Creating Illusions

As I continue my work on The Sphere project I’ve been researching things like massive live stage play special effects production and virtual set design. It is a fascinating field and to the uninitiated, mind blowing. Even though I studied and taught digital special effects for UCSC I still can’t get over how far this technology has come.

My biggest challenge with The Sphere is that, even though it is virtual, it is still a 3 dimensional space and I am trained in special effects for 2 dimensions – film and motion graphics.

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Moving large holographic-like structures in and out of the space by programing switches to control the movement corresponding to music has been more tricky than I expected- a little bit daunting. I find myself working more on paper with a pencil than at the computer right now getting the math right. It takes a lot of focus and I find myself turning my unavailability on when I  am in-world and asking friends not to bother me when I am working.

Everything in 3D space has 3 positional coordinates  X,Y and Z.  You can place anything anywhere in your world with these 3 powerful numbers. Conversely, you can cause tremendous havoc and frustration by getting the numbers wrong. Also – to move things slowly in virtual space, timer events must be added to the programs so that things don’t just go flying around instantaneously.

Add to that – everything has it’s own channel which is very important. The trigger program that “calls” the object into motion has to be on the matching channel with the object it is controlling. According to the Linden Scripting Language – there 4,294,967,294 possible channels.

Prior to this, the biggest moving thing I built was motorcycles, so working at this giant scale is a bit intimidating and takes some getting used to.

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Above : cool alien avatar I picked-up

So the work goes slowly right now. I want to be meticulous and precise about it and document it so that once it is set-up and all the switches made I hopefully won’t have to go through it again and if I do, all the information will be recorded and easily retrieved.

Until next time …