Julius Caesar once said: “Of all Gauls, the Belgae are the bravest”. No matter what, Belgians keep communicating a cheerful message towards the future. For our TEDxGhent team, it inspired a tagline for the main event envisioning the perfect dose of love & tech, and voilá: #bitsoflove was born. It refers to the iconic Beats of Love song sprinkled with a subtle reference to the binary system.
An idea without execution is just as good as daydreaming, so TEDxGhent and nøcomputer, a Ghent-based company of tech wizards, teamed up to experiment and create a visual expression for the theme. The nøcomputer guys built a generative identity which forms itself real-time during the event by using the attendees’ voices. As a result, colourful, 3D sculptures are emerging which will embellish the event’s visual elements.
What? Indeed, it sounds magic, we love it too, and you will have the chance to experience it in action at the TEDxGhent main event. Collaboration and brave ideas are for the win – this is how we see the world through our TEDx eyes. And look how pretty the prototype is!
Are you into the spicy, geeky details how it was made possible? Read further about the whole process with the creators’ quotes.
nøcomputer is a creative technology lab specialized in interactive installations, projection mapping and generative branding for screens of tomorrow.
The Bits Of Love project is so much more than just graphics. Throughout the awesome collaboration with nøcomputer, we have been able to create a living and crowdsourced identity. Curious how? Keep on reading!
Right after claiming the “Bits Of Love” tagline, the guys at nøcomputer dived into their studio. They prototyped a bunch of concepts for people to share their “Bit Of Love”. One of the concepts involved recording a ‘soundbite’ for each of our attendees during the day in a separate recording booth. This ‘soundbite’ would then be converted into a visual, unique ‘audio-sculpture’ that can be used in the graphical branding and identity process of our event.
Since ‘Bits Of Love’ focuses on sharing, TEDxGhent created an extra service on top of the nøcomputer audio-sculpture generator. This service automatically uploads a snapshot of any recorded sculpture to our dedicated @BitsOfLoveGhent Twitter account together with the Twitter handle of the creator, so every attendee can show and share their personal ‘Bit Of Love’.
Nevertheless, the main goal of these sculptures is to contribute to the great atmosphere we have at TEDxGhent. During the event, all recorded ‘audio-sculptures’ will start having a life of their own as they are being projected on a 16m wide multi-screen set-up from Barco B. Immersed consisting of 3 separate screens.
During regular talks, the audience will see the generated sculptures in two smoothly changing grids on the side, while the center screen will be used to animate audio-sculptures, show speaker presentations and announcements.
Once the stage is empty, the nøcomputer audio-sculptures will wake up and take over the entire screen with animated fly-overs.
You are probably wondering how these graphics came to life. We asked Gwen of nøcomputer to explain their creative process.
1. AUDIO ANALYSIS
As Gwen explains: “Sound is represented as a continuous stream of amplitudes, which means that each amplitude value is referring to a specific moment in time. Typically there are two types of visualizations one can use. The first one plots sound amplitudes in the time domain, the second representation is known as the frequency domain and shows your input as various frequencies (bass, mid-tones, treble).“
2. GENERATE SCULPTURES
“Now that we have a way of representing the characteristics of our incoming audio, we need to find an interesting way to visualize these sound bites. During our first experiments we have noticed that working in the frequency domain gives us the most interesting results for speech. So the first step was mapping that data (from bass to treble) on a circle, where the radius of the circle represents the length of the audio sample. “
“The next step in creating the final sculpture was the conversion from a 2D visualization into 3D space, and thus giving birth to an actual sculpture! This conversion was a cumbersome task because of the amount of fine-tuning and tweaking needed to create a solid base that reacts well on multiple types of audio sources. Nevertheless, this process is what we love the most; just playing around and explore the idea.”
3. ADDING COLOR
Gwen continues: “After shape comes color! The ‘Bits Of Love’ sculptures had to be colorful, expressing an optimistic look and feel. In our first tests, we were using a multi-color approach for each individual sculpture, but when thrown together on the big screen, everything started to look the same. At that moment we decided that having 500+ rainbows on a big screen would not represent the uniqueness of each sculpture, so we went back to the drawing board. The final solution was found in toning it down, using random complementary color palettes for each sculpture.“
4. ADDING DETAIL
“At this point, we had our basic sculpture and a solid approach towards use of colors. The only thing left was to have a look at some post-processing (using shaders). We use this to add richness and detail by injecting a source of light, defining material properties and depth of field to the image.“
Within the context of our TEDxGhent 2016 main event, the audio-sculptures created by nøcomputer will be used all over the place.
Firstly, we will use this content on the big screens during the event. This consists of sculptures being displayed in a grid on the side screens, as well as animated build-ups with macro zoom and fly-through effects taking over the entire screen.
Secondly, the graphics are used as sources for our digital artwork for external communication on websites and social media.
Thirdly and at last, nøcomputer created duo-tone versions of the sculptures which can be printed on uni-color tote bags and leaflets.
nøcomputer is a creative technology lab specializeding in interactive installations, projection mapping &, generative design branding and building new products and services for the screens of tomorrow.
Special thanks goes to Gwen and Wim for their great effort and collaborative spirit!