Nokia / Friends / Heathrow Terminal 5 from Universal Everything on Vimeo.

The insanely wonderful crew at Sheffield, UK’s Universal Everything send along a lovely new project – just in time to help ease any unpleasant thoughts about air travel. As part of an installation for Nokia, Universal Everything created a series of projected animations. My favorite is this generative visual of people of different shapes and sizes being whisked along by a people mover (click through to Vimeo for the full HD versions):

Universal Everything / Nokia / Heathrow Terminal 5 / 2008 from Universal Everything on Vimeo.


A procession of diverse characters glide by on a travelator – friends, families, kids, lovers, rugby teams, fat couples, thin models – celebrating the diversity of people seen at Heathrow T5.
Every character riding the travelator is unique, using generative software to create an ever-growing population.

Perhaps I need a mobile version I can take with me through less-lovely airports or during gate hold delays.

It’s really brilliant stuff, and demonstrates that the aesthetics of generative visuals can cover quite a gamut. But by now, I’m bet you’re already wondering what’s powering the very-nice physics interactions, built in Processing. I’m a big fan of the traer.physics library for Processing, but you won’t get results like this — in fact, part of what I like about traer.physics is that it’s often unpredictable once you set up a dynamic system! Processing virtuoso toxi had the same experience, so he adapted a different approach to physics via a technique called Verlet integration, what is commonly seen in "ragdoll physics" and cloth. It’s a technique prized for its relative stability, which the alternative Euler physics techniques tend to lack. (Darnit, I wish I paid more attention in math class, but that’s another story.)

Toxi has been building his own library. Bits of it are on toxiclibs on Google Code, although there’s a little reorganization going on over there so I don’t see a download. I’m half tempted to try implementing this just to better understand what’s going on under the hood. Anyone offer hourly math tutorials? I can barter. I could teach you to make really good burgoo and mint juleps.

Here’s another example of Toxi testing the library, which contains some other visualizations that let you see better how the physics algorithms work:

verlet soft bodies from postspectacular on Vimeo.


And for more goodness from the Heathrow installation, here’s another animation:

Starting with an international Flickr group, we collected 500+ photos from around the globe from Bangkok and Switzerland to Tokyo and Venice Beach.
Each person was photographed holding a segment of a global animation.
Based on the idea of ‘what is over the horizon’, a series of felt-tip animations come to life, crossing the globe from frame to frame.

I love the idea. Maybe this will lead to new global animation projects among visualists, sharing hand-drawn, hand-created footage. Anyone game?

Nokia / Global Animation / Heathrow Terminal 5 from Universal Everything on Vimeo.