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BACKYARD SPIDERS

Eye Candy Animation

After I left Dreamgate Studios in 2018, I began contracting as a Developer with Eye Candy Animation in Canberra (www.eyecandyanimation.com) and took part in working on incredible projects with immensely creative developers. One of those projects was the Spiders touring exhibit.

 

‘Spiders’ is a joint exhibition between Questacon and Australian Museum. Eye Candy produced a swag of Augmented Reality Activations, Exhibition Interactives, Projection and Video for the project.”

 

At Eye Candy I was the sole developer working on the Backyard Spiders Interactive Table and I was responsible for delivering the product from conceptualisation through to completion.

While the client had an interactive table already built, they were unhappy with the older 2D experience they had. They had a number of North American spiders they wanted to showcase while also upgrading the experience to be a 3D sandbox environment, full of fun and engaging interactions while still being informative.

 

While it can only take a few hours, the conceptual stage is the most important stage of every project (in my opinion). This is the stage where we work out concerns, restrictions and get answers to our questions. With the “Backyard Spiders” project we had some core guiding deliverables to follow: How many spiders? Where do they live? How do we interact with them? What other interactions can we add to the scene to make it more engaging? With answering these questions we moved onto sketching up our layout and getting a thematic idea on how we can display our spiders.

 

This project was to be built using Unity 2017.3.1 across approximately 4 weeks to be displayed on a 4k touchscreen table with a dedicated PC running a 1080ti GPU.

Creating the spider interactions was a tonne of fun! Working out where they would live, how a user could discover them, there was no shortage of ideas! One of my favourite spiders to build was the trapdoor spider. I created an additional cricket object that the user could pick up and drag around the environment, allowing the user to “coax” the trapdoor spider out of it’s hole to grab the food.

I wrote a script that set off animation triggers on the animator for the trapdoor spider for when the cricket entered a certain radius and then another for when it gets too close and...WHAM! 

You can see when the cricket starts to get in range the spider peeks from under its door, watching its prey. A simple lookat script was used to get the spider to follow the cricket.

One of the more memorable tasks for this project was when I had to study spider movements and behaviour to create accurate animations. I am not arachnophobic however I still found the references would give me shivers from time to time!

Additional interactive objects were added to give users something to play with. These ranged from simple rigid body items like boots and dog bones to giving the user the ability to draw in the sand with their fingers. A simple line renderer was used to create this effect and the drawing would disappear after a few seconds to allow a clean canvas for new users and clean up any unfortunate crude images people were likely to leave behind!

 

Once all the interactions and localisations were in, it came time to polish! Using the Amplify Shader Editor I created vertex shaders to create the effect of wind blowing through the tree branches and the grass as well as the illusion of rippling water reflecting the sky without there being a sky. Add in a bunch of post processing effects and the scene is complete!

 

In conclusion this project was an incredible experience in which I got to work across multiple disciplines with talented industry professionals. Thanks again to Damo, Rach, and the rest of the Eye Candy crew!