Setting up for The Curtain at Roundhouse

40m of cable and a dream…

40m of cable and an Arduino
To reach from the top of the Roundhouse, where my custom Arduino-bases MIDI
controller sits connected to the video motion tracking system, all the way
to the control room housing the Dataton Watchout video playback system, I
found this great little USB to network cable hub! I’m running 40m (120ft!)
of cable between this little sucker, and I can still easily program and run
the Arduino (Jeenode, actually).

I have been commissioned by the Roundhouse as interactive developer on this project, Ron Arad’s Curtain Call, working with artist and designer Joe Hardy and making his vision of a shimmering curtain of light that reacts to people’s presence a reality.  I have to admit that at first it was daunting, technically, but now, after going down to Blitz‘s offices and trying out the software and hardware with their professional-grade video playback and mixing systems, I’m feeling more confident.

This after a few days of programming using Cinder and hacking together some custom MIDI controllers using Arduinos and JeeNodes (including building a wireless mesh MIDI network) into the wee hours of the night.  And moving flat.  And finishing the Ravensbourne project for a large consumer electronics company that I can’t discuss (stupid NDAs).

It’s been a busy month.

But I digress.

This project is called Curtain Call, and it is the brainchild of Ron Arad, the famous designer who resides in London.  You can get an idea of it from the video below, or the production blog.

It’s going to be a real spectacle, no matter what.  It’s huge – definitely the largest installation I’ve done.  8m high by 16m in diameter, it’s a huge curtain made of semi-transparent silicone rods that people can walk through to get inside a 360-degree, wrap-around space of imagery.  The sheer amount of pixels pushed into the space are also huge – 12 top-quality projectors, projecting at HD (1920×1080 pixels) resolution are placed on their sides to create a high-resolution space that makes your hi-def TV look like a blurry smudge off in the distance.

IMG_4452
this is what a real video mixer console looks like

Our contribution is a 360-degree interactive space where the curtain responds to people’s presence in a brightly shimmering way.  You can find the original mock-up of it here (along with some old video of me VJing with Wii remotes! Ah the memories), but in all honesty I think the final version will be much better – cleaner lines, more minimal, with more of a feeling of space.  Joe’s done a nice job on it, and he’s a really nice guy on top of that and a pleasure to work with.  Wish him luck, he’ll be spending most of his time rendering out gigantic videos for the next two days!

As a side taster, I plan to release the whole source code for this project, video tracking system and wireless midi and all, on github in the near future.