Halloween Photobooth

Outside of class, I worked with a group on this year’s Halloween party photo booth. This was a big learning experience for me, with a very tight deadline. Most of the technical work was done by Alexandra from 2nd year, and I learned a lot just by watching her work, planning the project, troubleshooting and improvising.
It was the first time that I was part of a physical project that uses technology and is used by a large group of people and it was an interesting lesson, and that is why I decided to blog about it.

The initial idea was to make a “PhotoBoo!” . The user would walk into a very dark space and an extremely bright light would hit them in the face. The photo would be taken with a slight delay, when the person is frightened/shocked/angry.

A few questions we had to answer along the way:
– What will the user hear or see while he is being frightened?
– If there is a delay, how will the camera see anything?
-Should we use a regular webcam or a 5D?
– How do we trigger a flash?
– Or maybe  we should trigger clip lights using a power switch tail?
– How do we avoid getting too many photos with the sensor triggered by human presence?
– How do we build the dark booth?
– How do we keep drunk people from tripping over when they walk in the dark?

The whole project was composed by Alexandra using Max. All the different parts were connected by the program – Arduino, the camera, the dropbox folder with the photos.
We ended up using a 5D camera with This  part (strangely called female hot shoe) to trigger the flash.
The flash didn’t work perfectly and until the last minute we weren’t really sure if it was going to work.
The Booth was built in room 50, we used dark curtains and created a fairly big space that can contain a group of people.  The way to the booth was paved by whiteboards and the entrance to the booth was facing the sensor so that we won’t get side shots of people. We used a projector and a disco ball to get this effect in the space.

We were troubleshooting until after the last minute when people were already there and didn’t even document properly but still I think we can take pride in what was achieved within ~3 days.

The photos (frames were a last minute improvisation that I deeply regret):

PhotoBoo from ACoym on Vimeo.

The code for the flash (courtesy of Laura)

#define BUTTOM_PIN 2
void setup()
  digitalWrite(CAMERA_FLASH_PIN, LOW);
  Serial.begin(9600); // open serial
  Serial.println(“Press the spacebar to trigger the flash”);
void loop()
  if (digitalRead(BUTTOM_PIN) == HIGH) {
    digitalWrite(CAMERA_FLASH_PIN, HIGH);
    digitalWrite(CAMERA_FLASH_PIN, LOW);
  else {
    digitalWrite(CAMERA_FLASH_PIN, LOW);


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