Nantes Atlantic School of Design Trilogy, Part 1


The collaboration between the Nantes Atlantic School of Design and Dassault Systèmes through successful students’ school projects is a frank success that has led to brilliant results, thanks to the alliance of quality education and high-performance 3D software. We want to tell you this success story in a trilogy. Once upon a time…

In a world where technologies govern professional and personal lives, where innovations are evolving at an incredibly accelerated rate and where digital applications are present in almost every field, L’Ecole de Design Nantes Atlantique has made its mark as a recognized French player in new technologies and design.

Founded in 1988 on the technological campus Atlanpole La Chantrerie, L’École de design Nantes Atlantique is a private institution of higher education dedicated to design professions. A program of advanced study called "Virtual Reality" has been created to initiate designers into the evolution of technology art and to new applications in virtual and augmented reality.

It’s interesting to have the testimony of a design student from L’ ECOLE DE DESIGN NANTES ATLANTIQUE for insights into an academic experience in design interactivity.

Interview with David Arenou, student at Nantes Atlantic School of Design

L’École de design Nantes Atlantique is proud of the 20 awards and competitions it won in 2009. The school is even prouder for having won First Prize and the Prize for the best Interaction and Programming during the Laval Virtual Conference 2010.

The winning project, called IMMERSIVE RAIL SHOOTER, was designed by David Arenou using Dassault Systèmes Virtools software. In an interview done on the 29th of April on the premises of Dassault Systèmes, David takes us into his world and his project...

David, please introduce yourself: your background, what drew you to 3D, your studies at L’Ecole de design Nantes Atlantique with the Interaction Design specialization, your ambitions…

Hello! My name is David Arenou and I am from Nantes; I study at the Ecole de Design Nantes Atlantique, (“School of Design”); I am currently in my fifth and last year of studies and I am learning “Interaction Design”. This final year is really technical, and we are learning about Virtools and its uses. Thanks to the Cumulus Association, a big network of art and design schools, I had the opportunity to take part in an exchange program with the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design in Colorado.

I consider myself as half-IT, half-geek… I love new technologies, the arts, movies, music, and design projects also inspire me. But in fact, I started to like 3D thanks to video games.

I did a 3D project during my last year of studies. I don’t exactly know what I will do next. I know that doors will open thanks to the award I received for my final project, my own way of doing 3D and interaction design, so I’ll see. For the moment, I am doing my final internship at Alcatel Lucent and then I will graduate with a final presentation. And why not apply for a job at Dassault Systèmes?

Describe your “IMMERSIVE RAIL SHOOTER” project…

IMMERSIVE RAIL SHOOTER is my final graduating project at L ‘Ecole de Design. What I came up with is a shooting video game.

I wanted to give it a tangible dimension: you are in your living room or bedroom, where you place a video console, and the immersive rail shooter allows you to bring the belongings you have around you (chair, sofa, table, any object that you could use to hide behind), into direct interaction in the video game. You will use these physical elements as real hiding tools. The only other thing you need is a camera for you to be detectable, and a fake gun or remote control to track your movement. The game is able to recognize any shape because there is a calibration phase for that.

The central idea is that you will have to hide to survive, and the magic is that you are indeed hidden virtually in the game.

To create this project, I was helped and inspired by video games, as they are becoming increasingly immersive: for example, Natta for Microsoft or Remote for Nintendo. It’s my personal life and my relation to video games that inspired me.

"I wanted to give my game a tangible dimension: players use physical elements as real hiding tools. " - David Arenou, student

What is it about your game that really offers something new to a potential user?

The main evolution introduced in the game is related to the physical immersion aspect: you are completely in the game, with your body and your thoughts, and this is the huge distinction with other types of projects. You are involved in terms of self-defense, and you can feel the actions more acutely.

The game is a success when you forget that you are in your room and when you are immersed in another world.

Why did you choose the Virtools application to develop this project? Did you find it easy to use? Accessible?

I chose Virtools for three reasons: first, because I learned Virtools in my school, so I was used to using it and I already knew the software; secondly, Virtools enabled me to prototype my ideas very rapidly. Last, and this is for me the most important, I knew I needed a tracking system to detect the player, ARtoolKIT to track big markers. Virtools gave me the answer. With Virtools, it is easy and quick to compose and have access to a whole array of different choices and behaviors.

Have you done other projects with Virtools or other Dassault Systèmes software? Do you have other current projects?

Yes, in my third year, I did two projects to discover design interactivity.

I made a pinball application where the user is in the ball and feels all the impacts of the throws.

I also created a 3D pirate video game: you are a young pirate and you have to pass all the different stages to become a real pirate.

Currently, I have some other ideas similar to the immersive rail shooter, but they are still in the embryonic stage.

What does your winning First Prize and Prize for the Best Interaction and Programming from the Laval Virtual Awards inspire you to think about for the future?

I took part in the Laval Virtual Conference as a student competitor and I won the Virtual Fantasy Prize. It’s a great honor for me to have won this kind of award and I really want to express my thanks to the jury. This award tells me today: “Ok, David, this project is your thing, keep it up; maybe it will be your way for the future….”

With this project, I learned a lot: it taught me to do things my own way. At the outset, my teachers didn’t believe in it because they thought I was going to do the same thing as Nintendo or Microsoft, very competitive players by the way, but while listening to their advice, I stayed my course and here I am today. I think I did well to follow my ideas, being convinced of my project and ready to defend it until the end. But I must say that my teachers were involved, and they finally recognized my work and contributed to its successful achievement.

David, thank you for visiting us and thank you for talking to us.

My pleasure !

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