IR filter and reassembled webcam
This is an incredibly easy, and quite cheap, hardware hack. It does some weird shit and I love it to bits.
- Acquire cheap webcam. (While many say they require Windows, most these days are cross-platform.)
- Dismantle it as far as possible with a screwdriver.
- Unscrew the focusing lens, on the front, until it comes off completely.
- Locate the little iridescent square of glass on the back, which may be held in place by tabs of melted plastic. It reflects red in some directions, green in others.
- Pry it out.
- The fiddly bit: Replace this glass piece with equally-sized squares cut from an exposed, developed photographic negative. (The black rectangles at the ends of the roll are perfect for this.) Use a couple of layers, and press some plastic back into place over the edges, so that they stay in place. These layers block the visible spectrum, so you can leave them out if you want – but the effect won’t be as pronounced.
The entire job takes about ten or twenty minutes, once you’ve done it a couple of times. It works equally well with webcams and standalone digital cameras, and doesn’t affect the camera’s other workings at all.
In our human world, this is nearly opaque black photo negative, and the computer screen is set to full brightness.
A couple more effects:
It takes out the freckles, mole, hair dye, and chlorophyll-green, and adds some weird eye effects, which I’ve shown before. Also, the blue hair is normally darker than my natural color, but in (near)IR-world, those bits turn up lighter. It can see that the hair was bleached, but not the blue dye.
These cams are always fun to play with; I’ve used them as a hook at events, routing the video feed to my screen and adding some dot-map motion-tracing with Quartz Composer. If I can find the patch, I’ll put it up later. I also made one that sticks two video feeds side-by-side, and at some point I’m planning to build a cyborg head with swivelly webcam eyes (one regular and one near-IR) that mashes them together.
The only trouble is that, with the rise of CFLs and LED lights, there’s less “warm” light around at night. So build yourself an IR headlamp and hit the town! :)