Exploring AR with Vuforia and Unity

Playing catchup on fundamental skills in Augmented Reality. This test was done using the vuforia plugin for Unity - to export as an Android App. Using tutorials from here as a starting point - https://developer.vuforia.com/downloads/samples , it was quick to get up and running..  ( More time was spent trying to get the Nexus 7 to play ball with Windows 10, grrr! ) The tracking target was a postcard, which you need to upload an image of to the Vuforia database to create tracking information. Vuforia is free, if you are happy for watermarking on the app. You also have to create an app license that you copy and paste into the Unity project to register it.
Having a dabble also gave an opportunity to utilise Mixamo to generate a 3D animated character to test with. Mixamo has now been added to the Adobe Cloud services - so there's pre-made animations for Adobe Fuse Characters - that can be exported as .fbx.
As a conceptual idea - I added particle trails to the dancer - this is for a future plan to explore when I work with dancers on other project ideas.

Playing with a new Toy - Ricoh Theta S

Finally got round to getting something affordable to do 360 video and photospheres, without the crazyness of putting multiple Go-Pros together or something similar.

Inside the Stop Frame Animation set.. @lcabaan @leedscofart #theta360uk - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

The camera is a Ricoh Theta S, it retails around £299 -  which is just in my price range for experimental play and research.  Quality wise, its never going to be great - you are getting what you are paying for, - video is 1920x960px - which is low and soft for a 360youtube - but more than adaqute for prototyping ideas for storytelling. Picture wise though - images are 5376 x 2688px, which enables 4k quality timelapse and stopmotion projects. Here's a youtube test below...

In an educational context, the Theta S is a good accessible 360 camera. Photos are exported as equirectangular projection - so easy to to import into Photosphere apps, or use as Skyboxes in Unity.

Video needs to be converted first, otherwise you get a lovely 70's double fisheye effect. Both the Ricoh Theta App, or desktop software does this quite simply - non of the complexity of a program like Hugin or Microsoft ICE. Stiching wise, it does a ok job - and as its two lenses, seams aren't too bad. In this respect for classroom use or fieldtrips - its more playful bit of kit to experiment, as its point and shoot.

To get the best out of it - its essential to use the app, I'm working on Android - the iOS version has some more tricks. The app gives you the ability to remote trigger the camera, set self timer or intervalometer for timelapse, and most crucially - manual control of the shutter speed, iso and white balance. Sadly there's no control of the exposure, so if I read the manual right its operating as f 2.0.
It's not great in low light conditions, as was expected.

Creatively - here's the aforementioned double fisheye effect before stiching the video together - which I kind of want to experiment with, roughly each circle is 900 x 900px - so I'll have to do some crazy experimental stuff at a later date.

Its also a great starting point camera for creating panorama worlds ....

Here's a sense of the Theta S's size.  The camera feels pretty sturdy - but you are conscious of the protruding lenses, which could easily scratch or get finger printed...  and the Viewmaster makes a great Google Cardboard headset - but that's another blogpost.

A photo posted by Annabeth (@angrybeth) on