For this year’s Creative Review Annual cover, together with Nexus Interactive Arts, Minivegas created a custom application to draw a letter ‘A’ using content from the CR’s website and Twitter feed over the past year.
We decided to make an “A” from CR’s prolific online output. We felt that its form should be implied, discernable by its physical influence on elements from CR’s blog and twitter content. Some of our early efforts were a little abstract, but we settled for wrapping thousands of strips of tape in the loose shape of the “A”. The strips would contain words and pictures from the blog. Using recent blog activity doesn’t cut it for an annual, so with “a little wget magic”, we slurped every article and image from the last year. We got 10,000 unique proper names and places, hashtags and usernames, and about another 5,000 pictures. That’s a lot, even for six images, so the number of comments on a blog post became a metric for how “big” a story and its content ended up in the final image (like a “tag cloud”). To add some dynamics, we ran the scene as a cloth simulation to blow our strips around a bit. Exploding the letter is fun, though in the end the shapes looked a bit messy so we toned that down a bit. Final snapshots of strips in motion were exported for a high-quality render.
You can download the app and have a go yourselves. The app allows various aspects of the image to be adjusted before a final render is downloaded. These include animation properties such as turbulence, vortex, attraction, damping nd stiffness. In addition, the app also includes .OBJ exports allowing the team to import into Maya together with textures and render out with better lighting and shadow effects. The twitter text version was then used for the front cover whereas the images from the site were used for the back cover.
The app was created using MiniVegas’ own proprietary C++/OpenGL framework code-named Atlantis. The tool itself is a set of user interface components suitable for the rapid assembly of artist tools, which together with a persistent data and parameter system allows artist and programmer to work together on shaping the project’s look without needing to hard-code everything. It is developed and maintained as cross-platform, running on OS X and Linux. In the future they plan to port portions of it to mobile platforms such as iOS and Android.