Now you’re thinking in spheres.

We’ve been covering Syphon since its introduction – see a recent interview with co-creator Anton Marini. The idea is to give visual apps on the Mac the ability to pipe textures from one app to another, as simply as you’d connect sound signal on a computer or in a studio. This example, though, really shows some of the potential for which we’d hoped, combining the Unity game engine with OpenFrameworks code freely and easily. (There’s a brief cameo by Modul8, too, but I think it was used only for testing, not in the finished piece used for background textures.)

Vibeke Bertelsen at Obscura describes the process. It’s worth mentioning here, because while Obscura are an experienced design house, this is a new experiment and in early stages – so chime up, visual community, and you might just find some friends on other sides of the globe with whom to share experience and techniques.

For us this installation was a learning experience in using Unity 3D for mapping onto a spherical object. It took a bit of trial and error but we decided to make a workshop out of it instead of worrying too much about the finished result.

We ended up with these little creatures created in Open Frameworks which we piped into Unity 3D via Syphon. We then made a Unity app for mapping onto the sphere. A regular 3D mapped rendering would not do here, as the small boids react to the presence of people in the room via a motion tracking camera.

Using Unity went reasonably well – it has a bit of a learning curve, but it definitely has potential for installations that combine live interactivity with mapping, although we ran into some issues that stem from the fact that this is created as a game engine and not a mapping tool. We feel that we have only just scratched the surface here. In tandem with Syphon you could use Unity to map all sorts of live input onto complex shapes.

We would be very interested in hearing about other people who have used Unity for similar purposes.

Who’s Obscura?

Obscura creates visuals and video installations for concerts, exhibitions and other cultural or corporate events. When we find the time between clients we also do our own arts projects. Obscura is based in Copenhagen and consists of Frederik Hilmer Svanholm, Kasper Rasmussen, Thea Collett and Vibeke Bertelsen.

Obscura specializes in large scale installations that transform a room completely with visuals and most often we do the setup of equipment ourselves.

The tools:

Let’s fire up comments – thoughts on spherical projection mapping, Unity, OF, Syphon, all fair game.