It's Been a Long Year

1 year ago we started this the project which would later be called King's Dharma. We took a trip up to Zeezee's house in Vermont, and after watching the movie Inception, the entire story changed. 

We were inspired. We took what we knew from Inception, and initially mimicked the plot structure. Eventually it was decided that we should stray away from Nolan's story and create our own. 

A long night was ahead of us, as well as a long year. We thought that we could pull this off in 6 months. Little did we know that it would take us more than a year for the preproduction; something that we're still currently doing. 

So thank you for being with us for a whole year. This summer we plan on submitting the script and our story to Sundance's new innovation section. Who knows what will happen? We will also be checking out The Mill in Brooklyn, and Dartmouth's innovation lab as well. 

Continue to come back to the blog, we're going to try to vlog more. Stay tuned to a post about the DIY camera slider we made for under $30! 

360° Video! ...kind of

Wow. It's here. Finally. I guess, we did it? Well, that could be said. Thanks to the 360Fly and my wonderful engineering of a custom DIY immersive POV 360° VR-Ready camera rig, we filmed Act 1 Scene 7 of King's Dharma

So why the slight doubt that we did it? We still have to test it. Despite Harry not being mentioned much in the last few posts, he has been working incredibly hard on getting the TinyDuino to work (and it does! Video coming soon). For me, since I rotated the 360Fly HD 90°, I might have messed up the projection of the 360 video (although I might have misspoken since I did rotate the video as well). You can play with the video using your mouse or WASD keys to move around! 

Yes, there's some awkward stretching...we're trying to figure out what's going on.. Also, Zeezee's sister is standing in for Harry (who couldn't make the journey). 

Marvelous right?! So it's not the best video on YouTube, but it's definitely not the worst. However, we did learn some things after filming with the 360Fly.

  • 1504 x 1504 resolution is terrible. It's soft, looks like 360p when you view it on YouTube and a Premiere Pro VR Sequence. I tried to upscale the video to 2160p with the After Effects Detail Preserving Upscale effect and it helped, although you can see the interpolation.
  • The 360Fly is not true 360° video; it's somewhere around 360° by 240 (I believe). Maybe I messed up in the post processing step, but YouTube doesn't seem to understand that the video isn't technically spherical. While it doesn't matter for our purpose, I understand why it might be annoying. 

Okay, enough ranting; back to the creation of the film. After a 2 hour drive to Greenfield, MA, we came to the conclusion that Poet's Seat Tower was the designated filming location. Despite the 6in of snow and the freezing temperature, we spent 3 hours rehearsing the scene for 10 minutes of filming. Fun. And despite the fact that Zeezee's sister cannot be heard in the beginning, we were all very pleased with the end result. Now, the next step is to integrate the video with the TinyDuino!

Around 6pm today is when our test is scheduled so wish us luck! 

The ExoSkeleton MKII: Goodbye Kodak SP360 4K

What do you do when your Borrow Lenses rental expires and you custom made a camera mount specifically for a certain camera? You dremel until it works! 

Okay so while that is technically is what I did, there's a little bit more to the story. Let's time travel back to 5PM on December 30th, 2016. I was at Borrow Lenses, returning a Rode mic that we didn't use. Little did we know that they weren't open on New Year's Eve day.. shoot. After much discussion, Zeezee and I decided to return the Kodak SP360 4K cameras. 

So what now? I bet you're thinking GoPros! Nope (did you read the title?). 360Fly HD! Yeah, it's not 4K. It's a 1:1 1504x1504, but it works! 

We adjusted the head mount with (you guessed it) a Dremel. 

I apologize for the bad image (blame my S7 Edge) more to come tomorrow! 

I apologize for the bad image (blame my S7 Edge) more to come tomorrow! 

A 3M sticky back GoPro mount and an Insignia GoPro mount to Tripod mount adapter, and we have the Exoskeleton MKII!

The Big Day: The Exoskeleton Comes Alive!

10AM - Slowly roll out of bed and frantically text Harry to come to Zeezee's house. 
10:15AM - Make coffee (black) and eat half of a chocolate chip muffin. 

––Skip ahead a couple of hours and a couple of trips to Home Depot later––

I ask the question: What can't a Dremel do? Can it grind screws and create awesome sparks? I say yes. 

Dremel-ing screw heads with 60 grit sand paper at 30,000rpm and no eye protection...Thanks for the photos Harry!

The screws were nice and shiny! But what about that "spine" I was taking about? 

Specs:
- Around 10 2x1.5x1.5in blocks with 5/8th hole through the center and the center ones with a shaved corner to allow articulation (Curtesy of Mr. Clifford from DCD) 
- 48in bungee cord with a hook cut off
- Around 20 eye hooks

With the Dremel-ing completed, I borrowed my model (Zeezee) and we ran down to the basement to try to put everything together. Since we didn't have the Velcro that we wanted, we used our favourite method of 'jankey' securing: blue painter's tape! 

I hope the idea is clear. Now the issue was securing the two pieces together (that's a different post!). 

8PM - Run out to JoAnn Fabric to pick up foam and velcro. 

And the head mount stays on your head! 

DCD Woodshop Saves the Day!

Okay, so the first attempt didn't really work out. After a lot of sketches and Coke-Cola, Zeezee and I came up with the idea for a head mounted exoskeleton inspired design. We wanted to reduce the weight on the person and distribute it to the waist (away from the neck and head). 

(Photos coming soon!) 

After realizing that we would not be able to do this, we made a last ditch effort to try to find a woodshop. At the last minute, Mr. Clifford, the woodshop instructor at Dedham Country Day School, took precious time out of his day to help us make our dream become a reality. With my design, and his on-the-fly band saw cutting skills, we were able to create this marvelous head mount! 

Yes, the cuts are not perfect. Yes, there is still tape. Yes, it was unstable. But the design was in our hands and it fit. It's a prototype, it doesn't need to be perfect. The next step was to assemble the "spine".