In a recent post I included some videos discussing depth of field and how it can be affected by aperture, focal distance and distance of the object. The question that came to mind however is that of how could I demonstrate elements of photography to a group of about 100 students. Often you may gather a small group of half a dozen crowded around a camera to show them something, however this doesn’t really scale well to a group on the order of 100 or so.
To solve this problem I made use of technology to help them see the live interaction I performed with the settings on the camera itself and remotely using Canon’s EOS Utility. The room in which the students were, contained three projectors, one more or less in the middle of the room with the others at either end. To allow them to see the interaction I made use of the EOS Utility in conjunction with Microsoft’s PixelSense (Samsung SUR40) providing a table top interactive surface with which to interact with the settings of the Canon 600D. In front of the camera I placed two tables covered with some green cloth and a number of objects at different distances to focus on. You will also notice from the images below I also included a tape measure running down the length of the table.
Located next to the Camera and the PixelSense table I added a HD TV so I could readily see the interactions I was performing. Floating a few feet over the PixelSense SUR40 hung a Sony NX5E video camera suspended in space in a under-slung position with the help of a Libec Swift Jib 50 Kit (comprising the arm, T102B tripod and DL08 dolly).
The HDMI video feed from the camera was fed to a splitter box with one input and two outputs. As you can guess one of the HDMI outputs fed directly into the HD TV, the other via the use of a HDMI to VGA adapter went off to feed the three projector screens.
All in all I was quite pleased with the overall result especially as all the students could see what I was doing first hand, moreover there was no need to repeat the processes a dozen times or more to a set of small groups all crowded around the camera. After I demoed the variables affecting the depth of field I let the students to come up and have a go with altering the settings such as f-stop and focal length themselves. They all really seemed to enjoy interacting with the Camera through the use of the surface and whats more all the other students could see what they were doing as well. They also had a good bit of fun just playing with the controls of the Jib and operating the REMO30 pan/tilt head. Concurrently after I had demoed the use of the system I got them to do some multiplicity photographs in our green screen room. The others who were waiting of course to get their chance to interact with this equipment and take some photographs were busy working their way through some photoshop tutorials. So that kept them busy with three distinctive tasks to carry out.
Once they all knuckled down to work, a few 3rd year students dropped by the lab to give me a hand in moving our OptiTrack Flex 13 motion capture system to another room, thereby freeing up our green screen room purely for photographic and video effects work. All it all it was a busy morning, with lots of equipment being moved around. Fortunately I had moved all the equipment you see in the images below into place the night before. You will notice that a shadow is cast by the Sony NX5E video camera and the REMO30 tilt/pan head. I am sure with a bit of shuffling of elements around this can be eliminated for the next time. In the final photograph of the set below, you can see the setup with the projection being displayed on two of the three screens, though the far off screen is quite a distance down the lab. I had hoped to record some video of the system in use, but didn’t get around to it due to the rehousing of the motion capture system, so may give it a go the next time with the elements rearranged is a slightly better manner. I guess the question for the next class is what will I demonstrate next? Some panoramic photography with the use of a Manfrotto QTVR 303Kit was something I had considered as a possibility.