Friday, October 30, 2015

The Great Schroeder Project

These past few weeks I have been working on a new project that has peaked my interest and has stretched my Blender 3D learning in the process.  While visiting some close friends of mine and discussing some of the photos that I have on my iPad I showed them the following image of Schroeder from the Peanuts cartoon strip by Charles Shulz.
My friend Kris thought this would make a great picture to have printed and hanging above my piano.  I agreed with her but after thinking about it for a day or so thought it could be made even better with the use of a light display similar to my Indian motorcycle display I had created several years ago as shown in the photo below.
This project turned out very well and so I thought about the Schroeder project further and another brainstorm occurred.  It's a great idea to light up Schroeder and his piano with a lighted display but why not also make the lights be lit in another color and also blink in a sequence like the notes are being played!

Here are a couple good examples that I came across online of this type of display using Plexiglass with more than just one colored light on separate layers.
With this is in mind I set to work using Blender 3D to create the image you see here. The Schroeder display would have Schroeder, the piano and the music staff on one layer lit with a white light.  Each of the four groups of notes would be lit using an additional four blue lights that would light the individual note groups one at a time. After some effort I was able to get the look that I was going for to achieve this image. 
The hardest part about getting the look I wanted for the Blender 3D Schroeder image and the subsequent animation that I have farther down in this post was to get the lighted panel for Schroeder and the music notes to actually look like they were on a Plexiglass panel and lit up by a  light.  This image was one of my test models that I put together in Blender and struggled with for a couple of weeks before a eureka moment happened and it all came together.
Next came the plan of action that I will need to take to actually get the project off of my work table and headed toward completion.  The diagram that you see above is how I hope to accomplish this task.  The Schroeder Plexiglass is inserted into a channel in the plexiglass mount.  This will be light my a white LED strip  in the base of the mount that is controlled by an Arduino microcontroller.  Then the remaining Notes Plexiglass panels will also be installed into their individual channels in the Plexiglass Mount and have separately controlled blue LED lights to turn the displays on an off at the correct time again using the Arduino Controller.  The Schroeder plexiglass will be constantly lit and the notes will blink on and off in a sequence. To best illustrate this I put together an animation using Blender 3D to give you the full effect.
This animation took me two weeks to put together.  Being only 30 seconds long you would think that it would have only taken a couple of hours.  Not so.  Just to render the individual frames for this animation took 72 hours to run on my computer.  This does not even include the two trial runs of the animation that I created that were not to my liking and so like anything else had to go back to the drawing board so to speak to get them the way I wanted them to look. 
So this gives you a good idea of what I want to put together in the coming weeks.... hopefully.  At least now I have a plan of action and can finally show you what I have been working on and planning for an upcoming project.  Until then enjoy the photos and the animation. Have a good day on your current project as well.

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