|This article does not cite any references or sources. (February 2013)|
|Starring||Jake Humphrey (2004-2006)
Barney Harwood (2009-2010)
Gemma Hunt (2009-2010)
|Narrated by||Richie Webb|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||4|
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Original channel||CBBC Channel|
8 March 2004 – 3 February 2010Revived series : 23 November 2011
Bamzooki (styled as BAMZOOKi) is a mixed reality television gameshow on the BBC which features a toolkit developed by Gameware Development. The first series aired in March 2004 on CBBC. The show was presented by Jake Humphrey. It has occasionally featured specials with Sophie McDonnell. In July 2008, it was announced on CBBC on BBC One that Bamzooki was returning. A new thirteen part series began in November 2009 and was now hosted by Barney Harwood and Gemma Hunt.
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
The toolkit, the Bamzooki Zook Kit, enables users to build virtual creatures, Zooks, and test them in a real time 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. The new series 'bamzooki streetrules' which aired in November 2009 features fully interactive contests, where the participants direct their zooks by shouting instructions as well as contests set on the streets and rooftops. 36 teams were selected to take part in the championships with 9 heats a semi finals and a final.
The software was 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 real time 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. Series 4 adopted vinten tracking peds instead of FREE-D as an alternative approach.
The contest runs in real time 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 real time 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 real time.
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.
Story of 2009 series
The show itself has now been considered (fictionally) by the government as if it were an illegal combat sport, and have been trying to shut down the underground organisation (led by new presenters Barney and Gemma) ever since. There are now four teams in each episode with one zook each. They take part in a street race at the beginning of each show, and the winning team gets to pick an opponent in the next game (Which is one-on-one and best of three). The two losing zooks take part in another challenge called pressure pusher with the zook that loses it being destroyed (each time a zook is destroyed, edited stock footage is used to show the considerably comical demise of each zook). The final three do a time-trial challenge, and again the losing zook is destroyed. The last two then compete in a rooftop assault course. The winner of this goes through to the next stage, as do the three losers who were fastest in the street race (The rest are destroyed). There are more house zooks too, a total of nine, These house zooks are called Mimi (she is also used as the symbol of Bamzooki in this series, and also used in the Boulder Dash and zook chicken game), The Beast, Peachy, Derek, Predator, Centi, Punka and Punkalicious and the winner of the series, Mean Green. The new series finished on 3 February 2010; it was broadcast at 5:15pm on the CBBC Channel.
Galleries and leagues
A popular aim in Bamzooki is to get a Zook onto the galleries or leagues as they are often the most viewed and downloaded Zooks. To get onto the leagues you have to make a maxed out Zook on a specific event, these events are sprint, block push, hurdles, high jump and lap. Every month the CBBC Bamzooki site releases a new gallery based on a topic like space Zooks or spooky Zooks, for every gallery there are 16 spaces and the Zook moderators choose the best looking zooks to take those places.
A relatively new league is the Ultimate Zook leaderboard where scores from all the trials are aggregated into one score which zooks are then compared on.