FX Factory Interactive
installation for children
The FX Factory
is an interactive installation structured into scenes for a group
of 5-8 children. The specifications of the dimensions of the Environments
are the support of the interaction of larger groups and the support
of cooperative strategies of the group members.
The target group are children in the primary school age of 6 to 10 years.
The childrens' place of action is defined by a 8x8m large surface marked with a white square-shaped dancing area in the centre of the darkened theater. Around it the floor is coloured black. The foundation of this surface consists of a swinging floor, common in dance-theaters. The top of the surface consists of 144 wooden square elements which can vibrate, each euipped with a 50 W Soundfloor element. Over the surface, in the middle of the 4 quadrants, four Marquee 8500 data projectors with downwards pointing lenses are 6.5 m above the ground. Close to each projector a downward pointing CCD-camera is attached with an infrared filter as well as a 50 W infrared-flooder. The place of action is vaulted by an arrangement of 40 loudspeakers which is dome-shaped and of which the lower ring has a diameter of 14 m (audiodome).
The technical basis is a type of interactive media stage developed in the Animax multimedial theater. The childrens' place of action is defined by a 8x8m large surface marked with a white square-shaped dancing area in the centre of the darkened theater. Around it the floor is coloured black. The foundation of this surface consists of a swinging floor, common in dance-theaters. The top of the surface consists of 144 wooden square elements which can vibrate, each euipped with a 50 W Soundfloor element. Over the surface, in the middle of the 4 quadrants, four Marquee 8500 data projectors with downwards pointing lenses are 6.5 m above the ground. Close to each projector a downward pointing CCD-camera is attached with an infrared filter as well as a 50 W infrared-flooder. The place of action is vaulted by an arrangement of 40 loudspeakers which is dome-shaped and of which the lower ring has a diameter of 14 m (audiodome).
By means of the projectors and a modular system based on PCs for the construction of any desired size of big displays for graphic presentations and including video, an 8x8 large floor projection was established.
By their positions
and movements, e.g. jumping around, the eight children can influence
the contents of the floor projection individually, with the whole
group or in subgroups. They all wear black baseball caps, the tops
of the caps equipped with infrared-light-reflecting foil. The videotracking
registers the IR-light-reflection. By using four cameras and computer
systems, the videotracking is fast and stable enough for the allocation
of the eight children. Stereoscopic evaluation makes an integration
of actions, for example jumping, possible. The interactively controllable
graphics and their succession in scenes are to be found in a programm
module in the controll-machine preceding the four presentation computers.
The data of the input media is interpreted here and used for the controlling
of the graphics, the way grafic events can become a trigger for acoustic
events (e.g., collision of surfaces: Underscoring as a medium for
the recording of sounds in cartoons). An additional projection (320
X 120 cm) is situated 3 m away from the border of the action surface
and in approximately 2 m of height. It gives insight to the direction
room of the FX Factory, from where from the young inventor WHOOZIT
later later talks to the children.
The scenic and dramaturgical framework consists of these animations and the to the story of FX-Factory belonging decisive screen sequences and sound elements. After the children are equipped with their baseball caps with the reflectors and when they enter the dark Animax-hall, the game begins with a prologue: the slapsticklike, funny panorama-radio playmakes the children begin to locate the sound sources that are situated in the darkened area and look at them. (steps leading from the stage surroundings to the woodden stairway, onto the gallery, WHOOZIT's head bumping into a steel bar with a scream of pain which interrupts his long monolog while searching for the mistake in the machine, WHOOZIT wandering around on top of the grid ceiling and finally, his falling-down to the direction window where the inventor then appears as a comic figure and notices the children).
Assumption: The brilliant tinkerer WHOOZIT has been working on an invention since a long time in the lab FX Factory, a studio for special effects.
Until now, his fantastic machines have not been of big interest yet. Therefore, WHOOZIT is surprised and very much excited, that the Nobel prize committee has announced its coming to a demonstration of his invention. WHOOZIT's prepartions for the demonstration are running on full speed, when something unexpected happens! But he alone cannot solve the problem, his only hope is help from elsewhere, his inventor-colleagues....
The children enter the darkened Animax-hall and immediately find themselves on a big square surface which represents the lab of the tinkerer WHOOZIT. WHOOZIT is just making his newest invention ready for the big demonstration. But there are problems with the machine. Now the children must help energetically and with much movement to get the new engine going.
But the light has gone out on account of the machine error. It also reduces the energy supply to the lab. The children learn how to move a cone of light surrounding them in the darkness, another invention of WHOOZIT's, which makes it possible to find the broken machine (one of eight machines).
When the children
locate the broken machine, the action field is flooded by viruses
which try to penetrate and threaten the control centre which is in
a lower layer of the lab. Now the children get to know the instrument
the searching light - and in cooperative, synchronized joint movement
an instrument merging to a floodlight- from another side: by pushing
their surrounding aura reinforced with teeth and short joint approaches
and braking, a chance seems to appear to stop the microbes from penetrating
the black hole in the middle of the stage which apparently attracts
all the microbes. But even this quickly implemented invention of WHOOZIT
does not solve the problem, and the children must eventually start
the Wirbelama, a sort of time- and space-machine to move down to the
control centre. There, they must fix the main pipelines they find
when they arrive.
This game situation
requires a high level of concentration and mutual helping of the children
for a solution. Predominantly, the task for every child is: connecting
two points with a line in a turning area - even the complex spatial
sound network turns in the same speed with it- but arbitrarily and
different with every demo the obstacle screws emerge at different
places. They don't allow a straight junction at some places and force
the children to a detour which, however, has consequences for the
positions of all other main pipes. This destroys the early winner's
After this complex
choreography there is some running and jumping around. The machines
call with vague rumbling under the childrens' feet for the sealing
of the floor with plates, accompanied by a groovy rhythm. Then, the
" Purple Harmony Engine " is once again ready for the demonstration
and can be tried out by the children immediately. Right when they
finish their picture, the Nobel prize committee rings the doorbell.
The event from 9/1/2002 till 3/3/2002 was well accepted and was sold out in just a few days after the WDR ran a report on the FX Factory on the 25/1/2002 during the programm "service time family "
The psychological institute of the Bonn university is integrated into the scientific accompanying of the FX Factory and therefore of the MEET-project. Dr. PD Michael Kavsek (dpt. development psychology and educational psychology) is examining the video-recordings of the behaviour of the children in context of a dissertation advised by him. This data is provided by the BEC which uses a specially developed recording system.