Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Ballerina Dances With the Geometry She Creates While Dancing

Miscellaneous
STEM
Edward Hessler

It was a long time ago when I talked with a local physicist about an unconventional mechanics course he offered for students of athletics and dance. The student laboratory was a gymnasium and the tools, primitive these days but innovative then, included the use of small lights that could be attached to participants and an inexpensive photographic technique that allowed students to analyze human motion.

The laboratory was classic "sticky tape and string physics," i.e., it made use of uncostly, common materials and human cleverness, one based on a good understanding of physics.

I was reminded of that conversation when I watched a short video posted on AEON of ballerina Kurimu Urabe. The Japanese design group EUPHRATES found inspiration from a once widely used animation device, the rotoscope. I'd never heard of this device. The rotoscope allowed animators to trace over actions, a frame at a time in the process of making a film. It was once widely used and still finds some use, e.g., the sabre light fights in Star Wars.

However, the EUPHRATES design team goes well beyond the rotoscope, making use of an "innovative computer algorithm...to create dynamic animations that gracefully interact with the dancer." The title of the film captures the nature of the interaction: A ballerina dances with the geometry of her own movements.

Here is the short video which I found captivating.

Now about that rotoscope.  A Google search quickly opens the territory to more than someone like me wants to know. I didn't look at everything but found this short film instructive, interesting and nuanced. There is more out there.

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