How Animation Can Interact with Nature How Animation Can Interact with Nature

How Animation Can Interact with Nature

I’ve written fairly often about the contemporary evolution of animation beyond the flat, rectangular, non-interactive screen. Animation will increasingly be integrated into the built environment over the coming years, and new applications of the art form will evolve. One exciting area I hadn’t considered, however, is how animation could be integrated with a natural backdrop. These possibilities are explored in the impressive projection mapping experiment “Lit Tree” by Seoul/London-based Kimchi and Chips which encourages audiences to interact with trees through an animated interface:

Through the use of video projection, a tree is augmented in a non-invasive way, enabling the presentation of volumetric light patterns using itʼs own leaves as voxels (3D pixels). We have developed our own structured light system (called MapTools-SL) which scans the location of every pixel in 3D, allowing a cloud of scattered projector pixels to be used as 3D Voxels.

The tree invites viewers with a choreographed cloud of light that can respond visitors motion. As visitors approach, they can explore the immediate and cryptic nature of this reaction. The tree can form gestures in this way, and can in turn detect the gestures of its visitors. By applying a superficial layer of immediate interaction to the tree, can people better appreciate the long term invisible interaction that they share with it?

The most fascinating by-product of such an idea is that the animation could potentially assist plant growth. It would be cool to get some biologists involved and have them collaborate with animators on developing this further:

Since the colour temperature of light produced by a video projector’s bulb is similar to the surface of the sun (5800K), we suggest that over time, the tree could naturally react to the light that is projected onto it….We listen to the tree’s reaction through the detailed 3D scans of its shape that are produced by the projection system. This type of photosynthesis would also allow for the tree to self-optimise for projection. Leaves which are in shadow from the projection move out to find the projector’s light. Furthermore light wasted inside the tree is absorbed in photosynthesis, which converts local carbon dioxide to oxygen.

More details on the Kimchi and Chips website.