Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Microsoft's Project Natal: Motion Capture, Mime, Puppetry For your Xbox 360?

The computer vision wizards of Microsoft (including the Internet sensation Jonny Lee, the guy who hacked a Wiimote into a virtual whiteboard) have been busy working on a controller-less technology that, apparently, can sense shapes and forms and track their motions.

Imagine the uses for puppetry or mime! In the video above, the boy gets to perform the rampages of a giant Japanese monster. The girl drives a car by miming the hands on a steering wheel. I can see this being used for virtual Muppets, where a simple two-handed rod puppet could drive a virtual puppet decorated to look like whatever you want.

Some questions to ponder. Can Project Natal track depth accurately? What's the latency? How many things can it track? If a tracked object gets occluded and then reappears, is there a delay before it gets picked up again?

Low-cost motion capture / digital puppetry inches closer and closer. I hope Microsoft opens this up to XNA so that indie developers can play with it.

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posted by Brian at 10:30 AM 0 comments links to this post

Monday, March 23, 2009

TEDx USC: Natasha Tsakos

Very cool TED Video shown here at TEDx about Natasha Tsakos, a corporeal mime actress who combines nonverbal communication, Foley sound FX, and projected CG animations in her work, in particular her show called Upwake.

Reminds me of the work of Robert LePage, with more of a Charlie Chaplin / Buster Keaton performance style.

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posted by Brian at 2:27 PM 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Pop Locking + Mime + Contortion = Robert Muraine (Mr. Fantastic)

The very first time I saw someone do "pop locking" (a form of breakdancing) was in elementary school in Massachusetts, circa 1978 or so for a talent show. Couldn't believe my eyes -- a human robot? Thirty years later, people are still pop locking and taking this mime-like dance form to new horizons. There have been pop lockers before on the TV show "So You Think You Dance," but good heavens, be blown away by this clip of Robert Muraine (aka Mr. Fantastic), a street performer on the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica. I've never seen contortion added to the mix before. The guy has a natural sense of pantomime, impressive without any training. (Imagine if he DID get some training...)

What's a bit sad is that Robert quit the competition, feeling insecure about learning choreography in completely foreign dance forms. Robert, I hope you try again.

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posted by Brian at 8:45 PM 0 comments links to this post