Ross Kakuschke

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Computer Consulting

VAL-SM

Video and Lighting Control Software

After doing a few custom installations using Quartz Composer with custom plug-ins, such as the Musical Cars installation, we decided to write a piece of software that could meet the complex needs of a Lighting Designer programming strings of Color Kinetics LED Lights.

Enter the VAL-SM software. Interface Builder was used to lay out the complex Cocoa-driven interface. Recently, the software was used to control the LED lights around the video screens at the Deadmau5 concert in BC Place.

All the effects played on the lights are composed as Quartz Composer compositions, allowing for a simple “plug-in” mechanism for adding custom effects.

The devices are also implemented as Quartz Composer compositions, containing the custom communication plug-ins. This provided an easy ubiquitous way to allow future expansion of the protocols without recompiling the tool itself.

Yet another Quartz Composer plug-in was used to create a dotted preview window for previewing devices, scenes, and effect groups in real-time.

What follows is a more detailed breakdown of the software interface. It breaks down to three sections.

The Device section lets the designer make a list of all the actual physical devices to be used to operate the lights in the installation. All Color Kintetics power supplies are supported, as well as the CueServer and DMX over ethernet.

The Scene section lets the designer create a 2D array of pixels that the devices can map into. For example, 25 ColorKinetics spds60 50×2 devices could map evenly into a 50×50 scene, and the lights laid out physically to create a 50×50 array of pixels; high enough resolution for video.

The Group section lets the designer create effects and map them to areas in the scene. In our example, we could create a single video playing over the whole 50×50 Scene. We could also map a different video to each 50×25 section of the screen, or even play 4 videos on 4 25×25 screens. The possibilities are endless.

The device mapping allows for wrapping of the strings into rows, which can be aligned in any of the possible 8 orientations (the image above shows this arrangement).

Link to images of the Celebrities Installation

Link to images of the Deadmau5 Concert Installation

Sovereign Kiosk

Touch-screen kiosk for Victoria Condominiums

Created for The Sovereign in Victoria, his interactive touch-screen kiosk was an on-site installation of a 40″ LCD panel touch-screen display, with a mac mini running the kiosk software.

Many screens and overlays were created in Interface Builder and saved to separate nib files for ease of editing. The kiosk runtime would load and layer the loaded views accordingly with the kiosk design.

Custom Controller classes were created to animate images and text, then laid out in Interface Builder to create the radio button sections.

The most impressive section of the kiosk is the Floorplans section, featuring a clickable view of the suite layout per floor, and side-by-side comparisons of different suites.

A Quicktime screen saver movie plays after a specified duration of inactivity.

Here is a video showing the kiosk in action.

All art and design specified by Darren Cacary at Resolve Design.

Truck Modz

Truck Modz truck game for kids

Created by the team at Lotusland Studios Inc., this children’s game features animated interactive 3D trucks. The wrench button takes the player into the garage, where they can swap out the front or the back of the truck, as well as paint the truck various colours.

All 3D models and animation were created in Maya, then exported to our custom 3D format, Granola3D. Selection volumes were placed and used to trigger animations on different parts of the truck.

Animation Controller classes managed the state machines of all the parts. The background is a seamless loop of 3D geometry, with random color, vegetation, and animal combinations to create a never-ending landscape. Smoke, Dust, Sparks, and Paint particles are featured in the game and add a cartoony realism. The CB button plays random CB chatter samples, recorded by us.

Art direction by Jake Pokorny, technical direction and programming by Ross Kakuschke, programming by Tom Schulz.

Focalpoint Kiosk


Touch-screen Kiosk for Puerto Los Cabos Real Estate

This kiosk was a 50″ LCD touch-screen display fully installed in the lobby on-site in Puerto Los Cabos. The kiosk is run by a mac mini running the kiosk software.

The Kiosk features a main screen map that zooms into the particular section of the kiosk content. Each section has touchable icons, and the golf section features touchable golf holes with stats.

The kiosk features web-based configuration and online data polling:

The main page shows time, temperature, and forecast data pulled from a local weather website.

The floorplans section shows an area map of the lots, with sold lots coloured in red and available lots in green. A web-based database is polled to get the sold/avaialable status.

Other data in the kiosk is editable using a web-based online form.

The more complex animations were done using Quartz Composer, and hosted in a Cocoa framework.

All design provided by Darren Cacary at Resolve Design.

Hive

Hive Board game for iPhone / iPod Touch

An unexpectedly complex board game turned into an iPhone/iPod Touch game by the team at Lotusland Studios Inc.

The game features 3D pieces and interaction using our proprietary 3D engine, Granola3D, which uses the native OpenGL ES API. The user can play with 5 different tile sets, including a set with real 3D insects poised on top of them.

The AI was by far the most challenging piece of code to write. The AI is a minimax algorithm, featuring alpha-beta pruning, the Killer Move Heuristic, and Iterative Deepening. Many optimizations were made to this recursive search algorithm to eliminate parameter passing and allow for threaded execution.

Networking was later added to Hive, and is implemented using Bonjour and TCP/IP, in an effort to support earlier iPhone API’s. This became moot as Bluetooth was offered in OS 3.0.

All the menu screens were laid out in Interface Builder and saved to separate files, which were dynamically loaded as needed. A 3D animation plays in the background of all menu screens.

Art direction by Jake Pokorny, Technical direction and programming by Ross Kakuschke, programming by Tom Schulz.

Original Hive game by John Yianni at Gen42 Games. Soundtrack by John Tennant.

Video Graffiti

Touch-screen video graffiti installation

The Video Graffiti installation consists of a touch-screen display, with software designed to be as simple as an etch-a-sketch, connected to a high-power video projector pointed at the side of a building. The effect is akin to graffiti tagging the building with light.

The software was constructing by modifying the Gimp-based image editor, Seashore. A full-screen kiosk mode was programmatically added using Cocoa and underlying Gimp programming paradigms.

The gimp brushes and drawing was extended to include spacing of brush strokes and random orientation of the strokes for the leaves stamp (for example).

Here’s some shots of the Calgary King Eddy installation.

Here is a link the Illuminate Yaletown Event Schedule.

Interface design by Shaun August at EOS Lightmedia.

Musical Cars

Lighting installation for Illuminate Yaletown

Each car in the Mini dealership has 4 Color Kinetix ColorBlast fixtures lighting them. As keys are pressed on a midi keyboard, cars are lit up to match.

I wrote some custom plug-ins for Quartz Composer to communicate with a CueServer lighting control box which activates the lights. Using the Quartz Composer suite of patches, several colourful pattern modes were designed by the Designer and implemented by me.

Someone shot a great video. Here is a link the Illuminate Yaletown Event Schedule.

Installation and effect design by Ben Feagin Jr at EOS Lightmedia.