All posts tagged Wedding

(Wire) Stripper Cake

This is a case of knowing your audience: my friend Matt is deeply involved in the world of creative DIY electronics, and appreciates a good (ie. terrible) pun. So for Matt’s bachelor party, fellow groomsman Ethan and I arranged for a stripper to pop out of a cake — but in this case, it was a wire stripper (an electrician’s tool) animated by a jumble of electronics, in a cake which we built.

After dinner, we lit the candles on the cake (it was also Matt’s birthday), and in the dim light of the BBQ joint, the illusion was convincing.

Cake

But once Matt made his wish and blew the candles out, the top opened up revealing a stripper dancing on a stage, complete with flashing lights and music!

Cake

The cake’s frosting is a sheet of white foam material from an art store, held on with Velcro stickers. The decorative chocolate frosting is brown caulk.

Beneath the frosting is a laser-cut plywood frame, with threaded dowels, nuts and washers. The top has a hinged lid with the stage slotted and glued inside.

Cake

Cake plans
Cake plans
Cake plans

A hidden power switch in the back provides 6V from four AA batteries to an Arduino Duemilanove microcontroller, which we programmed to run the show.

Cake

First, all the lights flash red, as a motor with built-in gear reduction box pulls a string attached to the lid’s counter-lever, opening the lid and raising the stage. (We used this motor driver).

Cake

Cake

Once the stage is up, the lights change to a cycling rainbow pattern. We used four of Adafruit’s 8-NeoPixel strips, all chained together in series. The first NeoPixel strip is on stage, lighting up the wire stripper.

Cake

Other NeoPixel strips are on the middle ring, lighting the inside of the cake in all its mad scientist glory. The white foam frosting is translucent, so the whole cake glows brightly on the outside.

Cake

Beneath the stage, a motor with an elliptical wheel makes the wire stripper kick its leg and dance the can-can.

The original plastic geared motor for this section melted when we tried to solder on the power cables. The Radio Shack replacement didn’t have enough torque. So we used a spare littleBits motor. It later burned out because we’d run out of time and didn’t regulate the voltage, but by then it had done its job.

Cake

Music is from a chip I ripped out of a greeting card years ago, wired up to a small speaker. It plays the theme from “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.”

Cake

When you’ve had enough of the show, you can reach in through the top and press a microswitch (center of the picture, on the middle ring), which stops the dancing, turns all the lights to blue, and closes the cake up again.

Cake

We built the whole thing in very little time, and it has a cobbled-together, hot glue aesthetic. Not the finest engineering, but Matt loved it, which is all that matters.

Cake

Ross and Cesar Get Married

For their wedding at Littlefield in Brooklyn last month, Cesar and Ross wanted a DIY affair that would involve their friends and families. We came up with the idea of making a documentary-style video snapshot of their life in New York, to be projected on walls throughout the venue that night.

CR-outside

We shot footage of the grooms walking their dog, hanging out at home, riding the subway and bus, getting haircuts, eating at Mission Chinese, hanging out with friends in bars, etc. They’re Instagram fiends, so I had a blast coloring the footage to give it that social media snapshot look.

At the venue, I went for the smallest footprint possible, so packing up at the end of the night would be quick. The main movie was looped on an outside wall in the venue’s entrance courtyard. There is a window facing the wall, so I mounted the projector inside pointing out. For this, I used one of my home-made mounts, plus mafer clamp, 20″ arm, and knuckle, clamped onto the metal window frame above head-level.

CR-rig

I taped a Roku onto the mount, and created a .m4v file with Handbrake to play back off a USB drive. Roku has a limited number of file types that it will play, and that’s one. Also, the Roku USB player doesn’t have a loop function, so I made a version of the 40 minute movie that plays twice, followed by 15 minutes of black with “CESAR & ROSS” text at the end. I just hit “back” and “play” on the remote every hour and a half. I’m going to pick up a Raspberry Pi to do this better. [UPDATE 5/16/14: I got this running.]

CR-wall-words

Inside, I had another projector running from my MacBook Pro, up in the sound booth. From there I could fill the entire side wall of the dining/dancing part of the venue. The wall is a black rubberized cork material, not too shiny and not too light-absorbent. With a bright enough projector (mine’s 3,000 lumens), projecting on a dark surface like that gives you high contrast and looks great.

I made both 1280×720 and 854×480 versions of the movies and loops, to pick depending on final projection size. If a particular clip gets shrunk down on the canvas during playback, there’s no need to waste pixels with a large file. But if it’s fillng the screen, I can go for quality. I also compressed everything with VidVox’s new Hap codec, which is open-source and decodes everything on the graphics card. Looked great, played great.

CR-touchOSC

In VDMX (my VJ software of choice), I made a canvas that was 1708 x 960, with quads of 50% scaled-down layers (which were the 854 x 480 media’s native size), including some that were doubled-up for live blending. This went out through Syphon to MadMapper, and I mapped the quads to different parts of the wall: Quads 1 and 2 were the full 40-minute movie with staggered start times, shrunk to two 4-foot wide rectangles on the wall. Behind that was Quad 3, as a giant wall-sized projection. During dinner this was blank or dim, abstract patterns (subway cars passing in the tunnels, blurry street scenes at night…). Quad 4 was just for text (“CESAR & ROSS”) that was projected a few places on the wall.

Once the dance party started, I cleared the smaller images and went full-wall with movie, loops and text, and some color mixing and effects.

I ran the whole show with Touch OSC on my iPhone (some frame-grabs are pictured here: layer-clip assignment, layer blending, and an RGB effect control). I’ve learned not to do this when working with bands: people think I’m some asshole texting during the show. But in this case I didn’t have to leave the dance floor.