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10 Jun 2005

by Noel

A bit of art…

Untyped recently had the opportunity to work with Nils Porrmann on a piece that is part of the upcoming Those Who Wonder exhibition showing this weekend.

Nils and his conspirators had developed a number of pieces they wanted to present in a book, but did not like the idea of printing dead-tree versions of the book for everyone who came to the show. The brainstorm was to take a video of the book, and have some way for the viewer to turn the pages of the video/book by waving their hands in the air… or some other apparently magical mechanism.

Christian and I were able to make that magic happen, and the end-result is really quite nice (even if we do say so ourselves!). Our first step was to explore an excellent little application calledEvoCam; this program lets you plug in an iSight video camera, drag-and-drop regions on the video, and attach actions to motion detected in those regions.

From there, it was just a hop, skip, and a jump to controlling the video. We wrote a custom application for Nils to easily mark the page-flip points, which we then fed into the AppleScripts for controlling the player. The true genius came from Nils, who realized that the interface to a virtual book should be a real book. So, the viewer turns the page on a real (but blank) book, and the video follows the action. With a little skinning of Quicktime Player, we eliminated the control surfaces, and it looks just great on a black background.

We don’t get to do things like this often enough; we like to think that programming is an art, but how often do we actually get to make art with our programming? When the show goes up, we’ll get some pictures and video of the… video. It will be great to see people interact with it!

If you’re in London this weekend, please feel free to stop in. The whole show looks like it will be great.

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