February 17th, 2013
Phase 1 of the NAS Dome Explorer project has been completed! iPad owners can now virtually visit the Great Hall at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington DC. Learn more about the history of science while exploring the dome in great detail. Download it off of the iPad App Store today for free!
Chris Mahaffy, IRC Intern and Visual Arts student, testing out the new iPad app at the National Academy of Sciences.
February 10th, 2012
The Symphony Interactive project has been a huge learning experience for me. Developing in the iOS environment is very interesting and the results are always cool because you get to see your work running on an iPad.
The project had a rocky start for several reasons. I had no experience developing for Apple iOS devices, which left me a bit ignorant when the time came to design the application early on. After creating an early version of the program using low level APIs, I was finally able to start grasping some of the platform specifics and quirks. This led me to re-implement the project using more powerful libraries and high level APIs. Thanks to a lot of hard work by many people we were able to pull everything together and create the application that we aimed to.
Currently I’m working on developing remaining functionality, project documentation, and minor adjustments.
- Wallace Brown, Undergraduate Computer Graphics Programmer/Intern
Here is a screenshot of the opening screen for the current Symphony Interactive iPad app prototype
Here is a screenshot of the inner workings for the prototype. The functionality and animation will be placed in order to interact with the elements here
February 8th, 2012
…has to be the James Webb Space Telescope. It’s going to sit about one million miles from earth and peer way out into the universe, looking for remnants of light from the earliest stars and galaxies. In order to make sense of the faint infra-red energy it can pick up, the JWST needs four specially designed instruments.
This is a 3D model of the instrument titled MIRI
This is a 3D model of the instrument titled NIR
In order to explain their function, I’ve been building some models (above) to use in an animation explaining both their placement inside the telescope and the kind of data they’re able to process. It should be finished soon, so check back for updates!
February 3rd, 2012
There is concern that “melting Arctic sea ice could be increasing the amount of freshwater in the Arctic enough to have an impact on the global ‘ocean conveyor belt’ that redistributes heat around our planet,” states a new study conducted by NASA and the University of Washington.
The IRC’s very own Rachel Kreutzinger and Ryan Zuber recently completed an animation showing these effects.
Please refer to the following key:
Purple Arrows => The Transpolar Drift: A dominant circulation feature in the Arctic Ocean that carries freshwater runoff from rivers in Russia across the North Pole and south towards Greenland.
Red Arrows => Freshwater Runoff: Carried by the transpolar drift.
Blue Arrows => Emergent Circulation Patterns: Drive freshwater runoff east towards Canada, resulting in freshening of Arctic water in the Canada Basin under changing atmospheric conditions.
February 1st, 2012
After a few significant setbacks earlier in the semester (this is research guys and gals), the prototype of the Symphony Interactive is nearing completion! I am now working in collaboration with Amy Hurst and Shaun Kane from Information Systems to develop a strategy for implementing user trials. While many of you out there in the ether may not connect producing visual/media research with scientific testing, we here at the IRC have a different point of view. While it may seem a hopeless endeavor to glean insight from viewer reactions to media or art, that is precisely what advertising agencies have been doing for the past century.
While the IRC is in no way interested in profit as a motivation, we are increasingly looking to see what if any real effects our visual/media research has upon the project on which we work. For the Symphony Interactive, we are utilizing a metric developed at Microsoft called the Desirability Toolkit. This set of metrics is designed to help elicit custom user reactions. Instead of a asking a list of questions that may lead the viewer to an answer, users pull words from a word cloud that best reflect their experience. The results are qualitative, but give quick and easy impressions of user experience. Being that many of us here at the IRC are artists, who traditionally make things for people to see and react to, finding ways to measure success is pretty important to us.
January 30th, 2012
One of the most challenging tasks of the Mapping Baybrook project has been creating a successful strategy to organize the specific information involved. When it comes to Baybrook, we are looking to document specific people, places, landmarks, as well as moments in time. Because our researchers are constantly finding bits and pieces and sewing them together, and because we are working with that elusive fourth dimension, the potential amount of information involved in this project is unquantifiable, so the means of imputing such information must be dynamic and flexible. In short, we must anticipate the “unanticipatable,” and create something digitally organic.
January 28th, 2012
On January 18th, 2012, several websites such as English Wikipedia, Reddit, and some 115,000 other websites coordinated a blackout or posted links and images in protest of the bills Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act. It’s clear the issues of piracy and managing intellectual property on the Internet have reached a new level of visibility. We at the Imaging Research Center are content creators with all the concerns that entails, but we also have the perspective of researchers who see the Internet as a powerful venue for innovation, education and social good. Consequently, we believe it is crucial that a way forward is envisioned that maintains the value of content and the positive potential of the Internet. For that to occur, we all have to become aware of what the issues really are.
Some Background Information
The bills abbreviated as SOPA and PIPA aim at preventing the infringement of copyright works, but those with expertise in, and enterprises built upon the Internet warn that the bills will do more harm than good. Here’s why:
September 19th, 2011
More on Symphony Interactive
In an effort to revitalize the live music experience, the Symphony Interactive project is attempting to sync a scrolling digital score on an iPad with music being played during live concert events. Research for the prototype was going well until one of our researchers uncovered a potential problem. During a routine meeting we realized that despite our best efforts to sync the visual representation of a given score to live music, it would be impossible to do. This is because musical scores are written to be HEARD, not READ by audience members. Traditional western musical notation is full of visual short hand in an effort to save space on the finished printed page. Obviously, musicians understand this shorthand so it has no affect on the actual sound being produced. However the audience understanding the notation is not the largest problem.
September 16th, 2011
The new social media initiative of the IRC
I know it’s old news, but it seems that everyone is on social media websites these days – we are eating, drinking, and breathing this stuff. So when it came time for the IRC to really draw it’s focus on getting eyeballs to our various websites, it seemed on natural to pursue the Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, you name it. In our efforts, we have also added on to our pro-social team of miscreants. UMBC Interns Nia Hampton, of Cinematic Arts and Media and Communication Studies, and Ela Locke, of Media and Communication Studies and Linguistics, are now on board in helping us spread the word of our hard work! So go forth and look us up!
September 7th, 2011
After working on conventional animations for a while, it’s refreshing to tackle a completely different perspective. Collaborating with NASA/Goddard producer Michael Starobin, I’ve been working on a unique method for creating films. Rather than use the standard flat image, this animation is designed to be projected onto a sphere and be viewed from every angle. This has a whole host of considerations I wouldn’t even think about for a regular project. For example, the maya files are built around a camera that sees in every direction simultaneously. Every element has to designed to be seen from above, as they’re going to be placed around a sphere and face the camera in the center.
The goal of the project was to illustrate the “Daisyworld” thought experiment, originally conceived by James Lovelock and Andrew Watson as a way to demonstrate environmental feedback. If a planet were completely covered in black daisies, the temperature would gradually rise, as black colored objects absorb lots of energy. Eventually, this hypothetical planet gets warm enough for white flowers to start growing, which begin reflecting energy. Think of white and black cars on a sunny day, and you get the idea. As the planet cools down again, more black daisies grow, which starts the cycle over again. Eventually the temperature stabilizes and the populations are equal.
My animation is part of a longer film produced at Goddard Space Flight Center, which will be shown all around the country in a few months.