The legend of Merlin The Enchanter is the theme of an interdisciplinary study spanning continents, cultures, platforms, and languages in a collaborative effort to make optimal use of available computer graphics and telecommunications technologies.
In the Merlin Link, the focus is on human resources, on the ability to spark the enthusiasm of the young, promoting creativity and transfer of skills and expertise through shared experience. The creators of the project (the group from Saint Malo, France that presented The Circus project at SIGGRAPH 94) have been exploring Arthurian legends and myths, and investigating Celtic rites through the ages. Saint Malo is close to the Forêt de Brocéliande where the Brittany version of King Arthur and The Round Table was located.
Last December, "Barde de la Côte d'Emeraude" came to tell the group fireside tales and legends, took them on a picnic in the forest, filled their minds with tales of Merlin and Vivian, and inspired them to write their own version of the legends. Three 15-year-olds (Maël, Eva and Pierre-Elie) developed a storyboard, created the key-frame on an Amiga 2000, and started working on animations. Some fifty kids in Saint Malo participated in the project.
Most of the participants collaborated via Minitel, though a few got access to the Internet. Many groups joined the effort, from: art schools and universities, training centers in Paris, the United Nations Interna-tional School in New York, the Centre National de la Bande Dessinée Images, Angouleme, and the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Cachan. Several offered technical assistance to the kids, visiting them on location for a spiritual experience in the forest.
The project mushroomed rapidly. SupInfoCom students in Valenciennes offered to share a bibliography on the Internet. Another group of students, from A.F.I.D.E in Paris, developed an interactive CD-i adventure game on the same theme. Microcam, an Apple user group in Rennes, offered the use of their facilities and equipment. Scott Lang of the United Nations International School in New York met with the group in Orlando and offered technical support. Students in Saint Malo and in New York are now exchanging ideas and impressions via email. They share storyboards and images, or develop their own independently.
All along, one of the project's main concerns was to establish bridges among a variety of platforms and software. In mid-April, keyframes were placed on the Internet where they are shared in a non-linear chained animation. Three spaces were assigned: one for browsing through text and downloading images, another as a forum for suggestions and questions, and the third for uploading legends, keyframes, or completed segments of animations.
This project has generated a lot of hope and focus to teen-agers in Saint Malo, an area full of gloom (unemployment reaches 16 percent) and a sense of isolation and rejection. They have researched many fascinating topics, shared their findings, and been appalled to discover that the whole enchanted forest will soon be flooded by a new dam. Now they are using computer graphics to bring this fact to the attention of the world at large.
At SIGGRAPH 95, the group presents a Treasure Hunt that will be followed in real time in The Forecirct de Broceacuteliande. The American Museum of the Moving Image in New York will document this adventure in November.
La Moisais, 35730 Pleurtuit, France
Achim Gliem, Maeumll
Ecole Normale Supeacuterieure de Cachan
Centre National de la Bande Dessineacutee Images, DIN
L'Institution Jean-François Bourrel
United Nations International School
Le Festival Europeen de la Jeune Création en Infographie
The American Museum of the Moving Image
To Index Telemedicine Monterey Bay