Christmas Lights (for Nerds)

Our street takes Christmas pretty seriously. At least in Australian terms. Most people in the street take the time to decorate their house (for which there are prizes given, and an Oscar-esque bribery/scandal sideshow), before we close the street for a communal Christmas lunch. Santa arrives on a fire truck, and then the kids go absolutely mental on sugar. The adults drown out the noise by drinking alcohol until everyone falls down. It’s awesome.

Anyway, I decided to dig out my lighting rig from the All Is Domain project from last year. There’s not too much to it: an infrared flood light in the centre provides the illumination for a PS3 Eye camera to see in the dark (I put an infrared bandpass lens in there last year too).

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LED par cans, infrared flood and PS3 EyeCam.

Running the camera into Max 6, I simply tracked movement by frame differencing (this happens via the cv.jit externals objects). Facial recognition would have been fun, but there was probably too much distance between the camera and passing foot traffic, and I was keen to get this up and running with a minimum of fuss. The greater the movement, the brighter and warmer the colour of the LED spotlights becomes (running through the imp.dmx external and an Enttec DMX USB Pro). This is almost exactly the same setup I used for All Is Domain, just in a different configuration. It’s nice to recycled old projects every now and again.

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Max patch for interactive Christmas lights.

Download the Max patch here.

The Big Boss wanted some “craft” to go with the nerdery, so we made a visit to Reverse Garbage and recycled old decorations from Christmas’ past. The result was no new materials were used for our decorations at all. I’m pretty sure we get Carbon Credits for Christmas.

The interactive lights didn’t quite work as well as I had hoped, but I’m enjoying having an excuse to play with my old toys again. I think one of my New Years resolutions will be to keep working with the same materials as much as possible in 2012 and try to avoid those tempting technological tangents.

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Crafty Christmas decorations.

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