While making the Eureka Room program Color Color I realized that certain shapes and animations seemed to have a personality or attitude. Not really, of course, but humans have a tendency to anthropomorphize (even without trying).
Watching the final program I would find myself trying to “figure it out” or piece together a story to make sense of it in a cohesive way. Despite the fact that I created it and knew there was no story intended.
Of the Eureka Room visitors, there were definitely some that preferred passive programs. So I thought, what if I created a passive program filled with animations that told a story through motion and sound? Nothing with eyes or any human features. Just blocks, circles, rectangles.
How could I intentionally tell a store in with abstractions? And one that most everyone will “get”? I didn’t want to write stories that were 80% the audience’s projections. I wanted them to share a common story experience.
So I set out by making a few different shaped quadrilateral shapes. Right away I had to choose color, which I hadn’t considered. Color also has meaning to people and my choices would also tell the story. I jumped into garageband and threw a few stock tracks together, then exported it over to final cut and placed it with the animations. Soon I had about 30 seconds of very very basic animations and sound.
You can watch it here and guess the story for yourself. (Note: I’ve tried to replicate the three walls here, but it’s not perfect).
It definitely told a story: This block is exploring. This block wants to go over there. That block won’t let him. This block is trying to get away from that block. Oh look, another block showed up! Etc. etc.
This was about six hours of work. I could tell it was going to be many many more hours until I could get something that I liked and that was special to The Eureka Room. Blocks moving around hassling each other wasn’t going to cut it.
I also realized that there is almost certainly a whole world of animators out there that are experts in telling a story with abstracts. I was just dabbling in it. From the work I had done on this draft, I realized three things:
- I was going to have to study and learn some of this language of abstracts if I wanted to do a good job at it.
- I’m going to have to do a lot of animation work to make this happen.
- Passive programs aren’t super interesting to me.
The first realization intrigued me. I was curious to know how to communicate using never seen before bastractions.
The second realization…. oh. I’m going have be an animator. I don’t want to be an animator.
The third realization might be the more weighty of the three. I’m just not passionate about passive programming. That’s not what I want the Eureka Room to be about. Also, the world is filled with passive programming and the competition is fierce. Lacking passion for it, it seemed like a poor idea to compete in that arena.
Conclusion: I’m out. No more work should be done on this program right now.
I know what my strengths and interests are and animation is not one of them. Maybe in the future I can hire someone to do wonderful animations but for right now I can do much more for the mission than develop animation skills. This was, just one idea, after all.
Animal Garden has been put this in the “maybe someday” pile.