Interactive 3 Screen Installation
Created Friday, November 3, 2006 | Added Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

This project was a fictional collaboration of sorts.  Each student picked two artist names out of a hat, researched them both, then decided one to base his or her piece off of.  I learned that one of my artists, Gary Hill, did a lot of interactive video installations.  This was totally something I wanted to do, so I stuck with him.  For a while I had been wanting to try my hand at machinima (fan-made movies created from video game footage), so I decided to create an interactive video installation using Super Smash Bros. Melee as the video game I would capture my footage from.

There were basically two areas of work for this piece—creating the machinima and creating the interactive installation.  While creating the machinima took a long time, it was pretty straight forward.  I wrote up a script for the story, and I captured the footage.  The captured footage was of my dad (who helped me control multiple characters) “acting” out the scenes in-game.  I then edited the footage together to create the movie.

The interactive part… hoo boy…  In the end, I had three videos  running on three screens (two projections and one monitor) in a small room.  A user could control the three videos as a group or independently  by using a GameCube controller plugged into the computer running it all.  The user could control playback speed, volume, and other video controls (play, pause, stop, next, previous) by using the controller.  Again, the user could control all of the videos at once or one at a time.  Normally, there would be captured footage of Smash Bros. Melee playing on the three different screens (not the machinima), but when the Start button was pressed on the controller, the two side screens (projections) would stop playing video and go black, and the middle screen (computer monitor) would begin playing the machinima.

Unfortunately, getting the programming side to work took so long that I didn’t get to “act out” the entirety of the script I wrote for the machinima, but I was still impressed at how much I did and that it all worked!

Here is my original description of the piece:

This project was actually a pretty cool idea. The first thing we did was choose two names out of a hat, each were artists. We were then to choose one of the artists to use for our project. The actual project was to create a piece which was a “collaborative” work with the artist we had chosen. In other words, we were supposed to research the kind of art the artist did then base our work off of our findings about the artsit’s work. In my case, I chose Gary Hill. Hill is known for his interactive video installations. Naturally, I was ecstatic when I found this out. I immediately knew what I was going to do! I was planning on making an interactive video installation (go figure). I would use the video game Super Smash Brothers Melee as my medium and use the characters of the game to act out a story I came up with. The installation would be interactive in that I would have a Nintendo GameCube controller hooked up to the computer as, basically, a controller for the movie that would be playing.

The installation ended up using three screens—one computer monitor and two projectors, projecting onto walls. I was also fortunate enough to be able to use 5.1 speakers (surround sound) thanks to my roommate.

Prior to showing the piece, I painted the installation room black. I then painted a white rectangle, one each on two of the installation room walls. On these white rectangles, I would then be able to project the movie from each of the two suspended projectors. I also built supports for the projectors (they were up on top of the room’s walls) to ensure they would not fall down and break. Cuz that would be bad…

In addition to these setup steps, I had written a script that the characters from the video game would act out.  To accomplish this, I wrote a fairly extensive computer program that enabled me show the movie on the three separate screens and would allow any individual to use a GameCube controller to control the movie on any of the three screens. Thus, with the program I wrote, I was able to allow a user to manipulate my movie by use of a GameCube controller.