Video for New Media - Final

10 Aug 2016
courses, documentation, vfnm

For my Video for New Media final, I wanted to create a warped 3D character. I liked the glitch aesthetic, and in asking around about current adaptations of glitch video, Todd Bryant suggested that 3D models and worlds have many interesting corollaries with glitch videos.

Here’s the end result:

Kiss & Yell [VFNM] from Zach Coble on Vimeo.
The documentation gods blessed me with a new type of glitch starting at :27 that I haven’t seen before or since 👍\_(ツ)_/👍

I found a few inspiring examples:

Plug Party 2k3 (2014) [excerpt] 🔊 Watch the full version on my site:

A video posted by Albert Omoss (@albertomoss) on

And, of course, the work coming out of ITP's own Matt Romein's thesis project:

Thanks to Victor Morales for showing me how unlock some of that @albertomoss flavor for my 3D scans using #unrealengine

A video posted by Matt Romein (@header_munging) on

I was drawn to the hypnotic motion of the stretching bodies and the juxtaposition of realistic-looking 3D bodies twisting in unimaginable ways. During my research, I had the idea to do a glitched VR version of Tino Sehgal's Kiss. I liked the idea.

Sehgal's Kiss is a performance art piece acquired by MoMA (for "a five-figure amount"). Sehgal provides basic instructions to actors of the performance, which is intended to be an ephemeral experience - no photographs or videos are allowed during the performance.

The slow deliberate movement of the models’s bodies in Sehgal’s piece translated well to the above examples. Moreover, adapting a voyeuristic piece that can only be experienced in person into a VR environment and using glitch to heighten this tension was a way for me to express my frustration with the commercialization of VR as an “empathy machine.”


The overall process involved

  1. Finding 3D models and animations
  2. Loading the models/animations into Unity
  3. Creating Unity animations to finess the character movement
  4. Glitching the characters

The first step was to find characters I could animate. Since my budget was $0, I went to Mixamo, which has a bunch of free 3D models, and picked a couple of the non-zombie characters in their set. Mixamo also has (free) animations, so I browsed for ones that would come close to replicating the movements in Kiss, settling on Zombie Crawl and Prone Roll.

The next step was to learn Unity. More specifically, learning how to

  1. create a new project and set up the basic of the 3D environment
  2. import the Mixamo characters with their animations
  3. adjust the characters' positioning and movements to give them that ol' romantic feeling
  4. glitch the characters using the ragdoll function

Unity had a steeper learning curve than I anticipated, but the documentation and online community was quite useful. Starting with the Roll-A-Ball tutorial was an quite useful piece of advice, since it quickly goes over the basics of setting up a 3D environment and covers all those little details that, as a beginner, you'd never think of until it's too late.

Next Steps

I received a lot of useful feedback from the class. Everyone thought it was weird. I'm glad that came across. Gabe suggested looking into other types of glitches specific to 3D environments; my project used one particular type of glitch and apparently there are several other types. And once I have a better sense of the types of glitches, then I can make more conscious decisions about which ones I use.

Also, I couldn't get the plugin working in time that would bring the project into a VR headset like Oculus or Vive, so I want to get that working.

Based on the positive feedback I receive, I'd like to continue working on the project and maybe turn it into something for the Winter Show. I'm taking PComp this fall and it will be interesting to consider how to incorporate physical interaction into the project. One possibility would be to create joysticks that allow users to control the movement of each character in the environment, and the characters glitch when they touch.

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