Interacting beyond branching narratives

September 21, 2006

* Reactions to readings on interacive narrartive for Interactive Video Workshop

“The common click-to-go-forward paradigm for interaction coupled with static graph structure navigation schemes, seems to place the viewer in an adversarial position within the story. Instead of giving the viewer their experience, such a scheme requires that the viewer constantly push the story forward, a situation roughly analogous to listening to a narcoleptic storyteller.”
Although a bit harsh of an example I think the passage clearly gets at the main challenge of interactive narratives – By forcing the viewer to make conscious decisions in the plot of the story you take them out of the moment and dillute the storytelling by providing to little structure and creating what he describes as a transgressive metalepsis. This moment of metalepsis is when the narrative makes itself self-aware creating a strange or comical feeling, removing you from the story. I feel in certain situations that a metalepsis can perhaps be interesting in the context of a game or when a comical experience is the desired outcome. Overall this does seem to be a valid point, the idea that this implicit interruption by the ‘user’ of an interactive narrative seems to remove them from the situation, rather than immersing them in it. The stop, click, and go model seems to have been fashioned after interactive conventions of web and interactive CD-ROM experiences and may not be the most effective solution for storytelling.
I found the writers five fundamental properties of interactive narrative to be particularly useful: Narrative Intention, Narrative Immersion, Narrative Structure, Narrative Response and Narrative Guidance. The main point I got from these properties was that interactivity in narrative can be more effective when made subtlely and transparently. It does not require the action to freeze with a pop-up menu hitting the screen as a multimedia creater and web designer like myself might be inclined to do. Instead, the interactivity can take place within the structure of a basic story and plot that the author dictates. When creating interactive narrative we must not lose sight of the overall goals of “Why am I viewing this story” and “Why am I telling it”. As the author we must still decide what takes place in this story and let the user inact more ‘silent’ and sublte changes to the story without the main narrative strucutre being compromised. More effectively the user interaction can affect things such as, pacing, probability of an event, sound, visual presentation, or lighting to name a few. A strong story must still have the same principles of any other successful story but with the allowance of users being able to give it their own subtle twists and colors to the narrative.

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Pondering Interactive Video Art

September 14, 2006

* Reactions to readings on interactivity for Interactive Video Workshop

I was initially attracted to interactive video for its seductive visualizations and reactive special effects. Since I have strong experience in creating motion graphics, I naturally liked the idea of allowing users the ability to trigger motion based on their own movements and gestures; let them come up with their own interpretive visual expression. However, based on recent research and also thinking related to the article on interactivity I have rethought many of my initial assumptions about interactive video and the potential impact it can have on a viewer. It turns out to be much more challenging than I initially thought for interactive video to evolve beyond a sexy effect and into something more meaningful.
Strong artwork arouses a state of contemplation in a viewer, causing them to have an emotional reaction related to the work and often forming an original self-conscious thought or feeling. More traditional forms of narrative such as films and novels are excellent at engaging a viewer to immerse themselves into a story. These narratives effectively allow the user to relinquish their ego to the story and ride the story’s ‘dramatic arc’. Within an interactive scenario following this type of narrative path is much different, if not impossible. The author of the article describes computer games in the following way, “interactivity replaces emotional and intellectual challenges with banal demands on the participant’s hand-eye motor skills.” Although I do not agree with that statement completely, as I have played some very emotionally powerful videogames before, it does touch on a key problem with interactive video and videogames. Often times the whole experience does seems to get dilluted down into a whimsical interactive game without much substance. The idea of narrative gets lost to the interactive decision making that constantly takes place. The ability to immerse ourselves into the story becomes broken by the exact interactivity that we hoped would make the experience more immersive.
What needs to be done is to think of interactive art as a completely new format without comparing it to past mediums. Some of the keys I took away from the article are the importance of concept over technical complexity, making the user self-conscious over self-forgetting, embrace playfulness as a technique, constraint is good thing and making sure the viewer leaves with something in the end. Interactivity’s freeing ability to lack constraint can often be its biggest problem.
Looking at the advantages of interactive art can reveal it’s abilities to tell a story completely differently from the traditional narrative. Create a ‘spatial-temporal dilemma’ that lets the user self-discover themselves. Use the reflexive nature of the medium to put the user into a situational conflict. Create living works of art that change and evolve into unpredictable patterns. These types of narratives have the potential to be more self-engaging than traditional media allowing thinking beyond the screensaver & computer game constraints that stigmatize this medium. The potential to explore storytelling in a totally new way is born, however it has not yet been defined and it is most likely very different than screen and text based storytelling techniques. We will have to implicitly create psychological conflict in new and user engaging ways to create these types of interactive stories, perhaps using more esoteric types of metaphors. It will be very exciting to explore these ideas!

Game of Life

August 26, 2006

KRS-One
I travelled to Santa Cruz the other day kicking it with non-other than the kielbasa king himself – Adam Rinder. We strolled up to a restaurant where we stared at passing people and rinder would point out the occassional passing dude. A middle class white guy was begging for leftovers trying to act like a real bum, he was even occassionally chatting it up on his celly… this douche bag conman was stock piling leftovers from random people into his bag to get a few days worth of food. We moved on and ran into a KRS-One show; KRS showed a mello whiteboy surfer town what Hip-Hop is really all about. Just Hip-Hop positivity and lyrical intensity, ripping the mic in two! I blessed the dance circle a couple times before realizing I was in the midst of the Renegades Crew… I saw Iron Monkey’s definitive style and got a dope show as they got on stage at KRS-One’s request. We dipped out in a state of bliss. What a sick vibe for a coffee shop that only sells hippy hemp beer! The fools only had about 30 beers total for the show… looks like the bar-back must have smoked to much that night.

BT Rockin Apple
BT killed it at Apple for the WWDC Drunken after party! Loads of developers were bus’ed in to main campus to jam out to some BT beats. I definitely expected to see a pop/rock band of some kind and was pretty surprised seeing a DJ… but he’s definitely down with Apple and has already graced the website many times, hes a pretty solid producer and definitely rocked it that night. One of the quintessential moments of the night was when a cute, indian-looking intern was dancing all sexy and drunk right up by the front with her XS shirt buttoned really low so the words on the fabric were all stretched out; they spelled out the the words – “I Love Nerds.” She just knew she was surrounded by all the sickest and most talented developers and Apple tech heads and loving it, haha! I did meet another intern there that was a fellow bboy, which was cool.

Leapfrog Thoughts
Not to transition too much from describing my recent adventures, but I’m in the mood to throw out some random thoughts I have floating in my head… I definitely believe projecting your energy towards a non-consciously realized goal, knowing that it will manifest through a sort of self induced emergence in the future is for real. Many physical and psychological issues can be freed up through constant positive projection and allowing for unplanned alignments in existence to arise. Life has been amazing and I appreciate the cards that have been dealt recently… things have exploded into amazing possibilities over the last 12 months.
Learning happens by strengthening neural connections in your head through repetitious actions and thoughts about a concept. Encouraging certain thinking techniques can greatly increase your understanding of things. Specifically by bringing your mind in an out from a narrow focus to a broader thinking picture. My art director at Apple and I were discussing this notion the other day and talked about some low level fundamental physics in the universe that prove basic quark particles balance all normal and dark matter, constantly equalizing each other and shaping existence around us. OK, I have no idea what that has to do with what I was just saying but what does relate to that earlier thought is that knowing about your brain’s own illusions can help you better adapt to new things. Don’t let your brain force you to habituate and fall into a simple comfort zone. Eventhough it’s evolutionarily (that might not be a real word) favorable to be able to quickly adapt and find comfort in typical day to day activites and thoughts, try to keep reflecting with some amount of conscious reminding to envision every idea or more complex task across a much more broad range of thought; then shift back into the normal narrow viewed state of whatever you are doing, the state that you are more used to. This will allow you to learn more effectively and expansively. Whenever working on a project I too often get caught up in the details of the project right in front of me without reexamining the bigger goals; it’s important to keep both of these satisfied to make your work really strong.

Sometimes my mind thinks in Hip-Hop. The idea that your don’t need anything to make moves and achieve anything you want to… got sneakers, aresol can, a record and a mic, well damn that’s enough to invent an unprecedented global culture! This idea influenced the way I think. Things are all there to just walk up to, grab, explore, embrace and shape into any damn thing you want. This place is fucking amazing, lets create a bottom up empire that gives people everything they need instantanesouly, a place of wealth, positivity and constant inspirational new experiences; where more fascinating horizons open up in front of us in new and often unexpected directions. Where people are in charge of their own destinies without needing the control mechanisms and myths of government, religion, and nationalism. We can all individually achieve anything and conquer our own goals and also be sharing and giving towards the next person along the journey.. things are going to be huge for all of us in the next 10 years. Ok that’s enough random ranting for now!

iPod video conversion made simple through FFmpegX & MPEG Exporter TNG 2.5

May 25, 2006

If you are looking to convert media between formats, in my case to iPod video, you have got to check out FFmpegX. It is by far the ultimate media conversion tool out there, it will take in almost anything and convert it to almost anything else. For example, I dropped in a VOB file directly from a DVD and it converted it to iPod video mp4 format in one step! It also works well with swfs & flvs. Supposedly it can do Real Media clips as well, but I had trouble with this, beyond that it’s perfect.
For even quicker results I used the MPEG Exporter TNG applescript app to be able to drag and drop any variety of media clip and go directly to iPod format in one even quicker step. This works perfectly for vlog clips that you want to push to your iPod.

Streaming with SMIL

March 3, 2006

SMIL or Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language, offers a great opportunity to combine a variety of formats to video using the flexibility of XML. This could have a variety of content enriching capabilities. Some of the most prominent are addition of on-the-fly weblinks, images, interactive flash module allowing note taking or ability to chat with others, etc…_I tried to experiment by posting a recorded presentation related to ION TV. Using SMIL we can not only experience the video of the presentation but also view images related the presentation with weblinks relating to specific points. I was able to stream the video while simultaneously show images and links related to the content. SMIL is a powerful ability to extend streaming content using the QuickTime engine with increased meta-data and extending content.

Link to my SMIL file, download and load through QT

Analyzing Streaming Media

February 24, 2006

Macworld 2006 Streamcast
Macworld 2006
I decided to check out the Macworld 2006 stream from January. It uses QuickTime streaming technology with MPEG-4 as its codec. It seemed to buffer very quickly compared with a progressive download of equivalent length (1:45 TRT); however after only 30 seconds it started experiencing quite a bit of video hiccups and occasional audio break up. Digital artifacts would frequently fill up my screen prohibiting me from seeing anything, I even had to pause and restart the playback a couple times. I was still able to understand most of the content but the glitches were very distracting. With Apple being the architect of QuickTime, I was surprised that the playback was so poor, especially now that the content is already close to 2 months old and probably has few people trying to view it simultaneously. The webpage that the video was linked from also had very little contextual information regarding the event. With QuickTime’s interactive capabilities I expected the clip to have some metadata, such as links to new feature products or software, but also found nothing. This would be an easy opportunity for Apple to market products and do market research on buyers’ interests. Overall, the advantages were that it was video on demand and that I could skip to anywhere in the clip. The disadvantages were the fact that I had little additional information to link to, no ability to preview what was ahead, there was no use of QuickTime’s interactive abilities and the quality was somewhat poor and stuttered often. In conclusion, I felt that the streaming experience of Macworld should have been far better than it was and did not to a strong job of presenting Apple’s biggest event of the year.

Next Level Streaming
Not only should metadata regarding additional content related to the clip be embedded in it’s presentation, but user participation should also be encouraged. Streams should have the ability to take user polls about the content, get feedback, and answer questions in the same realtime format. This could allow for true up-to-date media that would be far more interesting, and closer to a wikipedia approach to the truth. In a journalistic setting, for example the discussion of a hurricane Katrina, this could mean people on closely related to the hurricane could stream in their own audio or video responses to the event as it happens (assuming they have a connection to the Internet). Besides streaming just provide a realtime broadcast and optimized hosting for large sized media, it needs to open up the doors to live many-to-many way conversations. People should also have the ability to throw up links or additional information in a lower-third or side bar fashion in realtime. With the advent of 16:9 screens, it allows for another strip of information on the right or left of the main content or even the lower-third, this allows for a whole new level of information sharing that could come from amazing sources that the journalist might never have known about. Of course a small delay of some kind would have to be factored in to sift out any spam or low quality content from spewing fourth. Why not have open live chats in the side column where people collectively vote on what content gets played next and evolve the content on-the-fly? The possibilities are broad and so far little progress seems to have been made in streaming technology. The overarching goal for this type of media should be for it to increase people’s accessibility for media participation.

A few hot links

February 23, 2006

SLAVES!!!
Ridiculous, offensive, but damn funny!
Wonder Showzen Episode

Parkour Movement
This left me speechless… The idea of pushing ourselves beyond physical limits… Whenever a redically new art form springs up out of nowhere it just blows your mind.
Parkour 1
Parkour 2

Pictures from last Friday
If you haven’t been to Trash then … well come visit me and I’ll take you there because its only a 2 minute walk from my freakin place every Friday night… Happy hour hits at 3am.
Trash 4 yr Anniversary

Metal & Mash-ups

February 19, 2006

In Flames Concert
I linked up with Andy last wednesday and thrashed it out to some Swedish heavy metal at Webster Hall. It definitely rocked, I haven’t had such a good aggression release in some time. They have a great stage presence and know how to rock you. The hits from the double-pedal drums and the shredding of the ‘x’ guitars made me want to jump around like a caged beast; I remember clocking Andy in the shoulder at one point. Definitely check them out, they are sick!
In Flames

New Links
These are the links to my 2 most recent video blogging experiments…
This is what Fuyu and I created for our class presentation on Vlogs.
PPMVlog
This was an attempt to experiment with pushing video blogs. We made a little Cheney mash-up that is pretty entertaining…
XML Mash-Up Vlog

Video Blogging Explorations

February 6, 2006

The concept of video blogging is something that I’ve always had an interest in without realizing it. I just like the concept if disseminating video content online directly to a wide range of viewers without any filtration and then being able to get their commentary.

Vlog Review – DVblog
DVblog.org
I used mefeedia.com to browse a ton of different vlogs, most them were either abstract work that was relatively weak artisticly (in my opinion) or talking heads of people I don’t know talking about things that didn’t really interest me. But DVblog seemed to have a steady flow of interesting mashups, art, Vjs, experimental video, comedy and other topics that I found to be good quality work. Whereas many of the other vlogs were over saturated with geeky crap that was probably only interesting to the creators themselves, DVblog had content that was consistently of a high caliber.
The most recent post was a mashup clip of some girl named Jillian Mcdonald kissing a bunch of celebrities from different films. She rotoscoped herself into a number of famous kissing scenes, most notably a scene with Angelina Jolie. I really liked this mash up and was completely fooled through the first couple scenes. Although the compositing wasn’t perfect in some of them it was pretty damn good overall, nice work Jillian! Another good mashup I saw form DVblog was of scarface, this guy condensed all the best profanity from the film into one sweet 1:30 clip. My mom happened to be visiting from out of town and cringed at all the fuck words; it was a really funny reaction ;-).
Other clips included slowmotion videos of dogs flying through the air by an artist group known as Pleix, and plenty of Borat clips form the Ali G show, which are always completely hilarious. Some of the videos are just fleeting and random artistic creations which are refreshing to briefly indulge in. I also noticed a chill Ninja Tunes video (which I’m always a big fan of) by KidKoala.
Overall, this site had a nice harmony of laughter, creativity, spontonaety and fun that seemed to resonate my own interests and style. It’s definitely worth checking out and subscribing to.

The Launch…

February 3, 2006

OK… this is my second attempt at a blog, while my first one dealt more with extended personal note taking on all my nerdy ITP classes at NYU, this one will deal exclusively with all the hottest issues that I am positive everyone linking here will be excitied about. This includes a shitload of links to the dopest underground music, art, videos (either artistic or randomly entertaining), podcasts, and inspiring political action. I encourage any and everyone to get involved on this site and keep the links and ideas rolling in, whether your thoughts are comical or serious, lets keep this melting pot boiling baby! This is what the Internet was designed for folks…

Here is a taste of some of the first round of ideas & links & media that will keep you all coming back for more.

Podcast Review – Graffiti Radio Live!
http://grl.libsyn.org/
I was initially interested by the shows promise of providing progressive non-mainstream news with some Hip Hop flava so I decided to check it out starting with their 1/27/06 posted podcast. It starts with one of the show’s commentators playing his latest hip hop track and I was like oh no not another emcee trying to plug himself… But after about 10 minutes the show finally started and it consisted of a number of people kind of chatting and mostly bullshitting around, I was really tempted to fast forward since they were just blabbing and cussing about nothing. Then they read out a fan’s email that was bashing one of the commentators on the show and I had to laugh my ass off. The guy that sent in the email has completely cussing out the one poor girl on the show, it sounded like her ideas on the patriot act didn’t sit to well with this fan and he was grilling the hell out of her for it. But the fact that the show commentators were able to take some self criticism made me appreciate them more. It seems like although the main 2 guys, also emcees, had liberal points of view (which i tend to agree with) they also had some more moderates on the show, which makes for some better debates and a more well rounded view of ideas.
After discussing the patriot act for some time they went on to talk about an apparent Osama Bin Laden cocaine story that has emerged across the Internet recently. According to the story Osama attempted to link up with some drug lords to poison a bunch of coke so Americans would snort up a nose full of death! Apparently FOX actually aired this story, which I had no idea existed. They guys on G.R.L did an excellent and hilarious job of destroying all credibility this Internet rumor might have had. The thing that strikes me is why anybody would possible take FOX seriously after airing a story so blatantly full of shit… amazing.
The other good story that I learned about, which seemed to miss publicity on mainstream media is the payola case about Sony/BMG paying off radio stations to play their music. This is a major story and I heard nothing about it. Sony ended up being fined $10 million, which is basically nothing for a music label of that size. It goes to show the power of big money and the lack of diversity in traditional radio. So F mainstream culture and take back your individuality…

For more fresh podcasts also check out – www.odeo.com

*In case your not familiar, podcasts are simply audio files that you subscribe to that are download through some free software. Many times you can click one button and have the link directly played in iTunes.

Sick Hip Hop Music – We Funk
www.wefunkradio.com/
Seriously these guys have some of the best underground funk/Hip Hop mixes I have heard in a while, you need to lift your finger and download one of these juicy playlists to iTunes and jam out to some real music. This completely blows away all the garbage you hear on mainstream TV and radio.

Art That Fights Back Video
itp.nyu.edu/~kc1096/patriot
Judith’s homepage – www.flickr.com/photos/judithsupine/
This is the latest viral video people, it’s a video I produced with my friend Alex that shows my man Judith Supine in action stickin’ it to the man, literally! We’ve got over 8,000 hits and counting fast, keep it alive and viral, spread the link to everyone.

Music Video with a nasty style – Hexstatic!
Ninja Tunes – Distorted Minds
Ninja Tunes always drops the illest beats, but they also have an amazing music video and performance video archive. Check out this hip-hop music video from VJ Hexstatic (ft. Juice Aleem), Distorted Minds, inspiring work for sure.

My Reel
Karl’s Demo Reel
So I had to plug myself damn, although its my 2004 reel it’s still got some hot clips in it… expect an updated reel summer ’06.

That’s it for the first installation of Hypnalogic State, stay tuned for more….