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An interview with Tyler Freeman about inspiration for the VJacket at Maker Faire.

Next is a short clip of the installation we made for Maker Faire Bay Area 2011: Sensors embedded in the VJacket trigger sounds in Abelton Live and video effects in Resolume Avenue. The video features an avatar created from a live 3d feed from a hacked XBox Kinect. All the sounds and effects were customizable, and in fact they ended up being much different at the end of the faire compared to this clip.

Audience participation was a must for us, so we let passers-by put on the VJacket and try for themselves. Even when one person was using it, the others in line couldn’t wait and ran up to be in range of the Kinect’s camera so their avatar was on screen as well! It was a big hit among kids, geeks, and professional performers alike.

 

The kids who tried on the VJacket picked up on the interface quickly; we noticed that when the sounds were off, the players had a harder time discerning which movements triggered an effect. With the instant and obvious feedback of the sound, however, they quickly learned to master the VJacket.

Some especially energetic youngsters invented new ways to play the Vjacket: some would dance with a furious convulsive fervor, whipping the too-long sleeves back and forth which activated all the piezo triggers in a frantic drum solo. This gave me the idea to play the triggers without using hitting them with my hands – instead using arm-twitching gestures and the looseness of the jacket to trigger two effects at once (this way, effects became grouped by left or right side – setting off both shoulder sensor and belly sensor as a “combo move”). During a crescendo in the music, more frenzied dancing would create a barrage of video effects appropriate for a climax. Another technique was to swipe the light sensor on the wrist past the LED on the other wrist, modulating one effect, while simultaneously triggering a piezo by a sudden shrug of the shoulder to layer effects.

Discovering techniques like these illustrates the potential virtuosity that is unique to each wearer/jacket combination, since each person’s body type and jacket size dictates the style of gestures available. Overall, the Maker Faire was amazing and the participants had many interesting and creative uses of the VJacket. Many came back several times to play again and again, and hopefully we inspired some people to build their own!

Vjacket-kinect_maker_faire_set

Diagram of the installation setup

Thanks to Ryan Huber for designing the sounds and helping build the new leather VJacket, Battlehooch for busking in front of the VJacket booth to demonstrate its VJing capabilities, Paul Spinrad for helping bring our vision to the Faire, the VJacket Maker Faire team, and of course all who came out to the Maker Faire! Hope to see you next year!

If you are interested in using the Xbox Kinect in Resolume, you can download the open-source Quartz Composer patch we used here:

https://github.com/odbol/Kinectifier-Quartz-Composer-Plugin-for-Resolume-Avenue

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