Magic is itself a kind of augmented reality, a willing suspension of disbelief as we watch what we know is a blend between what we’re seeing and what we simply think we’re seeing. We know it’s not all physically happening, but the act of seeing it is enough. So it’s fitting that someone would try to blend magic and augmented reality. The challenge is flirting with a taboo of the digital age: getting people to accept that digital magic can still be magical, and not just empty illusion.

Marco Tempest is a rare character who combines magic and technology. He’s an unabashed showman in the old mold: you know it’s a show, and you know he’s selling what he’s doing. He also has some terrific ideas, and he knows his tech. Marco’s sends us his latest augmented reality, which he says is entirely real-time.

And here comes the reversal of the usual magic trick. In the pre-digital age, you’d keep the illusion alive by sharing as little as possible. Explain the tools, and the trick may be ruined. But in the post-modern, post-digital world of sharing and open source, it’s the reverse. You actually need to share something in order to have credibility. (My guess is that this could be the trend for far more than just magic – look at the musician and visualist worlds.)

Marco writes:

this is 100% real-time stuff – No post-processing. Programmed In C++ with OpenFrameworks, OpenCV, ARToolkitPlus, MacCam and other Open Source goodies…

Being the fan of software pr0n that I am, I thoroughly enjoy the screenshots, which show off the OpenFrameWorks setup [site | cdmo tag]. Incidentally, you can use OpenCV not only with C++, but Java/Processing, as well – check out our tutorial. And Bryan Chung has been working on a version of the ARToolkit library for Processing, too. That’s not to take away from OFW – it’s a really powerful environment, and there remain advantages on the C side.

Here’s what it looks like behind the magic:

 More screenshots

  • naus3a

    totally sweet :)
    computer vision & live performance are always a great combo: in front of mixed reality installations people usually get that happy mesmerized-like expression that, in fact, is so similar classic magic reactions; in some ways it makes me think to the first era of cinema, the train entering the station.

  • JonBro is worth looking at.

    openframeworks is all kinds of cool :D

  • zach

    thanks jonBro for the shot out !

    I actually coded both projects (the opensourcery and this project with marco, which also had theo watson's help), and I really like these chances to work with experts, especially magicians :) this project was awesome fun to make…

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  • Agent Scott

    I saw Zach show this at FITC… great stuff! I <3 oF

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  • JonBro

    this video gave me the finest dreams of spectacular magic tricks, the sky opened up and I was surrounded by helicopter wreckage, and a disembodied hand sawed my uncle in half, but it was all somehow ok.

    this also somehow makes me think of existenze and videodrome.

  • Virtual Magician

    Peter… Thanks for putting this on my favorite website (CDM) :-)

    Made my day.. Happy to be in the best of company!

    Also: Behind the scenes video with some super geeky explanations and thoughts featuring Master Zach and myself to follow in a few days.

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  • Sergio

    This might interest you. Some truly jaw-dropping Augmented reality videos:

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  • Matthew Knippen

    Some very cool stuff Marco. You mention the super geeky explanations coming in a few days, did that ever happen? I am very curious with some of this stuff and have been looking into it a lot over the past couple days. I am quite excited to see what we could do with this!

  • Anuja

    hi i have been seing all the wonderful things which we can do with augmented reality.this is why i hav selected this as my project domain for my final year engineering project.can you guide me in any way?