RGBD Toolkit + Canon C300 + ASUS Xtion Pro

Canon C300 + ASUS Xtion Pro + RGBD Toolkit

Canon C300 + ASUS Xtion Pro + RGBD Toolkit

Welcome to the future – depth based photography is in it’s infancy now, but it will change how we think about photography/film forever. In the world of depth based photography, the traditional camera (5D, Alexa, 35mm, etc.) is only used for their 2D color data, the REAL camera is the depth sensor that captures the world in three dimensions.

Last month, I discovered a company called RGBD Toolkit. They have developed a software solution using a DSLR and a Microsoft Kinect sensor that captures point cloud data and maps color texture on to it. I met with the creators/developers last week and got to speak with them about using the RGBD Toolkit for commercial purposes.

Their software allows you to re-photograph the point clouds and animate the camera angles, depth of field, and rendering of the point clouds. There are some pretty amazing demo videos already on vimeo showing what is possible, but there are so many possibilities with this technology.

This is a video created by Pierpaolo Valetto, in Italy using the RGBD Toolkit.

The toolkit is already capable of generating rough 3d geometry that has an abstract interpretation of real life. Depth based photography has a lot of promise and as the technology develops, we may see the need for green/blue screen compositing fade because the depth data would allow for a more accurate alpha matte.

One of the creators of RGBD Toolkit, Jonathan Minard, introduced me to a concept where cameras in the future would capture an entire area as a point cloud. The framing, lighting, depth of field, etc. would be all done in post in 3D. This is an interesting concept, and the RGBD toolkit brings a glimpse at that future.

The most exciting part of this RGBD Toolkit is that you can do it with any SLR and a Kinect, both of which are very accessible and affordable. The software is open source and developed with OpenFrameworks.

Featured above is my beta rig for my C300 using the ASUS Xtion Pro sensor, which is a little smaller.

I’m going to be doing some beta testing and importing into Maya for rendering, but then I want to use it on some real jobs in the near future.