Paul Tschirgi

Animation and Interactive Media
“Interactive Performance Mapping”

Paul Tschirgi

Interactive experiences such as video games and simulations bring many technologies together to capture aspects of real life in an immersive world. This project captured live performances of a violinist and original choreographed dancers. Their movements and sounds were then translated into digital form where they can be experienced from the perspective of a viewer using game controller buttons. Translating the action from real life to the fabricated characters involved filming the performances from multiple angles. The video was then used to manually animate three-dimensional characters created according to drawing concepts in a computer program. Finally the models were placed in a professional display environment where game controllers allowed viewers to experience the violin performance and dance from different angles. This technique explored a new way to engage an audience in performance art in an interactive environment.

This work was funded, in part, by Epic Games.

Bandit: The Pratt Street Riots during the Civil War

Bandit represents a cross section of art, engineering, and history finalized in the form of an education video game. The game centers around the Pratt Street Riots, one of the seminal events in the American Civil War – important not only to the nation’s history but also because it highlights the struggle between the citizens of Baltimore and the Union soldiers. The player plays an animal, sneaking through Baltimore to collect documents and overhear conversations – exploring the viewpoints of and motivations behind the involved factions. The implementation represents a culmination of students’ studies in both Art and Computer Science, combining detailed 3D models and animations with complex behavioral programming to create a rich and engaging environment for historical learning.

This work was supported in part by the Habrowski Fund for Teaching Innovation, Epic Games, and NVIDIA.

tschirgi Games
“Interactive Performance Mapping” collaboration with Courtney Tyler at URCAD 2015.

What research experiences have you had?
This year I recorded the movement of live-action dancers and a musician and then animated three-dimensional characters according to the reference for video games. Last year I began developing a 3D phone game, Deliverance, a post-apocalyptic pizza delivery game that is scheduled to release in fall 2015.

How did you find the research opportunity?
I coordinated the collaboration personally with music performance majors, dance students, and animators. Mr. Doug Hamby was able to offer me course credit through a scholarship specific study program. Mr. Eric Smallwood and Mr. Neil McDonald both supported my other game research projects with special study credit.

Who did you work with on this project?
I worked with undergraduate students Calvin Kumagai, Jared Higgins, Don Greger, Savannah Myers, and Courtney Tyler on these research projects.

Do you get course credit for this work? Paid? How much time do you put into it?
I got course credit for these projects. In a previous project I received hourly pay for a 3D historical installation work.

What academic background did you have before you started?
I was fortunate to have taken two years of 3D animation classes through a special program, Applied Physics Lab, at my high school. I had started learning about three-dimensional graphics on my own in middle school.

How did you learn what you needed to know to be successful in this project?
I’ve taught myself almost completely from online tutorials how to create the models and code needed to create interactive projects.

What was the hardest part about your research?
The amount of time required to create all the elements needed is the biggest obstacle. Creating just the character’s figure can take 20 hours at the least depending on the quality of result. Working on programming for games often times reveals errors in the art models and that leads to having to redo work.

How does this research experience relate to your work in other classes?
My entire focus at college has been to further the techniques and abilities I use to create interactive art in an exciting and new way. I took the game projects class three times because it was an excellent experience each time for working with others across disciplines. I also took 3D animation with Ching Lau twice to study advanced 3D sculpting skills.

What is your advice to other students about getting involved in research?
Strive to combine your ideas with what you can learn through advanced techniques or study. I have absorbed a vast array of skill sets from thinking about what my goals are and chasing them through obstacles of what I don’t know yet.

What are your career goals?
I have registered my own games company: Tschirgi Games. I plan to release my first phone game, Deliverance, in fall 2015. After that I will pursue release of a new game on console and computer.

What else are you involved in on campus?
The Game Developer’s Club has had the most powerful impact on my life and career. The club is a group of many talented and devoted artists and programmers that taught me exactly what creating games is about.

See Paul’s Youtube Page: Tschirgi Games


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