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Magic and Storytelling at TED / Collaboration: Marco Tempest, onformative + checksum5

“Magic and Storytelling” is an interactive presentation about the history of storytelling augmented with virtual magic in real-time. Performed by the New York based cyber illusionist Marco Tempest, the presentation combines a number of realtime technologies delivering a homogenous and magical look in realtime. 

The project was produced and created by Marco Tempest in collaboration with onformative and checksum5. In order to achieve this ‘magical’ combination of  digital and physical, onformative developed a variety of proprietary particle systems. These include “global magic dust”, which is based on and controlled by the Kinect depth image, the “hand magic dust”, that they placed particle emitters via hand-tracking onto Marcos hands for to emphasize his movements, and the “custom magic dust”, which allowed them to picture very different elements, as for instance appearing party guests, typography or flying fireballs and bullets made out of particles.

The main task was to bring together a very long list of demanding interactive real-time effects – such as hand-tracking, face-tracking, face substitution, particle systems, elements in 3d space – with the exact course of a six minutes show, timed by the given soundtrack. For the development onformative together with checksum5, the developers of vvvv. Likewise Tebjan Halm and Enrico Viola provided additional vvvv development and preliminary studies done in openFrameworks.

The aim in »Magic and Storytelling« was to find a magical and engaging way to enhance a live performance with interactive graphics. The live component could be anything from a lecture to a performance. The augmentation layer is not pre-rendered. It is generated by a data flow system in real time and in reaction to the live elements. I think that this type of magic can help us to map out what that part of the future might feel like, where 3D projection and gestural sensing are intelligent and ubiquitous. The collaboration with onformative and checksum5 created the perfect synergies to explore my vision. vvvv proofed to be the ideal tool to develop this graphics and computational intensive app. Magic and illusion are a good sandbox for creativity. Adding the element of illusion to an existing technology allows us to create things that are otherwise not possible. An illusion takes a technology beyond its natural boundaries. Magic is a unique tool for pre-visualization. - Marco Tempest

Hardware: One PC, Kinect, HD Camera, Two Monitors.
Software: openFrameworks for preliminary studies, vvvv for final.

Project Page

    • ArturitoMys

      That’s amazing, and i would like to make the effect of the particle system or dust, but with another technology, May i knowwhat’s the IDEthat you use to program this interactive presentation?

    • Elliot Woods

      that’s VVVV