Capture

After going through the calibration process, you're good to go to shoot! Running DepthKit on set is simple and can easily sit alongside another productions workflow. There are a few things to keep in mind though, which we've outline below.

Navigate to the Record tab in the Capture application.

If connected properly, you will be able to see a preview of your depth camera on the left. Your takes will show on the right side in the format 'TAKE_MO_DD_HH_MI_SS', with the numbers corresponding to the time of capture (there will be none before you've captured your first take).

NOTE: You are just "running" the depth camera. Unless you are also in charge of running the color camera, you'll only be performing operation for the depth sensor, managing when it's capturing and when it isn't. If you're working with a Director of Photography, communicate this with them so they know they can operate the color camera as usual once you've calibrated everything.

Notes on Filming

Data Constraints
It is worth reiterating here that we highly recommend you use a computer with an internal SSD that you're writing to that can handle the image bandwidth of DepthKit recordings. You should also expect files to take up space at a rate of 1GB/minute of capture, so plan your harddrive space accordingly.

Set your clocks
After the shoot when you're correlating the depth & color takes it will help you a lot if you have properly synchronized the clocks on the camera and the computer.

You're tethered
When planning your shoot, be aware that your camera operator will not be able to move further from the computer than the depth camera's USB cable will allow. This distance can be extended with a specific active USB extender if needed. Beyond ~16ft you'll need a specialized active USB 3.0 extender. Always test your extenders before your shoot.

Camera control
DepthKit controls your depth sensor but not your camera. You'll be controlling the video camera as you normally would and all the standard best practices apply; keep your subject in focus, expose your scene properly and make sure that you're using proper settings to stop motion and keep the important things in focus. 

Synchronizing (Clapping)
Each take requires a visual signal to synchronize the depth and color. Have someone ready to stand in front of the DepthKit rig and clap at the beginning of the each take. Ideally use a clapper, but using your hands can work fine. The principle is the same as synchronizing external audio recording, do it at the beginning of the take after both the Kinect and video camera are rolling.

Be sure to also clap/sync in a space that has a fair amount of space behind an in front of it, as you'll need to be able sync the depth data later on and if it's too close to another object depth-wise it can be hard to discern the proper sync point.

Rolling
We typically follow this convention on set to avoid confusion:

  1. Video DP announces "Rolling color!" and starts recording on the video camera.
  2. Data DP announces "Rolling depth!" and hits the spacebar in the Record tab of the Capture application – alternatively hit the 'Toggle Record' button. The depth camera preview window should display a red border with a flashing Record button to show that recording is taking place.
  3. Clap in front of both cameras for sync.
  4. Make three dimensional magic.
  5. Hit space bar again to stop recording.
When this bar fills up with red it will start dropping frames. This can happen if you have slow write speed on your disk (not an SSD,) your HD is full or issues with connectivity to the Kinect. If this happens, stop shooting and fix the issue. 

When this bar fills up with red it will start dropping frames. This can happen if you have slow write speed on your disk (not an SSD,) your HD is full or issues with connectivity to the Kinect. If this happens, stop shooting and fix the issue. 

When you stop recording you should see your TAKE appear in the right side of the Record tab. If you're recording and you see the 'Toggle Record' button starting to fill with red, it means that some images are failing to save to disk. This usually occurs when the hard drive is nearly full. If this happens, stop recording as soon as possible and wait for the red bar to go down, ensuring that all the footage is written to disk. If you're recording to an external drive, make sure it's an SSD with FireWire, USB 3.0, or Thunderbolt (but we don't generally recommend recording to an external drive.)

A Note on Compression
As soon as you finish recording, the application will begin compressing the raw depth data in the background. The progress of this process is shown as a gray bar overlaid on the TAKE description on the top right. You can close and reopen the app and it will pick the conversion up again. The files will compress down to about half their size, so if you're nearing the end of the shoot but are running out of harddrive space, wait for some of the prior recorded takes to finish compressing to free up some space on your drive.

Previewing Recorded Takes
It's possible to preview the recorded depth data inside of the capture application once a take has finished compressing. In the playback tab, select a Take and hit space bar to play the timeline. Use the same controls from the calibration step to navigate the point cloud as your capture plays back.