Experiments in wearable electronic art.



Review setup

Review using window for reflection

The time has come for Anthrolume 4.0 to make its way to Nevada for Burning Man. Before sending it out I did a bunch of last-minute work.

Over the last couple months I prepared 329 animations. The process of creating the animations happens in a Flash animation program and in my Animaker software, where I can see a sort of schematic preview of what the sampled animation will look like. Reality, however, can be pretty different. I run the trench at 6-bits/channel color resolution. That means that each of the red, green, and blue LEDs that are inside the 1,000 points on the trench have 64 levels of brightness for a total of 262,144 possible colors.


Gussied up for the burn

This bit-reduction is primarily done to dim the trench so it doesn’t use so much power. Theoretically it is 1/4 as much power as I’d use with full 8-bit resolution. On top of that, the LEDs in the trench have very non-linear brightness over that 0-63 range. I correct for that using a gamma table that I apply at playback time in the trench. Between those two factors, sometimes it can be difficult to know what an animation will look like on the actual trenchcoat. As a final quality-control step, I reviewed all 329 animations from a distance, positioning the trench by a window so that I could see both the front and back of the coat.


Off to the races

I rated every animation on a scale of 1 to 5 (with resolution 0.5), and decided to cut any animation rated 2.0 or less. That resulted in the removal of 79 animations. But, I’m left with ones that I genuinely like. I will probably make more between now and Saturday too.

After I finished my audit, I boxed up the trench and the rest of the costume, the batteries, computer belt, and charge tree into one big 40lb box, and a bunch of tools and parts into another smaller 12lb box. I took them down to Tacoma today, where they’ll be driven to Burning Man by one of my intrepid campmates.

If you’re going to Burning Man, look for me. I won’t be hard to find.

Author: regenesis

Seattle New Media artist.

3 thoughts on “Endgame

  1. Bravo…well done. I’ve just dug through tonnes of your posts from 1.0 to 4.0.

    I’m an animator (adobe after effects/cinema 4d) trying to get pixel animations onto an SD card/Arduino and play to TLC pixels and DMX Shield lights. Is there anything you can share from your Animaker efforts on how to create the SD card data?

    Really appreciate any input as this will open up a world of creativity. Thanks

    • @Josh thanks for the comment. I didn’t have quite the same situation as you – my Animaker software makes animations consumed by *my own* code that runs on the trenchcoat (or other art pieces), so I have control over both sides of the equation. Animaker basically just samples pixels out of each frame of a Flash animation and writes uncompressed animation frames into XML files. Later there is a compilation process that my software does to actually put *all* the animations into a single huge file. I do this for performance reasons only – opening files on an SD card is slow (especially for a tiny microcontroller), so I only want to do that once. But seeking around in such a file is relatively fast. Anyway if you are not too concerned about performance, you can just write out files that have n frames of uncompressed RGB data to files on the SD card. The code to clock those frames out to TLC-style LEDs is very simple, and something an Arduino can handle. I do, these days, use more powerful microcontrollers – at least 75MHz ARM3. Having more RAM helps. You can contact me through email if you want more info – I’m happy to help.

      • Thanks for the reply and insights. I’ve got a couple more tricks to try out before hitting another wall, but may reach out if it’s an uphill battle. Take care!

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