December 5, 2007

UPDATED Feb 2008 - Laser Tag 2.002 Release

Alright finally - it is here. Laser Tag 2.0 Mac and PC version.
Thanks for being so patient - a lot of time and work has gone into making Laser Tag 2.0 super nice, super dope and super easy to use. NOTE: To see a video of the first version of this system in use check it out here

Laser Tag 2.0 is a Graffiti Research Lab project and is written by Theodore Watson and Zachary Lieberman using openFrameworks. It may be used free of charge as long as it is not used for marketing, advertising or promotion and especially not for lame guerrilla marketing events!

Some new features:
- 4 main brush modes - each with their own qualities and different brush types.
- You can design your own brushes by making png files.
- If you want to code your own brushes there is a super simple system for that too.
- Built in music player for playing your party jams while Laser Tagging.
- Network connection for sending the laser tag data to flash, Processing, openFrameworks, Max / Msp etc.
- Color! - editable color xml file - add up to fifty brush colors - works with all brushes.

The equipment:
Here is the essential equipment you will need for your Laser Tag system.
1x fast laptop (PC or Mac) that can connect to an external monitor. It helps if the laptop has a dedicated graphics card, so a Macbook Pro would be preferable to a Macbook for this reason (though macbooks seem to run it just fine!).
1x video camera that you can connect to your laptop. Video cameras that have manual controls tend to be a lot better at tracking the laser than ones that automatically adjust the image depending on how bright it is.
1x projector. Anything over 2000 lumens should be good. 1x laser pointer between 5mW and 80mW in power.

For this setup we are using a Asus F9S laptop with a Logitech Messenger camera, a Benq 2500 lumens projector and a 70mW green laser pointer. This is fine for a small setup but for larger scales you will need a brighter projector and a better camera.

Setting up the projector.

PC - The Laser Tag software is setup to work with the projector acting as an extended desktop to your laptop's main display. If you have a PC laptop and an NVIDIA graphics card you need to set your display to use horizontal span mode (or extended desktop) and set the total display dimensions to 2048 by 768. If you don't have horizontal span look into Realtime Soft's Ultramon which works with all graphics cards.

Mac users will need to setup the projector to be to the right of their Desktop and then launch the Laser Tag app, type Command-',' and then check the box that says 'use extended desktop'. Once this is done quit the application and the settings will be saved to your preferences. Set both your laptop's display and the projector to 1024 768 and you should be ready to go

High Res Guide:

Setting up the camera

To effectively track the laser we need to disable the camera's Auto White Balance, Auto Exposure and Backlight Compensation. In the Laser Tag software hit the 'C' key to bring up the camera settings box. Go through the settings box and set as much as possible to manual.

Projector alignment:

Now we are ready to align the camera and the projector. Run the Laser Tag software and hit the 'F' key to enter fullscreen. Now hit the spacebar to show the edges of the projection area. With your mouse drag the corners of the white projection quad so it fits onto the surface you are projecting onto. Hit the 'S' key to save your settings.

Camera alignment:

In the top left corner you can see the video panel of the camera. Make sure that the camera is covering the whole projection area and is in focus. If you can see the four corners of the projection quad with the camera then just drag each corner of the yellow camera quad so they line up. If the camera image is too dark to see the corners of the projection quad then have a friend beam the laser at each corner and drag the corners of the camera quad that way. Hit the 'S' key to save your settings.

Tracking the laser:

In 'Tracking settings' start off with saturation at 0. See if you can distinguish the laser just by adjusting the brightness (value) threshold alone. Note: Reducing the brightness in the camera settings (see step 3) to the point where only the laser is visible can make the this step much easier. If you are still seeing a lot of white noise in the tracking panel try using the 'Sat Threshold' to track by colour as well. Hit the 'S' key to save your settings.

At this point adjusting your camera settings to make the image as dark as possible but the laser still bright will make tracking a lot easier. Notice how in the above image the laser is isolated from the projected image even though the camera can see the projected 'paint'.

Testing the setup

If everything goes well you should be able to now tag with the Laser Tag software. When you are tagging the projected 'paint' should always appear to come from the location of the laser point if it doesn't try to re-align the camera to the projection area. If the tracking seems 'jerky' try adjusting the tracking settings till the motion
seems nice and smooth.

Clearing the image:
You can always hit the 'D' key to clear the projection manually but it is more convenient to set up an area as a button that clears the projection when hit with the laser. You can enable the clear zone in 'Clear zone settings'. The clear zone shows up as a red box in the video panel. Adjust the x, y, width and height properties to position it somewhere outside of the projection area.

Drawing settings
'Brush mode' allow you to change the type of brush you use. There are four basic brushes: The pngBrush, the graffLetters brush, the vector brush and the gesture brush. The pngBrush uses user created png files to draw with. Use 'Which brush image' to switch the image used and 'Brush color' to change the drawing colour. You can add your own png brushes to the app by saving them to the data/brushes/ folder and you can edit the /data/settings/colors.xml file to add colors. The vector brush also has a bunch of different styles - check the fat style bellow.

Drips mode
For ultimate realism enable drips in the 'Drips settings' to make drips come down from your tag as you are writing. You can also adjust how drippy and the speed of the drips with the other drip settings. Have fun!

Notes and tips:
For details about the all the settings check the guides which explain in more detail:
Brush Settings Guide (jpg)
Tracking Settings Guide (jpg)
Clear Zone Settings Guide (jpg)
Network Settings Guide (jpg)
Camera Settings Guide (jpg)

For framerate improvement: try tracking without advanced quad.
Stay tuned for the full video tutorial live from Lausanne!

Laser Tag 2.0 Software Download - Updated for Leopard and Vista
Laser Tag 2.002 Mac App 0S X 10.4 + 10.5 - Optimized!! (Feb 2008)
Laser Tag 2002 PC App - XP and Vista - Update for Camera settings Fix (Feb 2008)

Laser Tag 2.0 Source Code
XCode Project (needs Xcode 2.4 or greater) (Updated Feb 2008)
Visual Studio 2005 Project (Updated Feb 2008)

Re: Laser Tag 2.0 - How To - Download and Source Code
2008/01/08 by Theo • • Reply

Well the first issue is normal. The projector only can project the graphics if you are running it fullscreen.

The second one is very strange - can you send me more detailed info? Or even better make a quick video showing the problem?


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