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TED

TEDxGhent 2016 #BitsOfLove

Generative Event Identity & Interactive installation

Project Outline

The #BitsOfLove project was more than just graphics. By using real-time input of attendees, we have been able to create a living, crowdsourced identity spread out over the event as a blanket.

Being present all over (screens, online/offline communication, signage, program leaflets, tote bags, …) these sculptures contributed to the great atmosphere present at TEDxGhent.

Applications

At the event we had an interactive installation in place, allowing attendees to share ‘soundbites’ which generated their personal virtual sculpture. The collection of all these sculptures was forming the backbone of the visual identity, being used on different screens throughout the venue.

As part of the online communication plan, all generated content was being used in external communication (website, bannering, …). Every attendee could see/share their personal artwork via a dedicated Twitter account, which created some online buzz during the event.

While developing the overal identity, we also provided artwork for offline communication (program leaflets, signage, …) and designed monochroom versions to be used on tote bags & t-shirt designs.

TEDxGhent is all about the talks & speakers, so getting quality content onto the 16 m/52 feet wide projection screen at the main stage was key. For this we created real-time animations, fly-throughs/macro zooms, bumpers, … and integrated speaker presentations in visuals being displayed. During the event we also provided production support (aka pushing knobs & sliders).

Creating an immersive experience without sound is just not possible, so we teamed up with Klankwerk, who are specialized in audio/sonic branding. Thomas created a unique TEDxGhent brand score and provided a signature tune which was used while introducing speakers.

Creative Process

At nøcomputer we believe in exploration instead of having a pre-defined idea/blueprint of what we’re making. This way of working allows us to explore whatever we come across during design/development. It’s the quest for those happy accidents, those unexpected surprises which keeps us going.

Since it’s all about the journey, we try to document every step along the way. So here’s the making of, shedding some light into our process…

1. Audio Analysis
Sound is represented as a continuous stream of amplitude values, where each value is referring to a specific moment in time. Typically there are 2 ways to represent audio. The first one plots sound amplitudes in the time domain (as a wave), the second one is known as the frequency domain and represents audio as various frequencies (same thing you see on an analogue equalizer: bass, mid-tones, treble).

2. Getting the shape right
Once we had a way of representing the characteristics of our incoming data, we needed to find an interesting way to visualize it. After some explorations & experimenting with different approaches, we noticed working in the frequency domain gave us the most interesting results for speech.

Eventually we landed on mapping frequency data (from bass to treble) on a circle, with the radius of the circle representing the length of the audio sample (time-based). Simple but effective…

The next step was to convert these 2D representations into 3D space, thus giving birth to the actual sculptures. This conversion took a lot of fine-tuning and tweaking in order to create a solid base that reacts well to all kinds of different audio sources. But it’s what we love to do: just playing around and exploring ideas/systems.

3. Adding Color
Once we got our shapes, it was time to add some color. The #BitsOfLove sculptures had to be colourful, expressing an optimistic look & feel.

In the initial explorations we were using a multi-color approach, but soon realised that having 500+ rainbows on a big screen was not going to work. Everything started to look the same and did not represent the uniqueness of each sculpture. Back to the drawing board…

The final solution was found in toning it down and limiting the use of color to random, complementary color palettes. Having a slider in there to quickly change hues (real-time), allowed us to explore different color combinations.

4. Adding Personality
At this point, we had a solid base for our shapes and an approach for using color. Time to add some personality to our sculptures by adding lights, defining material properties and applying depth of field to the final image.