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Wandless Magic

 Wandless Magic is an immersive digital art piece inspired by the use of Magic from the Harry Potter Series


produced by: Julia Corkhill


The Harry Potter Book Series by J.K. Rowling presents a world of magic that has kept me entertained since my childhood. My aim in this interactive art piece was to present one element from this series – The use of magic. Using Hand Gesture recognition and animation I aim to allow the user to cast magic, to feel an immersion in the Harry Potter universe.

Concept and background research

The use of magic in the Harry potter series is presented in a number of ways.  The series follows “magical people”, mainly witches and wizards who usually use wands and a way to channel their magic for use. Another way is Wandless, non – verbal magic where the user does not need a wand for the spell they want to cast. The presentation of the use of magic has been shown through many games based on the series. Some games require users to make gestures in order to cast spells, using ps3eye. Other games just require mouse input to “draw” spells. In my interactive artwork I aspired for there to be a gesture recognition element like previously mentioned, with the output being a type of animation that represents the spells.

After doing some background research into the spells in the series, I chose 3 main important spells – “Expelliarmus”, “Aguamenti” and “Avada kedavra”. In the book and movie series, these three spells have a distinctive colour when cast – Red, blue and Green respectively. As a result, I decided these would be the perfect spells to choose as my animations could align with the colours.


This project used a number of programs.  Primarily open frameworks was used to create the animations. I used inspirations from animations used in previous assignments to help me. For the gesture recognition part of the assignment, HandOsc Program was used to detect hand posture. Additionally, Wekinator was used to receive input from Hand Osc and to train gestures. After training three gestures, the output was the open frameworks animations. The Addon, ofxOSc was used in order for openframeworks to receive the input. As I was training hand posture gestures rather than hand movement gestures, I had to ensure the three gestures were very distinct whilst still representing the use of magic.

I ran into a lot of problems when trying to handle the gesture recognition part of the project. Initially, I was going to create a “wand” using the wii remote, but I struggled to get openFrameworks to receive the OSC inputs. In the interest of time I had to instead use my camera as an input – Therefore changing my project to accommodate for “wandless magic” instead of with a wand. 

Future development

Future development would include a number of changes to the presentations of the animations. Due to time constraints, I kept the animations quite simple and focused on an obvious colour change to differentiate the animation outputs for each spell. In the future, I would aim to create more complex animations that had a better relation to the appropriate spell. E.g. Avada kedavra would be a more sudden, snappy type of animation where the user would understand the danger of the spell.

I also think I would like to use sound with each animation. For example, when the user casts “Aguamenti” there would be a sound simulating water, in contrast to a more whooshing sound for avada kedavra representing death.


I struggled very much with the machine learning part of this project. Whilst I am glad I managed to figure out the gesture recognition part of the assignment it felt it could be more intuitive and I believe I could have done better. I was disappointed I was unable to follow through with my original plan of creating a wand using the Wii Remote. In addition, I believe I could have spent some more time on the animations to make the experience more magical. However, I believe the execution of the project was interesting. The user of projector made it more magical and pop more in the darkness. However, I would have liked to directly show that my gestures were manipulating the changing of animations – this was very difficult to film as I was projecting onto the ceiling so I had to cut the scenes rather than show it all in one go.

Overall, it was a great learning experience I showed I am capable of creating an immersive type of computational art despite my lack of experience with programming in general, and it was fun basing it off my favourite childhood books.


-        Openframeworks – Wekinator Example Code used as base - OSC

-        The Harry Potter Series – JK Rowling

-        HandOsc Example -

-        Animations – Inspired by previous assignments and Various Lectures by Theo from term 1