3D objects in Isadora

  • Hi,

    I have been working kinect skeleton tracking through NiMate, OSC with the 3d actors: 3D player, 3d Light Orientation, 3d Renderer (the 'virtual stage' actor has replaced the '3d Renderer' in version V2.2). The workflow has been - working with simple objects (rock crystal forms) in the 3d editing software 'Blender' (http://www.blender.org/about/) - apply a 'material' and a 'texture' before exporting single objects in .3ds format. The 'texture' as a bitmap image (.jpg) assigned to the object in Blender needs to be saved to the same folder as the exported .3ds file or Isadora will not be able to link the two files causing an error message. The length of the file name needs to be kept very short. For me, a couple of times Isadora created an error message asking for a truncated file name. For example, using a texture image file I created in Photoshop called 'texture_01.jpg', generated an error message asking for the file 'texture_01jp' or similar. Keeping the image file name very short helped to avoid the error.

    It is useful that Isadora can override the texture image file linked to the .3ds object assigned in the 3d software. This allows any image or video stream from another actor to be used with the .3ds object in Isadora. When Isadora recognises a linked 'texture' image the .3ds object can have a video or image assigned to its surface via the '3d player' actor input called 'texture map' a video stream from another actor can be linked. You can also use transparency in a .psd image file. I created image files using the gradient tools in Photoshop allowing a gradient opacity with feathered transparent areas. This translated to a translucent/ see-through .3ds object in Isadora. If the .3ds object does not have a 'texture' assigned in 3d editing software it will display with a base material, but will not display the content of video and images assigned through its 'Texture Map' input.

    Both the 'texture' and the base material can be coloured using the '3D Light Orientation' actor. The '3D Player', '3D Light Orientation' and the '3D Renderer'-'Virtual Stage' all need to be set to the same 'Stage/Chan' number through their inputs. To use the '3D Renderer' - 'Virtual Stage' set the 'Destination' input of the '3D Player' to 'Renderer'. You can then assign a number of 3d objects to the same '3D Renderer' - 'Virtual Stage' and move them as a group. If you want to apply individual colour and light control you would have a number of '3d Renderers' - 'Virtual Stages' linked to the 'Video' input of a number of 'Projectors', with each 'Projector' assigned to the appropriate 'Stage'. A number of '3D Light Orientation' actors can be assigned corresponding channel numbers allowing each .3ds object to be coloured independently. This worked for my purpose because the lighting options appear very limited and I have been unable to generate good specular or shading effects with the '3d Light Orientation' actor. The most flexibility came from using a separate '3d Renderer' - 'Virtual Stage' and '3d Light Orientation' for each object. As a result frame rates dropped after more than 3 of the .3ds objects were rendering to the stage. (However, the move to 'Virtual stage' in V2.2 and its gpu output has improved frame rate dramatically.)

    The 'Texture Map' input of the '3d Player' has not 'held' the assigned image - for me - navigating to another scene and coming back to the scene the .3ds object reverted back to displaying base material - even though the '3d Player' input showed the assigned 'Texture Map'. This appeared to be prevalent for images assigned to the 'Texture Map' input using the 'Picture Player' actor - video streams didn't have this issue. Toggling the 'on/off' input on the 'Picture Player' actor flicked over to the intended texture map. I have had to include a 'Scene enter trigger' sequence to force the texture map onto the .3ds object.

    There is an obvious processing overhead using these actors to build a scene. Any sophistication - particularly if your expectation is any advanced specular rendering, shading or multi element 3d scenes - will require careful planning, culling and compromising. Sometimes it is the limitations that push us in new directions.



    Mac OS 10.10.5 Mac Book Pro 2012 2.6ghz 16gb ram nvidia gt 650M 1024 mb


  • Thanks for the in-depth report. This is a perfect blog post actually!

    Do you have any screen recordings of the output? I am interested in the image of the right; looks like a skeleton tracking/kinect body?

  • Thanks Skulpture,

    The line figure is modelled in Isadora using the '3D line' actor - the idea was a figure that appeared formed from a continuous line. The points of the figure correspond to the skeleton tracking data from Kinect via Ni Mate and OSC. There are 24 '3D line' actors that make up the drawing. Each '3D line' has a total of six x,y,z inputs (three for each end of the line segment). The 'limit scale value' actor has been used extensively to transpose the figure to the Isadora stage. A user actor was generated to deal with a single line segment and it was then duplicated enough times to generate the outline of the figure. Each data stream has a 'smoother' actor that is embedded in the user actor, but an input for the smoothing has been routed back to a single scale value actor linking the smoothing for all of the 24 line segments.
    A series of .3ds files of 'crystals' were treated in the same way, however the '3d Player' does not have inputs for a segment - so a "Calculate 3d Angle' actor was used to exchange the proximity data into rotation. The x and y data from the Kinect was then linked directly to x and y of each '3d Player'. The effect is the .3ds objects appear to tumble around the skeleton slightly in continuity with the motion capture.
    I have made a screen recording of some sections of the overall project. I will be capturing a dancer and two musicians live so the patch scenes are variously motion capture, tracking and sound frequency segmentation. The projection will be mapped into a performance space. Some of the projection will be specific for 'solid light' forms that appear suspended in the performance space haze in the style of Anthony McCall - 'Line describing a cone' etc. 
    Vimeo link follows:

    Motion capture with Kinect Xbox 360, Ni Mate skeleton tracking and Isadora from Bonemap on Vimeo.

  • Wow that video is incredible. I didn't want it to end!

    Very impressive. Love the circular audio responsive stuff. 
    Once again - thanks for sharing. 

  • Tech Staff

    Nice work... the single line drawing is elegant.

    And its nice to see more use of '3D particles'... that's such a powerful actor.. 

    If you can get away from using the renderer at all.. you will see a FPS increase. CPU vid really slows down the pipeline when applied in this way.

  • Very nice work !

    And thanks for sharing your experience with 3D actors, this is a part I intend to explore and your Blender tips are useful.
    All the best.

  • Thanks for the encouragement!

    @DusX - I will look at avoiding the cpu-vid elements, but I don't think I can achieve these effects without the '3d renderer'. If the 'projector' actor had a video output and could be routed away from a stage - perhaps?
    I am open to suggestions.

  • @ Skulpture - see the screen grab here for the missing piece! - its the 'timeslice' actor on the output of the '3d line' actor. The '3d line' actor has colour and position parameters linked to sound frequency analysis.



  • Very clever. You are giving all your secrets away here you know ;)

    I love seeing how people make patches and use effects, etc. 
    I often think that Isadora patches themselves are just as impressive as the final outcome.

  • @ Skulpture - Ha ha!

    That particular arrangement of components came about from working with the '3D line' actor and the '3D particle' actor. Inspired by 'generative art' and working out a way to segment audio frequency input. I will be capturing sound from analogue musical instruments using up to eight microphones (percussion, vibes, piano) through a focusrite Clarett 8Pre audio interface. The idea is to clearly visualize each instrument as a pattern and range of colour - intentional synesthesia.



  • Tech Staff

    Very inspiring! Thanx for sharing your research!

  • +1 very inspiring stuff.

  • @ bonemap

    I try to follow your discription above .... but i am loosing the 3ds object material info from Blender and i wasn't able to colorized the object by the '3D Light Orientation' actor ...
    In case i use one 3ds object found in the web, every thing is ok. I try different blender render engine, no different ...The objects look fine  at re-import to Blender.  I am using Blender 2.76.  Do you have an idea to solve this topic?

    Any hint are more than welcome ....


  • The '3D renderer' has been replaced by the 'Virtual Stage' in version 2.1 of Isadora. The texture image file name needs to be short as it appears longer names are not supported by Isadora. The 3ds format supports 65000 vertices I have had 3D models of 45000 vertices working well in Isadora 2.2.2

  • Here is a link to a render of 3D object from Isadora. The 3D Player has been set to 'wireframe', however only about 50% of the model has actually rendered as a wireframe.

  • Tech Staff


    I like the effect, but I imagine it was not what was intended.
    Could there be anything unusual about the makeup of the file that would separate the 2 sections?

  • Hi @DusX,

    I don't know - the effect has only appeared with the 3D model neurons. These models are from the eyewire.org project to map the human brain. It could be something associated with them.
    Sometimes it is the mistakes and anomalies that lead us in new directions or produce results that are unexpected and ultimately more interesting than those of our initial intentions.


  • Looks amazing!

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