Zippy Drawers

Several years ago, the company I worked for was bidding on the VR scene in the movie Disclosure. The scene involved a virtual filing cabinet.

I hacked together a little program that demonstrated one way this might work.

Here’s the filing cabinet.

The interface is very fluid. As the mouse pointer moves across the screen, the camera turns to follow it.

When you click on a drawer, the camera smoothly zooms in so that it’s looking down into the drawer.

Whenever the camera moves, it chooses a destination point and then moves itself 95% of the way there on every frame. The closer it gets to its target, the more it slows down. This generates a nice smooth motion that’s a lot more pleasing than a robotic linear camera move.

If you click on a file folder, it flies out of the drawer and opens up, revealing a Zippy the Pinhead quote. Each folder has a different quote.

I thought the version of this scene that finally appeared in the film was kinda lame, because it was supposed to take place in the very near future, but the rendering technology presented probably was about 30 years off.

I like this simple “click on something you’re interested in” navigation style. It’s a lot like Myst or Riven. I’d like to experiment with how it might work in a more complex environment.

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