SOUP is an expiramental, nature inspired musical toy I created as my graduation project at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design.
Developing the Concept
When starting to develop the concept for my thesis project, I knew I wanted delve into subjects I am truly passionate about: the process of making music, and the ways in which we interact with the computer as a tool.
After thoroughly researching and experimenting with whatever digital music making apps and interfaces I could get my hands on, I decided on a simple brief:
A digital toy for making music, that would include:
- An intuitive and tactile drag and drop interface, with minimal to no text
- A platform for creating within limits: a ready-made library of musical objects that can be activated or manipulated on a canvas to create a composition
- The visual design of objects is based on their musical properties.
- Both non-musicians and professionals can create something quickly, but skill and exploration are rewarded
- The final product should evoke feelings of discovery, joy, and self worth
👁️🗨️ When describing the Idea to the team, I used Lego as an example for the desired game mechanic: a pre-determined set of basic objects, that can be assembled in different configurations according to the players desire.
Early interface concept, showing the basic layout
After the first few weeks of working on the project I realized the scale of the task at hand, and decided to work with a developer and a musician. We had regular, weekly meetings where we would discuss ideas, solve problems and plan the work for the next week.
I had to frequently switch between my roles as art director and project manager, maintaining my vision for the project and adjusting the decision making along the way.
I used Miro to document the progress and share it with the team, github and google drive for files and notion to manage tasks.
When developing the visual language, I took inspiration from of different natural sources – mainly microscopic photography of single cell organisms, and small natural forms such as stones, shells, and plant parts.
Designing different objects meant different thinking process: while the sequencers required paying close attention to thier function and communicating it to the user. With the sound objects the main focus was creating variation and interest, which I achieved through a more liberated, trial-and-error based approach.
👁️🗨️ When working on an abstract idea I tend to ground it with a metaphor or a story that would inform the visual decision making and help me communicate it. In this case I wanted to evoke a sense of exploration and wonder – which guided me to think of the entire system as a Petri dish or a mysterious cave full of alien organisms.
Designing the Sequencers
Designing the objects
I modeled the objects using blender, aiming to create a series of distinguishable-yet-related forms. We created a costume unity shader based on the concept art, that gave the entire project a unique look and allowed for full control on the grain and color gradients.
The variations in color and shape are either indicative of the musical function of the object, or of the type of sound it produces. When creating the models, I often used abstract structures from François Blanciak’s “Siteless – 1001 Building Forms” as a starting point, combining them with the games bio-inspired language to create a set of foreign-yet familiar shapes.
Guidance: Eric Lerner
Developer: Tomer Fueredi
Sound: Dror Etzioni
🧡 special thanks: Aviram Spies, Tamar Dadon Raveh, Tali Genshaft, Yael Meder, Ofek Haim.