My year of Master’s degree in Digital Creation at the Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue (Canada) is characterized by the production of a multimedia project. This ambitious project must take advantage of all the courses offered during the year in order to create an immersive experience.
This is how our team of 5 students was born, all driven by the wish to show nature and its mysteries. We chose the name Physis, one of the fundamental concepts of Greek philosophy expressing what we call nature, the world, truth and reality. We wanted our name to evoke the dreamy, the mysterious: all the visible and invisible things that we find in our environment.
We are halfway through the year and we have been able to build a first prototype of our project: Thallo.
CONCEPT : The tree is a fascinating and majestic being. It is essential to life on Earth and different cultures consider it in different ways. Our group, Physis, wishes to highlight this living being and the natural processes that revolve around it with an interactive installation. By crossing a luminous circle, the spectator will be transported into a dreamlike and majestic universe where he will face the Tree of Life and its secrets.
In Greek mythology, Thallo is the goddess of flowering and the daughter of Zeus and Themis. She is in charge of looking after the flowers and fruits. She is the personification of spring, the season of life, of renewal, of the cycle. Through our project, we wish to portray our vision of the Tree of Life within a forest, in an immersive and dreamlike environment of our own creation. The Tree of Life is the central tree in most cultures around the globe but has many different representations.
In order to give you a better idea of the experience, we will review the different elements that make up the installation.
First of all, the spectator enters a kind of SAS that acts as a preshow for the experience. He is then immersed in a musical atmosphere and an animated explanatory text is projected. He is then invited to enter the main room.
The luminous circle presented on the diagram opposite serves as a gateway to the dreamlike world we have created. It invites the spect-actor to come into our environment, to be closer to the tree and discover all its secrets. It symbolizes the circularity of life and nature, the « Circle of Life » present in many cultures.
The visitor then faces a huge Tree of Life of more than 3m50. As there is not a universal species of Tree of Life but hundreds according to the regions of the world, the religions and the sensitivities of each one, we decided to work on a tree of our invention, created by our care in paper mache. This tree made of recycled materials is displayed in the center of the installation.
The complete experience is composed of a 3min cycle, played in loop, and depicting a complete day in accelerated (with day and night).
In addition to the Tree of Life, the immersion is allowed by a projection behind the latter placing this living being in a natural environment: its forest. A second projection is made on the ceiling to extend this tree, to show the sky but also the surroundings. This device allows us to maintain the spectator immersed in the experience. These two projections were made in 3D on Unity and are rendered in real time.
In perfect synchronization, a mapping is made on the trunk of the Tree of Life. This allows us to give it life, to reinforce its impact on the surrounding nature and to create magic.
For example, during the day, we can observe animal shadows on the bark or have the impression that the tree is breathing and that its heart is beating (an element reinforced by a loudspeaker hidden in the trunk to hear its beats and create a vibration if the visitor puts his hand on the bark).
At night, the magic is revealed: the roughness and the roots seem to come to life, fireflies arrive and phosphorescent stains allow to highlight our Tree. These animations were made with After Effects and then mapped with Resolume (just like the rest of the projections).
On the ground, the spectator finds paper roots as well as a projection of virtual roots reacting to his steps and his placement around the trunk. An interaction possible thanks to a RealSens camera and the Touch Designer software.
The decor is completed by several suspended elements: – fruits of lights creating a play of shadows on the canvases and symbolizing the fruits of the tree, – fabrics of words inspired by the prayer trees and composed of testimonies evoking the relationship between the Men and the nature in several cultures and languages.
Thallo must be seen as a first version of our project which will evolve over the next few months. It allowed us to carry out many large-scale tests on interactivity and mapping, and to train on the Resolume software.
On my side, I worked on the making of the Tree, the animations projected on the trunk and the final installation. I was also in charge of running all the software together in OSC via Resolume.