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Final year project finished!

Middle way explores the similarities between immersion and meditation. It attempts to send the audience into a high state of immersion through methods of meditation. Middle way is projected in an immersive vision theatre and takes the audience on a journey through the cosmos.

The objective is to navigate their way through star constellations, all of which represent the Buddhist belief: The Middle Way.

The audience is given a ball, they are told to imagine the ball is the centre of their body. They can touch and move the ball, as the ball is rotated, it changes the trajectory of the sphere on the screen.

DVD Cover looking swish

Click to view full size image

DVD Cover

Adding constellations to 3D space

So the idea for the constellations, would be that when the player is in 3D space, they would only see the stars, however when they go through the constellation, the red and blue lines drawing out the constellation will come in view so the player can see what it represents.

This is how I did it:

  1. I created a 3D plane in Blender and attached one of the constellation images (see previous post) I then placed UVSpheres in the position of the stars. This way the player should be able to see the constellation at any angle (of course if I only showed the stars on the plane, the constellation would only be visible front / back on).
  2. I then thought of an animation, which could play when the player passes through the group of stars. I made a short 3 second video in after effects of each of the red and blue lines appearing. Using Blender’s logic bricks I created a collision detection between the player and the plane which the image was attached to. When the player collided with the plane, I attached the video I made to the plane and played it.
  3. I created an animation in the IPO curve editor of the camera panning out and in again, obviously when the player is so close to the constellation, they can’t see the animation play, so the camera pans out to see the whole image and pans back to it’s original position.
  4. Finally I replaced the image on the plane with a transparent texture, so the only thing which was visible were the stars (which were UVSpheres).
So this a quick look at what the project looks like now with the constellations in place:
Middle way


So I took the images from the previous post and created some constellations from them, I got inspiration from the orion constellation:

Orion constellation

This is what I came up with:











FYP – Finding constellation images

Over the last few days I have been implementing the star constallations which the player will pass through. What I needed to create was a number of stars which would form an image, which would represent a different “middle way” idea.

So there were 5 different elements:

“1) confidence, 2) effort, 3) mindfulness, 4) concentration, and 5) wisdom which must be kept in balance. Confidence must be balanced by wisdom, if there is too much confidence, it gives rise to blind faith, in which people believe anything that has been taught to them, if on the other hand, there is not enough confidence, people end up doubting everything they hear and refusing to believe everything, without any consideration. Effort must also be balanced by concentration, if there is more effort than concentration, it will give rise to a nervous personality. On the contrary, if there is less concentration, it gives rise to sloth and torpor. There is only one quality for which we can say, the more the better, and that is mindfulness. One can never have too much mindfulness.”

Each image needs to be quite distinctive, and easy to shape as stars, these are the images I found:











Electronics finished

Today I finished the electronics part of my project, overall I have:

  • 1 Arduino board
  • 1 xBee shield
  • 2 xBees
  • 1 accelerometer
  • 1 9v Battery
This board and accessories should fit nicely into the sphere that I made. The arduino board is completely wireless and uses the xBees to communicate between the arduino board and the computer. This means that the sphere can be passed around the dome without any wires getting in the way. The xBee communication can hold up to a mile, which is more than enough. It also can communicate through walls, so inserting it into my sphere shouldn’t interfere.
Basically the accellerometer measures 3 different values:
  • X Axis
  • Y Axis
  • Z Axis
It measures these by using gravity and the values range from -600 to 600 on all 3 axis. These values will be send via the xBees. Processing will receive the feed and send it via an OSC socket server to Blender.  I can then mess with the camera and the bubble depending on the values which get passed through.
I noticed a few things when testing the electronics, for some reason the xBees did not communicate on a baud rate of 11520, however it was flawlessly on a baud rate of 9200.
Overall I’m very pleased with the progress of the project. I now have a few weeks to continue working in Blender for the visual effects.

The Object

I needed to find an object which I could fit my arduino board into. Obviously it would need to be hollow and I would need easy access to the inside so I could plug/unplug batteries. At first I looked around a few shops. I was looking for something wooden or plastic which I could cut into. However there wasn’t much going. So I decided to make my own, I thought it would be pretty impossible for me (pretty much no carpentry skills) for me to build a hollow sphere out of wood, so I thought maybe paper mache would work. This way I could easily build a solid hollow sphere and I could easily cut a door in the middle which I could open and close.

I decided to buy a cheap mini football from the Sports Direct shop in Plymouth, this was just the right size that I could fit an arduino board inside.

Starting to Paper Mache

Almost finished one coat

Half Covered

After seven coats the sphere looks like this:

Finished Sphere

The outside of the sphere looks quite bumpy and un-even, however it’s smooth to the touch. Once it dries I’m going to go over it with some sandpaper to make sure it’s as smooth as a baby’s bottom!