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(automatically) follow performer(s) with DMX-controlled moving light


gleb
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My problem is almost fully solved by the device in this video:

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Now in 1000 words - I have a dance performer moving around stage, and I want light to follow him, but I can't rig a truss monkey up to the ceiling with a spotlight. I can rig a moving light, and want it's spot to follow the performer. I rent most of the lights, and am looking for ~100$ solution to control them. Preferably fully automatic, but from my reading, it's prohibitively expensive.

 

From my experience - I'm unable to convert position of performer on stage that I see with my eyes into my fingers position on faders for pan-tilt spherical coordinates required by the moving head in real-time, so I need software to do so for me. Adding to that, I need 2 spots, as I have at least 2 performers at the same time.

 

This is what I have; This is what I want - spotlight looks so much better on video.

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Spotrack and Follow Me make very similar looking products that allow manual control of multiple moving lights to follow actors around. Robe also make the BMFL Followspot, which is similar to PRG's system.

 

The fully automated systems currently available are Cast Blacktrax, VYV Albion and Zactrack, but cost a lot of money.

 

Martin

Edited by martinw
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Way back in the day, the Pearl had a tablet with which I'm sure they claimed you could position a ML by touching the appropriate part of a stage plan drawn on it. I never knew anybody that actually used it though. If we're looking for a $100 solution, and it actually works, I'm sure it would be easier to control a head with that tablet than with the usual pan & tilt dials on a desk. It's either that or the joystick on a Disasterpiece ;)
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The Pearl implementation (which was confusingly called "Tracking") required you to program positions for the fixtures for each corner of the stage, looks very much like the way the device in the video works. The Pearl then did the calculations to point the fixtures at the place you put the tablet stylus. It did mostly work, but I am not sure you'd find a Pearl with tablet easily these days, and definitely not for $100. And 2 performers at the same time...

 

In these days of smartphones it would probably be feasible to do it using GPS and accelerometer tracking on a phone carried by the perfomer, then bluetooth or wifi to a pc-based DMX controller. I do not know of such a thing existing. A challenge for someone who likes writing phone apps...

 

Or someone who can write PC software could recreate that device in the video using a gaming joystick.

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Way back in the day, the Pearl had a tablet with which I'm sure they claimed you could position a ML by touching the appropriate part of a stage plan drawn on it. I never knew anybody that actually used it though. If we're looking for a $100 solution, and it actually works, I'm sure it would be easier to control a head with that tablet than with the usual pan & tilt dials on a desk. It's either that or the joystick on a Disasterpiece ;)

 

I was explaining this to a colleague about an hour ago! I attempted this on a couple of occasions, worked well until you lost concentration for a second, then you look like a fool drawing circles around the talent until you lock into them again!

 

Sadly I feel you’re likely to be on the wrong end of a need/budget equation.

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In these days of smartphones it would probably be feasible to do it using GPS and accelerometer tracking on a phone carried by the perfomer, then bluetooth or wifi to a pc-based DMX controller. I do not know of such a thing existing. A challenge for someone who likes writing phone apps...

 

You could potentially do this with TouchOSC from an iPhone as it will send out accelerometer data. Although how accurate it would be especially on a run of show's would be another thing...

 

Even things like Blacktrax which have had years and a development team aren't always that accurate, especially with someone as erratic and fast-moving as a dancer.

 

Another idea which may be more suited to your budget could be timecoding cues to move the spot. As it's dance you can be much more reliant on them finding the same positions each time and although this would take more time would be infinitely more reliable and within your budget.

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The issue I see with economy and mid range moving head units is the usually poor position resolution you are likely to have 256bit resolution divided over 540 degrees of travel in any range. Do you have use of any lanterns with pan and tilt each with two DMX channels for fine and coarse movement
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It certainly wouldn't be cheap but there is a camera system that is aimed at self shooting sports people. The y wear a remote unit and the camera pans and tracks the sensorI guess a shed load of money could adapt the technology to have a light track talent?

Or ask the dancers to stay in the light?

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The issue I see with economy and mid range moving head units is the usually poor position resolution you are likely to have 256bit resolution divided over 540 degrees of travel in any range. Do you have use of any lanterns with pan and tilt each with two DMX channels for fine and coarse movement

 

I think you meant 8 bit resolution there. 256 bit would be very impressive!

 

In my experience the vast majority of fixtures have 16bit pan/tilt now. It's really only the very old units and occasionally a bottom-end scanner or maybe tiny moving LED washes. I would be very surprised if anything capable of lighting a performer from a truss didn't have 16bit resolution.

 

Personally I think the solution here is one of the remote followspot systems. Either 2x Robe BMFL LightMaster + 2 or more Robe Robin BMFL fixtures or 2x Robe RoboSpot BaseStation + 2 or more Robe RoboSpot MotionCamera (my understanding is using this system any number of fixtures can follow the RoboSpot BaseStation target). Maybe see if any rental companies in your region has these or the PRG system available and get a quote?

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I don't think you'll do it for USD 100. However, and this isn't my area of expertise, I think Isadora can do motion control and can be linked to some kind of DMX interface.

Have a poke around on the Isadora forum -

 

https://community.troikatronix.com/topic/3096/controlling-moving-light-pan-with-myo-joy-and-problems/6

 

I will say that Isadora has a pretty steep learning curve, but....

 

KC

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Martin used to do a joystick system to control 2 light (or any number doing an identical movement) but it had a tiny delay.

It was fine for a comedian walking around a stage but not for fast dancers.

We used it more as a programming aid.

Edited by sunray
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