Huds & Guis

Pacific Rim – Holographic UIs

I’ve been wanting to post up some work from Pacific Rim for a while now. There’s quite a lot of UI design throughout the film and it’s worth having a look at. Here’s a montage of some of the UI work from Hybride.

The montage includes lots of holographic UIs, most of which feature inside the cockpit of the Jaegers (the big robots). So the displays show a range of diagnostic and battle related info. What I like, is the conscious effort to distinguish the different Jaegers by their country of origin, which was reflected in the cockpit design, the suits and also the UI design.

There’s an obvious shift of style from the US Jaeger to the more industrial Russian Jaeger. There’s a lot going on in those UIs, but I really like their arrangements and the different angles and depths of the display panels. It looks fantastic as the camera pans around them. I also really like the unusual shapes they’ve used for the content frames, there’s a lot of irregular shapes and organic curves, it’s a refreshing change from overly grided layouts. Though that is purely from an aesthetic stand point, on the other hand it is very clear to see that the more grided layouts are actually much easier to comprehend.

I also liked that they experimented with different colours. There were a few colours in there that you don’t often see in UI designs. There’s a lot to take in, so it’s probably worth watching it a few times!

Check out the Pacific Rim VFX Breakdown by Hybride

Her – Invisible Technology

I really enjoyed this film, not only from a pure cinema experience but also from a UI and technology point of view.

I came across some really interesting terms when reading articles about Spike Jonze’s approach. Terms like ‘slight future’, ‘invisible technology’, ‘people-centric technology’, ‘undesigning’ all give you an idea of the future portrayed in the film.

The first term ‘slight future’ has been used to describe the timeline in which the film is set, which helps guide the approach to technology. I like that they’ve referenced how technology exists today and evolved it slightly. Currently technology is in your face, it’s very visible and appears everywhere you look. In Jonze’s slight future, technology is invisible. Technology isn’t about the initial novelty of touching a screen and having things happen. The novelty is over, it’s now about people carrying on with their lives and having technology help them quietly. Where technology recedes into the background like incidental interfaces.

This is evident in the main character Theo Twombly’s smart house, where the lights turn on automatically as he enters a room and dims as he leaves another. Also at his job, all computers are devoid of keyboards and he transcribes his letters through voice recognition.

The earpieces that everyone uses is also very interesting. I’m generally not a fan of the idea, more because I don’t like the idea of people constantly talking in public. But I love that unlike Google Glass, which augments images into your vision, an earpiece is less invasive. You could be absorbing content whilst doing other things, without needing to avert your gaze.

The hologram sequence itself almost warrants another post but I’ll keep it short. The experience looks great, and very immersive. But it raises interesting UX and design issues, like where does the frame end? How do you design for this? There’s also a shot where Twombly takes a bite of his sandwich and the game character replicates the action, when does the game interactions start and stop? Also I found it strange that the foul-mouthed alien character was able to respond to non-game related dialogue and content. What does this mean to the overall game experience?

Not only is this a great interpretation of a slight future, but it’s important to acknowledge that this is first and foremost a film about people and relationships. It is a remarkable effort to be able to create such a world which also works with the screenplay and the telling of a story. I know Jonze didn’t want actors fiddling around with devices and interfaces as it doesn’t make for a very compelling viewing experience. So the earpieces were an interesting solution to storytelling, while also working nicely within his future vision.

I really love that Jonze and his team set out to explore this world so thoroughly and that they created rules and laws to dictate how things would actually work. I genuinely enjoyed this film and I encourage you to check it out, if you haven’t already. I appreciate it even more after reading up about it.

Check out the hologram sequence (explicit language warning!)

Article by WIRED: Why Her Will Dominate UI Design Even More Than Minority Report.

Shake Your Body – Pepsi Taiwan

Here’s a clip from Taiwan, it’s music video called ‘Shake your body’ for Pepsi. In an attempt to describe it, it’s kind of like Asian popstars meets Tron stadium meets Dance Central meets Pacifim Rim meets the World Cup. It’s all a bit of fun and Taipei based production company Grass Jelly did an amazing job on the VFX.

The main dance interface sequence is fantastic and there’s also some great shots of the control room displays and surrounding platform graphics a la Tron Legacy.

I really enjoyed seeing the players use dances moves to trigger the UI. The circular hit points are really nice, especially when they’re in weird angles. It was particularly nice seeing the green guy doing a flip then a windmill and swiping all those points like a combo. It felt like a legitimate game.

The colours are nice and vibrant too, which suits the theme well. It was a nice touch to utilise the glossy floor too, which again made it feel more legitimate. All in all I think the clip has been executed really well, and I really loved seeing the dance UI being used creatively.

Make sure you check out the project page on Grass Jelly’s site and also the GFX montage by FUI designer Yoshiki Lai!

Watch ‘Shake Your Body’
Check out the breakdown page by Grass Jelly
Check out the GFX montage by Yoshiki Lai

Alien: Isolation – Lo Fi Sci Fi

Alien: Isolation is an upcoming game based on the Alien franchise. This clip shows the development team talk about their unique approach to the game UI and art direction, which in turn influenced the game design itself.

This approach comes from their desire to stay true to the original film Alien from 1979 and for the game to exist in that very same world. I personally love the so called Lo Fi Sci Fi look of the original film, I think there’s something so special about it. There’s so much character behind every object and every interface. Maybe it’s because there’s so much nostalgia and history behind that era that makes the look so memorable. Perhaps in twenty years time, interfaces that we consider ‘futuristic’ will have the same resonance.

There’s a few key points that I took away from the clip besides the whole approach itself which is so inspiring. Firstly, I love the quote by Art lead Jude Bond, who says: “In order to stay faithful to the source we set ourselves a rule that we wouldn’t build anything that couldn’t have been built on the original set in 1979. Everything in our game conforms to this retro future aesthetic.” It’s so great that they had this rule to live by in order to help the team maintain a unified vision. Secondly, I loved the process of achieving this Lo Fi, retro look, by using VHS’ and destroying equipment to create artefacts. Sounds like so much fun!

This game looks fantastic, check it out for yourselves!

Check out the Alien: Isolation Lo Fi Sci Fi clip
Learn more about Alien: Isolation

Captain America: The Winter Soldier UI

Here’s the latest case study from Perception, this time for Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The work centres on a car chase sequence in which the film relies heavily on the HUDs and GUIs to help explain what’s happening.

Most of the work appears on the in-car HUD, and features threat detection, diagnostics, communications, and scanner functions. My favourite though is the UI that helps plot a recommended path, visualised through a red light flashing along the road. I love how that’s been imagined, the red mark that flashes along a grid is perfect. It’s so intuitive and for the film, visually appealing too.

Cool work from Perception as always, check it out!

Watch Perception’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier UI montage
Check out Perception’s case study
Learn more about Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Deus Ex Human Revolution UI

Deus Ex: Human Revolution is an action role-playing game first released in 2011. I have never played it before, but I’ve come across lots of artwork, trailers and videos of it. Recently I stumbled upon this page by Eric Bellefeuille (lead Art Director Presentation) which highlights some of the UI design in the game.

If you’re ever looking for a gold themed UI, this is it! A lot of the UI is set in gold and black, and is characterised by bold outlines, angled shapes and soft glow finishes.

The only thing I’m not sure about is the icons, which I think could be styled to compliment the overall look a bit more. Personally I think they are a tad too playful. But in saying that I don’t know what the brief was so who knows, maybe the game UI had different objectives.

Anyhow check it out for yourself, there’s some nice elements in there worth noting.

Check out Deus Ex UI work from Eric Bellefeuille
Check out the game’s opening credits which features some UI elements as well
Here is the Deus Ex: Human Revolution cinematic trailer