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The Maccabees (in the dark) – Live performance recording with 10 Kinects

maccabees_live_5 copy

Two weeks ago we were invited to be at the filming of the new video of the The Maccabees, presented by Vevo for the Magners ‘Made in the Dark’ campaign. Unfortunately we could not make it but earlier today, James Aliban posted details of the result. Project is the brainchild of Directors Jamie Roberts and Will Hanke, and the performance contained a combination of live action footage (shot with an Alexa on a technocrane) and an animated sequence by Jamie Child and James Ballard. The scene was all shot in 3D, with a rig that contained 10 Kinect cameras, each attached to a Macbook Pro. The technical consultant on the project was James Aliban.

Three applications were built to achieve this, all using openFrameworks. The client application used ofxKinect to record the point clouds. The millimetre data for each pixel of the depth map was transcoded into 320×240 TIFF images and exported to the hard drive at roughly 32 fps. A server application was used to monitor and control the 10 clients using OSC. Among other tasks, this starts/stops the recording, synchronises the timecode and displays the status, fps and a live preview of the depth map.

Once the recording had taken place a separate ‘mesh builder’ app then created 3D files from this data. Using this software, the TIFFs are imported and transformed back into their original point cloud structure. A variety of calibration methods are used to rotate, position and warp the point clouds to rebuild the scene and transform it into 2 meshes, one for the band and another for the crowd. A smoothing algorithm was implemented but this was dropped in favour of the raw chaotic Kinect aesthetic. A large sequence of 3D files (.obj) were exported and given to the post production guys to create the animated sequence in Maya and After Effects. This app also formats the recorded TIFF and .obj files so that there are only 25 per second and are in an easily manageable directory structure.

For more information about the project visit James’ blog.

Credits: Jamie RobertsWill Hanke, Jamie ChildJames Ballard, James Aliban and