Skeleton tracking without calibration (psi pose)


i’m new to openframeworks and am working on a project using a user’s skeleton data. it’s for an installation and i can’t expect visitors to know about psi pose, so i’m looking for instant skeleton tracking with auto-calibration.

right now i’m using Synapse (which requires the pose) and i’m looking into ofxOpenNI.
i’m grateful for any advice on this topic! does anyone have experience with instant skeleton tracking?

thank you!

OS X 10.10.2
openframeworks 0.8.4
kinect for xbox (model 1414)

If you use the SDK on a windows machine it does it automatically. I would check out the core addon ofxKinect, that comes packaged with openframeworks. I really only have experience using the SDK directly so I can’t say if that will have automatic skeleton tracking

thank you for the quick reply, @DomAmato!

unfortunately i am restricted to OS X. but i found out that ofxOpenNI does skeleton tracking automatically without calibration. yay!

it takes up to a few seconds until a person is tracked/recognized though. i’m wondering if there’s any way to speed that up?

I would like some information on this subject also. I currently have a project where I am using Quartz Composer, VDMX, Ableton Live, Synapse and TouchOSC. The project is going to be run in 2 weeks and I need to figure out a way to abolish the ‘Psi’ calibration pose as it is going to be running in a theatre on a large cinema screen.

I would love to hear if anybody has any suggestions or workarounds for this. I do not use openFrameworks yet but I will be studying it this september as part of my MA/MSc.

Thanks for any help.

i would recommend using ofxOpenNI. you can get a user’s skeletal data (limbs and joints), e.g. user.getJoint(JOINT_LEFT_HAND).getProjectivePosition().y

and send this data to quartz composer, ableton, etc, via OSC (see oscSenderExample).

good luck!

(note: i’m new to OF so there might be a better way to do this!)

Hi Sarah_ thank you for the quick response. I will take a look at what you have suggested and try to get my head around OF. i guess it is about time I got into the coding side of things.

Thanks again. Very much appreciated.


Hi again Sarah,

I am trying to install the ofxOpenNi addon and I am not having any success. Everything i have come across online seems pretty old and I am worried that it is outdated. I would appreciate if you could share some links, tips or advice regarding the installation of the Haddon. In the meantime I will keep following the tutorials and try to wade through the instructions supplied with the readme file.

Thanks again.


hi john,

man. it took really long for me to set up ofxOpenNI too. ):
don’t give up! it took me days but now it finally works!

here’s what i learned:

  • you have to have the latest unstable versions of OpenNI and NITE installed
  • there are different versions/forks of ofxOpenNI and some seem to work with different openframeworks versions. (i agree that it’s strange they seem to be last developed in 2011/2012) anyway this one was the one that ended up working (for me) (i use openframeworks 0.8.4 but you can also get the newest version from github)
  • there are always tons of linker errors in xcode when i tried to compile the ofxopenni examples… make sure the libs and header files are linked correctly in xcode! (build settings > header search paths > add all folders with header paths!). sometimes it worked when i just dragged ALL THE *.lib files directly into xcode (though there’s probably a more elegant way to do this)

in order to get the gameoverhack/ofxOpenNI version running:

  • copy the “example” folder into [openframeworks-dir]/apps/[your-apps-dir]/
  • you’ll need to copy the ‘lib’ folder from ‘ofxOpenNI/mac/copy_to_data_openni_path’ to your ‘bin/data/openni’ directory of your example
  • rename the folder of the example you want to try to “src” (instead of e.g. “src-UserAndCloud-Medium”)

what OS are you on and what OF version are you using?
what’s your error message?

my project has to be finished in two weeks too. i hope we can both make it! :>

1 Like

Hi Sarah,

Wow! Thank you for such a detailed answer. I really appreciate you taking the time to respond and help me out. I am going to follow your instructions today and see where it takes me. Congrats on getting the addon to work. It is no mean feat, especially for a beginner. I have been using Synapse up until now and found it to be really good. The main reason I want to use OF is to get rid of the ‘Psi’ calibration pose, just like you.

Right now I am following your instructions and I will post back here if I get errors.

The version of openFrameworks is: 0.8.4

and my OS is: 10.10.5

I would love to see your project if you have any links to videos or photos. I hope you can meet your deadline.
Many, many thanks and best of luck.


IN the past i worked with ofxOpenNI and ofxMsKinect.

The best way to get the skeleton data fast without the Psi pose its by using the KinectSDK with openframeworks.
Maybe you can use a PC for the skeleton tracking and send the data to your mac app using OSC. I rememberd it worked quite well with almost no delay.

Hi fbrmz,

Thank you for the info. It is good to know that there is an alternative solution. Unfortunately I am limited to OS X (not sure about Sarah). I am still trying to figure out this problem at the moment. I am so out of my depth with OF and trying to install drivers etc. I am thinking should I try to do this with Processing or should I stick with OF.

Everytime I attempt to address one problem, another 10 crop up. It is hard to know whether the issue is with the OS version or the software versions…totally frustrating.!!

Anyway, thanks again for the advice.

@sarah this is the current error I am getting but honestly, I dont even know if I have the correct installation of OpenNI and NITE yet…thanks.

No such file or directory: ‘/Users/johnodwyer/Desktop/openFrameWorks/of_v0.8.4_osx_release/apps/myApps/TryingToGetOpenNIWorking/src/ofApp.cpp’


@sarah_ Hi, I’m just wondering did you have any issues installing OpenNI on your machine? It seems that we both have the same setup but when i am installing through Terminal, I am having an issue when it comes to this step. So annoying!!

I followed this tutorial:

Everything else worked fine except for step 4 part 6. I cannot progress with any work in openFrameWorks until I am sure that the installation is working correctly. I think i will follow the other tutorial to uninstall the current setup and start from a clean slate.

Sorry for being a pest and hijacking your post. Feel free to tell me to calm down!!

edit: Hi Sarah, I managed to get the right drivers and middleware working following the blogpost I linked to above. At least I am making some progress. Now I know that the kinect is properly connected and operational. It took me all day!! Tomorrow, I will attempt to run the example file from the ofxOpenNI addon by following your tips.

Thanks again.


hi john.

glad you’re making progress! i had a similar process, fixing one error caused 10 new ones to appear… it took me almost a week in total but it ended up working. (it was pretty adventurous, sometimes i would end up on japanese blogs and google translated the installation instructions. i love the internet).

we have very similar setups so don’t give up just yet! :slight_smile:

another thing that came to my mind that i forgot to mention was that you’ll need to run this script “” in the “copy_to_data_openni_path” directory once you moved its contents to the correct location (to your [example]/bin/data/openni folder) (from terminal, just cd to the directory, then run “./”)

for the “no such file or directory”-error make sure that xcode finds all the files it needs (header files, source files, libs).

  • build settings -> “header search paths” and “library search paths”
  • build phases -> “compile sources” and “link binary with libraries”

what kinect version do you have? (it has to be “kinect for xbox” and not “kinect for windows” in order to work with os x)

can you build & run the default openframeworks examples? especially the kinect example? (if yes, it shouldn’t be an OF error but maybe a linking error or a OpenNI or NITE one…?)

we should definitely share videos of our projects once we’re finished!

good luck!

Jeez at this point it almost sounds like it would’ve just been easier to run parallels or something instead to leverage native drivers. @sarah_ and @John_ you may want to forward this on to the upkeeper of ofxOpenNI since its clearly a troublesome process. If you can try to document your process we could probably create a tutorial that might help more than random internet searches which leads to foreign language blogs…

good point. since i’m a beginner i wasn’t sure if the complications were ofxOpenNI-related or just due to me being new to OF in general! :S

the last commit to ofxOpenNI was in 2012 and it says it’s deprecated? so i’m not sure who to forward this to/who to ask, (maybe @gameover)?

Right it said v1 was depreciated but looking at the experimental branch there hasn’t appeared to be updated in at least 2 years. There are a bunch of forks that have been more recently updated but its sorta like a needle in a haystack since none of them seem to be the new upkeeper and are just splinters of the original though this one seems the most recent - that sort of the problem when there are a bunch of forks that aren’t being pulled in and updated regularly

Yea, I’m coming from the same place as Sarah. Very new to OF, so it was hard to say if the problem was me or the addon! Also, I had to get familiar with Github but that’s not relevant in this thread.

Like you @sarah_ I too ended up on Japanese blogs and using Google translate. (it is at this point where I began to question my sanity!!). @DomAmato, a tutorial is certainly needed on the installation of this addon. For me, the problem is that this is the first time I used OF so probably not the best way to get introduced.

As per the title of this post, the idea is to abolish the clunky calibration pose so that we can present our installations elegantly in a public forum. Up to this point, it looks like both of us have been using Synapse which works (once calibrated with the pose). It’s good for a proof of concept stage.

Today, I will try to run the examples and see what occurs. I guess the best thing to do is keep posting on this thread until there is success. It will be of some help to somebody.

@sarah, did you manage to loose the pose?
@DomAmato the most recent fork that you linked to says it is for the OpenNI2 and NITE2 libs which put me right off attempting to use it as a lot of blog posts said these do not work on OSX without the original Microsoft SDK. That stuff is sorta beyond me right now.

Ok guys thanks for everything so far. I will post back with updates of my progress. I hope this is ok with you @sarah_ I still feel like I have hijacked your post!!

BTW: my kninect version is ‘kinect for xbox (1414)’ so at least I know that is correct!

That can’t be right about the microsoft SDK as it is only available on windows, hence the reason for libfreenect and openNI :wink: I’ll assure you using the kinect natively is much much easier but obviously you guys don’t exactly have that option.

I feel like thats pretty common that beginners end up here on the forums because they get in over their heads from being a bit overly ambitious. I was the same way when I first started but its a good way to learn too. The problem usually arises from addons that, like openNI, haven’t been maintained well or the user is no longer active so troubleshooting tends to be a bit trickier.

Some people add in a little tutorial to their work to get things calibrated and tracking when on display but yeah the poseless tracking is generally much nicer. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help I work more closely with the core of OF and notably the windows side of it.

I guess I am showing my ignorance when i mention the Microsoft SDK being relevant to the setup problems I am having. Thanks for the info either way @DomAmato and yes you are right, that is exactly how I ended up on this forum. I was lucky that I found this post as it is the most recent, relevant conversation on a subject that I needed help with. It is good to see that such an active forum exists for OF. It has been a great help to me, if even just to reassure that auto-calibration is indeed possible with my setup.

Guys, I have actually managed to get one of the demos working so right now, I am thrilled! I’m not too sure how I did it but the advice given here certainly helped. Now I need to get my brain around how to proceed. I need to spit out the right and left hand positions and send the data over OSC to my other apps.

@sarah_ I am wondering what that script does. I have not ran it yet but the demo still works??

I am really grateful for everybody’s engagement on this thread, so thanks very much.

Hey @sarah. Just stumbled across this post.

It sounds like it does almost everything that we need for our projects. I just tried to get it running but have had no luck yet.
At least I have managed to get some of the demos running from the ofxopenni addon. I think I will give this new find a go tomorrow.

Otherwise, I am over my head with all of this and I will resort back to Synapse until I figure out how to work with OF properly.