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Moving AR projection shows deer at play at night

The Optoma ML750ST has been used with an external speaker, GoPro and Leap Motion to project moving, grazing and running deer onto street scenes in a Night Time Enterprise Zone in London.

Moving AR projection shows deer at play at night

High Street ADVENTures is a celebration of London’s first Night Time Enterprise Zone – a Mayor of London programme designed to support local businesses, trial innovative ideas to boost the town centre and improve access to shops and services after 6pm. Families from across the London Borough of Waltham Forest were encouraged to head to Walthamstow High Street on Saturday 7 December for the celebration that saw more than 40 different activities taking place between 4pm and 9pm.

Walthamstow lies in close proximity to Epping Forest which has held a long association with deer. The deer of Epping Forest were once the prize for Royal Hunters and poachers alike – until The City of London became the conservator of Epping Forest in 1878, with the deer being the only wild animals to be mentioned explicitly in the Epping Forest Act. Today, the main threat to deer now comes not so much from poaching, but fast busy roads and human disturbance.

Local artist Jude Greenaway and his team take inspiration from the history of the forest and its resident Santa’s helpers. In keeping with High Street ADVENTures, the team created the iDeer project in the hope of highlighting environmental habitat erosion through the offering of a playful street interaction.

The project would see the team virtually bring the ghostlike images of deer back into the urban environment by projecting a series of moving, grazing and running deer onto the sides of buildings, walls and urban textures. The deer would appear to be roaming freely through the streets, as well as some static hideaways in shop windows.

The team called on the expertise of live video and mobile projection artist Shaun O’Connor from Prickimage,  creator of Walkabout Projection – a small and portable video projected augmented reality system which brings digital puppetry and interactive 3D character performances to any location.

“The team had concepts of using a car, but with the event taking place on the high street, this wasn’t plausible,” said O’Connor.

The first Walkabout Projection used Optoma’s ultra-portable LED projector, the ML750e. It also consisted of a simple tripod which held the projector, a battery pack, mini pc and Leap Motion which was connected by Velcro.

O’Connor worked with Luma-ID, 3D printing concept, prototype and product designers, to design the second generation of the Walkabout Projection, which saw him also upgrade the ML750e to the ML750ST. He is now planning a third generation that could incorporate and simplify the ProjectedAR characters control for public use, which could be updated via an app.

The ML750ST builds upon the popular ML750e but has been engineered with a short-throw lens to make it even more flexible. Weighing just 420g, it has all the same features as the tiny ML750e including a media player, native office viewer and built-in speaker.

With instant power on/off LED technology, the ML750ST is primed for instant plug-and-play viewing on the move. And the extraordinary life of LEDs (20,000 hours) will ensure it stays clear and bright. Digital signage applications are ideal for the ML750ST as the projector can be mounted in virtually any orientation, and it can play video files directly from a microSD card as soon as the projector is switched on.

O’Connor explained, “We turned the ML750ST into a guerrilla urban street machine with external speaker, GoPro, and Leap Motion. The ML750ST is brighter, and the short-throw lens means I can get a bigger image from a closer proximity to the projection surface. Everyone wants a more vivid and bigger picture; ML750ST delivers this perfectly.

“It also allowed us to have personal, up-close and visceral experiences with the children, adults and dogs that can be seen in the post-event video. A vehicle would not have allowed the magic and fantasy to exist in the same way, or give us the flexibility to move around like a puppeteer.”

He added: “The new housing makes it even easier to hold and control, it also means the solution is covered – creating even more magic, as viewers aren’t sure how the character is projected. “The ML750ST is light as a feather, and the short-throw lens gives me even more flexibility as a mobile solution. It truly is the Swiss army knife of projectors!”

The iDeer moving street projection allowed passers-by to glimpse the elusive Fallow Deer as it explored the street for one night. Offering a magical experience it allowed people to reconnect with the majesty and wonder of nature, right on their doorstep.

“The possibilities are endless with this, next step could be to create bespoke ProjectedAR versions of these deer that would react with hand gestures, enabling the audience to control the deer movements,” said O’Connor. “It would be amazing to add projectors and local performers for the opportunity to create a herd of deers. The festival is every year, and we can’t wait to evolve alongside the event.”

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Posted: 7th January 2020

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