The Freak of the Week entries just keep coming, and this week we have something truly unique. In Sydney, Australia, Ph.D. student Matt Hughes and musician/inventor Alon Llsar are using AtmosFX Hollusion Projection Material to create augmented reality effects as part of live music performances.
Alon (in the video above) is also a fellow student at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). Alon created AirSticks, Wii-like remotes he uses to create music through gestures and movement. He uses AirSticks as the instruments with his band Comatone & Foley on their album "Trigger Happy 2."
Here's where Matt's experiment comes in. As Alon makes music with his AirSticks, Matt hooked up a Kinect v2 camera to capture the movements of Alon's body. He took that data, plus the music and data from the AirSticks then fed it all into a 3D graphics tool. The information was projected back towards a screen on the stage, mimicking Alon's gestures. The projector was placed about seven meters off stage left with, as Matt says, "some pretty intense keystoning."
For the get the results he wanted, Matt realized he needed a special type of projection material. He tried theater scrim, which can be lit to allow the audience to see the performer behind it. However, scrim makes it extremely difficult for the performer to see the audience and for Matt, that's a deal-breaker.
Matt did a lot of searching on the internet and discovered Hollusion Projection Material on a Halloween decorators forum. It was exactly what he was looking for. "Not only is it see-through from the performer’s side, but it is also way more see-through in general, whilst also retaining the majority of projected light," he tells us. "It is much more suitable for augmented reality or hologram-type effects."
That has allowed Matt and Alon to greatly expand how they employ these augmented reality effects both in their music and their academic research at UTS. Matt and Alon are also developing the show as a performance piece.
Matt intends to create installation works where people can walk up, see their friends on the other side of the screen, and start interacting with the system. "I’m envisioning something like a Snapchat filter, simple interactions where it tracks your head and puts effects on it."
It is that kind of totally imaginative thinking that we love hearing about! Freak-worthy stuff, for sure. We can't wait to see what else Matt and Alon come up with.