Japanese Tea Ceremony Experience: Final Progress Report

Japanese Tea Ceremony Experience: Final Progress Report

Introduction

For the final project in Immersive environments, I decided to continue the virtual reality experience in Japanese Tea Ceremony made in collaboration with Sara Caudill. The goal of the environment is to introduce the user to a cultural tradition as a guest and transition to a participatory role as a performer of the tea ceremony. The user is welcomed in a garden setting and lead to a tea room, where voice narrations guide them through the movements and interactions of the tea ceremony objects.

Rationale

Sara and I determined a project stemming from both of our background in studying Japanese language and culture. So we decided on the method of Japanese tea ceremony, a cultural experience that would provide both an education and an intimate look into an experience that seemed miles away. We also pursued personas on opposite sides of the spectrum to see if we could address a wide range of needs (the older American who doesn’t travel vs. the younger Japanese native who is in closer proximity and access to the real life experience).

Process

In the first iteration of the project, we accomplished the build of a traditional tea room setting and enabling interaction with the tea ceremony objects. While a lot of progress was made to immerse the user into an experience with cultural significance, many elements were left out due to time constraints and limited knowledge in our goals.

In the next iteration as the final project I wanted to accomplish tasks in the following areas:

 Environment

-Garden environment to welcome the user to the tea ceremony experience

I created a garden opening scene for the exterior of the tea house using a terrain tools asset package. One of the obstacles that emerged was the bulk of data that couldn’t be sustained on the Oculus Quest, so I made a fairly easy transition to the Rift available in ACCAD.

-Provide an option for the user to enter the narrated “Guide Mode” or “Free Mode”

The goal of creating free mode and guide mode option fell wayside when I started incorporating a limited amount of narrations, which limited the experience of a guided mode, and failed to consider a main menu scene. For now, the experience is at a default free mode.

-Rebuild the sliding doors and create transparency in the paper

The screen door was also a task of creating cubes and setting a shader for transparency.

Lighting

-Create realistic interior and exterior daylight

Before

After

Sound

-Realistic nature sounds for the garden

-Narrations made by Sara: The introduction into the tea room from the wall scroll + directions for making the tea

I was only able to code Sara’s narration for the scroll after the user enters the tea room. She had two others that provided direction in handling the objects, but much of the time regarding the objects was dedicated to water interact-ability.

-Sounds from the objects when colliding with the table and other objects

Both the bowls on the table have ceramic-to-surface sounds playing when they collide with the table or each other. The water ladle also has a wooden thud with the same conditions.

Interactions/Animations

-Incorporating water and its interact-ability; Being scooped from the kettle into the teacup

Shadrick generously provided the Obi Fluid Renderer package and tutorials for how to emit fluids and I started working on emitting water and powder.

Liquid Test
Unsuccessful powder emitter test

-Matcha powder appearing when it’s scooped and creating tea when combined with the water from the kettle

I realized pretty quickly that the emitters greatly slow down the experience. I decided not to include one for the powder because having more than one emitter conflicted with the overall user experience.

-Transitions between scenes

I initially wanted to animate the door to the tea room open and close behind the user after entry. But I’ve instead added entrance and exit signs to the doors and the scenes transition through the Scene Loader Scripts.

Final Walkthrough

Reflection + Challenges

While there is certainly more immersion and interaction to the experience, there are still many elements left out of the experience, such as the main menu, cues for the narration, the directions for handling the objects, and an appropriate conclusion to the tea experience.

Another longstanding challenge is in maintaining the authenticity of the Japanese tea ceremony. Sara and I are voyeurs to Japanese cultural traditions, so a richer VR experience could be drawn in consultation with a seasoned expert in tea ceremony.

However, in continuation of this project, I would like to address the incomplete portions of the experience and include a multi-sensorial element for the user. This would include the user feeling a light breeze from the garden and incorporating scents of nature and the matcha tea outside of the headset.

Japanese Tea Ceremony VR Experience: 11.11 – 11.15 Progress Report

Japanese Tea Ceremony VR Experience: 11.11 – 11.15 Progress Report

Recap: For the final project in the Immersive Environments course (ACCAD 7103), I’ve decide to continue the virtual reality experience created by Sara Caudill and myself.

Goals

I’ve prioritized the following to further build upon the experience with my current skillset:

Environment
-Garden environment to welcome the user to the tea ceremony experience
-Provide an option for the user to enter the narrated “Guide Mode” or “Free Mode”
-Rebuild the sliding doors and create transparency in the paper

Lighting
-Create realistic interior and exterior daylight

Sound

-Realistic nature sounds for the garden
-Narrations made by Sara: The introduction into the tea room from the wall scroll + directions for making the tea
-Sounds from the objects when colliding with the table and other objects

Then, there are the things that are aspirational at this point and include new skills that I have yet to learn:

Interactions/Animations
-Incorporating water and its interact-ability; Being scooped from the kettle into the the teacup
-Matcha powder appearing when it’s scooped and creating tea when combined with the water from the kettle

I’m assuming that these involve some semblance of animation in Maya (such as the water pouring) and a series of hiding/showing the animations based on trigger interactions (showing “tea water” when the matcha and water are within distance of each other). But again, I’m guessing without an idea of where to start.

Progress

So I was able to make considerable progress in terms of lighting and the environment. I built a terrain and created a garden with swaying grass and trees.

I’ve also added an audio source with nature/forest sounds:

I’ve also used baked lighting from point lights for the tea room interior, making it look considerably more natural than in the first iteration. I positioned the lights to highlight the main points of interaction, the wall scroll and the table.

Before (First Prototype)
After

The sliding screen doors were previously images mapped onto cubes. I rebuilt them in Unity and made the “paper” slightly transparent to give the user a small preview of the tea room.

Although I’ve yet to test them, I’ve also added scripts and audio sources to the objects in the tea room. For the wall scroll, I’ve added a script where if the player enters the collider attached to the wall scroll, it would trigger to play Sara’s narration. For objects such as the tea bowl, I’ve added a script where a ‘clink’ sound would play on collision with the table or other objects. There is also a sliding door, conceptualized similarly to the wall scroll, for the user to enter the tea room from the garden. But I will consider separating the garden and tea room into different scenes. It may also provide an advantage in adding a mode menu for the user at the entrance from the garden to the tea room.

Challenges

One of the main issues had been side-loading my experience onto the Quest to test. When I was able to finally test on the Quest, using the terrain and its animations attached to had significantly slowed down the experience and created lag. At the suggestion of the instructor Shadrick and fellow colleagues, I will build the project on the available Oculus Rift moving forward. And for the sake of a faster experience, I may replace the terrain with a more compact skybox (although I am concerned for the loss of the subtle presence in the moving trees).
I’ve also lost the interaction of the hands/controllers when testing my experience, so I’ll have to investigate this further when I start testing on the Rift.

Remaining Tasks

Environment
-Garden environment to welcome the user to the tea ceremony experience
(Consider Skybox replacement)
-Provide an option for the user to enter the narrated “Guide Mode” or “Free Mode”
-Rebuild the sliding doors and create transparency in the paper

Lighting
-Create realistic interior and exterior daylight

Sound

-Realistic nature sounds for the garden
-Narrations made by Sara: The introduction into the tea room from the wall scroll + directions for making the tea (In Progress)
-Sounds from the objects when colliding with the table and other objects (In Progress)

Interactions/Animations (Tutorials Needed)
-Incorporating water and its interact-ability; Being scooped from the kettle into the the teacup
-Matcha powder appearing when it’s scooped and creating tea when combined with the water from the kettle

Other
-Build and develop using Oculus Rift

*BONUS IDEA*
I told my advisor Maria about this project and she posed the question of making the experience multi-sensorial. This could entail:
-the smell of the grass and a gentle breeze blowing on the user as they start the experience in the garden
-the scent of fresh flowers or incense when they enter the tea room
-an emergent aroma of matcha as they’re making the tea
-finally being presented with tea after removing the headset

So there is definitely an opportunity to increase the level of immersion for the tea ceremony. But I’ll focus on my core chores for the remaining time of the project and revisit the idea later.