We premiered OverWatch at International Symposium for Smart Graphics 2010 in Banff, Canada. Here’s some photos and video.
The main challenge of designing OverWatch was overcoming the fact that, as we were designing and building both content and a system for our own use, the tension between visuals and the musical performance was difficult to establish without making fairly arbitrary decisions. We’re looking to talk to a whole range of musicians and visual artists to try and expand our perspective on the problem. So far we’ve contacted Tom Kirk (media manager for Muse), Andreas Nilsson and Michael Nyman among others.
Looking after the system itself took some of our attention: we have enough to do without babysitting an additional computer: this needs to be far more hands free. The system needs to know who’s playing and what without us manually resetting it every time.
The limitations of Blender as a graphics engine became apparent as we developed the work, firstly in terms of performance, secondly in terms of establishing any kind of flow: the graphics are too ‘gamey’ to be involving even for us. The next step will be to use pre-rendered video with live actors,We threw the net too wide by trying to do staging with such a simple system. This leads us to our next project (The Radio Girl).
The piece held the audience’s attention (in fact engendered some kind of change of context in the evening: everyone sat down and listened: they’d stood up for John Bowers ElectroAcoustic set). The system worked flawlessly apart from one overrun where we sent too many messages per frame.
The piece was ‘playable’ we felt the visuals added to our own energy in playing the work. I kept finding myself returning to particular phrases on the guitar in order to affect the visuals. The connection had a kind of tangibility that we could get to like.