Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Installation at the TCAUP Gallery

Over the weekend and on Monday January 28, 2013, I helped faculty members Etienne Turpin and Meredith Miller set up some projectors for their show, "Futures of Hypercomplexity".  They are, respectively, a Lecturer and an Assistant Professor at the Taubman College of Architecture & Urban Planning.

I had an initial meeting with Meredith where we planned out how they wanted to do the projections, but between then and last weekend they made some dramatic changes which I only discovered on arrival.  The short story is that they could not do it the way they had changed things so we had to re-build some simple supports for things in the ceiling before we could actually hang the projectors.

It all worked out, and here are a few photos.

The tables seen are very nicely illuminated from the inside, with inscribed info on the plexi tops.

A general view of the setup, with one pair of the wall projections.

In this image, the projected images are washed out because I exposed for the details in the dark.  All the hardware is hidden on top of the plywood in the ceiling, and you can see where we had to extend the original platform.  They provided laptops and I provided the projectors, mounts and 2 MATROX Triple Header To Go boxes that made the 2 projectors appear as one desktop to the laptop driving the slide show.  This allowed them to have the double wide images in a synchronized slide show.


MLK Day at the Detroit Center 2

So the keynote at Hill on January 21, 2013 went very well.  The problems we were having got sorted out and all went well.

Here is a bit more info on the setup.

Here are some shots of the camera mount I built for the Lifesize HD camera.  The challenge was to concoct something that would be secure on the railing at the crossover aisle, but not damage the railing in any way.  You see the layers of plywood and turnbuckle beneath that make this possible.  You can also see the bolt holding the camera to the mount and the firewire cable coming through from the camera.  And the whole thing is tastefully covered in black felt fabric.

Here's a shot of the whole thing installed.  It sits directly behind an aisle seat, to which I attach a sign that says "Reserved for the audience at the Detroit Center" and then tape off the seat to keep it unoccupied.  Placing the camera in this location gives a real feel of 'being there' that you don't get from TV-like coverage.  The HD video provides enough detail that the viewing experience is quite good.

Now down to the basement where all the gear is set up.

These photos require a bit of explanation.  The first is looking back up through the cable pass-through to the main floor.  If you look really close, you can just see the blue light (circled in green) on the front of my camera, right above the arm rests and below the EXIT sign.

This is the general area where I set up.  Just to the right of the organ and below the florescent light is the cable pass through (circled in green) pictured above.

The whole Lifesize system is built into the rack shown at right, which is in turn screwed onto a furniture dolly.  It all makes for a pretty easy transport & setup.  My laptop is just sitting there; it's not part of the system.  I use it to have remote access to both systems as needed.

The most exciting part for me this year was that Lester Monts thanked me from the podium during his introductory remarks.  I posted a clip of that here, taken from the webcast on YouTube.


"State of Exception" at the Institute for the Humanities

Below are some photos taken by Richard Barnes of the completed installation in Sept. 2013.
More info and updates follow below.


3/10/13    Update on this installation: 

                    Link to original post on this topic.

An odd thing has been happening with one of the wall projections.  Each time the projector gets turned off at the end of the day, the Mac Mini that is playing the movie "forgets" the resolution of the display (projector).  So when the side-by-side projectors are both turned back on in the morning, the movie of the fence line going by is sized a little differently so that the tops of the projected images do not line up properly.  All I have to do to fix it is take the movie out of full screen playback and put it back into full screen.

What makes this odd is that both projections are powered by nearly identical Mini's and both are using the same version of VLC with all the same settings and it only happens to that one projector.  Go figure.

I did not want to have to stop by every morning and get up on ladder to make sure all was well., so I have the Mini's on wifi so I can use Remote Desktop to do what's needed.   And I have arranged for access to the web-based security cams in the gallery so I can get visual confirmation that it all worked.

This setup works great.  I have included a few shots of what I see when I do this maintenance below.

This shows the 2 security cameras on top on an iMac, and my laptop running ARD controlling the Mini that is projecting on the right wall in the gallery.  You can see the desktop echoed in the security camera view as it is seen on the wall.  Once I put the video loop back into full screen mode, I can see the images are correctly lined up. (Big thanks to the LSA IT group for their allowing me this access!)

Some of the comments that have been left by visitors.  I like the last one that talks about how powerful walking into the gallery over the "trail" video was for their experience of the installation


February 2013

So the installation that is a collaborative work of Richard Barnes, Amanda Krugliak (Curator of the IH Gallery) and UM Anthropologist Jason DeLeon is up and running as of Thursday January 24, 2013.

Here are a panoramic photo of the interior of the gallery:

You can see the
interactive pano
on line here:

Jason has been collecting the detritus of the illegal travel across the U.S. Mexican border for some time.  He brought boxes containing many 100's of backpacks and their contents to the Institute for Richard & Amanda to choose from.  Below are photos of the backpacks being laid out in the entryway, and one of Richard & me.

So we ended up building a wall by the door so you enter through a hallway.  On the floor of that hallway is projected video Richard shot walking along the fence and showing the dense trail of debris that is left there.  This photo is looking back to the door to the gallery, and also showing one of the walls with projection.

Getting the video onto the floor of the hallway was a challenge.  Because the projected image was going to be skewed, the video had to be pre-distorted to fit onto the hallway floor.  

I had to come up with a creative mount design that allowed for movement in 3 directions.  Below is what it looked like before it got painted.  You can the turntable top on which the projector is mounted in the left photo, and the screw coming out of the base to set the distance from the wall in the right.

This photo shows where it had to be mounted to hit the hallway floor.

Once inside the gallery, there are projections on 2 walls in a corner and an edit of interviews with Jason and 5 of his students about their experience.  And of course, there are backpacks floor to ceiling on two other walls, and 2 display cases with artifacts they contained.  Below is a shot of the nearly completed installation, with Amanda by the ladder on the right and Richard all the way on the right.

The projectors for the wall video are very short throw NEC units.  They have no zoom and so must be precisely mounted.  In addition to building the wall, Plant Dept. hung some additional Unistrut in the ceiling according to my specs.  We hung the projectors from there, making sure all the cabling was neatly dressed.

All 3 projectors are being run from Apple Mac Mini computers, because they gave us better looping performance than our Solid State media players.   We did use one of the SS players for the LCD screen.

It took a lot of time and patience, but we all think it was well worth it.


Monday, 14 January 2013

A&D IP Student Media Projects

Met with most of the students (7 out of 11-12) doing video/audio projects for their IP (Integrative Project) projects.  This is the capstone project for undergraduates, meant to synthesize all they have learned as an Art & Design undergraduate.  From the A&D website:

"In the 12-credit Integrative Project, seniors use the techniques, concepts and skills they've learned to plan, conceptualize, and build a single project of their choosing over the course of their final year. With the help of faculty advisors, they manage their own creative process and working schedules, and work in their own dedicated studio space. The project culminates in a final presentation where the student engages the public through exhibition, publication or performance, and is documented in a written thesis, website, and digital portfolio."

These media projects are screened at the MichiganTheater at the end of the term.  I have been working with other A&D faculty since they started these screenings at the MTF a few years back, but this year David Chung, who has been taking the lead on organizing the screening, is at Harvard for the term and asked if I would work with Michael Rodemer to make sure the students get a good start, stay on track, and have the appropriate files for the screening.  And then make sure it all goes smoothly the night of the screening.  There is to be another screening the next week at the Stamps auditorium in the Walgreen Drama Center.  Both are open to the public, and I will be sending out times & dates as they get closer.

I posted 2 documents focused on those ideas for the students to look at in my Dropbox folder:

Most of the students have significant experience in doing what they are doing, so this meeting and the docs are mostly to get on the same page, to let them know about the resources at the DMC they may not know about, and to be introduced to me as someone they can consult about any aspects of their projects.

One student is doing an audio only project, and we talked a bit after the meeting.  She is now going to be using 1180 (Video conferencing suite) to record a small group of people having a conversation.  I'm going to help her get the right mics, etc for the job.

Another student stopped by after the meeting to talk about creating a video of the pop-up book she is making.  I actually did this some years ago with an Art grad student named Susan Skarsgard.  She is the person that planted all the daffodils in the Arb as one of her art projects.  One of the videos is a small sample in 3D.  We made them to try to get the University to have this done to the entire collection that had just been donated, but they didn't want to do it.  You can see the "flat" version here and a sample of the 3D version here.  The 3D movie was a challenge to get into YouTube.  It ended up squashed a bit.  You'll also need typical Red/Cyan glasses to see it in 3D.


Thursday, 10 January 2013

MLK Day at the Detroit Center

For a number of years I have been connecting UM's Detroit Center with the MLK Day keynote speech from Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor.  I also sometimes do other streams in the afternoon from the Union Ballroom.

I make this connection using the Detroit Center's two Lifesize High Definition video conferencing systems, one of which I keep in Ann Arbor for just such event connections.  It creates an HD 1280 x 720 link between the two locations.

In order to make the experience seem more like "you are there" I put the camera in a seat in the Hill audience. Here is a photo taken a few years ago that shows what it looks like.

You can see that it looks quite good, which is what you would expect from a high definition camera.  This year, though, we had a problem.

When I made a test connection on Jan. 10 in preparation for the Jan. 21 event I discovered that the camera in Detroit was not behaving.  Here is what it looked like.

It was all green and noisy, and instead of being 1280 x 720 it was something like 632 x 420.  Here is a screen shot of the Detroit camera and the local camera side by side, taken from the web portal that lets you control these units remotely.

Even though the image on the right isn't great, you can see the difference.

I contacted Lifesize support and the guy I spoke with had connected to it he said he'd never seen anything like it.  He talked to another tech who said they had seen it a few times and in a couple of instances upgrading to the latest software patch fixed it.  I did that, but no luck.

Lifesize is overnighting a replacement camera.  Stand by for updates, and a bit more info about the setup at Hill.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Migration project at the Institute for the Humanities

Richard Barnes is creating a media installation in the gallery at the HI.  You can see more about who he is at these links: Richard's site and the National Geographic bio.  The Geographic bio might be a better starting point.

I have been consulting with Richard and Amanda Krugliak, Curator at the HI, on how to best outfit the gallery there for his work.  Known more for his still photography, this exhibit includes video he took along the US-Mexico border, along with various physical artifacts he picked up along the way.  We have been testing large (55") LED flat displays as well as different projection options.

I'll keep you posted on the final result, or maybe see you at the opening on January 24, 2013.

Institute link about Richard's exhibit and the events around it is here.