This is part of my write-up on the inspiring Melt 2008 Inspiration Session in Sheffield last Thursday.
Here I cover the presentations by the Melt Awardees.
Earlier posts include a write-up of Adam Gee, head of Factual Interactive Commissioning at Channel 4’s talk about 4IP, Channel 4’s £50 million fund for new media, Paula Le Dieu, director of new media agency Magic Lantern’s talk on new media for social engagement and James Kirkham director of digital agency Holler’s talk about work on E4′s teen drama, Skins.
Still to come is the highlight of the event for me, Tom Savigar of the Future Laboratory’s trend briefing covering. I’ll post that tomorrow.
The obligatory disclaimer: this post is compiled from my notes from the event. It’s a collection of interesting quotes and notable points by each speaker, in their own words. If you were there and remember it different, shout out in the comments!
Having said all that, here come the Melt Awardees!
Presented by Andy Cranshaw of Tuna Technologies.
Tuna Technologies are a 7 staff strong video game company. They have about 4 projects on the go. One of them is the “Call of the Wild” game for which they received a Melt Award.
Call of the Wild is a video game where you make animal noises to interact with the game.
Andy praised the organisers of the Melt programme, the Culture Company for their help in providing useful expert advice at the end of the application process, something that Lucy of the Culture Company also emphasized in her introductory talk.
Melt helped Tuna Technologies partner with bio-acoustic technicians and Andy said that the kudos of the companies involved with Melt (Channel 4, BBC, Orange, Arts Council England, Screen Yorkshire and more) really helped move the project forward.
He was interested in ideas for other applications for the technology – from education to helping people with disabilities. Tuna Technologies will be blogging about Call of the Wild development at tunasnax.com.
DESQ Ltd | Melt Project: Healthy Island
This was presented by David Squire of DESQ Ltd who are an e-learning and games development company.
Healthy Island is an interactive game designed to promote healthy eating amongst children and is played within their classrooms on interactive whiteboards.
I enjoyed the Healthy Island interface demo. Colourful forest backgrounds with unusual cartoon characters and lovely sound effects. Like a cross between Animal Farm and Sonic the Hedgehog!
The idea is that kids are rewarded for healthy eating and that the game is played collectively in class.
Kids’ choices at lunch time, say an apple instead of a chocolate bar, contribute towards actions and points in the game (I think) and the talk points raised encourage discussion.
It is a virtual rewards system, delivered on 3 CD ROMs and a teacher’s guide (classrooms not always wired to the Internet).
They chose interactive whiteboards as the interface as every primary school in the country has an average of 8 after a big government drive to provide them in schools.
Lessons learnt by the team behind Healthy Island:
- How to move from an ‘agency’ business model to self-publishing. The opportunity to explore a different business model.
- Getting to know a niche market – teachers.
David was full of praise for Melt for bringing ideas, artists and business together.
Jim Prevett | Melt Project: Lost Angels
Lost Angels is a networked game using mobile technologies. A cross between a Tamagotchi and a Nabaztag, the ‘smart’ rabbit toy that can read you news from the internet, it is a cross platform game pitching human kindness against bad news.
In essence you have a ‘Lost Angel’ creature on a mobile phone that you interact with to cheer up as they are drained by negative stories from the global media. It uses real-life data; how the creature lives depends on playing the game and on real-life events.
Their mobile development partner is Tuna Technologies.
According to Jim, Melt enabled:
Tech research and development. Expert advice and guidance from around the world, conference trips to see experts. A wedding! Jim met his wife at such a conference.
The team are now developing Lost Angels for the Google Android mobile phone platform. Jim demoed a working prototype which saw a cute Lost Angel devouring words from a news article and jumping for joy because Jim achieved a set objective.
There’s more info about Lost Angels at lost-angels.net.
The idea is to mash up social data in a location aware environment, allowing people to play games with their mobile phones using Bluetooth based on proximity to people they are friends with on social networks like Facebook.
A big element of the experience was the opportunity to reward passive loyalty by rewarding players who participate in the game in venues they already frequent.
Red Star Studio | Melt Project: Wizard Academy
This was presented by Ben Smith of Red Star Studio, a 3D animation studio that specializes in creating 3D animation for commercials, corporate videos, online, TV and film productions.
The ‘Wizard Academy’ idea was centred around creating an out of home entertainment experience in ‘4D’.
4D is the addition of stimuli like smoke or showers of water to a 3D experience. Often gimmicky, an example is some of the rides at visitor attractions like amusement parks.
Red Star Studio’s film The Curse of Skull Rock which won Best Children’s Film award at the Stuttgart Animation Festival is one such example.
Some of the goals the Red Star team set themselves with Wizard Academy:
- an interactive film experience, like a regular film with additional content for audience interaction. The idea was to enable at least a hundred to watch at the same time but to get the same result.
- Multi-user interaction
- Must be produced as a working prototype.
Idea behind Wizard Academy:
Introduce audience interaction at a cinema or visitor attraction with an on-screen Wizard character who teaches a watching crowd how to cast a spell.
Each audience member is provided a Perspex wand and follows instructions provided by the Wizard character.
The audience collectively wave their wands and the system interprets how well they did.
Another approach was to use a sound sensor, the audience could chant a magic word and if they were all in sync the system would respond accordingly…
Red Star have since partnered with Sale, Manchester-based 3D system developers Virtalis who initially proposed an optical-flow based motion detection system for capturing audience behaviour.
They have now developed a motion tracking system.
Outcomes for the Red Star Studio team:
- Interest from leading 3D/4D vendors; attractions operators
- Raised Red Star’s profile within the industry
- In kind support from Virtalis
- Added to Red Star’s animation show reel.
Red Star provided some 3D glasses for their demo and they worked! I’m normally sceptical of 3D glasses but this time I actually saw the difference they made. Apparently the Curse of Skull Rock film requires no 3D glasses and is still ultra-realistic.
That’s it! I’ll post Tom Savigar of the Future Laboratory’s fantastic trend briefing tomorrow.
- Sheffield Melts Creativity – Melt 2008 Inspiration Session – Part 3
- Sheffield Melts Creativity – Melt 2008 Inspiration Session – Part 1
- Sheffield Melts Creativity – Melt 2008 Inspiration Session – Part 2
- 4Talent Inspiration Session – Building Online Communities like Flickr and Habbo Hotel – Part 2
- A Glimpse Into The Future