There are a variety of ways to provide users with a method to start the photo booth sequence and to change the settings. These include the standard PC keyboard or mouse, a touch screen, StealthSwitch, StealthSwitch II or StealthSwitch 3, external arcade style buttons, a wireless presenter or a coin acceptor. The user is able to start the photo booth sequence and can also be allowed to select between black and white and color photos, to select the number of copies to be printed or to switch between different profiles. This article describes each of the input options in more detail.
This has already been covered by the overview article, but to recap:
Using a keyboard has the advantage is that it doesn't require any special setup and allows the users to select different options e.g. F4 to start the photo booth sequence, Ctrl+B to select black and white, Ctrl+K to select color, numpad '+' to increase the number of prints and numpad '-' to decrease the number of prints. The main disadvantages of using a keyboard are that it doesn't look very professional and there is no way to prevent users from selecting some options (such setting the number of prints to 9) or from pressing the Esc key to exit fullscreen photo booth mode. This is probably OK for a small family event but isn't really suitable for a larger event.
Using a mouse also has the advantage that it doesn't require any special setup and the keyboard can be hidden away so that users can't interfere with the settings or exit the fullscreen photo booth mode. There are two start options designed for using a mouse in the photo booth setup dialog:
1) "Left click anywhere to start" which only allows the user to start the sequence and prevents them from changing any of the settings
2) "Left click to start, right click to toggle B&W mode". This is the same as option 1 but also gives the user the ability to switch between black and white and color mode by pressing the right mouse button.
Touchscreens either come built in to a PC as standard (such as with a tablet PC or all-in-one PC like the HP Touchsmart series or the Asus Eee Top) or as a special touchscreen monitor which can be plugged in to any PC via the video port and a USB port. It doesn't really matter which option you use as they work in the same way. Touchscreen operation is similar to using a mouse: when the user touches the screen this has the same effect as moving the mouse pointer to that point on the screen and pressing the left button.
There are several start options designed for using a mouse in the photo booth setup dialog:
1) "Left click anywhere to start" which only allows the user to start the sequence just by touching anywhere on the screen
2) "Left click top left to start " this is very similar to the first option but the user has to touch the screen in the top left corner of the screen to start the sequence. This reduces the chances of the the sequence being started accidentally if the users touch the screen to point at each other
3) "Left click top left to start color sequence, bottom left for B&W" this is similar to option 2 but allows the user to choose between color or black and white prints
4) "Left click top left to start, right click to toggle B&W mode". Clicking the left mouse button will start the photobooth shooting sequence. Right clicking the mouse toggles between B&W and color modes.
The sensitive screen area for the top left is anywhere in the top 2/5th and left 2/5th of the screen. The bottom left area is anywhere in the bottom 2/5th and left 2/5th of the screen.
The Asus Eee Top PC: an all-in-one PC with touchscreen. This is quite a stylish all-in-one solution which just needs a camera and printer to be connected for a simple photobooth. The Intel Atom processor isn't as fast as a laptop or desktop PC costing a similar amount and this does mean the prints can take a bit longer to be formatted and output. This photo also shows a disadvantage of using a touchscreen which is that they tend to get covered in smears and finger prints (see the left side of the display). A good cleaning cloth and regular cleaning is essential!
When using a touchscreen set the start option to "Touchscreen" and then press the "Settings..." button to define up to ten sensitive areas on the screen and the actions they are associated with. The screenshot below shows touchscreen settings which define an area in the top left corner to start the photobooth shooting sequence and areas below to select B&W and color modes.
Simple feedback can be provided by designing different screens for B&W and color shooting and for different numbers of prints. This is described in more detail in the previous section.
A touchscreen also allows users to enter details such as their email address if the touchscreen keyboard option is used. The keyboard can be displayed at the start or the end of the shooting sequence and is fully configurable. Please see the help files for more information on using this option.
The StealthSwitch is a robust foot switch which plugs straight into a USB port and makes an ideal switch for photobooth operation. It is very easy to use: simply plug it in to any spare USB port, wait a few seconds for Windows to recognize it and you're ready to go. In full screen photobooth mode pressing the StealthSwitch button will start the photobooth sequence - that's all there is to it.
Note: If you have already installed the "desktop cloaking" software that comes with the StealthSwitch you need to disable it otherwise every time you press the button the photobooth display will be hidden.
The StealthSwitch: an excellent button for starting the photobooth sequence
The simplest way to connect arcade style buttons to the computer is to use a StealthSwitch 3. The StealthSwitch 3 is similar to the original StealthSwitch described above but has two important differences:
1) You can use up to five switches which simply plug into standard 3.5mm sockets (the same as used by most MP3 players)
2) The switch is programmable allowing the main switch or any of the auxilliary switches to send any key press or sequence of key presses you like
Note: The StealthSwitch 3 has replaced the StealthSwitch II and is functionally identical but comes packaged in a different way which makes it more suitable for professional photo booth use.
StealthSwitch 3 showing USB port on the left and sockets for up to 5 buttons on the front
You can either source your own arcade buttons, cables and connectors as described below or select from a range of pre-wired cables and arcade style buttons available for purchase from the StealthSwitch 3 website.
These are the components required to add an arcade style button: the button, stereo cable with 3.5mm jacks and two female spade connectors
1) Cut off the jack plug from one end of the stereo cable and bare the wires
2) Plug the USB cable from the StealthSwitch II and plug the remaining 3.5mm jack from the stereo cable into one of the StealthSwitch sockets
3) Run StealthSwitch Configuration Utility and select "Keyboard test mode". When you press the StealthSwitch II button you should see something like this:
4) Release the switch and identify the correct wires to use from the stereo cable by shorting two of them together. When the correct pair of wires are shorted together the keyboard test window will show B, C, D or E
5) Attach the spade connectors to each of the two wires identified in step 4. Use a crimp tool or solder them to ensure they are firmly attached
6) Connect the wire to the arcade switch using the spade connectors and press the button to check that the keyboard test window shows A, B, C or D
You should now have an arcade button attached to a cable with a 3.5mm jack plug which looks something like this:
Finally use the StealthSwitch Configuration Utility to program each of the buttons to send the required key strokes. The easiest way to do this is to right click on the required button in the main Configurator window and select "Macro 1" then click on "1st KEY" and type the first key in the macro e.g. function key F4 to start the photobooth sequence. If the macro has more than one key, e.g. Ctrl+B to select black and white mode, click on "1st KEY" and press (and release) the Ctrl key then click on "2nd KEY" and press B:
When you've finished press the Program button to program the StealthSwitch (you only need to do this once - the StealthSwitch will remember the settings and can be used on any computer). The StealthSwitch and any auxiliary buttons are now ready to be used to control the photobooth. If you have problems programming the StealthSwitch please try right clicking on the StealthSwitch Configuration Utility icon on the desktop and selecting the "Run as administrator" option. Some systems also need rebooting after installing the configuration utility before it will work properly.
Many arcade style buttons have a bulb to illuminate them and these could be turned on all the time or you could run a script to illuminate the button only when it is active e.g. the "Start" button would only be illuminated when the ready screen is displayed. Please see this article for details on how to use a script to control when the buttons are illuminated.
A wireless presenter such as the Kensington Wireless Presenter provides a simple and effective way for the operator to wirelessly control the photobooth.
The following keyboard shortcuts can be accessed using the Kensington Wireless Presenter:
laser pointer button (F5) - start the photobooth sequence
left arrow (Page Up) - decrease exposure using exposure compensation in auto exposure modes or ISO in manual exposure
right arrow (Page Down) - increase exposure using exposure compensation in auto exposure modes or ISO in manual exposure
stop button (b) - cycle through number of copies of prints: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,1,2,3...
Please note: some wireless presenters don't send F5 when the laser pointer button is pressed. The Kensington wireless presenter (model number: 33373) shown above does send F5 but other similar looking wireless presenters may not.
Different actions for the buttons on the wireless presenter can be defined using a script similar to the photobooth_remap_keys.ahk script. For example you may prefer the following key assignments:
laser pointer button - start the photobooth sequence: no change in keyboard mapping
left arrow - decrease the number of copies to print: map Page Up to NumPad -
right arrow - increase the number of copies to print: map Page Down to NumPad +
stop button - reprint: map b to Ctrl+R
You can also use a coin acceptor like the one below with your photobooth. Please see this article for more information.
Complete hardware and software solutions for accepting coins and bills are available from www.casino-software.de: