Stereoscope . Blinkenlights abril 17, 2009Posted by christian saucedo in Media facade.
Tags: Media facade, Media facade - Interactive
Tipo. Fachada media – interactiva
Autor de la instalación. Project Blinkenlights + CCC . Chaos Computer Club
Edificio. Toronto City Hall
After a long break, Project Blinkenlights is coming back big time in Toronto, Canada this year. Targeting the landmark building of Toronto City Hall, the group is participating in this year’s Nuit Blanche all-night art event on October 4th, 2008. The installation’s name “Stereoscope” reflects the special nature of the building with its two curved, opposing facades effectively creating a three-dimensional appearance.
Not having rested in the recent years,Project Blinkenlights has developed new technology to wirelessly control the lights placed behind the 960 windows of City Hall allowing for a large scale visual concert during the night in downtown Toronto.
Toronto City Hall
Toronto City Hall is Toronto’s landmark building in the heart of the City. It’s two curved towers of different width and height and its unique inward looking facade enclosing the UFO-shaped conference room shapes the appearance of Ontarios capitol and also serves as the logo of the municipality.
So Toronto City Hall is going to be the venue for Stereoscope for the 2008 Nuit Blanche event. For Project Blinkenlights, the building is a special challenge as its structure breaks with our established look of flat, rectangular facades we used in our former installations in Berlin and Paris.
The building features two towers: the West Tower with 22 windows on each floor with the facade being broken up in two areas with 7 floors in the lower and 8 floors in the upper part. The East Tower is slightly larger, featuring 30 windows per floor with 9 consecutive floors in the lower and 12 floors in the upper part. In total, the building features 960 windows facing inwards.
Stereoscope is going to use the facade in a variety of ways. First, all windows will be considered to be part of one huge virtual screen where images and animations move from part to part, from tower to tower essentially combining the disjoint structures into a huge luminous canvas artists can “paint” on.
Another approach will be to address the four parts of the facade separately, essentially creating four individual screens that can be used for isolated playback or interactive gameplay mixing the content in a layered fashion so that “unused” screens continue to show a background animation while others present specifically created movies and animations in their screen.
We have more information on how you can participate by creating animations and if you are more technically inclined we also provide a more in-depth description of how you can convert your animations into our movie format to address the screen.
As usual, Project Blinkenlights invites the public to be a part of the installation by opening up a variety of ways to interact with and provide content for Stereoscope.
Toronto City HallAmong the more traditional features, everybody can play classic computer games on the facade simply by using a mobile phone. The two upper parts of each tower serve as dedicated playgrounds each offering separate telephone numbers for individual gameplay. These numbers will be published on-site beginning the week before Nuit Blanche so that people can get the information where they need it – at Nathan Philips Square in front of City Hall in Toronto.
A simple animation tool and open animation data formats enable you to to create simple movies for Stereoscope – addressing one of four parts of the whole facade. Focusing on simple, low-resolution imagery, Project Blinkenlights wants to revive the spirit of the original Blinkenlights installation in Berlin that obtained its charme from the down-to-earth, barebones design of low-res imagery.
For advanced graphic artists, the group provides a set of tools running on Macintosh computers to design complex animation design that serves as the background imagery and core appearance of the Stereoscope installation.
Creating animations for Stereoscope
We want you to participate in creating amazing animations for Stereoscope. We understand Stereoscope as an artistic platform that enables others to do fancy things with it instead of just doing everything on our own and achieve only 10% of what is possible. By joining forces with the public we are are going to provide much more interesting content for everybody.
Looking at the mere size of Stereoscope it is obvious that most people want to automatically and programmatically generate animations using existing tools or a self-created tool chain of your choice. To do that, we have set up a number of options for you how to do this.
The Virtual Matrix
Stereoscope is pretty special in regard to its pixel layout. The Toronto City Hall features two towers: the West Tower with 22 windows on each floor with the facade being broken up in two areas with 7 floors in the lower and 8 floors in the upper part. The East Tower is slightly larger, featuring 30 windows per floor with 9 consecutive floors in the lower and 12 floors in the upper part. In total, the building features 960 windows facing inwards.
As each tower is visually split up in two we think of the whole area as being for separate screens that itself form a compound display. But we honor the space in between: we came up with the idea of a Virtual Matrix that actually covers a much bigger area than can actually be seen. The whole virtual matrix is 96 x 32 pixels wide.
The four screens are located within this virtual matrix at positions that correspond to the actual physical location on the two towers. That way you can create a huge picture or animation that spans all four screens. Some parts won’t be seen as they are located between the towers. But if your animations pans and zooms, moves and morphs you will slowly move your image around the visible area creating the impression of a much bigger display than there actually is. The four screens itself form form windows looking at the actual image.
Here is a reference sheet documenting the exact position of the four screens within the Virtual Matrix:
You might wonder why we left so much space to the left and to the right of the screens. The answer is simple: imagine the Virtual Matrix as a projection of a cylinder standing right inside the building. The left edge then touches the right edge effectively creating an infinite matrix. So if you want to rotate things on the building you can just take the Virtual Matrix and shift your image on the matrix to the left (or to the right respectively) and reinsert every column on the other side once it gets pushed out.
Directly generating or converting your material
If you write your own generator software or format converter, you should target theBlinkenlights Movies format that represents animations in a rather simple and mostly self-explanatory XML-based format. Once you can figure out how to convert your data to our movie format, you are done.
Stereoscope Creation Tools (for Mac OS X)
If you work on a Mac, use can leverage our Stereoscope Creation Tools which include the Stereoscope Simulator QC (which is a stripped down version of the Stereoscope Simulator for Mac OS Xwhich provides a realistic 3D impression once finalized), the Stereoscope Player (to playbackBlinkenlights Movies for Stereoscope) and a copy of the Stereoscope Paint application (see below).
In addition to these three applications the tools provide plug-ins for the Quartz Composer animation program that comes with Mac OS X Leopard (10.5). Once you install these plugins, you can use Quartz Composer to create beautiful animations that can be sent to the simulator program and instantly convert your results to the Blinkenlights Movies format that you can then submit for playback on Stereoscope later on.
Download: Stereoscope Creation Tools for Mac OS X (14.6 MB) [md5 a328fd1eb450f3e566e07c30e958c1c8]
Please refer to the enclosed “Getting Started” document for detailed instructions how to use and setup the Creation Tool Suite.
Stereoscope Paint ScreenshotStereoscope Paint is a simple animation tool following that allows you create simple animations by painting pictures pixel by pixel and by adding frames one by one. Stereoscope Paint runs both on Mac OS X and Windows computers. Once you are done designing your movie, you can save your animation to a Blinkenlights Movie file that you can later submit to us using our web form.
As the lower levels of the building is partly obscured we let you only target the two upper parts (the upper screens as we call it). You must choose which side to target. You might want to use the smaller screen for simpler animations and the bigger one for stuff that needs more pixels.
Download Stereoscope Paint:
We also provide simulator software for the Mac, the iPhone/iPod touch and other platforms that receives and displays live broadcasts of our animations being shown on Stereoscope in real time. This way you can watch Stereoscope from everywhere on the planet. Nice 3D graphics and simple interaction make the iPhone application especially useful. The iPhone application is available from the iTunes App Store.