HAL90210 was a character in the student spex 2023 Ett Rymdäventyr that was performed by Var GladSpexarna in the autumn semester of 2013. In contrast to the other roles, it was not represented by a human on the stage, but as a computer animation shown on a computer screen embedded in the backdrop.

Given that the initial requirements were quite vauge (something like [a] a representation of HAL, [b] some computer screen display looking like it could belong on a spaceship, [c] we need to be able to play a movie clip at a point during the play), I took it as a chance to expand on my extremely basic OpenGL skills as well as doing a bit of network programming. The result in the end was a Rube Goldberg kludge (which I was—and am—very proud of, perhaps too proud…) spanning two old laptops with external monitors attached, all wired up inside the backdrop together with a large widescreen TV—which had a long VGA cable running all the way back to a third computer control booth. All this was networked together and controlled by a technician at a fourth computer.

During the performance week I kept adding and improving the program, so during the last plays I had added a crash animation to the spaceship hull display that could be activated coordinated with the last song in the first act.


When the performance week was over I still felt I wasn't done with the project, pulled it in a different direction, and made it possible to display and animate the HAL 3D model on a virtual screen, built out of multiple more or less aribtrarily placed screens connected to separate hosts. Having no pressure from the outside, I could also afford rewriting the whole thing to use shaders and not fixed pipeline OpenGL code.

I did put up a small demo on youtube, piling together what screens and laptops I had, some were not very hot in the graphics departement making me code around the problem by showing only wireframe graphics on those screens.

android app

After the spring 2014 play, for which I pieced together a radio control setup for a toaster prop with an arduino yún and a hobby servo, I got the suggestion that I should add HAL to the prop too, perhaps because of my history of somewhat overengineered or at least unconventional solutions to various prop and special effect ideas.
Well… the seed had been sown, and as a consequence I have now partially ported, partially rewritten, not HAL, but a HAL, for the android platform: Google Play link.

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