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  • Mar 27 / 2015
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Projects, Yasmine Adventures

Yasmine Adventures: User Study in Berlin

Mara and Mary went back to berlin in the past week, to run a user study on the Yasmine Adventures. We wanted to evaluate properly the users response to the experience, therefore in collaboration with Bianca Herlo who helped recruiting users we designed and executed a user evaluation. The evaluation consisted on the user doing the tour that started on the Jewish Museum to the center of Mehringplatz neighborhood while being shadowed by one of us. Then we would run a semi-structured interview that addressed open-ended questions related to the general experience and the users feedback to it but also we would bring up some issues/questions that might have been identified from the shadowing. This was followed by the user responding a questionnaire with closed-ended questions that approached, for example, flow and immersion levels in experience.

We were fortune that for the first days the weather helped and it was sunny which made an enjoyable experience for the users but by the end of our staying it was cold and raining which made it harder to get people to try it. But in the end we were able to try the system with 20 users and we got lots of valuable feedback that we are currently starting to analyze.

We would like to make a special thanks to Bianca and Jenny who helped out in recruiting the user and also to all the users who tried the experience for their patient and availability to answer all of our questions. Thank you!

Here’s a couple of images that summarize our week there:

 

  • Feb 25 / 2015
  • 0
Events, Projects, Yasmine Adventures

Future Fabulators @M-iti participation in Community Now?

Future Fabulators @M-ITI recently participated in the symposium Community Now? The Politics of Participatory Design, which took place from 19-21 February at the Jewish Museum, Berlin. You can read more about the initiative here.

A few months ago the Fabulators were invited by Bianca from Design Research Lab – UdK to take part in the event with an interactive neighborhood walk, a workshop about possible futures for the community, and a final presentation.

Researchers Mara Dionisio and Luis Ferreira, assisted by Paulo Bala and Rui Trindade under the guidance of Valentina Nisi and Julian Hanna, developed Yasmine’s Adventures, a series of interactive vignettes tailored specifically to the Mehringplatz neighborhood near the Jewish Museum in Berlin.

The story relates the experiences of a free-spirited and adventurous local girl named Yasmine following her escape from a school tour as she tries to find her way home. The locations depicted in the narrative were chosen by community members during the RDL/UdK-led ‘Pinpointing Mehringplatz’ workshop, and they hold specific positive or negative values for the inhabitants.

The audience on our walk viewed the neighborhood through Yasmine’s eyes and by extension through the eyes of the community: the most beloved spaces, areas that require change, and spaces that are disliked by the community. In the workshop led by Julian participants explored alternative futures for the local community using a collaborative design game.

Here are some images from those moments:

  • Feb 17 / 2015
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Projects, Yasmine Adventures

Yasmine Adventures – Mobile Application Development Process

Yasmine Adventures is ready to take off!! After a month and half devoted to the implementation, the mobile application that will support the users to uncover Yasmine adventures the prototype is finally ready! We are quite happy with the result although we wish that we had some more time to make some final refinements. As we mention in a previous post the mobile application for this tour was inspired by the DreamScope and it´s 360º degrees scan of a virtual environment. The first step was to create these virtual was to have this basic mechanism working which was easy we just had to adapt from DreamScope. Just to recap and simplifying the technical details we used the game engine called Unity, and to achieve the 360º interaction we used a plugin developed by Durovis. Moreover, we used the Qualcomm Vuforia plugin for the visual clue recognition system, which basically will associate a “visual marker” with a location which, in fact , is  a 360º virtual environment.  Once we had the basic mechanics of capturing marker and loading placeholder 360º VR environment it was time to design each of the virtual environments. For that, we used 3DS Max and created in 3d each of the 5 locations that were decided after the trip to berlin. The 3D model had to be very simple and low poly. Once the models were ready it was time to texture them (basically paint them!). We decided that all the environment would follow the same cartoon/scribbled art style as the 2d video animations and we decided to make all of the environment in shades of grey except for the exact location where the Yasmine Adventure happened. In this was we hoped that users would feel more drawn to it as they are scanning the 360º environment.

 

When all the 5 locations were ready we had to import them into Unity and continue on the implementation of the application. Here are some of the main features that we had to implement: 1 – Main Screen with a scrollable map, close button, capture the marker button; 2- Inside the 360º degree scene we had to create “hotspots” to hide the content (2d animations) load the 2d video animation; 3- Load the 2d video animation once the “hotspots” are triggered; We had the help of Miguel Caldeira a designer from M-iti, We provided the wireframes and sketches and Miguel  designed some of the graphics like the icon of the app, the main interface (map and buttons) plus the visual clues.

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Once all these parts were combined  Yasmine Adventures was born! Soon we hope to upload a video showcasing the interaction in the application and now off we go to Berlin!

  • Feb 17 / 2015
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Projects, Yasmine Adventures

Yasmine’s Adventures – Artstyle Process

Character Design

The project “Yasmine’s Adventures” was inspired from another project called “Pinpointing Mehringplatz Project”, which was developed by Design Research Lab in Germany. Their project consisted in pinpointing places that were considered scary, enjoyable or annoying by the locals of Mehringplatz. The participants ranged between the age of ten to twelve. The idea if this project is make local’s aware about the social problems in Mehringplatz from a child’s perspective. In “Yasmine’s Adventures”, we decided to have as a main character a young and rebellious girl called Yasmine. For inspiration purposes, we started researching and collecting as many images as possible, in order to gather a diversity of character styles. After the research, we were able to draw a variety of new characters – from complex and detailed  to simple and sketchy. All characters were initially drawn on a sheet of paper.

Some character examples:

As stated earlier, we sought to call the local’s attention about the social problems of Mehringplatz from a child’s perspective. Thus, we decided to go with a “scribble” art style as it is a very common way of drawing among children. After choosing the most suitable character, we initialized the digitalization process using Adobe Photoshop.

Final version of Yasmine:

The main character wears an orange tiger outfit with a tail attached on the back. The tail is an additional feature which reflects Yasmine’s emotions (the tail changes shape whenever she gets happy or angry). In addition, the reason why Yasmine is wearing an orange tiger outfit is because we wanted to establish a connection between her rebellious behaviour and the wild behaviour of an animal. Finally, for animation purposes, the character’s limbs (arms, legs, head and tail) had to be designed separately, in order to facilitate the rigging process in Adobe After Effect.

Environment design

In regard to the environment design, we drew fifteen different scenarios, which were based on real locations in Mehringplatz.

The concept art for the environments were firstly drawn on a sheet of paper and then digitized. However, different concept arts (besides “scribble”) were taken into account.

Yet, in the end, we decided that it would be the best if we maintain the same art style for both character design and environment design. Therefore, a design protocol was established, in order to maintain a consistent “scribble” art style throughout the project.

 

  • Jan 24 / 2015
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Projects, Yasmine Adventures

Yasmine Adventures – Berlin Trip

Earlier this week two member of our research team, Mara and Luis, traveled to Berlin to run an experience prototype of the Yasmine Adventures, meet with Bianca Herlo and get more insights on the Mehringplatz neighborhood. We were received at Design Research Lab by Bianca and some elements of the research team that work on the Community Now? Project, it was great to learn more about the neighborhood and the projects that they have been developing there, specially get more insights on the PinPointing Mehringplatz project from which the content of our application was developed.

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Then it was time to go to Meringplatz and start the hard work under the rush cold!!! Brrrr….

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We had to decide the exact locations where the story clips were going to be uncovered, find locations to place the markers, make sure that the route between the museum and the neighborhood was simple enough, and take lots of pictures! By the end of the trip, we had a clear idea of all the locations, where to place the markers and a more refined story.

Choosing the locations

As we discovered some facts and learned from the people of the community we refined the content of the story. For example, we learned that one of the big murals was actually painted by a famous artist who did some artwork for the Obama campaign so we approach in the story. This trip was also essential to get to know all the locations in detail because we toke 360 degree videos from each of the locations so that we know how to portrait them in 3d virtual environment.

Famous Artist Mural

Bird Mural

 

Below are images of the locations chosen to place the story clips. For some of the plot points, we had more than one option for the location that we wanted to discuss with the rest of the team.

Now it’s to start developing the project at full speed!!! There’s less than one month to go!!

 

 

  • Jan 10 / 2015
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Projects, Yasmine Adventures

Yasmine Adventures – Preparations for Berlin Trip

For the last few weeks, we have been busy preparing a trip to berlin. We decided that a short trip to berlin was necessary to know the locations and the neighborhood and have a grasp of the exact conditions that we had to deploy the experience.  This trip will serve a sort of experience prototype. Where we will test out our ideas and the story and how it works in the environment. We will take also as an opportunity to gather inspiration for the art style of the story as we decided to tell the story through a 2D animation.

Our goal during these weeks was to progress as much as we could in terms of the story and the delivery platform.

Story

At this point, the story is much more detailed and we know the exact plot points. They are still open to change according to what we discover in our trip. The overall story is represented in the storyboard below:

Download (PDF, 921KB)

Story Delivery Platform Interaction

To deliver Yasmine adventures, we decided to make an innovative platform inspired by the DreamScope project where we used the 360 virtual reality environment. The idea is that the users will have a mobile application equipped with a map showing all the locations where Yasmine adventures take place, once they are in the location they need to look for a marker that will trigger a 3d representation of the real environment, there in the virtual environment users will have to find the exact spot where Yasmine had the adventure. Once this spot is found a 2d video animation will show a story clip.  Below you can find a sequence of images that illustrates the interaction with the platform and after the wireframes for the interface

Download (PDF, 5.2MB)

Download (PDF, 257KB)

  • Dec 22 / 2014
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Projects, Yasmine Adventures

Yasmine Adventures – Brainstorm Results

We are ready to share the initial concept for the locative experience trail in berlin. After analyzing the content from the project pinpointing Mehringplatz we decided that the best approach for the content of the experience would be to create a fictional story based on real content and locations of Mehringplatz. In this way, Yasmine Adventures was born! When creating a location-aware experience we always need to have in mind at the same time the story plot and locations for the story to be delivered because they are deeply connected. In this image, we can see this connection where on the left side we have the story plot points following the heroes Journey and on the right side we have the locations and the content related to the community.

OverallProcess

Regarding the story and the character we decided that Yasmine should portrait a child from the neighborhood and was inspired in one of the participants of the Pinpointing Project. Moreover, we decided to follow the traditional hero’s journey where the plot points relate to the content retrieved from the pinpointing Mehringplatz project. For example, the angel and the street art were pointed as positive aspects of the neighborhood while the constructions and the rats were reported as negative aspects. Therefore the idea is to portrait them in the story, so we would see Yasmine enjoying the street art and being helped by the angel, on the other hand, the constructions and the rats would be challenges that she has to face in her journey. In the following images, you can see our notes on the character profile and on the story plot.  Please click on the image and zoom in for a better understanding of the content. YasmineProfileHerosJourneyDetail

Since, this experience has been conceived with the goal in mind to take the symposium audience around the Mehringplatz neighborhood. We needed to have in mind that the start of the experience is the  Jewish Museum, where the symposium is going to be held, and what will be the path to take them to the heart of the neighborhood. While doing this we have to overlap with the story content and the locations chosen by the community participants in the Pinpointing project. On the image below, on the top you can see the locations and the content from the Pinpointing project and the below the correspondent locations.

Locations

 At this point, we have a clear idea of the direction that we want to take in terms of the story and the experience. The next step is to refine the story, decide the locations where the story should be delivered and the medium that people will use to retrieve the story.

  • Dec 17 / 2014
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Projects

Future Fabulators@M-ITI are designing a Locative experience trail for Berlin

The Future Fabulators team has been invited by Bianca Herlo to participate in the Community Now? The Politics of Participatory Design symposium that will take place in Berlin from 19-21 February.

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“Community Now?” is an interdisciplinary research project between the German Society for Design Theory and Research (DGTF), the Design Research Lab/UdK and the Bezalel Academy for Art and Design Jerusalem, funded by the Future Forum Foundation (DIZF) and in partnership with the Jewish Museum Berlin, Goethe-Institut Tel Aviv and Hansen Center Jerusalem. The aim of the project is to develop, together with existing civic initiatives, design tools and strategies that strengthen the structures of the communities and give them a new public. Through digital formats and local interventions like Living Labs, “Community Now?” seeks to develop alternative ways of empowerment and political participation. More information on the project here and here.

We have been invited to design a location-aware experience and a workshop for the participants of the symposium Community Now? The Politics of Participatory Design. Content has been gathered from the Mehringplatz neighborhood to capture the image local citizens have of their neighborhood. The content was collected through a locative content sharing platform developed by the Community Now? research team (http://community-infrastructuring.org/portfolio/pinpointing-mehringplatz/). We are now in the brainstorming process, gathering ideas for the experience we want our audience to have, the technology to use in order to achieve our goals, and the content to display. More news and details about this project coming soon!

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  • Nov 12 / 2014
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Events, Projects

Laurisilva Futures Workshop: Process and Results

Future Fab M-ITI organised a two-day workshop where all the Fabulators would come together with various experts in order to understand and imagine the past, present, and future of the laurisilva forest, especially in the context of the transmedia story in the making.
On the morning of the first day an experience prototype of the story was deployed and experienced by the whole group.Twelve people walked through the village of Ponta do Sol encountering characters, settings, plants, and natural remedies that are part of the life of our heroine Laura and that led to the creation of Laura’s fabled herbarium.

ExperiencePrototypeWebsite

In the afternoon a group of researchers and experts (including biologists and ethnobotanists) took the group on an educational walk in the heart of the Madeiran laurisilva, describing the plants, climates, and remedies that form such a wealth of heritage on the island.

collageLevadaWalk_Website

On the second day of the workshop, FoAM led a future scenario session based on four generic images of the future as defined by Jim Dator, Director of the Hawaii Research Center for Futures Studies, University of Hawaii at Manoa.

The  future scenario session process can be consulted here

collage_WebsiteFutureScenario

 

These four alternative futures were labelled: ‘grow’, ‘collapse’, ‘discipline’, and ‘transform’.

The ‘grow’ scenario imagines a future in which society continues to grow and develop according to its present trajectory. The ‘collapse’ scenario, meanwhile, has been gaining popularity in recent years as more and more people worry about the unsustainable state of the environment, the economy, and so on. In order to avoid ‘collapse’ many people favour a ‘disciplined’ vision of the future, in which people’s lives are governed by a set of values (e.g. natural, spiritual, or cultural) rather than by endless economic growth. The fourth alternative is ‘transformation’, in which for example many technologies converge rapidly to transform society from its present state into a new post-human world. The one thing that people still do better than machines in this radically transformed future is to be creative.
After discussing and highlighting the major drivers of change with regard to the future of the laurisilva forest, we discussed these drivers in relation to three of the four futures mentioned above. We explored possible scenarios that could develop from such drivers and what the future might be like for our character Laura and the herbarium in each of these three alternative futures.

Discipline

The ‘discipline’ scenario envisioned a future for Madeira ruled by an academic, eco-conscious elite. The ruling party, alternately described as a ‘botanocracy’ by adherents and ‘Botanistan’ by reactionary critics, swept to power on a wave of support following the collapse of the island’s longstanding human-centric, pro-development party, which in turn was brought about by a series of natural disasters including floods and fires. Concepts and keywords forming the basis of this scenario included rewilding, quarantine, sensing and monitoring, re-education, maximum biodiversity, living lab, seed and gene banks, botanic music, migration control, and economy of PhDs.

Madeira’s governing slogans in this scenario were ‘discipline and flourish’ and ‘maximum eco-discipline, minimum eco-footprint’. The island advertised itself as ‘the ultimate eco-conference destination’ and offered access via an airshaft lift to an unspoilt conference venue in the middle of the UNESCO World Heritage protected laurisilva forest. Under the new government, the island also claimed to be ‘the world’s leading evidence-based, double-blind peer reviewed political system’.

In the most extreme part of the scenario, projected fifty years into the future, Madeira’s ‘scholarocracy’ took as its foundational text the vast herbarium compiled by Laura Silva, the pioneering botanist turned eco-goddess of the island. The herbarium was discovered some years earlier in a cave in an isolated valley, clutched to the breast of the mummified corpse of Laura herself. A climate-controlled, high-security library room overlooking a prime expanse of virgin forest was purpose built to house the book. The herbarium was used by the ruling party to build a genetic time machine, to return Madeira to a pre-settlement landscape comprised almost entirely of lush forests with a minimum of human interference.

 

Collapse

The ‘collapse’ scenario explored what would happen to Madeira’s laurisilva forest if a natural or social disaster caused the collapse of the status quo. In the end we identified two main collapse scenarios: one led by nature, the other led by social factors.

In the first, drivers related to social systems would be affected and their collapse would lead to a different human organization on the island, which in its turn would affect the development of the forest and its ecosystem. Humans would eventually disappear and the forest would revert to its original state, significantly healthier and less endangered than ever before.

In the second scenario we looked at what would happen to the forest in case of a large-scale natural disaster. According to present scientific hypotheses, a large chunk of the Canary Islands is expected to break off and fall into the ocean. Such an event would cause an enormous tsunami, which would affect Madeira, the coast of Africa, and would eventually reach South America. Such a huge wave of seawater would change the face of the Madeiran coastline forever. In Madeira waters would surge by two or three hundred metres, destroying most human settlements along the coast, including the main cities of Funchal, Machico, Canical, Sao Jorge, Porto Moniz, and Calheta. Water channels would also be compromised: levada (irrigation) water would be polluted by salt and mud. Most of the population would likely perish. Many of the remaining survivors would emigrate; only a few would stay and try to rebuild their lives on the island.

In this scenario aid and rescue efforts from the mainland were limited, as they had also been affected by the disaster. Islanders retreated into the laurel forest and after some time they adapted to life there, learning to respect nature and eventually living in harmony with it. This allowed the forest to gradually expand and reach its natural boundaries, as they were before humans settled on the island and modified the ecosystem. Respecting the forest enabled humans to live better and survive longer, and in return humans and nature developed a healthier, more symbiotic relationship.

People in this scenario reorganized themselves into tribes and used the barter system as their main economic model. The laurisilva forest was given its proper respect and Laura became a sort of god, and her remedies were considered sacred. A special group of monks became dedicated to watching over what was left of the herbarium Laura had compiled centuries before.

A few adventurous visitors were curious about the island. They heard about its strange system of tribes living in harmony with nature and wanted to visit. However, a number of the relatively few tourists that now came to visit the very changed island of Madeira were reported lost and never returned. Human bones were sometimes found washed up on the beach near the rivers that came down from the forests.

Transform

In the ‘transform’ scenario we imagined what might happen to Madeira’s laurisilva forest in a far more distant future (in 1000 years). We imagined the forest embracing mutations. These mutations were the result of climate change, natural disasters, and direct human interventions. New ecosystems emerged and the laurisilva adapted with species that could for example filter, desalinate, and depollute seawater. But plants and animals of the laurisilva were not the only ones who suffered mutations – many humans did as well. There were amphibians living in the levadas (irrigation canals), and humans borrowed features from the forest itself, including the ability to filter water and qualities of the laurisilva’s fauna (e.g. bats and butterflies).

Madeira became a ‘living lab’, and was placed under the protection of UGESCO (United Galaxies Education Science and Culture Organization). This was made possible by a deep study of the seeds and DNA encountered in Laura Silva’s herbarium, which captured the laurisilva forest in its purest form. Laura was revered as one of the first and most revolutionary natural scientists. The laurel oil first distilled by Laura was still studied, and new properties were still being discovered from it. One of the trees belonging to the ‘new laurisilva’ was the Cacooum Laurel. Laurels were crossed with cacao trees and as a result laurel berries were chocolate flavoured.

In the future scenario, the laurisilva forest was replicated in miniature in many biodomes across the world. It was discovered that this particular ecosystem had the power to increase happiness levels in humans who were in contact with it. Those who could not experience the laurisilva forest in a biodome or in Madeira directly could access this happiness through a specially engineered pill. The pill, itself a direct product of the forest, enabled people to experience the laurisilva and all the happiness it could bring through vivid but pleasing hallucinations.

  • Oct 05 / 2014
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Events, Lucid Peninsula, Projects

Lucid Peninsula @ Cluj-Napoca

We are happy to announce that the Lucid Peninsula exhibition is currently running in Cluj-Napoca, it’s opening was on the 3rd of October and it will be running until the 9th of October in FSPAC (fostul Hotel Topaz), str Septimiu Albini 10.

This exhibition is an initiative of AltArt Fundation one of the future fabulators partners.

Here are some images from the exhibition opening!




The ffab team at M-iti would like to thank AltArt and Time's Up for the great times spent in Hainburg and Cluj!

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We will see you again soon in Madeira for the Narrative Strategies Symposium!!

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