A human that makes things, sometimes they don’t fall apart

BOBBEVY, This Is How We Disappear

“This is how we Disappear” is a 25 minute dance performance created by the BOBBEVY dance company. I used a lot of random technologies: Cinder, Microsoft Kinect, libfreenect, OSC, and Control to create realtime dancer reactive visuals to go along with the performance. We performed it quite a few times and my favorite time was at Hollywood Theatre as part of Experimental Half Hour. It was great to see the graphics projected so huge!

I’ve learned quite a bit about what’s required to do visuals for a performance from this project. It’s definitely influenced everything I’ve done afterwards. I’m hoping to do more of this type of work in the future.

Some post-mortem notes are after the break:

Using the Kinect is a performance space is a pretty harrowing experience. If there’s a lot of reflection or IR noise in the room, the Kinect can just die. I think there are some tweaks you can do in libfreenect to allow one to continue to get data, but it’s likely to be too noisy to work. I ended up creating a fallback that allowed me to “draw” the dancers with my figures with a Control sketch. But that method isn’t ideal.

I initially triggered everything with keyboard keys, but it became hard to remember what did what after a while (even for a powah user like myself). Have an iPad user interface was much nicer and allowed the BOBBEVY crew to run the show themselves when they performed in Milwaukee. In theory, this would also let me trigger the cues far from the computer which would give more options for where the computer and Kinect go. In practice, the UDP packet loss when doing Adhoc networking seemed to high to rely on this. It’d be nice to have a TCP transport as an option in the future.

I also added Bonjour discovery to everything, this made it much much easier to get everything configured before a show. I recommend this to people doing multi-machine work.