Warhawks and Wizardry

UW-Whitewater students screen film at local festival

Jeffrey Wardon, Jr., Biz & Tech Editor

A festive band of Warhawks created a supernatural experience like none other last week.

The Warriors and Wizards Festival, hosted in Jefferson County from Oct. 19-21, brought together a talented group of University of Wisconsin-Whitewater students and faculty members to celebrate geek culture ranging from Star Wars to Ghostbusters.

“We were trying to think of a group project for the students to work on together,” said media arts and game development professor Bill Miller.

Miller contacted professor Choton Basu, who had brought up the festival and asked if anyone in the MAGD program would want to help with a project called “Moving Portraits.”

“Moving Portraits” is a presentation that involves some behind-the-scenes magic of its own.

The portraits on display are showing pre-recorded videos that change somewhat when interacted with. It was inspired by the portraits out of the Harry Potter films.

As an advisor for the entrepreneurship program Enactus, Basu saw potential in the project and festival for what they could do economically for Jefferson County.      Students in the Enactus organization got involved and aided in the work on “Moving Portraits.”  This was done in part to promote student involvement on campus.

“We wanted to help the Wizards and Warriors Festival have a bigger economic impact for the county. So, we began working by seeing what did and did not work to help the local economies.” Basu said.

Last year, the festival drew in a crowd of 35,000 attendants.

“It seemed like a great opportunity, so I took on the ‘Moving Portraits’ project and designed the witch portrait, as well as the lost explorer portrait,” senior Breanna Addie said.

“I asked my friend Moriah Nettesheim to play the witch. We then filmed it with Professor Bill Miller, who provided that awesome skull and broom.

The witch was trying to read an old spell book written in Kanji characters.”

Addie had picked the book up from a Japanese market.

Although work on the project was not a completely smooth ride.

“I only had very basic editing skills prior to this project. Professor Miller taught and helped me with After Effects and Premiere as I went. For example, in the Witch Portrait I didn’t know how to make the smoke effect from the cauldron, so Professor Miller made me a how-to tutorial on the particle effect and I spent the next 2 hours making fake smoke,” Addie said.

“It was challenging, but I’m happy with how my smoke turned out. Another challenge we faced was consistency between action sequences merging with the idle loop, our solution was to essentially hide the transition. Thus, the smoke cloud,” Addie said.

In the end, people were brought together for a common goal while learning new skills along the way.

“Everything was a team effort, and I really loved working with everyone on this project,” Addie said.