Andrew McWilliams

RGBDToolkit Calibration Tutorial

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The RGBDToolkit is a fun piece of kit for tinkerers and artists, but it comes with a steep learning curve. This post will guide you through the hardest part - calibration.

A mounted DSLR and Kinect, and volumetric video
A mounted DSLR and Kinect, and volumetric video

Ultimately calibration is about combining two commercial products which weren't designed to be combined - a depth sensor (either a Kinect or an Asus Xtion), and a DSLR (or some kind of RGB camera). Although it is undeniably difficult at first, the RGBDToolkit makes this process far easier than it would be if you were starting from scratch, and it gets easier and quicker with time.

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How a Depth Sensor Works - in 5 Minutes

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How does a Kinect, or Asus Xtion work? Take a look at the front:

The elements of a depth sensor
The elements of a depth sensor

Some depth sensors have an RGB (Red Green Blue) camera, some don't. But that's fairly unremarkable and let's ignore it for now.

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Focal Lengths and Camera Sensors

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This post explains some of the hidden secrets of camera lenses. It will help you compare lenses against one another, explaining focal length and the 35mm equivalent (more on that later). It's very important to understand this concept given a camera market in which there are so many different sensor sizes.

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RGBDToolkit Workshop at Eyebeam

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Last weekend I attended an RGBDToolkit workshop at Eyebeam NYC. I'm posting about it now just because it reminded me how much I enjoy hacking hardware, playing with digital media and exploring new technologies.

RGBDToolkit workshop at Eyebeam
RGBDToolkit workshop at Eyebeam

The Toolkit is about combining HD video from DSLRs with depth data from PrimeSense-based sensors such as Xtion or Kinect - effectively an early technique for creating 3D cinema. Due to the implementation details there is a particular aesthetic associated with RGBD, but that is true of all media and I'm looking forward to pushing against this aesthetic.

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NoSQL Distilled to a Keynote!

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This presentation by Martin Fowler gives a broad overview of NoSQL. It's perfect for newcomers to NoSQL, and also for those seeking a perspective from which to view the myriad recent developments under the nebulous umbrella 'NoSQL':

As always, I'll briefly summarize what I think are some of the salient points in the video, to make it easier to digest at a glance. For the purposes of this article, you will need to have a working knowledge of Relational SQL databases, and OO code.

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Paper Prototyping

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What is the quickest way to try out a complicated tech idea on real people? How do you get real, valuable feedback from users without going to the expense of writing code?

Paper prototyping is an idea I've recently been introduced to at ThoughtWorks. You draft up the interface on pieces of paper, and have a human act as the computer would, swapping out bits of paper in response to a real user.

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