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Viewing yourself in 3rd person

The last email I got from Instructables had a link to an interesting project where BigRedRocket mounts a video camera to a frame that he wears on his back.  The camera is connected to a pair of virtual reality glasses so that he can observe himself from a 3rd person perspective, similar to how some video games work.  To complete the 3rd person perspective, he wears a bag over his head so that he can only see what the camera presents.

The system is built of the following components:

  • PVC frame, worn on the back
  • Inexpensive video camera with component and audio out.
  • Video splitter
  • Virtual reality goggles
  • Wireless video transmitter
  • Hood

The video splitter is used to feed the video from the camera to both the virtual reality goggles and a wireless video transmitter, which in turn is able to record everything from the 3rd person point of view. An early version of the frame mounted the camera on a gimbal, with the idea that it would isolate the camera from the motion of the wearer.  However, that did not work out.  The motion of the camera swinging on the gimbal was very disorienting, so in the end the camera was fixed to the frame.  After assembly they donned the frame and the various battery packs needed to run everything and walked around with it.  The experience was interesting.  As BigRedRocket puts it:

We were able to cautiously run, but after 5 minutes in the suit you started to feel comfortable. Because you only have one camera, you lose a lot of your depth perception. But that is not the only way we sense depth, and soon my senses we adapting. It is amazing what the brain can do.

Looking back upon the tests I remember being ’sucked’ into the camera. I felt like “I” was the camera. It was odd. I felt taller. In fact, because you were at a different level than the camera, it was easy to get your dynamics messed up, and sometimes we almost fell over.

After wearing the setup for a while and removing the goggles there is an odd feeling of your point of reference being adjusted. As if your consciousness were being sucked back into your head. Wild stuff.

Other viewpoints they experimented with were a shoulder mounted camera and a (paintball) gun mounted camera.

They’ve got some ideas for the future, mainly using a 3D camera, and moving the camera back to provide a better field of view.

Reading the Instructable reminded me of a video I saw some time back of driving a car in real life from a 3rd person perspective.  The guys at RoosterTeeth put this video together by mounting a very expensive SLR camera on a long boom attached to a receiver hitch.  They also made a driving course out of cones populated with inflatable people in order to test their 3rd person driving skills.  The video is pretty funny, but be forewarned that the language is rough in a couple places.

Steve Ravet

Design News Gadgeteer

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