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PostPosted: Fri Aug 07, 2009 3:03 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 03, 2009 1:34 pm
Posts: 2319
Location: Los Angeles
Hi,

The three Logitech QuickCam Pro 9000 cameras arrived yesterday, and now I'm doing compatibility tests for using them on my laptop with the iPi Recorder. The software recognized the cameras and the software seems to be working well, and I seem to be maintaining a pretty decent frame rate (30.30 fps). Yay!

The only odd thing I'm seeing is that camera three seems to have Auto Focus enabled, even though I turned the feature off in the software. I don't see any way to disable this for individual cameras so I assume the switch is supposed to have a global effect. Maybe it's because I added the third camera after setting up the first two, and the switch is working in inverse to the others. Any ideas for this? Maybe I just need to reboot the system.

I was wondering if you had any suggestions for camera settings. I'm assuming that I should turn off all unnecessary features, like auto focus, face tracking, etc., to improve the frame rate. How about Anti-Flicker, RightLight, and LED Control? Do these have any bearing on performance for the Recorder program?

Also, how are you mounting these cameras to stands? These don't have a mounting hole like most cameras, so I'm thinking Velcro.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions and helpful answers.

Tonight, I'll start working with the Calibration software.

Greenlaw

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 07, 2009 4:50 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 03, 2009 1:34 pm
Posts: 2319
Location: Los Angeles
Okay, I think I understand why the Auto Focus was on with one of the Logitech cameras. It looks like the control panel for the device will only recognize the first active camera, so the trick is to connect only one camera by itself when changing the settings. I did this with each camera individually and now the Auto Focus is off on all three. This must also be done for other options you may want disabled.

Could somebody confirm this for me? I'm running iPi Recorder on a laptop with XP Pro, sp3, x32.

Greenlaw

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 08, 2009 5:55 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 02, 2009 10:57 am
Posts: 107
Greenlaw - Hi to a fellow Lightwave/JimmyRig user (at least my intention is to use JimmyRig shortly as I get Win7 64 bit working with a MacPro running Boot Camp ).

I saw this from another thread, maybe it applies?

------
We strongly recommend turning OFF the Logitech RightLight when recording for motion capture. The on off parameter appear only in webcam with RightLight2 like QuickCam Pro 9000.

Please note that there was a version of Logitech's driver software that didn't allow for manual control of exposure for more than 2 cameras connected at a time. There was an update that fixed this. [MAYBE THIS ALSO FIXES AUTO FOCUS????]

Without this manual control, your frame rates can vary based on how bright/dark something is, so you definitely want to set up the software for manual control for all four cameras.
-----

I'm hoping to find a clamp that I can mount on one of my light stands. I probably should have ordered that with the units from bhphotovideo (they had the cheapest 9000 prices) and are a very large photography outlet.

Mine arrive Tue, do you think this would work?
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/6 ... Clamp.html

Also, did you order active USB extenders?
http://www.monoprice.com/products/produ ... 1&format=2

BTW - I'm sure hoping that JimmyRig can work with the iPi bvh output. Oliver never responded to my request when I sent him a bvh from iPi. If it doesn't, or the number of points captured is too low, that would certainly be a deal breaker.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 08, 2009 9:28 am 

Joined: Mon Aug 03, 2009 1:34 pm
Posts: 2319
Location: Los Angeles
Hi McWannabe,

Thanks for the tip! I had downloaded the latest drivers, so I'm not sure why I had to control the cameras one at a time through the Logitech control panel. Maybe I need to plug all three cameras in before booting up the computer. Anyway, I'll turn off RightLight--I think this is an auto gain or auto exposure feature, but I'm not completely sure yet. Hope I can do more tests today, and maybe even have mocap tests ready tonight. :)

I have noticed that exposure through the Recorder definitely affects frame rate (the software even warns you of this.) I found that at about halfway on the slider control, I can get a constant 30.3 fps without dropped frames (this is on a three year old duo core laptop.) The image looked a little dark, but then we turned on all the lights in the room and it was more than bright enough--now that I think about it, I probably could have lowered the exposure and improved the frame rate even more. Anyway, I would never shoot mocap video in this particular room (my work office,) but it gave me a good idea what to expect.

I plan to shoot my first tests at home, where I have just enough space and a couple of soft boxes to adequately light the area. When I get the workflow figured out, I'm going to ask if I can do my real tests at work where we have a large common 'cafe' area just outside my office. (It's big enough that we sometimes shoot green screen and effects elements there.)

I think that clamp from B+H looks ideal. I'll have to try one. Their webcam prices are good too. I wound up buying from NewEgg because they're local (for L.A.) and can deliver by next day with cheaper shipping; their prices are comparable.

BTW, I bought the 'business' version, which comes in a plain box with just the basic software. At NewEgg, this version was a bit cheaper, and it turns out you can download the full software from Logitech anyway. Curiously, it looks like B+H is charging slightly more for the Business edition. Anyway, I like the plain boxes because it makes it easier to store away the cameras; not a big deal, but better than those stupid 'disposable' bubble packs that can slice your hands up trying to open them. :)

I like monoprice and I wish I thought of them for this. I've purchased their machined optical cables, and the only thing 'cheap' about them was the fantastic price ($4.95). Anyway, I bought five repeater cables from NewEgg which seem to be very good--I'll know for sure tonght. Here's the link:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16812224004

I also got this Rosewill 7 port hub, which works great. My old hub had four ports but only two had external power. The other two were bus powered, and that means the meager output gets divided with each device. This new hub has external power for all 7 ports, so I won't have to worry about each camera not getting enough juice.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817182146

McWannabe wrote:
BTW - I'm sure hoping that JimmyRig can work with the iPi bvh output. Oliver never responded to my request when I sent him a bvh from iPi. If it doesn't, or the number of points captured is too low, that would certainly be a deal breaker.


Me too. I did look at the sample output in some other programs, and it's curious how different the rigs can look between Poser, Endorphin, and 'generic' .bvh formats. I'll post more specific details when I get a chance to do more tests.

It sounds like they want to get Jimmy|Rig to work with as many flavors of .bvh as they can but I don't think that's a priority for them at the moment. It will robably happen after they release the first J|R Pro beta and start actively working with users.

Greenlaw

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 08, 2009 9:42 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 02, 2009 10:57 am
Posts: 107
You may not be running the latest drivers.

There is a Logitech QuickCam 11.9 (not avail for download, only thru Logitech Updater (LU) for users with a previous QuickCam release installed.

You don't want to put the cameras thru a hub. Ideally, maybe 2 inputs on the front of your computer, 2 on the back, or get a USB card.

I'll copy in a few notes I made while reading that may be useful to you:

-------------
2) Use a faster codec. Best codec is MJPEG codec. We recommend http://www.morgan-multimedia.com/technicalsV3.htm - it is inexpensive ($30) and comes with 2 month free trial. In MJPEG, each video frame is compressed separately using the JPEG still image compression standard. No frame differencing or motion estimation is used to compress the images. This makes it very fast and very high-quality, at the expense of bigger file size (which is not a problem for motion capture). ???? WILL IT WORK WITH 64 BIT wIN7???

XVID is also a great codec but it is designed for smaller file size, not for fast compression. You may increase the speed of XVID compression by tweaking the Quality option. At 320x240, most modern PCs should be fast enough to compress 4 video streams at 30 frames per second using XVID quality 1 (max) in real time. At 640x480, you may need to change quality setting to 4 or so. You may also need to tweak "Other options...->Encoding->Multiple threads" and "Other options...->Common->Force optimizations".

3) iPi Recorder is known to work much faster on Windows XP, as compared to Vista. HOPE IT WORKS OK ON WIN7?

4) Make sure you turn OFF the RightLight, Anti-flicker and similar options for your cameras.

---
Please re-shoot calibration video at 30 frames per second using new iPi Recorder (version 1.0.1.36 Beta). Our recent research shows that our previous recommendation of recording calibration video at 10 FPS was wrong. Higher framerate results in better synchronization and much better calibration reliability and accuracy

It is also important that in new calibration video you move pointer more randomly (like in circles and spirals) and cover bigger space. Imaging yourself a jedi practicing some fancy martial arts moves with a lightsaber in slow-mo. Irregular/random marker trajectories help to improve accuracy of calibration.

By the way, you may find the following video useful:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Pyly9BdcO4

It demonstrates calibration of a more traditional marker-based OptiTrack system. While they have their own specifics (for example, they have high-framerate cameras so fast calibration wand movement is not a problem for their system), the video still demonstrates some common principles, like covering the entire capture volume and doing circular movements to make calibration patterns more random.
-----
----------------- change contrast to get better capture
I have had that problem before the best way to end up with a good camera calibration is to play with the contrast of the video once it is recorded, I also had a lot of noise on some recordings, "reflections, lights, floor reflecting the calibration object", then I grabbed the calibration video, placed it inside a video editing software and made it as dark as possible working with the contrast, then when I was basically unable to see with my naked eye the spot, I saved it and did the calibration.

---
I recommend that next time you also incorporate the following improvements into your calibration sequence:

1) Don't move the marker too fast, to avoid motion blur.

2) Cover your capture volume more uniformly.

3) Record calibration video at 640x480 at 30 FPS
---
Yes, using bright-color gloves should significantly improve reliability of tracking. Please do not forget to enable support for gloves (turn off "Hands color same as face color" checkbox).


For best results, you need bright ambient lighting. That is, illumination should surround actor. In photographic terms, you should use soft lights / aim for high-key lighting:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soft_lights
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-key_lighting
---
We strongly recommend turning OFF the Logitech RightLight when recording for motion capture.
Logitech communicate mp using RightLight1 Technology which doesn't have control parameter, so it cannot be set on or off. The on off parameter appear only in webcam with RightLight2 like QuickCam Pro 9000.

Please note that there was a version of Logitech's driver software that didn't allow for manual control of exposure for more than 2 cameras connected at a time. There was an update that fixed this.

Without this manual control, your frame rates can vary based on how bright/dark something is, so you definitely want to set up the software for manual control for all four cameras.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 08, 2009 2:19 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 03, 2009 1:34 pm
Posts: 2319
Location: Los Angeles
Hi McWannabe,

Wow! Thanks for all the very useful information. In a single post, you've saved me a lot of time I would have wasted figuring this out by myself tonight. :)

Right now, I think there are too many topics and posts to have to sift through for this information. Much of what's being discussed here really should go on the FAQ page, or maybe in a Sticky in this forum.

As for Logitech software version, I'll try the built-in updater and see what happens. I thought I did this yesterday and it told me I was already running the current drivers, but I'll double-check to be sure. It's more likely that I'm remembering what the software downloaded from their website told me.

I noticed that iPi recommends MPJEG too, so I'll download it now. Do you know if there is a free 'player' only version? I planned to only capture video with my laptop, but intend to the DMC program on my workstation which has the required graphics card for it. (Though, I just realized that two daisy-chained repeater cables (32ft) plus the camera's cable (another 6ft) is plenty long enough to run from my workstation.) I know the license is pretty cheap, but if I can avoid buying two, I'd prefer that. (I'm already spending way more than I originally planned for this 'experiment.') :)

The hub seems to be working well, but I'll know for sure tonight. I guess the potential problem is a bottleneck at the hub itself, isn't it? My laptop does has six USB ports, so I should be okay connecting the cameras directly; I'll try it both way and compare the results. I'll also try capturing with workstation (which I think also has six ports) to see how much more reliable it is (my guess is that it will be much better, except that it's Vista Ultimate and the Laptop is XP Pro.)

Good tips for post processing the video for contrast. As for noise, I like to use a plug-in for Vegas called NeatVideo. It does an amazing job with even the noisiest low-light videos I've shot, without softening fine details. My worst case test was home video shot at the Natural History Museum here in L.A., which has some very dark chambers. I thought the footage was hopelessly grainy, but NeatVideo did a decent job cleaning it up. NeatVideo is also available as a plug-in for other NLEs and as a standalone. (They have a version for Photoshop too, which works great for noisy digital still cameras--it even has profiles for specific cameras built in.)

Interesting note about bright gloves. I have white cotton gloves, that I sometimes wear when drawing. These should work well. I got them four to a pack at a local drugstore for a couple of bucks. Maybe wearing white socks and no shoes would help too?

I'm glad I have softboxes. I use them for green screen shoots, but it sounds like they'd be ideal for iPi too.

Thanks again for the tips!

Greenlaw

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 08, 2009 2:44 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 03, 2009 1:34 pm
Posts: 2319
Location: Los Angeles
FYI, I just installed the cameras on my workstation (Vista x64) and installed what I believe is the latest software, version 12.0.1280.0000. I see now that I do have individual camera controls through the Logitech software. Makes me wonder if the list was there on my laptop as well, and I just somehow missed seeing it. Will have to look again tonight.

Again, thanks for the advice. I should go out and pick up a USB card for my workstation that I can dedicate to iPi.

Greenlaw

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 08, 2009 2:59 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 03, 2009 1:34 pm
Posts: 2319
Location: Los Angeles
A couple more questions:

1. Do you know of any way to change the video capture directory to a second drive? Recorder seems to default to My Documents and its subdirectories, but I want to set it to a dedicated video drive. Is this a technical limitation by design or an interface bug?

2. Is there a way to rename the camera, like Cam 1, Cam 2, and Cam 3? Right now all three cameras appear in the list as Logitech Quickcam Pro 9000.

Thanks in advance for any info.

By the way, my 'beefier' quad-core workstation seems to be getting lower frame rates compared to my old duo-core laptop (I have to lower Recorder's Exposure setting to get the same frame rate.) As far as Recorder is concerned, I guess the choice between Vista and XP is pretty clear. I hope the DMC application works well on this workstation, as I won't be able to run that program at all on my laptop (inadequate graphics card.) In any case, Recorder should still useable on the workstation when I properly light my space tonight.

Greenlaw

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 10, 2009 7:21 am 

Joined: Mon Aug 03, 2009 1:34 pm
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Location: Los Angeles
It just occurred to me that I was getting a faster frame rate using my laptop (XP Pro x64) while using a hub than with my workstation (Vista Ultimate x64,) without a hub. I'm going to have to try iPi Recorder using the laptop without the hub tonight.

Greenlaw

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 10, 2009 10:15 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 02, 2009 10:57 am
Posts: 107
Interesting observations, glad I could help.

I guess I'll be running on Vista 64 also (the win7 64 soon), as I just ordered an i7-920 2.66GHz 512MB with ATI Radeon HD4670 (had an issue with my 8 core Xeon MacPro where I could not install win7 or any WinX).

So for now, I'll have to live vicariously through your experiences.

Is your box around the same speed/type?

Hopefully, if we can output to different hard drives (than the boot drive), the frame rate will pick up?

I've got 12GB, so I might look into a RAM drive for capture, which might be the perfect solution to any and all frame rate issues. Wonder if one is built into Vista or Win7?

I wonder if they use the GPU during capture? The video card may matter?

Take care. Hopefully our jet lagged developers will return to the forum soon.

Here's a picture of them from SIGGRAPH

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