Week 5: The Bird is the Word

This week we started to take in some of the feedback and suggestions provided to us by the faculty from quarters. We’re really starting to consider how raspberry pi or Arduino could be used throughout the interaction to help bring it to life.

Moving on from the previous week’s progress in fully mapping out the first half of the interaction, we designed and redesigned the second half of the machine, following the book falling from the shelf. 


Our initial mapping of the interaction had the book falling onto a catapult to launch a ball into a bucket, spilling water onto a planting pot. As this lightens the bucket, it allows a balloon tied to the bucket to raise in the air. Simultaneously, a rose rapidly grows from the pot and the thorns pop the balloon just as it reaches the level of a rabbit, scaring the rabbit and sending it flying through onto the next series of interactions. 

One of the challenges with this series is the inclusion of the rabbit as an element to model and animate, as well as accurately animating the effect of the ball being launched without being too ‘floaty’. We’re a little limited in how we can animate objects in ARENA as we are using in-platform translations to move objects.

With this in mind we revised the second portion of the machine a little bit. Now we plan to have the book fall on a fire bellows, inflating the balloon, causing it to tip over the watering can. As the flowers grow, they will attract bees from a hive further along in the machine, knocking a ball down a set of stacked books, to roll into a hairdryer, turning it on by a timer with a Raspberry Pi. The heat from the hairdryer will warm up the beehive, causing beeswax to drip out to help us seal the envelope. 


On the art side we’ve started creating the rig and  animations for our Ikklebird that is so important in our first interaction. These animations include various hops, jumps and idle dancing. We’ll be needing to add in it bending over to pick up the umbrella before it can jump to fly.

We got a 3D scan of the Grable Gallery at the MuseumLab in order to help us to visualize our machine in the space at scale in VR. We cleaned up the mesh for this map and applied textures and added furniture to the space to help us moving forward.


We built on our demo from the previous week that had a physical block pushing a virtual ball by covering a raspberry pi sensor to include an IoT relay that would kick on to activate a physical hair dryer. In the demo below you can see the the crossover back and forth between virtual and physical elements that we want to include in future iterations.

For multiple guests to view the animations playing out at the same time, if someone joins part way through, we will need the animations to update after they have played out completely. For example, if Wizard begins the machine and I open the ARENA scene while it is in progress and the box in the demo is moving, when I join, the box will be in its starting position and then snap to its final location once the animation plays out fully, catching me up to date with the interaction.

Next week we’ll be preparing for halves for a big portion of the week as we are presenting on Monday of the following week, so we’re losing a little bit of development time.