Motion Tracking in Real Time for Theatre

  • I am working on a piece and am not sure how to execute it and was hoping I could get some advice. First let me describe what I have and then I will go on to describe what the piece will be and what I would like to achieve.

    I am in the process of building a puppet that, when done, will be between 12 and 15 feet high. It straps onto a performer's back like a backpack and just forward so the head of the puppet is above and in front of the puppeteer and his body is behind the cloth body of the puppet. The head is a piece of foam that is around a foot by a foot and a half. The puppet will have "hands" and will mostly be made of cloth. The head is ably to tilt and the "hands" are able to move but the rest of the animation will be a direct extension the puppeteer's moment as the puppet is attached to him. The effect I would like to achieve is as follows; I would like media (images/movies/text)to be projected onto the head of the puppet. As the puppet moves in three dimensional space I would like that projection to adjust in real time and stay on the head. If possible, I would love to do the same thing with the body of the puppet but have different media on it then on the head but still on one projector. If I can figure out how to do tracking on just the head I will be happy and can do without projecting on the body. 
    Thanks so much and I hope i can get some help. I don't have a set budget but would most likely be able to spend a few hundred dollars if necessary.  
    Thanks again,
    Seth Roseman
  • Beta Tester

    I think your best bet would be to embed an IR LED in the head and then use an IR camera to track it. Maybe combine that with a Kinect for depth data

  • You will have to forgive my ignorance but could you explain further? Where would i get an IR LED? Would it matter where on the head I put it? Where would I get an IR camera and what am i looking for when I buy one? Should I just buy a kinect like on amazon? Once again, sorry for my ignorance.

  • Beta Tester

    You can get an IR led from RadioShack. Just google and you can find one. I'm partial to the IR mod-ed PS3 Eye Toy cameras from Peau Productions. They have the LEDs too. It can go anywhere on the head. Yes, you can just get the Kinect from Amazon

  • Izzy Guru

    MatthreW is totally right. 

    You are basically using the technique Marco Tempest used in his illusions....
    IR and InfraRed cameras are the best way to go. The camera track the light and adjusts the isadora stage to match. It's quite tricky to get working but once done it should be very stable. 
    HOWEVER: If the theatre you are in has a lot of lights (probable!) you need to make sure none of those are emitting IR light. LED lights can cause this sometimes.

  • This is something to look at too

  • A really stupid question before I buy but is this what i should get? Will it connect to my computer via USB or do i need an adapter or something?
  • Beta Tester

    That is what you should get and the included Kinect Power Supply allows it to connect via USB. You may want a Kinect extension cable to allow you to position it more than a few feet from your computer.