Creative Coders: Listen to the artist

Our motion-tracking rig in first flight for the Qube Effect at the Tivoli, Brisbane.

Lately I’ve been working on the tech for two separate VR projects, one with a filmmaker and one with a sculptor. In each of these projects, a similar situation has occurred may strike a chord with other problem solvers:

  1. An artist requests feature or explains a possibility
  2. The software guy (me in this case) formulates an invisible understanding
  3. A prototype feature is created and demoed to the artist, iteration begins

Between step 2 and 3 is a very complicated and undocumented little workflow and depends on the mind of the coder personally. To illustrate, a type of motion was described and I immediately jumped on trigonometry because of how nice I know sinusoidal curves to be. But linear motion was the final solution to both moving a camera on a dolly and revealing parts of a form to an audience.

Perhaps the iteration process could be short-circuited with some design illustration before a prototype is even created? This is well known wisdom on the project level but I wonder about working moment-to-moment.

Ultimately I think the desire to find mathematical or process-driven solutions is sometimes too strong for technical people. It can drown out important subtle details that artists and clients have communicated perhaps unknowingly.

My conclusion

Try to listen to your own inner artist, think about the end result and empathise with the product owner for as long as possible during the specification phase.

It might feel like holding on when you need to piss but think about that sweet relief when you can finally crack out the sine, cos, smoothstep, perlin noise and interpolation without distraction.

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