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Using your movingheads or scanners as followspot

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remco_k
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Using your movingheads or scanners as followspot

Post by remco_k »

From time to time a topic arises at this forum from people wanting to use their movingheads or scanners as followspot.
Most of the time they want to do that by controlling the pan/tilt movements by joystick or some other hid (Human Interface Device).
But as excpected, that is really hard to do, especially with movingheads as some models they move to slow and if you correct that with your joystick, they go to fast and they'll shine at the ceiling or something. With scanners goes a lot better with joystick control because their total pan/tilt range is smaller.
Whatever you are gonna use: I always discourage this way of followspot control. It goes wrong just to often, leaving unprofessional effect on the audience and other working people at the scene.
Mostly I recommend them to just program some fixed points on the stage and use them as presets (override buttons in FreeStyler) to control the lights to that points. That way you'll never shine at the ceiling if you did'nt intent do.

But a few days ago I was thinking, something like that should and could be done automaticly. There is hardware that you can track down locations of transmitters using multiple receivers in one space. So why not translate that information using some algorithms to DMX signals. I even had plans building something like that. But I get stuck on what type of hardware could help me out locating the transmitter (who the person bears where the followspot(s) need to point to). Then it hit me: If I can think of something like that, then most probably somebody else have made it and have it in production... And yes, after a quick "google is my friend" search I came across this product: "Wybron Autopilot II", containing the techniques I thought about earlier.

Image

It works like this: the main person that needs to be in the followspots bears a transmitter, also known as belt pack. Above and behind the stage are at least 8 receivers mounted. They are all connected to the autopilot controller and using some software they are able to figure out the exact locating of the main person. Then they calculate various DMX values for all assigned followspots (which are actually just normal moving heads) and the heads will follow the person fully automaticly. No matter where the person goes.

http://www.wybron.com/products/tracking ... autopilot/
Unfortunately its not that cheap to buy, base price: $33,850
http://www.wybron.com/products/tracking ... price.html

But hey, its nice to know that the technique is here. I've never worked with this equipment though, I hope I do some day.
I even read a dutch article from a dutch company (big one in lighting: flashlight) who uses the autopilot II. It was at a theatre play where they even had not a special light operator. In fact, the audio guy controlled the lights with his audio mixer.
They had made a connection between the audio mixer and light controller, a faderstart contact (in or below the fader) told the autopilot system which microphones from which players were on. Then the autopilot would set one or more followspots automaticly to that person or persons. That is possible by let that players bear a transmittter that is transmitting a unique id.
http://www.flashlight.nl/leesmeer.aspx?id=1138 (sorry, its in dutch)
I found a movie of the play on youtube; I guess you can see the autopilot in action here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4sZ0eL0HjQ

In the mean time I'll keep my eyes open for such transmitter / receiver hardware to pinpoint somebodies position. If I get that, I can write the software to control the heads using some algorithms to move them to the point where we want them. But I doubt if I ever come at that point. It would be nice though. :mrgreen:


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Re: Using your movingheads or scanners as followspot

Post by cyberb0b »

Why not with an infrared source and a webcam?

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remco_k
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Re: Using your movingheads or scanners as followspot

Post by remco_k »

Infrared is light, and the light path can easily be obstructed. Mounting an IR transmitter on someones head could solve it (for some time) but that could look somewhat silly and still does not take care of an 100% free lightpath. (swinging arms and legs), flying pigs, bridges,... you name it.
Using more cam's and more IR sources decrease the chance of being fully obstructed. Still the chance that that happens is available. And configuration and software develepment just got 1000% harder, without having a 100% free lightpath. :mrgreen:

But there is another problem; This way you can't identify every person uniquely by an id.
And that is what should be possible.
Developer of the Sound 2 Light application (SL.exe) for FreeStyler: https://www.digiplay.nl/fs
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Re: Using your movingheads or scanners as followspot

Post by poland fun »

I sincerely wonder if you could use a phones exact GPS long and latitude and the heads coordinates to calculate angle and position. I know civilian GPS isn't that great because we do not have encryption keys, but i'm wondering would the offset in the heads position cancel with your offset to provide a relative relationship that might be accurate

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Re: Using your movingheads or scanners as followspot

Post by poland fun »

No go, in the street it is +-9 feet which could be offset with enough programming, but inside the auditorium it is +-24 feet which makes it impossible to counteract whilst maintaining the ability to move. I am looking into another possibility.

this MIGHT work: http://www.instructables.com/id/Distanc ... dio-waves/ , since i have no actual heads or scanners to try it out i wont be able to experiment to much, but hell if i can find a couple of walkies talkies i might do these just for distance calculation

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Re: Using your movingheads or scanners as followspot

Post by matt »

Rumor has it that a company is now working on useing the x-box kentict for moving light control..
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Re: Using your movingheads or scanners as followspot

Post by Spirit »

Yes i also have been thinking about the xbox kinect

But i think its not going to work because the Kinect is ONE BIG IR light.
And the Result from a Kinect can allready Change If you turn on your Room light.
So a Stage Full of Lights will not make it easy.

/Spirit
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Re: Using your movingheads or scanners as followspot

Post by matt »

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Re: Using your movingheads or scanners as followspot

Post by Spirit »

YEAH great i can not wait for the First Version to download.
So i can Blow of all the Dust from my Kinect.. :D

But i'm still sceptical Because as i say a "stage FULL!" of light.
and not just one light.. ;)
AMD FX-6100 (3.6ghz)x6, Nvidia 770GTX 4GB, 8GB Ram,ROG MB, enttec Pro, Open enttec, Velleman, T2250MTS-B1 22"touchscreen, Ilyama 23" screen, scans, dimm, rgbled, laser, soundsystem Just a drive-in show. Live and Dance

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Re: Using your movingheads or scanners as followspot

Post by dmxlighting »

You are all wasting your time. Stop now!!!!
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