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Halloween is around the corner and this year, I wanted to do a project somewhat unique: A live interactive projection using completely free software. With this set up, we will be able to trigger specific videos to play whenever someone enters or exits a custom specified zone. Alright, there's a lot to do, so let's start tinkering!

Step 1: Watch the Video Walkthrough

If you don't really feel like reading all the steps are want more visual instructions for how to make this project, feel free to watch the video version on my Youtube channel

Step 2: Gather the Materials

If you would like to follow along with this project there's a few simple pieces of hardware and software that you will need.

HARDWARE

  1. Computer - It has to be a Mac or Windows computer (due to the software limitations) and it needs to have some sort of video output.
  2. Webcam - Practically any webcam will do. the link is to the webcam I used in this video.
  3. Projector - This projector was around $50, but this project can also be done with an LCD screen if access to a projector isn't possible.

SOFTWARE

  1. VPT7 - This is video projection mapping software that I used in my "Beginners Guide To Projection Mapping" video. It's compatible with both Windows and Mac
  2. Video Trigger - This is a webcam motion detecting plugin specifically designed to work with the VPT software. It is also compatible with both Windows and Mac.
  3. Skull Projection Halloween Videos - I've custom made these videos for anyone to use free of charge.

Step 3: Setup the Hardware

This part's pretty simple. Find a flat surface to project onto and setup the webcam and projector so that they are both pointed at the same area. Then connect both the projector and the webcam to your computer.That's it for the hardware! The rest is done using the VPT software and video trigger.

Step 4: Setup the Software

Once you have the VPT 7 and Video Trigger software downloaded, you should be able to launch them directly from their respective directories, no installation required. So let's begin with VPT and set it up by using the videos I've provided and by following these steps:

VPT Setup

  1. Copy the videos over to the VPT7 > defaultproject > video folder.
  2. Launch the VPT7 software.
  3. To maximize the projection window to fill the entire projector, click on the Fullscreen button towards the lower left of the VPT window.
  4. In VPT, on the right hand list of rows, turn row 1 on (on a mac, it would be row 5 or row 6) and select the skull_looking.jpg image from the drop down list.
  5. Create a new layer by clicking the "+" button in the upper left. Then in the layer settings (middle/lower left), name the layer front and select 1video from the dropdown menu to attach the first video to it.
  6. Next turn on row 2 and select skull_center_to_left.mov from the dropdown menu.
  7. Add a new layer (layer 2), rename it to front_left and attach 2video to it from the dropdown menu.
  8. Turn on row 3 and select skull_left_to_center.mov
  9. Add a new layer (layer 3), rename it to left_front and attach 3video to it from the dropdown.
  10. Turn on row 4, select skull_center_to_right.mov
  11. Add a new layer (layer 4), rename it to front_right and attach 4video from the dropdown.
  12. Turn on row 5 and attach skull_right_to_center.mov (or if you're using a mac, switch this with row 1)
  13. Add a new layer (layer 5), rename it to right_front and attach 5video from the dropdown.

Video Trigger Setup

  1. Launch the Video Trigger software
  2. Click the Video Input Settings button and make sure the correct webcam is chosen and that the settings are correct.
  3. Once the webcam view is how you want it, click the Memorize Background Now button to save the background into memory.
  4. turn Zone 1 on, make sure it is selected (highlighted in green) and draw a rectangle to the left of the skull in the webcam view.
  5. Now we need to set the triggers. Study the attached image for a better explanation of the triggers.
    1. In the first row, we want to start Video 2 playing whenever someone ENTERS the zone.
    2. Row two will fade IN the layer that contains Video 2 (layer 2) from 0 to 1 when someone ENTERS the zone.
    3. Row three will trigger the 3 video to play when someone EXITS the zone.
    4. Row four will fade IN layer 3 from 0 to 1 when someone EXITS the zone
    5. Row five will fade OUT layer 3 from 1 to 0 when someone ENTERS THE ZONE
    6. And row six will fade OUT layer 2 when someone EXITS the zone.
  6. Now turn zone 2 on and with it highlighted, draw a rectangle to the right of the skull in the webcam view.
  7. Lastly, set the triggers for zone 2
    1. Starting with the seventh row, trigger video 4 to play from the beginning whenever someone ENTERS the zone.
    2. In row eight, fade IN layer 4 from 0 to 1 when someone ENTERS the zone
    3. In row nine, fade OUT layer 5 from 1 to 0 when someone ENTERS the zone
    4. In row ten, trigger video 5 to play from the beginning whenever someone EXITS the zone
    5. In row eleven, fade IN layer 5 from 0 to 1 when someone EXITS the zone
    6. In row twelve, fade OUT layer 4 from 0 to 1 when someone EXITS the zone
    7. And to keep the bottom layers visible, in row thirteen, fade OUT layer 5 from 1 to 0 whenever someone ENTERS zone 1.

Step 5: Test It Out

Now if you walk to the left or to the right of your projection, the skull should turn towards you! Feel free to turn this into other spooky projects and effects!

If you want to do this in really low light, you can convert your webcam to an IR Webcam following the steps from Gregory0's instructable.

<p>I've already downloaded skull_projection, but I can't find the skull_looking.jpg image.</p>
<p>I added it and re-uploaded it to the same location. Sorry I forogt it!</p>
<p>is it possible to make the projected skull talk or sing to passers by?</p>
from what I read, if you had the rihht animations, and appropriate audio for your project, it seems like it would be doable. I plan to try this out so I'll look at that and let you know if I can make it work. If it does work, I plan to try it in a pepper's ghost setup. I'll have to switch the triggers, since the pepper's ghost is a reflection, but I think it could be pretty cool.
<p>Wow great idea!</p>
<p>This is pretty cool! </p>

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