Getting shots of people in midair can be a source of fun and fascination, but making them requires either a fair investment in remote triggers or a surplus of time and luck.
With a little bit of ingenuity, however, mechanical engineer Andrew Maxwell-Parish (aka Electric Slim) has made the process easy, cheap and reliable using a laptop, webcam and open-source software.
As detailed in his Instructables guide, Parish’s method relies on the Processing programming language/development environment and the OpenCV computer vision library to dramatically boost the capabilities of any reasonably high-resolution webcam.
Basically, in just a few steps, you can enable your computer to quickly and easily capture the images required to make a video like this:
The steps are very straight-forward, and don’t require that you actually know how to program. First, download and install Processing onto your computer from this link. Next, install OpenCV and the Simple-OpenCV library for Processing (detailed instructions for Windows and Mac at the respective links).
Once you’ve set up and tested Processing and OpenCV together, all you have to do is download and uncompress the “sketch” at this link, and run it. That’s it. If your setup works the same way Parish’s did, you’re ready to jump and let the webcam do all of the work.
The code is set to work by detecting your face and taking a picture when it’s gone above a certain height and starts coming back down. So every time you jump, it takes a picture the moment you begin falling back down.
Parish mentions a few extra tweaks you can make to ensure that the parameters of the program fit with the resolution of your camera, so be sure to head over to the full walkthrough for more details.
The only real downside to the program is that you do have to be facing the camera, and anything in the background that looks like a face (especially in dim lighting) might trick the system.
Assuming you’ve got a good location to set up and you’ve installed the programs properly though, you now have a cheap jump camera already set to go. We’ll let you get creative about how you want to use it, but a “jumping” photo booth for your next get together immediately comes to mind.
Image credits: Photographs by Andrew Maxwell-Parish.