Virtual reality is usually an isolated individual experience very different from the shared group experience of a movie screen or even a living room TV. But those worlds of entertainment are more closely intertwined than most audiences are aware. Video game engines have been taking a growing role in film and television production behind the scenes, and now they’re stepping out in front of the camera in a big way for making The Mandalorian TV series.
Big in this case is a three-quarters cylindrical LED array 75 ft (23 m) in diameter and 20 ft (6 m) high. But the LEDs covering its walls and ceiling aren’t pointing outwards like some installation for Times Square. This setup, called the Volume, points inward to display background images for camera and crew working within. It’s an immersive LED backdrop and stage environment.
Incorporating projected imagery on stage is a technique going at least as far back as 1933’s King Kong, but it is very limited. Lighting and camera motion has to be very constrained in order to avoid breaking the fragile illusion. More recently, productions have favored green screens replaced with computer imagery in post production. It removed most camera motion and lighting constraints, but costs a lot of money and time. It is also more difficult for actors to perform their roles convincingly against big blank slabs of green. The Volume solves all of those problems by putting computer-generated imagery on set, rendered in real time via video game engine Unreal.
Continue reading “VR Technology Helps Bring A Galaxy Far, Far Away To Our TV”
Building giant LED walls comes with a serious set of challenges. Whether they lie in power, cable routing, or just finding a way to clock out data fast enough for all the pixels, it takes some doing to build a decent sized display. [Phill] wanted a statement piece for the office, so rolled up his sleeves and got to work.
The build uses P5 panels, which we’ve seen used before on a smaller scale. Initial testing was done with a Raspberry Pi 3, which started to run out of grunt when the build reached 28 panels. The refresh rate was slow, and anything with motion looked messy. At that point, a dedicated driver was sourced in order to handle the full 48-panel display. Other challenges involved dealing with the huge power requirements – over 170 amps at 5 volts – and building a frame to hold all the panels securely.
The final product is impressive, standing 2 meters wide and 1.2 meters high. Resolution is 384 x 256. With a Mac Mini running video into the display through the off-the-shelf driver, all manner of content is possible. [Phill] even whipped up a Slack channel for users to send GIFs and text messages to the display. Naturally, we’re sure nobody will take advantage of this functionality.
If you’ve got your own giant LED wall, and you’re dying to tell us about it, make sure you get in touch. Video after the break.
Continue reading “Big Ol’ LED Wall Looks Cool, Can Draw Over 170 Amps”
According to [makeTVee], his latest project started out as an experiment to see how well the LED matrix techniques he’s worked with in the past would translate to a cylindrical form factor. We’re going to go ahead and say that not only was the test a success, but that the concept definitely holds promise for displays that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing. This build stops a bit short of being a complete implementation, but what he has so far is very promising and we hope he continues fleshing it out.
A laser cutter was used to create the interlocking segments that make up the display’s frame, but we imagine you could pull off a similar design using 3D printed parts if you don’t have access to a laser. Strips of WS2812 LEDs are mounted along the inside of the cylinder so that each individual LED lines up with the center of a cell. To finish off the outside of the cylinder [makeTVee] used a thin wood veneer called MicroWOOD, which gives the LEDs a nice diffused glow. The wood grain in the veneer also provides an organic touch that keeps the whole thing from looking too sterile.
Of course, a display like this only works if you’ve got software to drive it. To that end, [makeTVee] has used pygame to create a simulator on his computer that shows what the display would look like if it were unrolled and flattened it out. This makes it a lot easier to create content, as you can see the whole display at once. He says the source for the new tool will be coming to GitHub soon, and we’re very interested in taking a look.
If this display looks familiar, it’s probably because a distinctly flatter version of it took the top spot in our “Visualize it with Pi” contest last year.
Continue reading “Cylindrical LED Display Comes Full Circle”
What’s the buzz in the hackersphere this week? Hackaday Editors Elliot Williams and Mike Szczys recap their favorite hacks and articles from the past seven days. In Episode Six we cover an incredible reverse engineering effort Mike Harrison put in with iPod nano replacement screens. We dip our toes in the radioactive world of deep-space power sources, spend some time adoring parts and partsmakers, and take a very high-brow look at toilet-seat technology. In our quickfire hacks we discuss coherent sound (think of it as akin to laminar flow, but for audio), minimal IDEs for embedded, hand-tools for metalwork, and the little ESP32 bot that could.
Links for all discussed on the show are found below. As always, join in the comments below as we’ll be watching those as we work on next week’s episode!
Take a look at the links below if you want to follow along, and as always, tell us what you think about this episode in the comments!
Direct download (60 MB or so.)
Continue reading “Hackaday Podcast Ep6 – Reversing IPod Screens, Hot Isotopes, We <3 Parts, And Biometric Toiletseats”
Glowing and blinking things are some of our favourite projects around these parts, and the bigger, the better. [Thomas] wrote to us recently to share the design and construction of a large LED wall at the Oregon Museum of Science, and the results are nothing short of impressive.
The concept involved a large LED wall that would be completely hidden when switched off. The team decided to approach this by hiding high-brightness LED panels using APA102 strings behind milky-white plexiglass panels covered with a woodgrain print. The screen has a total of 90,000 pixels, arranged in a 408×220 resolution display.
A lot of bespoke LED displays have some pre-coded patterns, or perhaps some basic reactive features. In this case, FPGA grunt was brought to bear on the problem and the display accepts standard HDMI input. Four Spartan 6 Mojo FPGA boards split up the task of addressing the panels, each receiving the same HDMI signal, but only crunching the pixels relevant to their area of the display. To make sure clean SPI signals get to each panel, special RS485 driver chips are used to send the signal over a differential pair from the FPGA, before breaking the signal back out to standard SPI at the destination.
Building such a large display takes special techniques, and [Thomas] notes that the help of a local construction company was imperative to making the construction of the final video wall look easy. It’s always interesting to see what goes into these large installations. Sometimes, a major build can even clear out world stocks of important components.
Who doesn’t like Star Wars, LEDs, and music? [Stathack] was looking for a unique piece of art to put in his living room… so he decided to make his own Vader EQ.
The EQ is a massive 4′ x 5′ piece made from plywood and MDF. [Stathack] traced the familiar helmet onto it by using a projector to project the outline onto the surface. Not having access to an extra large CNC or laser, he then painstakingly used a jigsaw to cut out all the white pieces of the design — holy cow.
This process only took weeks and weeks of sanding, filling and sanding again due to the excellent precision of a jigsaw.
Once that was all done, he created the backing plate out of MDF to provide structural support and mounting locations for the LEDs. Bit of spray paint later and a simple circuit with the Arduino and it’s both done, and awesome.
Continue reading “LED Sound Board Is Not Your Father”
What happens when you take over 800 individually addressable super bright RGB LEDs and house them in a giant diffused panel? You get awesome. That’s what you get.
[Epoch Rises] is a small electronic music and interactive technology duo who create cool interactive projects (like this wall) for their live shows and performances. They love their WS2812B LEDs.
The cool thing about this wall is that it can take any video input, it can be controlled by sound or music, an iPad, or even generate random imagery by itself. The 800 LEDs are controlled by a Teensy 3.0 using the OctoWS2811 library from Paul Stoffregen which is capable of driving over 1000 LEDs at a whopping 30FPS using just one Teensy microcontroller. It works by using Direct Memory Access to send data over serial into the Teensy’s memory and directly out to the LEDs with very little overhead — it is a Teensy after all!
Continue reading “800+ LED Wall With Diffuser Panel Is A Work Of Art”