Mixed Reality Automatic Camera Tracker with SUTU

It’s been a little over a week since I launched my Automatic Camera Tracker project. It’s still a work in progress, but as SUTU is monopolising my Vive and nerd-basement at the moment, it felt like a good time to check in on its progress.

The current version is working alongside other VR apps, and can track a controller or VR headset at realtime or timelapse speeds as the user moves around the VR and IRL space. A little like this:

I wrote some more technical details about the system in a Reddit post on /r/Vive, and the tweet announcing the video received quite a bit of attention…

… which is exciting, because it’s a project I’ve had in my mind since I first used the Vive over a year ago, at PAX Prime in Seattle. As soon as I waved the controller in front of my face and noticed the tracking speed and accuracy I started mentally designing camera tracking systems. I wanted a VR system in my life because I love games, but I needed a Vive for filmmaking science experiments.

I’ve spent today with SUTU filming with my most recent version of the system, using it for both timelapse and realtime, handheld shooting while he worked on a Tilt Brush version of a piece from Nawlz.

 

Violent Soho – Saramona Said: Music Video

After the Violent Soho/Graetzmedia single-shot clip Covered In Chrome was nominated for an Aria award, we knew the follow up had to be really special.

Director Dan and I had been discussing if we could use the camBLOCK motion control system to do a low-budget version of the famous “Children Of Men” car chase scene. We did some tests in the back of a van and realised that the robot would be able to move while under acceleration, so we started planning.

Shitbox car purchased and modified. I came up with systems to allow director Dan to control the moco rig live, moving throughout the entire length of the car while he was huddled in the back underneath dirty clothes and sleeping bags. I figured out a quick-release system that enabled the transition between car interior and hectic live performance, which I may have done slightly differently if I’d known that transition would be mediated via my jumping in the passenger door of a moving vehicle.

Behind The Scenes

What followed was one of those wonderful creative experiences that makes the hard work of filmmaking completely worthwhile.

Continue reading Violent Soho – Saramona Said: Music Video

Little Odessa – All Night: Music Video

I’m fascinated by timelapse, and I’ve wanted to shoot someone sleeping for ages. Not in a creepy way, you understand. It’s just that slow-motion and timelapse videos reveal stuff we don’t usually get to see as humans shackled to linear time. As a VJ I do a lot of thinking about different ways of using projection. I’ve used projection mapping in the past on buildings and inanimate objects. So sleeping dudes seemed like a completely obvious next step.

It was surprising how little convincing was required to get Little Odessa on board with the concept. My pitch was “All four of you, asleep in a bed together, with a projector blaring in your eyes. It’s likely to be the worst night’s sleep of your entire life.” They were instantly, unanimously in favour of the idea. Continue reading Little Odessa – All Night: Music Video

Ball Park Music – Bad Taste Blues Part II: Music Video

Another collaboration between Graetzmedia and the amazing humans of Ball Park Music.

The “house” and “science lab” scenes of this piece were all shot at my home, I invented the ejector-pants, and shot B-cam angles for the performance scenes. (Also: Sneaky bus stop cameo, so I could be on hand to reset the ejector pants between takes.)

Continue reading Ball Park Music – Bad Taste Blues Part II: Music Video

Ball Park Music – Surrender: Music Video

As soon as my producer friend Matt Redlich moved his recording studio into the spectacularly beautiful wooden building he dubbed Grandma’s Place, I wanted to film a music video there. Matt had just finished recording Ball Park Music’s new album, so I organised a meeting between the band and the Graetzmedia crew to see what would come.

The challenge: Reinvigorate an old-style “random stuff happening in various places” music video concept with some next-level VFX and motion control.

In collaboration with director Dan Graetz, I did a bunch of science, taught the Motion Control robot to pull perfect Hitchcock Zooms time after time, shot some crazy multi-pass performance shots to create virtual choirs, and came up with a plant-growing timelapse/realtime “seed charmer” shot which blows minds on the reg. Continue reading Ball Park Music – Surrender: Music Video

Penny Skateboards – Plastic Pride: Advertisement

Remember when I made a toaster remotely explode on cue and shoot flaming bread into the air?

Good times.

For this Graetzmedia production I created an animatronic, pyrotechnic toaster, animated the closing logo and motion control camera moves, and did general Shoot Things for a couple of days of silliness around Brisbane. Silliness I was able to immortalise by editing a Behind The Scenes clip:

Bonus Points: The skateboard smashing scene was shot at the house of my good friend Jum. I hope he will use this piece when he eventually goes to sell the house. Continue reading Penny Skateboards – Plastic Pride: Advertisement

Stan Walker – Light It Up: Music Video

The record label contacted Graetzmedia director Dan wanting “lights and pyro” but only had budget to cover a single flame canon.

So I  got to work designing, inventing and fabricating on 3 different setups:

Audio-controlled lighting: With the song stems controlling stage lights.

Flame Tubes: My versions of the classic “Reubens Tube” science experiment, with audio controlling 6 separate channels of propane-tubes.

Sparkler Cannons: To enable model rocket igniters to trigger the difficult-to-burn sparklers, I had to come up with my own mixture of gunpowder.

Continue reading Stan Walker – Light It Up: Music Video

Cowper – Morning Prayer: Music Video

I’m really proud of this one.

Both video and audio for this clip were recorded in a single session at the flood-destroyed Graetzmedia studios in West End, Queensland, Australia.

To achieve a perfect focus pull over the 4-minute staring contest, I modified the camBLOCK moco system to control a follow focus whip. This clip was the first shoot to utilise this technique. Several months later, camBLOCK shipped their official focus/zoom motors.

There is no trickery in the single-shot nature of this piece. Cowper really can keep his eyes open for that long. In the dozen or so takes we shot, I think he blinked in two of them.

Continue reading Cowper – Morning Prayer: Music Video