note, I'm just the uploader, the infos about this generative demo are following...
More infos (sources, download links) can be found here: pouet.net/prod.php?which=8253
tom thumb is a short film (3 minutes) which I created in my spare time during june 2002
at the time, I was experimenting with ways of using my background in computer games and realtime graphics in unusual ways.
as a result, I decided to create a "generative film".
the film is generative in the sense that each time it is rendered by the computer, many of the details are changed. generative work with computers throws up interesting questions about free will, and where the work of the artist ends and the job of randomisation begins.
In this first attempt at a generative work, I only wanted to randomise the details - so that each rendering feels like the same (scripted) film, but is more like a "performance" by computer, rather than a traditional movie. Each time a human being performs a theatrical piece (for example), the script stays the same, but the minutiae change each night.
the files for download on this site represent a recording of one particular rendering.
the music, for example, is partly random: it is resequenced each time the film is rendered; in fact the whole soundtrack, including the design of all the sounds, EQ and FX, was "written" entirely in C code. the melodies are random, based on repeating patterns of intervals chosen by me, which "decay" gradually during the course of the film, gradually becoming more atonal.
the shape of the environment also changes: the pattern of triangles on the ground, as well as the whole tree, and the vines, are generated using fractal and randomly seeded genetic algorithms. the vines are programmed with "AI" to grow up the tree, balancing their desire for light with the need to be close to the tree trunk.
finally, the fragments of words and human faces overlayed onto the film are changed; they are taken from 3 hours of footage of two actresses (florence evans and alison bauld) who were recorded speaking the words of the classic english fairytale "tom thumb". the words are rearranged using a statistical technique known as "markov chains", which results in gibberish containing fragments of the original text, which still sounds vaguely english but makes little sense. originally, I was going to make more of this - I had wanted to play with the idea of the repetetive nature of fairy stories and how that relates to the possibilities of generative film - but due to lack of time I shall have to leave that for a later project.
the structure, timing, human figure and camera movements are scripted - albeit with some variation in the precise paths of the cameras.
tom thumb was designed, edited and rendered entirely using custom software written in C++.
as with most of bluespoon's work (realtime club visuals, demos etc) the look, feel and design is inseperable from this coding process. I am greatly inspired by the work of people like john maeda - and strongly believe that there is much fertile ground (still unexplored) in using and programming computers as artistic tools - especially when the use of standard packages is avoided. "design by numbers"... or even "beauty by numbers".
most of tom thumb can be rendered in realtime on a standard PC with a 3D graphics card like the one used by modern games; for the final render, I add several post process effects, currently implemented in software (no hardware acceleration), which means that to render a version of the 3 minute film at 100 frames per second PAL resolution took about 8 hours. with a little work, I could have made the whole thing run in realtime, but I didn't have time for that either. perhaps another day...
I hope you enjoy the film, and please feel free to email me your reactions, I'd appreciate the feedback.
- alex, december 2002
tom thumb is copyright alex evans 2002