Shark Break: Saving the Oceans in 15 minutes a Day

August 8, 2009

The latest in saving the world through digital media and games: SharkBreak.

You can embed all sorts of widgets, usually with cute fish and messages about ocean preservation, onto your computer desktop. The catch line is that it gives you a “creative, fun, relaxing environment” that would hopefully encourage reflection about the marine environment, which is also often positioned as a space for contemplation and relaxation (see tropical island vacations).
Not sure how effective the message is (or if there’s really an educational component), but I applaud the effort, especially the small sea animals that follow your cursor around. Also interesting is the attempt to “wigitize” marine conservation – here’s an approach that embeds small pieces into your digital environment (shooting for ambience), rather than producing another one stop shot website for conservation information.


“Early Bloomer”

September 10, 2008

Short underwater animated film produced by Sony Pictures Imageworks and created and directed by Kevin Johnson. The film showed at SIGGRAPH in 2003, and with Finding Nemo, led to new developments in computer imaging of underwater environments.

The humor of this short comes from the fact that the tadpole grows legs under the water and thus becomes out of place with his tadpole friends.


Clorox Mermaid commercial

May 11, 2008

Continuing my underwater commercial kick, here’s one from Clorox. A young mermaid swims in a mystical underwater environment and follows a message in a bottle up to the surface. The mermaid turns out to be a little girl taking a bath. A mother, getting ready for a night out, turns to look at her daughter. A voice says: “Because a bathroom can be more than just a bathroom. Clorox helps keep it clean, even the imaginary parts.”

This commercial (yet again) depicts the underwater space as a clean, pristine space (which establishes the conditions of possibility for imaginary spaces and imagination) and like the Whirlpool commercials, makes this the natural space of children and women.


Ariston Aqualtis “Underwater World” commercial

May 7, 2008

Another underwater commercial involving a washing machine. The spot starts out with a hand closing the washing machine, we zoom in through the front window, the frame disappears and we are underwater. What seems to be fish and rays are really socks and blankets. The space is pristine and magical – at the end we zoom back out to see a little boy gazing in (as through a porthole). The voice says, “the new Ariston Aqualtis. Deeply different.”

This commercial, like the Farmers insurance spot I wrote about earlier, depicts underwater space (specifically within the washing machine) as a transformative and surreal space where anything is possible (and any type of cleaning is possible). This particular spot won a Gold Lion at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival.


Battle for the Coral Reefs

April 9, 2008

Battle for the Coral Reefs” is a version of the classic shooter game adapted for underwater environments. The initial description reads:

“Our scene begins three years following the great arctic devastation. With eighty percent of the planet underwater, humanity’s only hope is to help heal what is remaining. Clear the ocean of waste, and bring back the amazing coral reefs.”

Trapped in a post-apocalyptic underwater future , you swirl around in a fish-inspired space ship shooting trash. When you level up, parts of the coral reef grow back. The controls and dynamic are limited and aren’t really adapted for an underwater setting.

“Battle for the Coral Reefs” is a politically oriented newsgame that uses the coral reef crisis as a stimulus for the game’s narrative. Beyond this, it doesn’t really engage the underwater space or the environmental issues.


Conserve Our Ocean Legacy: Ocean Survivor Game

April 6, 2008

This video game is part of the Conserve Our Ocean Legacy campaign to end overfishing. You are a fish and must escape various types of fishing (trawlers, hook and line, etc). When you are caught, the game displays information about the type of fishing that caught you.

You naturally sink in this game and your only control is to swim upward (and jump out of the water). This parallels the goal of the game, which is simply to stay alive (but you eventually die. The effect of the game, like many other political newsgames, is to basically demonstrate the futility of trying to win (for a fish) and potentially effect frustration in the player which can then be channeled towards change.


RealFlow 3d animation software

April 5, 2008

RealFlow is a fluid and dynamics simulation tool for 3d animation and the standard environment for animating water. Many of the case studies on the RealFlow site show samples of moving liquids (more compelling graphically) but it can also be used to simulate underwater spaces. The the program is particle based: physical properties control the particles’ behaviors and their interaction with each other, as well as extraneous impulses, forces and accelerations. It can also calculate buoyancy of objects and simulate their motion in water. It seems that the transition to particle based animation environments (versus layer based or object based) allows for new types of simulations of environmental conditions, and thus new modes of underwater mediation.

RealFlow has been used for animation in a variety of feature films, including Poseidon. In 2007, the creators of RealFlow were awarded the Technical Achievement Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.