If you saw April’s post last week about a trade show we worked on, this post will go into detail on just one part of our work.

We did a series of videos highlighting many of the Putzmeister products, and these videos were in the booth on video touchscreens. We ended up working with another company who owned the touchscreens, and they provided a few generic samples files and a display for us to test everything with.

All files

Here’s a breakdown of the files involved for one touchscreen. There’s an XML file which controls how the screen functions, as well as a menu video which loops until someone touches one of the on-screen buttons, and then two other video files that play when selected. These all get copied to the root of a CF card and inserted into the video display.

Menu screen

Here’s what our menu video normally looks like when looping. To define the areas where the buttons are, you need to determine the x,y coordinates, and the resolution of the touch part of the display is (oddly) 4096 x 4096 pixels. The videos themselves are much smaller, but the 4096 represents the touch grid.

Menu screen stretched

So the first thing we do is take a screen shot of the video, and then blow it up (un-proportionally) to 4096 x 4096 pixels.

Menu screen flipped

Oh, we also need to flip the screen over because the coordinate system is reversed and 0,0 is in the bottom-right corner instead of the upper-left corner like most of us are used to.

Menu screen with grid

Now that we have the screen grab of our video the correct size, and in the correct orientation, we just draw some guide lines around the buttons, and then get the coordinate points for each button.

Once we have the “start x,y” and “end x,y” coordinates we make note of them for the next step…

XML file

If you’re familiar with XML or even HTML image maps, this file should make sense. It’s fairly simple, and you can see where each of the videos is specified, and the coordinates that we determined.

So with our TPANEL.XML file done, and our videos ready to go, we just load it all onto the CF card, pop it in the machine, and it’s ready to go!

We produced about 20 videos for the booth, in just a few weeks, including a bit of shooting as well. Doing work for trade shows is always fun because you get to see things out in the real-world, often with the client right there with you. :)

January 30, 2012 · Posted by in misc, video  

A couple Z2 staffers had the opportunity to spend time at the impressive World of Concrete trade show in Las Vegas earlier this week with one of our newer clients, Putzmeister America… and it was a blast.

Over the past few months, we have worked on many projects for the show, including the booth itself, brochures, product videos, press kits, sales sheets, and much more. It was great to see it all come together, and to help Putzmeister stand out at the event. A special thanks to the Z2 staff for the hard work that went into the show, and to our client for a valuable new partnership.

January 27, 2012 · Posted by in branding, marketing  

Last week I gave a sneak peek photo of something we built for a TV commercial we were filming. Here’s a full photo of it during set-up.

Conveyor Table

The table is about 20 feet wide, and consists of 18 threaded rods, 36 skate wheels (with 72 bearings), 144 nuts, and a lot of two by fours and plywood.

We started concepting the table at the end of December, and I spent a little time doing some research and a bit of design work. I also whipped up a quick 3D model to explain how it would work to others.

Conveyor Table

The 3D modeling was new to me, as I usually just explain things with bad sketches, but I figured this was a good time to work on my 3D skills, so I took advantage of it.

I also built a small version hacked together with scrap wood to test things out. It worked well enough that I used it to brainstorm improvements with a few of our helpers for the final build.

When crunch-time came, we had less than a week to do the construction on it, and I ended up not doing any of the actual building on it, but our “helpers” (who are much better with tools than I am) ended up completing it a full day before our dry run.

Conveyor Table

Here’s the table on the set. One of the requirements was that the movement be quiet enough that it wouldn’t be picked up while recording audio. The skate bearings were nearly silent. We got a few squeaks during shooting, but nothing a little WD-40 couldn’t take care of.

We originally thought about motorizing it and having a speed controller, since it needed to move at various speeds during the filming. We decided that being human-powered was the easier path, and that worked fine once we got used to the moves, which had to match up with what the actors were doing and saying.

Conveyor Table

This is what you’ll see in the final commercial. Even though the table is 20 feet wide, you’ll only see about 7 feet of it at a time. The two actors stay in place as things slide past them.

This project was a great challenge, and it’s always fun to go from R&D to a final working piece in just a few weeks, especially something as large as this was. I’d also like to give a big thanks to the team who worked on this, especially Rob and Steve who did the table construction…. Great job guys!

January 24, 2012 · Posted by in misc, video  

We at Z2 are huge fans of The Pfister Hotel—not only because it’s a client of ours, but also because it is just such a darn amazing place. One of our favorite projects we work on with the hotel is its Artist-in-Residence program. I mean, how many hotels do you know of that have an artist creating work right on site?

The hotel is currently in the process of selecting its next great artist. This year’s finalists are Pamela Anderson; Matt Duckett; Albin Erhart; Hal Koenig; Brandon Minga; and Timothy Westbrook. Now the public will help choose the next artist.

Beginning this evening, you can visit The Pfister’s website and Facebook page to vote for the artist you’d like to see as the next artist in residence. Votes can also be cast via Twitter (#ArtistInResidence). Voting will end Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012, and the selection committee will announce the next artist in residence soon thereafter. The public vote will equate to one seat on the selection committee, influencing the final decision.

If you’d like to check out work by the six finalists, head down to Gallerie M, inside InterContinental Milwaukee, for January Gallery Night, taking place this evening. You can cast your vote right there! And don’t forget to stop by The Pfister to say hello to The Pfister’s current artist Shelby Keefe, as she hosts her final Gallery Night in the space. Stick around The Pfister afterward for a fun reception and live entertainment. Hope to see you there!

January 20, 2012 · Posted by in event, misc  

Conveyor Table

Sometimes we give you a “Behind the Scenes” view of things after they’re done, but this time I thought I’d give you a sneak preview of our latest endeavor.

I won’t get into too much detail right now, but this is probably the largest prop we’ve built yet for any of our shoots.

Look for some nice BTS photos/video to show up soon…

January 16, 2012 · Posted by in video  

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