Using Video to Control Real-World Devices
TechnoFrolics introduces new 'playground' for choreographing kinetic artworks
SOMERVILLE, Mass., Sept. 30, 2014 -As a pioneer in the field of high tech art*, TechnoFrolics' founder David Durlach is deeply familiar with both the delights and frustrations of using technology to create emotionally expressive, kinetic artworks.
The bridge from imagination to the implementation of technologically-animated 'living sculptures' has traditionally involved many painstaking hours of low-level coding.
At this year's ASTC (Association of Science and Technology Centers) conference in October, David will demonstrate TechnoFrolics' new ChoreoV environment, presenting it as a paradigm-shifting approach to the choreography of synchronized motion, lighting, and other complex behaviors in physical artworks.
The core goal is to make the choreography process simple, swift, and fun. Users employ video as an intuitive, natural language with which to represent behaviors. This approach provides a near "What you see is what you get" (WYSIWYG) experience.
ChoreoV works in conjunction with standard video editing software. Users can thus choreograph physical artworks using the powerful capabilities of these familiar applications, including in particular their built-in animation tools.
The video is translated by ChoreoV into a flow of data, which, in turn, controls the artwork in real time. In contrast to conventional hand coding methods, this novel design can easily speed up the choreography process by a factor of 10x to 1000x.
“Imagine a classical choreographer envisioning a dance, but then having to encode all the movements as numeric strings of joint-angles, one for each dancer, one for each joint, and all updated 30 times a second. To say this task can be tedious is an understatement.” says David. “And all this in the absence of seeing the dancers in motion, until the task is - at least in part - complete. The labor of bringing our first kinetic artwork – the 'Dancing Trees' choreographed iron dust piece - to life back in 1989, was uncomfortably close to this process - even with the help of a basic choreography environment we wrote. It required around 40 hours of choreography for each minute of the final music-synchronized dance."
David was inspired to develop the ChoreoV software environment by insights stemming from his long experience with kinetic artwork choreography, in conjunction with:
- The viewpoint of “video-as-data”, developed in connection with TechnoFrolics FrameGlide | Spin Browser video explorer, and enhanced during work with students prototyping a choreographable LED display.
- The epiphany that video could be used to control virtually any object in the physical world.
- The recognition that sophisticated desktop video/animation tools were readily available and in wide-spread use.
*25 years after TechnoFrolics' Dancing Iron Dust was voted Most Popular Invention at the Boston Museum of Science's 1989 Inventors Weekend, the self-same artwork returned from the 2014 NYC World Maker Faire proudly bearing three "Editor's Choice" blue ribbon awards.
TechnoFrolics specializes in combining technology, art, the natural sciences, and play. TechnoFrolics' creations include dancing techno-artworks, kinetic signs, special event attractions, educational science exhibits, and interactive video presentation tools. TechnoFrolics' fans, clients, and supporters range from science museums to multi-national corporations to universities to international and regional arts organizations and private collectors. TechnoFrolics was founded in 1988 and is based in Somerville, Massachusetts.