern.  There have been around 40,000 visitors to Lobby Cam and of those just under 1000 have written a letter to Fern.  Each letter is sent to an email address which I go to and I have read each letter and replied, and each reply is unique.  Yes it was crazy of me to do this, Caer told me that the day I told her what I was going to do.  It was a huge amount of work but I felt it was important to allow the person who was exploring the story to move from being an observer to being the main character.  They were able to make an assessment as to how they felt about the Toymaker and then in this twist, they now needed to write a very difficult letter to Fern.  And it was very important to me that each letter was not just replied to with a standard pre made response.  The letter they got back from Fern had to be a response to what she received.  And it also had to be an accurate response.  What do I mean by accurate?  I mean that she would respond not in a fantasy world where you just brush off being told someone was watching you without you knowing on a camera.. but rather as she really might feel. 
     At the end of the story he says "Please let me explain..." and this is where you continue from.  It is as I said a very difficult letter to write.  How do you not come across as creepy?  I read one from a German fellow not long ago and he said essentially "I have been watching you secretly on a video camera in your lobby, I have been doing this for a long time and I have fallen in love with you.  I want to marry you and spend our life together... I have decided to tell you this is person though so I have taken a train to where you live and once you have finished reading this letter turn to the door and you will see me there"  now for this one I replied but there was no need to as Fern wouldn't have time to reply as he said he was in the lobby with her... but I did anyway and said that she was going to call the police and had a big can of mace with his name on it.  I had to be ruthless haha.  I was more gentle with people whose first language was not English.   I think he felt he had written something romantic but the reality is that it would be extremely disturbing to be in that situation.  So as I said it was a great challenge for the visitor to write something that made Fern want to reply and I will post a few letters to Fern in the next post.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Lobby Cam part five

August 9th
The remote cafe and toy shop

     Today I just walked my fields with my mind preoccupied by the feeling that I had seen a clue
yesterday.   Something I couldn't quite put my finger on.
 I was full of ennui so I came in and put on the lobby cam.   I watched the room again, feeling as though there was something before me that I was missing.  As though I didn’t have the city eyes required to see a clue that my rural upbringing missed.  Suddenly
the postman came into view.  It's funny but everything
seems “sudden” with a security camera. Hours of stillness
 broken by a few minutes of movement.  The postman
 rooted around in his mailbag and then began filling the
 mailboxes with the detritus of life.  Feeding their little
mouths bills, advertising, promotions and then the letters.
          That dying breed of communication.  

     He passed by Ferns box without opening it, as he so
often seems to do, then finally places a letter upon the
table and leaves. 

I watch the room for too long.

Paintings of a toy maker

 The toy maker continues his daily routine then later, at dinner, he watches Ferns routine.  He imagines that there is something, a clue of some sort hidden, which could be revealed if only he saw through the eyes of a more experienced person.

Paintings of a toy maker (star wars)
     When I built his home I tried to imagine what a toy maker might paint.  I decided that he would have a soft spot for star wars dolls and so his paintings were action figures put together in funny little combinations like still lifes.  I had lots of fun painting these.  They have titles like "I am pooped.. Darth choked me so many times today!" showing a stack of stormtroopers exhausted on the floor.  Or there is one of Chewbacca and Dark Vader wrestling and a little concerned guy saying "Hey guys stop it! come on stop it!".  Another shows all those monsters from the Cantina meeting after work and saying "you guys want to go to the cantina tonight?"  Because, you know, even on other planets well into the future Friday nights can still have limited boring options.

August 10th

The lobby camera channel
     What is wrong with me?  I sit waiting to catch a glimpse of a woman who doesn't know I exist nor ever will.  I feel as though she is my friend, I feel protective of her and jealous of a possible lover.  It's insane.  It's embarrassingly stupid of me.  I have never really felt my loneliness though I have sensed it, but now, suddenly I wish nothing more than to talk to Fern.  To tell her... to tell her what?  That I watch her on a security camera from thousands of kilometers away?  that she has become the joy in my day and that my greatest fear is my TV will realize it's impossible to pick up a signal from a building so far away, that one day I will turn on the TV to find the channel gone as though it had never existed.
     What I am doing it must be unhealthy mustn't it?  Am I that creep from a horror movie but I just don't realize it?  As I wrote this my eyes blurred then cleared  as a tear was born.  I am ashamed of myself, a grown man weeping.  Tomorrow I must take down the satellite dish.

     In the August 10th diary entry we learn something important about the toy maker.  We realize that he is aware and embarrassed that he is stuck in a sort of addiction.  His words might echo the thoughts of the guest reading this story, and where we may have been thinking "Come on guy get it together" he voices this so we are left, hopefully, imagining that if someone who thinks the same as we might also be acting the same as we would in a similar circumstance.  Can you then imagine yourself coming to act in this way if put in the same circumstances?  This naturally requires us to look within ourselves with an honest eye and imagine what seclusion and loneliness might bring out in us from the nooks and crannies we don't know exist or keep hidden. 
     In Toronto I often feel like I am in a bustling city teaming with people.. but alone.  I rarely speak to those on the subway or streets, and to be honest I often don't even register other people around me as the city is too big to bump into friends, and so if I don't expect to see anyone I know then those around me are fleeting people who, in moments, will likely disappear never to be seen again.   So why invest time into someone you will never see again?  That is the sad slowly seeping mentality of those who live in the city for too long.  That is where Fern is at and she is as remote and lonely in her own way as the toy maker.   He thinks he can see this in her, but he also knows it is ridiculous to imagine that he in any way knows this person from simply seeing her for minutes silently reading letters each day.  His rational mind is telling him that he is being irrational, and that the satellite dish must come down for him to reclaim his life before discovering the lobby camera channel.  So even though his odd routine brings him happiness, he knows that society would disapprove and so he must willingly go back to a sadder state in life.   Is he a creep or is he perhaps a decent man in a difficult situation?

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Lobby Cam part four

August 4th

      Today when Fern came home I spoke out loud to the room "Oh hello Fern! How was your ride on the T.T.C subway or better known as the Toronto Transit Commission? I felt myself smiling feeling a bit like Sherlock Holmes. I had typed T.T.C into my antiquated computer and discovered that my Fern lived an hour in my future. She lives in Toronto where it is 7pm to my 6pm in Saskatchewan. 
      After speaking out loud to her I felt a bit silly talking to a girl hundreds of kilometers away who has no idea I even exist. It is funny and a bit sad because she has become almost a friend to me now. I look forward to seeing her and I have not watched another channel in days. 

510 Spadina Streetcar

August 8th

     Today as I was eating Fern came in and I said "Oh hello Fern you won't believe what I saw flying..." and then I stopped and sat up almost spilling my dinner.  Behind Fern walked a man.  She awkwardly opened her mail slot, peered inside its empty space and then closed it.  I could see her hesitate, looking down to her letters on the table.  I found myself murmuring "go on get your mail Fern.."  but she just looked on them.  A moment later she turned, and after having seemed to come to a decision, left the lobby without picking up her mail.  The man followed behind and suddenly tickled her.  She squirmed and said something with a smile which I couldn't quite make out, then they were past the security camera and gone to her apartment. 
      I watched the empty lobby for a while.  I was surprised to find my heart racing and feeling a bit hurt.  Perhaps he is her brother I explained to the empty room.  I watched the lobby channel well past midnight then turned it off.  The man did not leave.   

     My sleep was restless like the wheat gently moving to the night breezes outside my home.

Subway platform oil painting
oil painting
     Over the next few letters we see the man become more attached to Fern.  She fills a space in his secluded quiet life which he spends so close to nature.  She is also a mystery to him and both mystery and challenge are powerful allures.  He finds a clue as to where she lives.  
     If you were to be interested in a boy or girl you see regularly in the local coffee shop would you look for clues about their life and where they lived?  No most wouldn't as it's a bit creepy.  But this particular scenario of her at a distance, the unlikeliness of them ever meeting and, strangely, the voyeuristic nature allows him to project or imagine her as being a quiet nice girl, but also it dehumanizes her in such a way that he feels comfortable treating her differently than he might a person in "real" life.  For one thing TV or reality tv has shown us is that those who appear on a screen are held in a different category than those around us.  It is a one way mirror where we can watch them but they can not see us.  Perhaps without two way interaction common etiquette fades.  People say to me sometimes when they discover that residents buy couches and houses and things in this virtual world.  They say "But these products don't exist? they spend real money on these things?"   And I say... well naturally.  When you and millions of others buy and read a book such as Harry Potter you are aware that wizards don't exist.  You understand that the red haired guy and the girl didn't really fall in love but rather it is all make believe.  An escape perhaps.  If you pay to go to a music concert and stay until the final note fades into nothing, then what do you have after that?  You don't have a possession but you have a memory.  Our consumerist society needs us to appreciate the possession almost more than the memory.  It is essential for the economy.  The man in this story has something precious to him in Fern, in knowing she will be there at the end of his lonely day, something others may not understand but she is, to him,  a missing piece or a surrogate friend.