Hamlet Flow

Jason Marsh
Apr 5, 2018 · 3 min read

All 174,379 characters in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, rendered in real-time in a text sculpture.

Here’s another example of the flow framework in action, this time showing off our massive text engine. “Hamlet Flow” is an example of viewing 170K characters, 1400 sentences, of text, each character crisp up close and carefully anti-aliased in the distance.

This is more art project than usable communication device, yet it is a good example to discuss our key proposition:

What is truly memorable? How do we make ideas stick?

Interaction in VR and flat-screen

First, some information about interactions (and see Supported Platforms below).

On a computer flat screen, click and drag the mouse to turn your head, but better is to try it in VR or on a reasonably new phone.

Movement controls:
· On desktop, use the arrow keys on your keyboard to move forward/back/left/right (also WASDRF keys)
· On GearVR controller, Rift Touch controllers, and Vive wands, use the thumbpad to fly forward/back
· On mobile, use a long-press (2 seconds) to anywhere to fly forward

Check the supported platforms below, but demos first, right? Come back to make sure you see it all and get the why behind it all.

DEMO HERE: https://hamlet.flow.gl

One of the most satisfying platforms to try is the Oculus Browser in GearVR. The way it works so smoothly on a little phone is, to me, very exciting.

Fly through Hamlet as a text sculpture in VR

The algorithm is simple

The longer the sentence, the smaller the text. This turns some long, 1cm high soliloquies into grid-like lines.

Time is arranged close to distant.

Sentences are placed randomly at one of three 90-degree rotations.

The effect is one of “text as architecture”, creating structures around you, using your spatial cognition to make it stick.

Bigness produces wonderment

The scale of this content is striking. So many words and sentences all around you, moving, fading, changing color, yet each a concrete object in its own place. Wonderment is sticky.

Subtle motion encourages you to pause, look,… wait for each reveal.

Text as data viz

The text in this example is stylized with a custom font I created (modern but hints of medieval calligraphic cross-slashes), which reduces readability but provides a unique feel.

It shows an important part of the platform: data dots in space are not as meaningful as text. But if you have a large dataset, you need to show lots of text with highly performant code. And our eyes are very sensitive to the quality of the text, it has to be crisp when you get close.

Perhaps an experience like this is a ‘reminder’ of the big picture of Hamlet, communicated entirely through un-filtered details: all present, all contributing credibility.

VR not to re-create the real world, but to see the impossible

One friend, Emily Olman, was particularly moved by the experience because she had performed in a production of Hamlet: each phrase become a meaningful memory, yet experienced in a totally new way.

DEMO HERE: https://hamlet.flow.gl

Supported Platforms

Known good platforms:
· Desktop Google Chrome on Windows and Mac
· Oculus Browser in Oculus Go
· Oculus Browser for GearVR
· WebXR for Android Chrome
· Oculus Rift and HTC Vive running Firefox
· Android Chrome magic window mode and Google Cardboard
· iOS 10 and up using Safari
· Samsung Internet VR browser in GearVR and Go
· Windows MR Headsets, including Samsung Odyssey, Acer and HP headsets

Not supported on:
· Chrome for Vive or Rift
· Older than iPhone 7 (just not enough resolution to see anything)
· AR on ARcore browser (support coming soon!)

About the data

The content is from Project Gutenberg: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1524

About the Authors

Flow Hamlet was created/designed by me, Jason Marsh, with additional programming from Aleksei Karpov and Iker Jamardo.

Contact me via twitter: @jmarshworks

Jason Marsh

Written by

Data storyteller and CEO of Flow Immersive

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade