Interview: Michel Weber


Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I was born in South Africa and lived there for the first 10 years. Then we moved back to Switzerland to my parent’s hometown.

I bought my first computer when I was 21 and only then started to explore the digital world.
In 1998 I started as a lighting technician at the opera house in Zurich (Switzerland). But the light of a single pixel was more fascinating to me than the one of a light bulb. So I started to work more and more with video.

My first contact with Isadora was in 2004 when I had to find a solution for our theatre. After evaluating different software, Isadora played the trump card with a smooth and easy learning curve, but didn’t lack of complex functionalities for the advanced user.

I’m head of the video department at the theatre of the arts that belongs to the Zurich University of the Arts. Since 2011 I am also responsible for the video technic at the “Theater Spektakel” festival (it takes place every summer for 3 weeks in Zurich). Next to that I participate on various projects as a freelancer.

Would you class yourself as a performer, technician, director or other?
First I would class myself as a technician, because that’s how I started and that’s the reason why I am where I am now and then video-/interaction designer.

What projects have you been working on lately?
Last year (2013) I was asked to do the video design for Goethe’s Faust that played in a church in St. Gallen (Switzerland), I supported and trained a group doing video content for a dance peace and did all the video tech stuff for them and I did an interactive dance game for the Tanzhaus Media Lab in Zurich using Kinect and Isadora.

What has been the highlight of career?
Participating Amitesh Grover’s work “strange lines” at NSD (National School of Drama) in Delhi. He is a wonderful director with great ideas and it’s really satisfying to work with him.

How would you describe your artistic style?
Simplify as much as possible.

What technology do you use most often?
Software: Isadora, Motion, Photoshop, Quartz Composer etc.
Hardware: Kinect, Wiimote, TrippleHead, Cameras, Piezos, Arduino (low level) etc.

How has the Troika Tronix Isadora software helped you with your work?
Without Isadora I would probably do something totally different.

Do you have a website:
www.filmprojekt.ch

If you want people to contact you, you can also provide an email address here:
People can contact me via contact form on my website:

http://www.filmprojekt.ch/

Inspiring Videos.


Every now and again I like to post some video that I’ve seen. Here they are;

A music video/live performance all done using Z-Vector; VJ Julius Tuomisto and his Z Vector software from Delicode. I love this type of live, real time visuals.

Lots of people have been talking about this video. Chances are you have already seen it. But hey, if you haven’t its amazing an well worth a watch! Read more about it here also: http://thecreatorsproject.vice.com/blog/video-exclusive-bot–dollys-the-box-unpacks-a-radically-new-design-concept

Isadora user ‘Lanz’ posted this on the forum. A very fun, vibrant and interesting piece. Lovely digital scenery! [More info here]

“Taking inspiration from fairy tales, In A Deep Dark Wood is a fun and interactive show about a little girl who bravely ventures into a dark and mysterious wood. Encountering tempting trees to climb and beguiling creatures, the tale unfolds as the young audience help to create a magical world using shadow and light to guide the little girl through her bewitching adventure.”

Last but not least check out ‘The zero hour’ by Imitating the Dog.

http://www.imitatingthedog.co.uk/projects/the-zero-hour/

“Taking as its starting point the final moments of the Second World War in Berlin, The Zero Hour follows the stories of three couples living through three very different versions of the same historical events”

If you have any cool videos to share then add them to the comments below.

World Stage Design; Free Patch



If you came to my World Stage Design talk in Cardiff a few weeks ago then you will recall me offering to share the demo patch I used on the day….

Well here it is. This is just a template. I highly suggest you watch Mark Coniglio’s tutorials here to refresh your memory.

I have added the ‘tracker.mov’ video which replicates a person for motion tracking.

[DOWNLOAD HERE] It’s in a .zip file and is 618kbs.

You can download the demo of Isadora here for free:

http://troikatronix.com/download/isadora-download/

Leap Motion


I like my gadgets. I am admittedly a bit of a gadget freak… but I don’t often actually buy them. Normally because they are expensive and I know deep down I won’t use them as much as my mind believes I will. But the Leap Motion is different.

The Leap Motion is a USB powered hand/finger tracking device. Think of it as an xbox kinect for the hands perhaps? It’s made for Mac and Windows too which is great.

The into video explains the basics very well…

I have bought one (second hand off eBay for £40 I might add) to use at work and at home. I have a few ideas for it and if nothing else will be a handy (pun-intended) gadget on my office desk – it’s already plugged in actually. It’s small sleak and sits flush to my MacBook Pro. It’s a shame it’s not wireless as it takes up a USB plug but I have a powered hub on my desk.

How am I going to use it? To be honest I have no concrete ideas. There are a few Isadora users who have made a few OSC/MIDI related actors to control Isadora scenes which I am going to look at and I am sure I can find a few uses in that area. I also like the idea of using it for generate/live painting in a VJ context. Will I look an idiot waving my hand around at a gig to make stuff appear on the screen? – probably! Do I care?…. probably! But we shall see.

I also want to see if it can be used in a commercial sense. At the museum and art gallery where I work we have interactives for visitors but people, for some reason, LOVE to hack, break, pull, snap, spill drinks, etc, etc on keyboards, mouses, touch screens, etc. Now this can’t be helped all the time of course, but there is a tiny percentage who do it on purpose, I’ve seen them! Maybe a Leap Motion placed under some perspex (military grade?) could replace the keyboard and mouse idea? Problem is the learning curve! How will people know how to move their hands or even to put their hands above the device? Similar to the Kinect sensor it’s not a recognised Human Input Device (HID)

So – I will keep you posted. Minority report… Yeah! Let’s do it!

Do you own one? Let me know how you are using it. I wanna know… Let’s talk!

Projection Documentation Tool


Matthew Haber has yet again blessed us with another cool isadora/projection tool called the Projection Documentation Tool or ‘PDbase’ for use in your shows. It has a lot to offer – just read the key features below!

I have shamelessly (with permission!) taken this from his website as it explains it all perfectly well. Thanks Matthew!

PDbase-Production is the only publicly available database application for data and workflow management for live performance projection and video designers. PDbase keeps track of nearly 400 different pieces of information for a given project, supports complex multi-user access, and can generate and share over 30 different types of paperwork based on this information. PDbase is vastly more powerful than any other known database solution and is the result of nearly 18 months of development and testing. PDbase is uniquely just as suited for the record keeping needs of a single freelance designer working alone as it is for a large studio with numerous designers, editors, and other collaborators who all need data access. PDbase can also provide other departments on a production such as stage management and lighting with the information they need when they need it via a secure webpage, saving you and your team the time spent issuing daily paperwork updates. Ultimately PDbase is far too comprehensive to explain in a single page so I recommend you download the fully functional free version and try it out on a show after reading through the knowledge base.

Key Features:

Documents vital information for cues, still and moving content, media and font assets, editing workflows and software plugins, render queues and render nodes, production contact information, video shoots, work notes, and individual task lists for team members.

Generates a diverse range of paperwork and keeps track of changes made so you and your collaborators don’t have to.

Comprehensive access controls and versatile multi-user workflows insuring the biggest of teams have access to all of the information they need while maintaining data privacy and security.

Hundreds of separate procedures that invisibly validate your data to insure any errors are caught before they become a problem.

Handles the biggest of shows with support for hundreds of thousands of records.

Built in web interface allows anyone you authorize to access important information whenever they need it.

Powerful tools to help keep track of licensing and rights management for the media assets you use in your design.

Cues, content, etc are all closely interlinked just like they are in the real world.

All data can be imported from and exported to standard formats such as comma separated, tab separated, XML, Excel, etc.

PDbase streamlines communication between designers, assistants, editors, asset wranglers, researchers, and other production departments insuring that everyone knows what they need to know and does what they need to do.

PDbase can be run locally on a personal computer or hosted on a local or off-site server.

PDbase is being constantly updated with new and improved functionality.

PDbase-Production is built on FileMaker Pro 12. This permits massive flexibility in terms of easily adding new and custom functionality. This also takes advantage of FileMaker’s built in powerful and reliable Server functionality.

PDbase-Studio, a companion application for comprehensive record keeping at a business level (invoicing, CRM, time-tracking, etc) is under development and will integrate seamlessly with PDbase-Production once it is available.

PDbase-Rental, a companion application for rental shop and general equipment and resource tracking (asset scheduling, packing and shipping management, etc) is under development and will integrate seamlessly with PDbase-Production and PDbase-Studio once it is available.

[DOWNLOAD HERE]

How to add a custom Plugin into Isadora.


There are many custom actors written for Isadora if you search the forum.

They are pretty handy and increasingly becoming more popular (you clever people!) I myself can’t code so I do not have any of my own. These are NOT to be confused with user actors. These are actual actors programmed from the ground up using source code and SDK files.

Don’t let this put you off! If you are on Mac then this is how you can install them on your machine….

And for those who wonder how to install the compiled plugin under Windows : just copy the .dll file into ‘IsadoraInstallationFolder\Isadora Plugins’, e.g. C:\Program Files\Isadora\Isadora Plugins. Don’t forget to restart Isadora. The plugin should then show up in the list! (Thanks djinoui)

Barbican Video Mapping (Isadora Mapping)


I managed to get some footage of a project I was helping with a few weeks back.

This was held at the Barbican Theatre/Performance Venue in London, UK. My friend Dan Shorten (from Anomic) who works as Guild Hall School of Drama had students help out and we helped the Barbican promote the spaces and areas they have for potential clients.

I helped with some of the mapping and made sure Isadora ran smoothly. Which it did… of course!

2d to 3d – Finally!


I have been pondering this idea for a long long time! I have experimented with the Kinect camera to scan 3D objects and make virtual 3D copies but I have always toyed with the idea of making realistic 3D objects using 2D images. This can be done somewhat in photoshop and after effects but this method blew me away!

Source : http://createdigitalmotion.com/2013/09/from-a-single-2d-photo-3d-objects-created-easily/

Basic: Mapping a cube in Isadora tutorial [FREE DOWNLOAD]


I decided to put together a little demo of how I would map a basic cube in Isadora using standard Isadora actors. No IsadoraCore upgrade or third party installers required. This should work on Mac and PC also.

Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 08.07.40

I have to stress this is very basic but for some it could be very interesting and extremely useful. I decided to zip the files and media so you can open it and follow it as you go along.

Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 08.08.18

Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 08.08.04

Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 08.07.54

You need the latest version of Isadora. (I actually used the latest beta but this will be fine)

[DOWNLOAD TUTORIAL & ZIP FILE HERE]

Don’t forget I always welcome a beer if you found this useful ;-)

Any questions or comments then please add them below.

Cheers. Enjoy!

Skulpture

World Stage Design 2013 ‘Isadora and Interactivity’


World Stage Design 2013 ‘Isadora and Interactivity’ workshop.

I am pleased to announce that I will be doing a workshop at World Stage Design 2013 in the UK, Cardiff, Wales on Friday 13th September.

This one day course will cover key areas of the Isadora software. And its use as an interactive tool. The workshop will cover many topics that are relevant to a wide range of disciplines including dance, theatre, VJ/DJ and technician/installation.

Delegates will have the opportunity to gain an insight including real-life tips and tricks, from one of the UK’s top Isadora experts (me!).

Who should attend?

Professionals and students within all areas of theatre design

Price: £12

More info here: http://www.wsd2013.com/whats-on/isadora-and-interactivity/