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Marco Tempest - Magic and Augmented Reality

posted Jan 30, 2013, 8:38 PM by Ellen Pearlman

Marco Tempest - Magic and Augmented Reality

Maro Tempest, a kind of techno-performance-magician 22 year old cutsey Swiss guy gave a talk at TED (with subtitles in 5 languages!) that included an enormous amount of data mapping. He has already won the New York World Cup of Magic and has an award-winning television series “The Virtual Magician” showing in dozens of countries.

Marco Tempest at TED March 2012 talk

He says “magic is deception, but audiences like being deceived.” What is really interesting is he discusses the role of magician as storyteller, and how we also suspend disbelief in books, cinema and theater. It is rare that anyone discusses this critical aspect of storytelling in presentation, especially within the worlds of new media and augmented reality. Brains, Tempest says, are “pattern matching machines” and magicians exploit that. We think in narrative structures, connecting events and emotions.

So how did he make this incredible show? He produced it in cooperation withonformative and checksum, that onformation shows some details of to the public. Tempest states he uses “technology and magic to create stories for entertainment” and makes no bones about it.  the augmented erality layer is generated by a data flow system in real time in reaction to the  live elements. It was written in VVV, a note based program that gets tweaked and does not need to be compiled.

VVV Programming Environment

The soundtrack had to be aligned to the motions and parameters had to be dynamically set. Hand tracking was the main parameter in 3D space, and face tracking was used with a number of different faces so it could be set more liberally.  An HD camera was used with the Kinect. Marco also had to be able to move in front and behind the projections, so depth mapping was critical.

The particles in the system were based on the Kinect particle mapping.

Physics, color and size had to be changed during run time.

A “custom emitter” was created to make even more specific objects, like type or playing cards. The coders cited as their main inspiration.