Sunday, November 27, 2011

DIY: Photo Booth - dSLR Remote Pro

Part III: Photo booth software - dSLR Remote Pro

A friend requested that I come up with a solution for providing a photo booth for their upcoming wedding. I had created an Automate script for an old MacBook and Canon G9 as a cheap photobooth alternative a few years ago. However, I wanted to develop something a little more professional, and keep the cost cheaper than going out an renting a booth. My DIY Photo Booth project was born, and has been consuming my time for the past couple of months. One of the biggest challenges is deciding on which software to use for your booth, as there are many options available. I discovered dSLR Remote Pro by Breeze Systems, which is more than just a fully functional photo booth system, but also contains other features that can be used with my Canon dSLR cameras.

What I really liked about the photo booth features within dSLR Remote Pro was the ability to customize the interface to exactly what I needed. You can run the your system as a Photo Booth, or a Video Booth. You can customize and print photos, or just save them locally for use later. Since the DIY Booth was going to be used for a wedding, I wanted to be able to tailor the background images and user instructions for the event. I also wanted the interface to be user friendly and self-maintained. I installed arcade buttons to the enclosure that activated either photo mode, video mode, or start capture.

The computer that I used for this was an old HP dx2000 mini tower, running a Pentium 4, 2.80 Ghz processor with 2 GB of RAM. I was worried that this would be under-powered, as it was destined to be junked, and I saved it to recycle it in the booth. The phot obooth software by itself doesn't take that many resources, but you add a slideshow running at the same time, plus a full print queue, this old PC worked hard. I definitely think that a modern multiprocessor PC with more memory would be wise, but I was able to get through both events without any computer freezes.

Here are examples of the Backgrounds I used for the wedding:
This is the background that is displayed when live view is not active. The black button simulates a CTRL-S to switch to Live View Mode.

This background shows the booth users a mirrored image of themselves in the box. Pressing the green button simulates a left-click.

Since the users tend to look at themselves in the LCD screen, I created this image to remind them to look at the camera. It is displayed 1 second before the camera clicks the shutter.

When the 4 images are captured, a processing screen is displayed before going back to the beginning of the sequence.


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