Temple Collapse Simulation

I hadn't touched Blender in months but I got back to it and figured out how to link objects with hinges. I took the original design and split off individual segments then connected them together how I wanted. The simulation isn't great since it's a rigid-body simulation so the parts act like they're infinitely hard rather than deforming and breaking under stress. I did set up most of the hinges to break under a high load as I would expect to happen in reality. Unfortunately the combination of rigid objects and breakable hinges means many of the pieces just pop off immediately.

In any case, the point is to demonstrate the way the Temple would collapse during the burn. Once the safety supports are removed for the burn, the first level would be held up by one or more thick hemp ropes wrapped around the main central posts. When the fire weakened the rope enough, it would break and unlace through the support, staying in the channel designed for this purpose. That would release all the sides at the same time and cause the whole Temple to collapse at once, giving it a definitive end.

The next step, I think, is to rework this backwards to show how I intend the first level to be assembled—basically in reverse of collapse. I think if I do that, I can get Blender to fit the pieces together without being under exploding pressure.

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First 3D Render

After laboring over Blender for some time, I finally created a model of the Temple. It's a bit rough and the wood grain appearance is way over-scale, but it's at least a start. I'm also trying to figure out the best way to make it look like it's on the Playa … at least a little.

Ground level view.
Ground level view.
Overhead view.
Overhead view.

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Learning 3D

I decided I needed to learn a 3D rending software. I found Blender which is Open-Souce, and, hence, free. I read a bunch about the user interface and found it quite daunting because it was unlike any software I had used. Well, it was like all the software I had ever used, just mashed-up in a way I hadn't encountered yet. In 2 hours I had made it through most of the tutorial to make a gingerbread man and had a better understanding of how it worked. I was rather elated at the progress I had made. I recalled what it was like to learn something new and get good results—the kind of thing that fired my obsession with computers in my teen years.

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Second Small Model

Wood model from sticks and 2x4s.
Wood model from sticks and 2x4s.

I was reinvigorated to work on the temple again. I want to make a structure that is so appealing (visually, emotionally, and otherwise) that nobody will want to burn it. And I want to integrate the community so they are fully invested in the project.

I drew some more sketches, trying to focus on the appearance of the end product rather than being fixated on the ability to construct it. I started in on making a model again. I took a couple 2×4's and hot-glued them together for a "trunk". Then I needed something to make branches. I was looking for inspiration outdoors when I decided to use some sticks from my magnolia tree. I cut them and glued them on then added bamboo skewers as branches and small scraps of paper as the "leaves". For some kind of scale, I added Vince.

Rough composite image on-Playa.
Rough composite image with the Playa.

I basically built 1/4 of the tree and took some test photos against a colored backdrop. I had four photos, each with the model rotated 90 degrees—all set up with the same camera settings on a tripod. Then I pulled it into Gimp, did a rough removal of the colored background and composited the four rotations on top of one another to create a pseudo-representation of a full model. I added a photo of the Playa from Vittorio Carli's artinterviews.com to make it look like it was at Burning Man.

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