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Monthly Archives: June 2010


At the Big South Lab, where I work, Andy Zingerle and I have made a VJacket: a wearable controller for live video performance. Built into this old bomber jacket are all kinds of sensors to control visuals on the screen: hit sensors, light sensors, bend sensors and touch sliders. This way, the VJ is freed from the boring, cumbersome interface of mouse and keyboard, and instead can use the very clothes on his body to control the videos and effects with a precise dance converting convulsing limbs into luscious light shows. We are transforming this bomber jacket, a symbol of war and destruction, into a tool of creative expression and a symbol of peace. We are also going to release all the related hardware and software as open source in order to spread this transformation across the globe.

The VJacket uses a standard Arduino microcontroller board to relay the sensor data to the computer. To take it from there, we built the Arduino2OSC bridge: an easily configurable graphical interface that creates customizable OpenSoundControl messages from the sensor data. It also allows you to adjust the analog input data from the Arduino to your exact needs – scaling input and output values, adding cutoff thresholds, etc. – with enough options to (hopefully) cover all your Arduino input requirements: no matter if your sensor is a continuous slider or a one-hit piezo contact mic, no matter if you are manipulating a video effect or triggering audio samples, we tried to make it flexible enough so you’re not stuck reprogramming a new patch for every project – just make a new preset and you’re done!

For the above video demo, we used the VJacket through Arudino2OSC to send OpenSoundControl messages to Resolume Avenue, a popular VJ program. The Arduino2OSC bridge interface is generic enough to send any type of OSC message to any program that accepts them, including other video or audio programs like Arkaos Grand VJ, Max/MSP/Jitter, Kyma, etc. You can even send the messages over the LAN for networked performances!

We will soon make available the circuit designs, Arduino code, and Arduino2OSC Max/MSP patch/application – all under an open source license – so stay tuned to make your own VJacket!

Photojojo is inciting a debate on whether they should buy a Canon or Nikon DSLR for HD video. Now I can’t give an unbaised answer, since I’ve only had experience with one brand, but as an avid Nikon user, I would recommend a Canon. I’ve never tried HD video on one, but I bought the Nikon D90 when it first came out and although it can make some awesome videos, there are several SERIOUS shortcomings:

  1. No autofocus while recording. I’m not sure if the Canon can quite pull this off either from reviews I’ve read, but at least it TRIES! Nikon doesn’t do anything!
  2. The scanline problem: If you make any fast pans, the image pans in chunks down the screen because the image sensor can’t update fast enough to get the same shot in one frame. Interesting effect sometimes but usually it just ruins your videos.
  3. No manual exposure control (besides a slider that you can “suggest” to the camera to under/overexpose about 1 stop). If you have a manual aperture ring then you may be able to control it a little, but the camera automatically adjusts ISO to keep the exposure in range. There’s (almost) no way to disable it.
  4. Consequentially, if you’re in anything besides daylight conditions, the ISO goes up and the graininess can get really bad.
  5. Video aside, Canon also uses a more-or-less standard RAW format. Nikon actually ENCRYPTS their RAW files which makes it a PAIN to get into Photoshop, Lightroom, etc. Adobe is usually a little slow on updating their Camera RAW drivers to decrypt Nikon’s files, especially if you have an older version of PS or LR. Who ever heard of DRM on YOUR OWN PHOTOS!?!? (insert information-wants-to-be-free rant here)
  6. Another thing with DRM: Canon’s shutter-release cord is a standard 1/8 inch headphone jack, which makes it extremely easy to hack and make your own intervalometer (something I wanted to do with my Nikon), but Nikon’s is a crazy proprietary plug! Doh!

Note: I’m not sure if Nikon has fixed these faults in their new HDDSLRs after the D90, or if Canon has the same faults, so just try them out to see if they’ve gotten better!