Ever since the Kinect emerged on the scene, its depth-sensing camera has fascinated legions of creative coders, but the team behind the RGB+D Toolkit is one of the few attempting to transform the gaming console into a real filmmaking tool. Using a Kinect and a standard DSLR camera, like your Canon 5D, these avant-garde image-makers have created a technique that allows you to map video from the SLR onto the Kinect’s 3D data to generate a true CGI and video hybrid.
Why is this exciting? Well, for one thing, convincing CGI is incredibly difficult to do—it took the team behind Rockstar’s L.A. Noire a full 32 cameras and god knows how many man hours to record and digitally reconstruct their characters in 360 degrees. And while the experimental output from the RGB+D team is a far cry from those painstakingly constructed game visuals, that’s kind of not the point. The point is the implications—this has the potential to change the way we think of 3D filmmaking and to significantly lower the barrier to entry using commercially available hardware and open source software.
Today, members of the RGB+D team—James George and Jonathan Minard—released the culmination of their research to date: an excerpt of an ongoing documentary project called Clouds that they’ve been developing alongside the RGB+D Toolkit, their open source video editing application (which looks like a cross between Final Cut Pro and a video game engine). Clouds features interviews with prominent computer hackers, media artists, and critics discussing the creative use of code, the future of data, interfaces, and computational visuals, presented as a series of conversational vignettes.\
Kinect as a tool of narrative film was as inevitable as sunshine in the summertime. 🙂
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