We all liked that giant dog in The NeverEnding Story* that Atreyu flew around on. Even though they called it a “luck dragon” it was totally a dog. Did you ever want to fly on it? Of course you did. When Bastian got to start making wishes with the last grain of sand after The Great Nothing consumes Fantasia, one of his first wishes is to fly around on the giant dog (er, luck dragon).
One Bushwick startup can give you a chance to fly around on the luck dragon (on video, at least): The Bosco (which happens to be named for a spirit cat).
Dennis Roberts, the company’s director of creative technology, walked us through the behind-the-scenes process of the increasingly hip party booth. In this instance, it shot video of guests and then put them into a music video on the dragon (and a motorcycle, a hot dog and a WaveRunner).
First, here’s a visual aid:
The Bosco put the project together for its sister company, a video production agency called NC17. The Bosco’s core business is putting together custom photo booths for parties and events. The company has the dev staff in place to take on all sorts of projects, such as basing aspects of a photo on your emotional state or on the precise number of people in the room at the party outside. Whatever clients can dream up, the dev team can pretty much do.
In this case, the client was effectively internal, but it was the NC17 crew that came up with the idea of inserting partygoers into a video on different sorts of vehicles.
“At first, I think we all thought it was pretty weird, but they were gung-ho about it and had this vision and knew how cool it would be, so we went with it,” Roberts told us via email. “At the meeting, they basically showed us iconic clips of motorcycles and played the Kanye ‘Bound 2’ video, and we riffed about all the possibilities.”
The challenge for The Bosco team is making things work on the fly at an event.
Roberts said it’s relatively easy to make their effects for one technician with some knowhow, sitting at a computer, but doing it with guest after guest in an automated fashion is tricky. Then, in this case, they wanted to insert it into video, vary the backgrounds randomly and make different vehicles, all using just one fixed station.
“We had worked with incorporating After Effects into our process before, so we knew it could be done, but this was a level of complexity we hadn’t attempted before,” Roberts explained.
He braced himself for writing a complex script but it didn’t turn out to be as bad as he thought, despite the fact that it was hard to find examples of similar applications. “Without revealing too much of a trade secret,” Roberts said, “we were basically able to insert the person into any pre-made composition, so we didn’t have to worry about applying the effects and layers programmatically.”
Simpler is relative, however. The Bosco devs rendered their first successful video at about 2 a.m. the morning before the party, he told us.
Now that that problem is solved, the team is looking at more applications.
Roberts wrote, “We’re working with [a cable TV network] right now on one of their new shows premiering this season, and we’re developing a booth that puts you in a sandstorm and lets you escape certain death by running out of a collapsing cave. The possibilities have me really excited.”
Anyone would be.
*Don’t watch this movie after you’ve turned 25.
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