PTZ camera control

Box- Just Look At It

It’s exquisite. It’s everything I dreamed of when I was a kid- robotics, in-camera film effects, precision. The San Francisco based firm of Bot & Dolly has pretty much upped the game for everything involving projectionmapping in real-time and combined it with extreme robotic film making. It seems a natural progression though, and I can’t think of anyone more capable and qualified to do it. But before we give in to our Robot Overlords, let’s remember they still need to be told what to do. It’s just that they do it over and over again with ridiculous precision and razor-accuracy. I don’t know what they used for projectors, but I suppose it wouldn’t take much in terms of lumens for a project like this. Projection software on the other hand was accomplished with Touchdesigner. As advanced as Touchdesigner is, the more you watch what they’re doing with the Iris robotic arm the more you realize that projectionmapping is the easy part. They have an entire array of tools at their disposal- BD Live, BD Time, and the stunning BD Wheel- a hand-held control wheel that allows you to scrub through a shot or attenuate playback speed. If you’ve ever been to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago and seen their toy manufacturing display – this is like that x1000. They have a couple of Motoman robotic arms that you can race and play against…but this scale is entirely different.


It’s not hard to discern where or how the effects are in-camera, but the marriage of the elements is what overwhelms me about Box. That, and the sound. That first big whoosh at 1:24 is just plain sensual.

Tobias Kinnebrew of B&D explains: “Box explores the synthesis of real and digital space through projection-mapping on robotically controlled moving surfaces. The short film documents a live performance, captured entirely in camera. Bot & Dolly created this work as both an artistic statement and a technical demonstration. It is the product of an experience vision realized through the integration of multiple technologies pivoting on our software platform BD Movetm for precision control of robotics.” It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to extrapolate where you can go with this type of gear on a film set. With the extreme precision and playback capabilities, the possibilities are truly endless. I gotta get out to the coast and see this in person. That’s all there is to it.

Absolute heaven. Dig it!

Box from Bot & Dolly on Vimeo.

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Indy Opera Goes to the Movies

While not quite the same scale as Aida at the RAH, the Indianapolis Opera is in full swing this week and the program is entitled “Opera Goes to the Movies”. The idea is to have a massive movie screen and play clips of various movies that have music from operas….combine that with live singers, a live orchestra, and IMAG and you get the idea. For my part I get to set up, align, and generally babysit two Christie HD 12k’s. All the clips and editing by Derek Tow of South 40 Productions.

The general size of the screen when combined with the physical depth of our stage dictated .73:1.0 lenses which, if you’ve ever had to use them on a big gun Christie, are not the most cooperative of glass. The PJ’s had to be center of screen, which in this case was 18′ so scaffolding had to be done as you can see in the following pics (No, there’s no Pandora’s box on this gig, I just use their totally useful grids). These HD12k’s don’t have Twist or warp, or even enhanced keystone correction, so all the convergence is manual. Big tip for anyone using a rental like these- shoot some lithium grease into the rigging feet and screws before stacking them and sending them in the air! You’ll save a ton of hassle and have less blisters. Trust me. All playback is coming from 2 iMacs (primary and backup) using Playback Pro + running into a Panasonic AV-HS400 and sent down the line HD-SDI. We’re using a 24′ jib, a 33x Canon on sticks, and my Vaddio HD19 cameras for IMAG. Surprisingly- the little PTZ cams look pretty good!

Indianapolis Opera’s executive director John Pickett says that during the planning of this year’s season they wanted to present four entries yet include something that was on a lesser scale financially, while attracting newer audiences at the same time. That’s how Opera Goes to the Movies came about.

“It will be a great situation for people who like film and understand the role that music and opera have played in it. However, they may have never tried or have had limited experience with live opera singing with an orchestra. I think people who are new to opera will love it because it is a lot of the greatest hits of opera that they know or have heard. It will give them some context about it,” says Pickett, who also thinks that the singing “will be of high enough caliber that the ‘foamers’ (those who foam at the mouth or get excited about opera) and aficionados of opera will enjoy it too.”

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Vaddio ProductionVIEW Switcher- Review


The following appears in the current issue of PLSN magazine, and I can’t thank them enough for printing it. But here on Projectionfreak you get some extras….

I use a PTZ camera system at work that is a package supplied by Markertek (outstanding prices and service from these folks….highly recommend them!) ….and manufactured by Vaddio…namely a ProductionVIEW switcher, 3 HD19 PTZ cameras with CCU, a Vaddio 3-way monitor, and a Vaddio 2-way HD monitor. The switcher is at the heart of the rig, providing control over the 3 cameras, a fourth PTZ (Sony EVI-D70), computer input, and DVD input. I should say up front that I am not paid by Vaddio or Markertek, nor do they receive advertising credit or endorsement from me or from……although ANY/ALL of those options and scenarios are open for discussion! Hint hint- as in “call for a rate card” hint….

I happen to use their gear based on price and performance and I couldn’t be happier. It’s great stuff and the image quality is outstanding- but on with the hands-on review:

Vaddio ProductionVIEW HD Switcher

As the ‘video guy’ I get asked to wear a lot of hats and it’s not just because I’m a nice guy that says “yes”. There’s a lot of factors to keep track of- not the least of which is keeping a decent image onscreen. If you’re touring, you’re usually just trying to keep the gear from being destroyed- if you’re in corporate you have the constant harangue of having to edit presenter imagery- if you’re in trade shows, well- that list is too long. Usually this is all on top of being the switcher. If you are the lucky person that owns/rents the gear that makes all that happen, you need equipment that does more than one thing. So it goes (more…)

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