Motion Activated Gargantua!


The year was 1998, and it was good. Life was all Surge and Pokemon, and it was about to get even better. I went to visit my dad and he showed me this game called Half-Life. Mind instantly blown. So many polygons!!! The days of the flat Duke Nukem sprites and the awkward blocky Quake characters were over. I brought the demo CD back to Florida to show my friend Myke, and from that point we were hooked. Half-Life permeated the remainder of our youth, and then some.


(Scene from Myke’s comic book, 2000)

  As you watch your friends grow older, you see adulthood rob them of their vibrant imaginations. The years have a way of slaughtering one’s inner-child. Myke, thank God, kept his creative spirit. And 18 years later, Half-Life still seeped its way into his creations. He became very good at an art called “papercraft,” which is essentially decomposing a 3D model into a flat surface of triangles, printing it out, and the reconstructing the model in the real world. Granted, he did a lot of this work at his desk job while on the phone, but we all have to pretend to be adults sometimes.

  Over a few years, I watched Myke crank out an entire collection of beautiful papercraft figures from Quake and Half-Life, and he got damn good at it. All the while I’m sitting in my dark room tinkering with Arduinos and electronics. Then it finally hit us, “Dude, lets stick some electronics in these figures!” Myke went hard to work on crafting a Gargantua figure, and I started soldering parts and writing code.


(Gargantua as seen in game, Half-Life, 1998)

  So as with most projects we do, we started it vigorously, and then quickly got distracted (mostly my fault). But after a few months we pulled it together and got it working perfectly. This was late 2015, and it took us another 5 months to actually make the movie, so here it is for all the world to see. If there is enough interest, I can see if Myke will divulge some of the technical details of the construction of Gargantua. As far as the electronics side, I used an ATTiny85 microcontroller with some cheap Chinese sound board that played wav files from an SD card. You can see it all in more detail in the video. I’ll include the source code and link to the video below.

Download Source Code