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Instructions » Blog Archive » First attempt with WiiMote + dancer

First attempt with WiiMote + dancer

I’ve never worked with a real dancer before* and I’ve never done any concrete attempts with the WiiMote. So for my uncle’s 60th birthday party I decided to team up with my cousin Cajsa who is a dancer and see what we could do with the WiiMote. We live in different cities, quite far apart, so we couldn’t really rehearse together before the b-day. I used a screen capture program which I turned in to password protected vimeo clips to show her the concept. We didn’t have so much time to spend on the project so whatever we did it had to be fairly quick and easy.

We decided on the tune “Rockit” by Herbie Hancock after going through a selection that Cajsa made. The tune suited Cajsa’s popping style and it reminded me of my old b-boy days. I had already decided on using the VDMX VJ-software because of it’s native WiiMote support. I picked out a couple of Quartz Composer files made available by other artists that I could use together with the WiiMote:

  1. WiiPaint by Blair Neal which was already prepared to be used with VDMX.
  2. Mouse_Ribbon.qtz – the example file that comes with Quartz Composer. I modified it so I could assign X/Y values to the WiiMote in VDMX.
  3. I did a Quartz Composer video feedback effect for VDMX by using a tutorial by Goto10.

We wanted to be able to do two things with the WiiMote:

  1. Interpret the dance in animation.
  2. Draw letters.

I figured out pretty quickly that you can’t really do these two things with the same routine. For drawing you need IR-LEDs to give the WiiMote some sense of orientation. The WiiMote has a built in IR camera that actually could track four different IR-LEDs (thanks to Markus Hamburger for that knowledge) and you could track all four by using the OSCulator software. In that way you could put LEDs on the dancer and keep the WiiMote steady in a steady position. But since these facts came to me the same day as the performance, I couldn’t try it. I stuck with a battery driven IR-Bar that I bought cheap on-line. It was a crappy little piece of hardware and I had to shake it to make it work. The WiiMote had some difficulties communicating through IR which made the drawing part pretty difficult. Since drawing means you have to be turned towards the screen it didn’t work well for interpreting the dance, so I used the WiiMote’s accelerometer for that.

For some extra style, I added the video feedback effect and a midi controller that I mapped to the feedback fx values and the colors of the ribbon and the WiiPaint brush. That was enough content and style for the 3 minute performance.

Cajsa had to extend her movements to give more action to the WiiMote’s accelerometer which she thought looked a bit wack after seeing the video. I hope we will have to try more things with dance and visuals further on. I really want to try out the methods that Markus sugested among other things.

* I’ve made some performances with amateur dancers and a Xbox dance matt before with very questionable results.

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