Monday, 14 January 2013

Power to the Pixels Exhibition

Recently we hosted our first group exhibition at the MAP Gallery in Leeds. This was an oppertunity to showcase the work produced in our 'Game Art and Machinima' module, as well as network with potential clients or employers.

Preparation for the exhibition really kicked in to gear roughly a week before the show. This is meant that we perhaps weren't able to advertise as extensively as we could have with more time. However, in spite of this, I felt classmates pulled together and really branded the event well. The characters we had produced within the module became mascots, appearing in the main poster/flyers as well as a large banner which hung in the entrance to the gallery. This seemed to give our exhibition a sense of character and identity. On top of this, The alien model we were all required to complete for the module, appeared in stings which were shown before each finished cutscene was projected on the night of the show. Again, this branding really helped really bring all of the various contents of the exhibition together.

The platform used to plug the event was the social media site 'Facebook'. This meant we were able to share and invite friends. One element we needed to consider, was how we marketed the whole idea of the exhibition to Facebook users with potentially no prior knowledge toward animation, especially within a realtime game engine. Hopefully by opting to use the phrase 'game cinematics', in the event description, we were able to communicate our intentions for the module to the general public.

The Venue itself offered a nice and practical setup. There was a small entrance lobby where guests were greeted with food and drink before entering the main exhibition. Inside, our development work was mounted and hung around the wall at roughly eye level. This invited guests to browse our work. In hindsight, perhaps I personally could have tried to communicate the process better by including more stages of development within my wall displays (grey lambert models showing the green highlighted mesh in maya, unfolded UV texture maps with the finished textures beneath the mesh in photoshop) I did include the turn-around drawings for my ship as well as the finished model which I had added a specular bump map to, incorporated a blue tinted three point lighting rig as well as illuminating the green cockpit, which I had then rendered out in Maya. I felt to some degree, this highlighted the process showing the original drawings next to the finished 3D product.

I have to say I was impressed with the thought put into the set up. In the left centre of the room, interactive Unity turntables of all our characters were projected on the front wall, which could be cycled through by guests. At the right centre, similarly guests were able to explore our virtual game environments in which the cut scenes took place. I imagine that this hands on experience may have helped the public gain an understanding of what exactly it was we were trying to produce. By breaking down the scenes into their separate assets (the game characters and game level), hopefully visitors could  begin to see that we were not working on a refined pre rendered animation, but working within a realtime game environment, although I do still feel this could have been a slightly confusing concept to grasp without it being elaborated clearly. Perhaps some text around the exhibition explaining the concept of what we were producing could have helped, or maybe even simply standing by our work and explaining our intentions. Finally a show reel of our finished products was projected on the far wall to the left of the entrance.

On reflection, I do feel that considering the short time we had to prepare and advertise the event, we can be collectively satisfied as a group with the outcome, and gain some confidence that given more time, we could produce a fantastic showcase of everyones work. Unfortunately, we had a few set backs with the weather and some miscommunications on the location of the gallery itself. Despite this, I still feel that there was a healthy turnout. Perhaps next time, I should utilise the opportunity more to network and discuss my work with others. Still, being our first public exhibition, I believe it offered experience for future shows.

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