Assignment 10: FLIGHT SUIT X — Final Project (Sean Kelly)

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I should start by saying Flight Suit X is not a single assignment, and it’s not only mine. Flight Suit X is a culmination of the last 9 assignments done in this class, and without any of them Flight Suit X would have been a different and undoubtably inferior project. Additionally, when I say that it’s not only mine, it would not have been possible without the help of Christian, Bruno, Matt, Sam, the Unity documentation, and coffee.

Flight Suit X started as a vision to have a game in VR where the user could explore without the use of controllers or impeded by complicated instructions or gameplay. The user has a heads up display which gives them all the information they need, and their controller is a single button. Audio and Visual cues dictate the users options and goals — fly through the green rings.

While the Unity code was improved, optimized, and changed somewhat since the first demo (see earlier posts) the biggest and most impactful change was the addition of the “flight control box” (I like to think of it as the X in the flight suit.)
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This is what the control box looked like pre-box, things were a little bit messy but I was ecstatic that I finally had the Arduino switching the fan on and off with input from Unity (and running through a high voltage 220V relay that was installed by a licensed electrician carefully.)

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Here’s the final laser cut box.Photo on 5-22-15 at 3.56 PM

 

The clear acrylic doesn’t show up too well on photographs — but it provided the users to see what was behind their experience, and they enjoyed that.

And with more tweaks, but few major changes to the Unity game including quality sound and music, it was ready for demo day!
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All in all, I had over 100 people try the finished product, and it was very satisfying to see long nights pay off and people to try a more complete game.

Assignment 9: 3D Printed Sensor Accessory

For our 3D printed sensor accessory, I wanted to create a controller that allowed the user to play Flight Suit X (see final) without being impeded by having to see the controller or be too confusing — the core of Flight Suit X is that I wanted anyone to be able to play it without any control explanations whatsoever.

So, that brought me to my design, which was only a button and a LED with an intuitive design that can easily be gripped even in the darkness of VR.

After some fooling around with Fusion 360, I eventually found a design that I thought would work:

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and in stainless steel: Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 5.00.39 PM Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 5.00.59 PM

The final render: Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 6.49.17 PM

With the first design done, I got to printing!IMG_9157

I was pretty happy with how the size turned out, 10/10 people in the lab gripped it “correctly” without any guidance so that was encouraging to see a design work. The only problems I saw were that the wires near the top infringed on the user’s hands a bit, and the loop at the bottom to hold the wires was quite weak.Photo on 5-6-15 at 6.15 PM #2

 

Eventually, I made it to this final design. It beefs up the bottom loop, creates a channel for the wires to flow through, as well as minor fixes to button size.

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And the finished print!DSC_0207 DSC_0206

Bonus: I did end up rendering a 24K gold and solid ruby controller, unfortunately only 14K gold was on hand so it was not printed.Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 4.49.06 PM

Assignment 7: 123D Circuit Design

To design my printed circuit board, I chose to use 123D circuits over EAGLE mostly due to what I believe to be a superior workflow and ease of use with 123D circuits. Many of my classmates felt that 123D circuits was too limited for their projects, but for my purposes 123D circuits allowed me to quickly and effectively get what I needed.

 

For this project, I decided to simplify a prototyping breadboard I had been using that included two resistors, a button, an LED, and most importantly a connection to a high-voltage relay that will be used in my final project. After struggling a bit to find acceptable-sized pads for soldering, I found it to be pretty easy to design this quick print:Screen Shot 2015-05-22 at 2.34.29 PM

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And here is the schematic, again the components are easily found on 123D circuits (and they also make it very easy to switch between schematic and board view.)Screen Shot 2015-05-22 at 2.13.43 PM

Assignment 6: Surface Mount Soldering (Sean Kelly)

For the surface mount soldering project I made an FTDI adapter, which is especially useful because it can allow me to communicate with my new Arduinos (see previous post) via USB.

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The small surface mount components were not easy to correctly put in place, and although the photo is not high enough resolution to be able to view the small close up FTDI adapter, you can notice that I burned and damaged the top white LED lights while trying to save a bad solder.

 

Photo on 5-22-15 at 2.26 PM #3To give you an idea of scale, here is a photo of the adapter against the woodgrain of the IMA work table, this thing is really tiny!

Despite the frustration of having to deal with small surface mount components, I enjoyed the challenge of precision and am glad I can communicate with my Arduino now!

 

Final Reflection

This semester has been by far my best in Sophomore year, and being part of this class contributed a great deal to it. At the beginning, I felt intimidated that I did not really have much experience with any of the software that we were going to learn how to use. I remember once starting up photoshop and being so confused with the edit options that I deleted the trial version for my PC. I didn’t think I could learn to be “on amicable terms” with it ever, or any other Adobe editing software outside of Adobe Reader. It is with great pleasure that I say that i can now comfortably speak of Photoshop, Premiere, Audition, even After Effects without it being a lie, and me being horrifyingly pretentious about how much experience I truly do have with these editing software.

Another thing about the class that made the learning process really good in my opinion is the fact that everything we learnt helped us in our next process. Learning Photoshop helped us develop our comic strip, and learning Audition helped us make really good video clips with high quality sound in Premiere, and finally all these aspects made our animation projects come to fruition. (I should point out that we did not only learn media editing with Adobe, but i found integration within these much easier than say using iMovie or Audacity or other photo editing software that we were also introduced to.)

That said, I should also say that I’m more of a loner and usually choose working on my own when given the option of that or group work, I always feel like that way, I have no resentment towards anyone in case anything goes wrong. However, I enjoyed the group work that we had to do with the rest of our classmates…each group I was assigned had members that had different approaches or opinions about some thing and it was great to brainstorm together and to come up with novel ideas. It was a also a big relief to be able to cooperate with people that got their potions of the work done thus lightening the burden for all group members as a result. It is very evident in that I feel like my final Animation project would have gone much better if I had collaborated with someone else rather than strike out on my own as is my usual first choice. I’m glad I’m learning about true group work now, and not later in life! 🙂

Another wonderful aspect to this class is the access it granted us to all these amazing resources: in forms of professors, the lab assistants, the students and finally, the equipment that is in the IMA lab. It was a pleasure to be able to see all these new and amazing projects going on on the 8th floor everyday and to be able to freely talk with the people doing them, it was also good to discuss my work, recruit actors of voice-overs or just “crew” for the project because everyone as willing to help! I’m so grateful to the IMA community because they’re very very welcoming and are such an exciting bunch. I hope to take way more classes and to learn to use all the equipment that we have access to in school for creating. Thank you very much for a lovely semester, and for being so understanding Prof. Marianne.

Reflection on Animation Making

I initially set out to make my animation on these two female cartoon characters I had found on the internet once. I found the image compelling because this little girl was trying to help the sad older girl. I thought it’d be great to try to animate the events that could have brought them to this situation.girl with balloon

Despite having difficulty doing the storyboard, mainly because I couldn’t make up my mind about where to place my characters. I eventually decided that the park was a natural place to place two children playing with balloons. I then went about trying to find a park where the two characters could fit in. My first attempt was to go to the Century Park with a camera to record a park scene where these 2 characters could interact with each other. I thought it would be cool to include my characters in a scene that has real life people, and not other illustrations. But when i failed to get footage that could work well with the cartoons, I decided to use a picture of a balloon man in the park that i had sourced from the internet. However, this turned out to be very low resolution footage for the resultant movie, and upon following Marianne’s advice found a high quality panorama shot of a park, that I think did the job quite well.

I then set about sourcing a balloon cart for the scene where the little girl buys balloons. I liked this illustration so i used just the balloon cart from it, and used Photoshop to clone more balloons from the balloon that is used in the original illustration. That done, i started going through the types of animations I could do with the different assets I had created from the girl’s drawings. And then set about placing them in the scene of the park. I like how the panning the background that Marianne recommended to me worked out well with the story.

Unfortunately, the day our final cut was due on Tuesday, the school Mac that I was using crashed and restarted; making me lose my files and recent edits that I hadn’t yet sad on Drive or my other computer since I didn’t have a portable drive to store them in. I think I learnt the importance of backing up everything I do, as soon as I do it then, when I couldn’t find any of the Premiere projects and After Effects work I had been doing all weekend. Since the project was due soon anyway, and I had another essay to write out again, I tried my hardest to save the components of my project that were easy to animate, and tell the rest of the story through Premiere effects. I’m not too disappointed with my final project because, even though it was better before….I saw how much I had learned and gained from practice with all the Adobe programmes that I was able to put this all together again in much shorter time.

I also now know that my project would have been more flexible and my characters easier to emulate had i used assets that I had drawn myself. I’ve made a promise to myself to try more to let go of my fear of drawing, kinda because I know i don’t have to be a pro to come up with illustrations, I hope to make another in the future from elements that i maybe designed fully on my own.

PS: the sound clips i used were sound i got from freesound.org for park noises, children playing and a girl crying and they were all mixed in Audition to fit in with the background.

Nicholas Sanchez’s Animation “Billy’s Revenge”

Making an animation was perhaps one of the most difficult and rewarding processes of this semester, as it was not only among the most labor intensive, but also the most showing of the effort put in. Like most tools utilized during this semester, using Aftereffects was an educational experience, for applying principles learned in class by putting them into the process truly reinforced those concepts. Furthermore, the repetition incurred throughout the process, like the utilization of puppet pins for simulating movement, really clarified how animation can be done using this medium.

Initially an issue I faced was creating the storyboard. I think this because my initial storyboard was incredibly ambitious, and reflected how little I knew about the animation process. Upon learning about the amount of work my ambitious project required, I reassessed and changed the idea entirely. Even the changed storyboard was a little bit too ambitious, so I edited and worked as I saw fit throughout the process.

The next step, gathering the assets, was a little bit tricky, as I needed to create and/or assimilate all images, characters, and settings, and then compile them into an After Effects friendly format. This process was time consuming, but I managed to make the animation’s characters and scenery using the Smart Objects option in Photoshop. The challenge here was creating a specific image for each action. For example, I had to make a separate pair of eyes to show my characters blinking, and make specific body parts for each character to simulate motion in After Effects. It is necessary to note that I didn’t assemble any sound assets until I began animating, and lost these assets when I changed computers. The lesson here is, always save all assets to the same folder that the project is saved in.

After this was done, I uploaded all my assets into After Effects and began my work. In keeping with the storyboard, I needed to make scenes that corresponded with each shot of the storyboard. To do this, I made a composition to correspond with each of these panels, and hence simulated camera angles. This process, of creating the scenes themselves, was difficult, as using the puppet pins and other After Effects techniques to simulate motion is generally difficult. Nevertheless, we continued on, and although I never quite perfectly matched realistic motion, I think the end result was enough like a cartoon to work.

Here is the first cut:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IlDlXP6YEY

After the initial round of feedback I received, I changed a few things to make the animation a little better. First, I went back into Photoshop and fixed the lines of my characters so that they were bolder and stood out more easily. In addition, I changed the balloon’s mouth so that it appeared more like a mouth than a “bat”. Then I edited the motion to make the movements of the character’s more natural. Finally, I brought in some ambient sound and other music, which helped the animation progress and not remain stagnant. The final step was to make the dialogue of the film and convert it into key frames. From here, I parented the balloon’s mouth the the key frames, which allowed the mouth to move in chorus with the speaking parts. Essentially, this simulated the balloon speaking.

Overall, I would say I spent maybe 20 plus hours working on this project, and rendering certainly contributed to the length. Nevertheless, after rendering and compression, I finished this process and I can say that I am proud of the animation “Billy’s Revenge”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1QmE2CKk8R0

Nicholas Sanchez’s Comm Lab Reflection

Over the course of this semester, it must be said that I have learned many useful and applicable lessons from my time in Communications Lab. I believe the best resource this class provides is the exposure to the many digital media which are used to create and communicate in this digital age. From learning HTML to the creating the final animations in After Effects, this course has introduced me to many tools which I had never used before, and provided me the opportunity to lean and practice using said tools. What is significant about this is, though I may not be 100 percent proficient in each area, I did nevertheless gain exposure to each tool and am now capable of using those tools. Furthermore, the knowledge of the tools which I acquired during this semester will allow me to, from this point on, further develop my competence in each platform and become more proficient with time.

This said, I can say that there were several things which I have learned about myself, and about my creative process, during the course of this semester. The first is that it is necessary when embarking on a project, like an animation or film, to plan ahead as far as you can. Often I was much too ambitious with what I wanted to make initially, and didn’t realize just how much work needed to be done. Planning ahead is a good way to reign in the unforeseeable factors and manage time in an efficient way.

The second lesson I learned is the value of gathering assets. If one plans ahead properly, then managing assets shouldn’t be too difficult. One may need to create their assets, as I did for practically every project I worked on this semester, which would still take considerable time. Nevertheless, really deciding what you need beforehand will make the asset step much easier, and by extent expedite much effort in following steps.

The next lesson regards working in groups. I have found in this experience that group work can be a fun process when all in the group are excited and willing to work on the project. This adds immensely to the quality of the finished product, and makes all work spent on the project much easier. However, there is a point where all members become so accepting, that is, so readily agreeing to all suggestions that the process becomes halted and no work can be done. In a situation like this, I believe that one member must be a little firm guiding the group in a direction, so that the project can continue to move forward.

The most important lesson I have learned throughout the semester is that the tools we used (Photoshop, After Effects, Premier, Audacity, etc.) and the hardware which accompanied these tools (cameras, microphones, laptops) are all wonderful, but must be managed careful. As these resources are shared throughout the NYUSH community, acquiring them can be difficult and put the progress of your creation in peril. Furthermore, access to the adobe suite is also not universal, and access can be tricky. Therefore, appreciating the availability of resources is an important consideration for any digital expression process.

Overall, this has been a wonderful semester, and this class has furnished my time with work that has been an immense joy to do, which certainly cannot be said for any other classes. I look forward to putting the skills developed in this class to good use in the future, and hope that with time, practice will allow me to progress with each of these media.

 

Nicholas Sanchez’s IMA Arduino

Here is my IMA Generation I Arduino. Building this sweet piece of hardware was a blast, as it allowed me to practice my soldering skills while seeing just how easy medium’s like the arduino are to assemble. Plus, I made mine a custom Arduino, so the LED which is typically attached to pin 13 changes colors.

Custom Arduino

Nicholas Sanchez Final “Protoboard X”

Allow me to preface this discussion by stating that I love hardware. Tinkering with electronics to create new and usable devices is my passion. When prototyping and doing just this, we often rely on a breadboard (AKA protoboard) to help our initial designs come into fruition. However, the breadboard offers a plethora of issues. First, it does not hold onto jumper cables very well, and hence easily dislodges from power sources. Secondly, the power sources themselves are limited, as typically one must own and hookup and arduino to power the breadboard, or otherwise improvise “messy” ways to give it power.

Keeping these issues in mind, I derived two problems to achieve with my final project: The first, to modify the breadboard so that it had a permanent power outlet that would not be easily decimated. The second, to create a system whereby one can utilize commonplace power devices to easily power this breadboard. In doing so, I created a prototype which could easily satisfy these two issues. In addition, the “Power Tower” which housed this new protoboard (“Protoboard X”) allows for modular placement of the board in space, as well as integration into a protoplate.

The first part of this process was designing a board which would allow for barrel jacks, USBs, and batteries to power the protoboard. In addition, this board required a 5 volt regulator which would allow for these diverse sources to all bring an even 5 volts to the breadboard. So, over the course of a few weeks and several iterations, I designed just such a board. Although this step was filled with little mishaps (simple redesigns and bringing about the right parts), I finally designed a board I liked that could be easily modified and improved with minor changes.

The second step, modifying the breadboard, was easy. Using an IMA breadboard, we sawed off one corner and soldered power and ground wires to the board permanently. In doing so, we fixed the aforementioned initial issue.

The final step was designing a modular box which would not only house the various components (Protoboard X, the accompanying voltage regulator, and an arduino), but additionally designing it in such a way that one could easily rearrange the components and even take them out completely. This was a lengthy step, and I had several mistakes with the initial iteration. Nevertheless, this is easily modifiable.

The following is a video of “Protoboard X” and my setup during the IMA 2015 Spring Show:

NIcholas Sanchez Rapid Prototyping final project

To conclude, allow me to state some simple lessons I learned from this whole process. First, Prototyping is a long procedure, which does require diligence. Although these processes can be tedious at times, it is important to stick with it and always seek improvement. In doing so, make many interations of the prototype, as each helps develop the prototype to make it better than it was before. The next lesson is to never let inadequate parts slow you down. Attaining the proper parts was a constant issue with me during the building process. It is hence a prudent use of time to make sure that you have the right pieces from the get go. Thirdly, always use screws in construction, as hot glue looks messy and detracts from a prototype’s aesthetic. Finally, never give up, and continue to make improvements as you see fit.