BAMZOOKi was a Mixed Reality television gameshow on the CBBC which features a toolkit developed by Gameware Development. The first series aired in March 2004 on CBBC. The show is currently presented by Jake Humphrey and Rich Webb. It has occasionally featured specials with Sophie McDonnell
A ZOOK is an autonomous creature designed by users and contestants in the gameshow. Created using 3D primitives, ZOOKs move autonomously based on IK points that the designer assigns to them.
Using nature as inspiration, contestants design ZOOKs to compete against other ZOOKs in a variety of competitions. The tool kit for designing ZOOKs is offered for download on the show's website. Also, more recently, two new ZOOK-Kit features have been released that allow users to simulate the TV contests and then replay their ZOOKs' performances from multiple angles.
Gameware's Creature Labs team uses artificial life programming techniques to provide the ZOOKs' autonomous movement and behaviour and integrates this with the BBC's virtual studio system to enable real-time visualisations in a studio setting.
In more detail... Edit
The toolkit, the BAMZOOKi Zook Kit, enables users to build virtual creatures, ZOOKs, and test them in a realtime physically simulated environment. Kids used this software to build ZOOKs which were submitted to the BBC. Teams were selected and invited into the studio to enter their ZOOKs in various contests from bowling to hurdles.
The software is still freely available from the BBC site along with the manual. Although designed to be easy enough to be used by kids, it is highly flexible and versatile. Zooks are built from the bottom-up with elementary component parts that the user shapes and sticks together. Users are not restricted to particular body designs or topologies, although the control system uses a standard Braitenberg architecture.
The BBC's Virtual Studio technology was used to enable realtime composition of the 3D rendered graphics with live camera feeds. Each studio camera has a dedicated render PC to render the virtual scene from that camera's perspective. To know what a studio camera's perspective is, each camera is fitted with a second 'Free-D' camera which points towards the ceiling. On the ceiling are reflective, circular bar codes. The 3-D camera data is fed to a computer system that identifies the targets on the ceiling and calculates that camera's position and orientation, 50 times a second.
The contest runs in realtime on a networked PC. All the clients receive contest scene information and render their scene from their studio camera's point of view. A bank of chromakey boxes then composite the virtual and the live feed together to provide a realtime composite. This video stream can be sent to the studio camera monitors so that camera operators can view the composite and hence follow the action in realtime.
There is a non-children's user-base establishing itself, using the toolkit (a modified version of the Bonsai artificial life program) for their own purposes.
Presently when you download the Zook Kit it comes with the Simulator (for doing challenges as on TV) and the Motion Player to watch your battles from the Simulator. Recently, "Zook ILand" has been added as a downloaded feature in the Zook Kit.