Sony Hanycam too "old" to use the night vision IR for eyes actor?

  • Hi.  Hopefully someone can help me out here before I start purchasing the wrong things.

    Basically, I have a setup where there are 7 dancers on stage with minimal lighting (if any lighting at all, not sure yet) and there are circles projected onto the dancers' bodies.  The dancers start spread out and over 6 minutes they move towards the center.  The circles follow the dancers and "grow" and "diffuse/blur" until all circles create one big wash.

    Because I will have the stage barely lit using my standard webcam probably won't be the best solution because of tracking issues.  Talking to another artist, he suggested washing the stage in IR light and use an IR camera just for tracking purposes.  As I was thinking, I realized I had a sony handycam dcr-hc42 which I bought refurbished back in 2002.  The image on it is not so great now, but it does have night shot (utilizing IR) built into it.  So one possible solution would be to get a capture device and hook the video output and use it just to track.  Last time I tried to hook it up to my 4 year old Sony (via firewire) the (Sony) computer went to blue screen anytime I tried to connect it.  Spoke with Sony help and they suggested I buy a new camcorder (because it was too old) (I know, really? Incompatibility within the same brand is mind boggling to me).... Now I have a Asus (i7, 8GB RAM, 750 HD running Win8) and it's been smooth sailing so far by itself.  There is no firewire input so never attempted to have the new computer communicate with the (very) old camcorder.

    But I digress.  Does anyone have any suggestions as if I should purchase a capture device and use the camera I own or invest in a IR camera (which may be more useful in the longer term for better quality images).  Having never worked with a IR camera before, how is the quality of those?  I currently have a HD webcam that does a decent job in capturing video, but could I use the IR camera as an HD camera as well?  It's one of those things if I had it in my hands it would be easier to assess, but I don't so I feel half-blind.

  • There Will Be Lag. otherwise, it'll probably be fine. you could get one of those cheap EasyCap type encoders and run a composite cable from the camera (probably with a RCA barrel connector to get the signal out of the yellow plug on the Sony breakout cable)

    the camera has to convert from digital to analogue to get the signal out, then your digitizer will be converting back to analogue, so this will add some latency before the signal gets into Isadora.
    make sure you can set the camera up with manual focus (and probably exposure) in nightshot mode - you don't want it hunting for focus and confusing Eyes. you might want to put it slightly out of focus - a slightly blurry image is often easier to track, especially on a dark stage where the image is going to be pretty noisy, even in IR mode.
    a HD encoder will be expensive and unnecessary if all you're using it for is IR tracking.

  • Thank you dbini.  That's what I was suspecting.  Lag is fine because the dancers are moving really slow.  Oh, and I forgot to ask (kind of unrealted)  the camera will see the dots projected.  Does eyes get confused as to what to track if the projected image is being seen by the camera?  Meaning is there an infinity effect?  Or, what would be the proper placement of the camera if this is the case?

  • that's the beauty of IR - projected light isn't usually in the IR spectrum, so there won't be any feedback.

    to have full control over the image, you might want to tape over the IR transmitter on the camera and use a more focusable IR source, like a couple of profiles with enough filters in them to cut all of the visible frequencies. i tend to use a dark blue, a dark red and a dark green, and have my lanterns at around 40%, focussed on the dancers but off the floor. its worth trying it with the in-camera transmitter first though.
    LED lanterns are also invisible to IR, so if you need to change the light the space whilst tracking, its best to use these because they won't have an effect on what Eyes sees.