Category Archives: LIVE VISUALS

I have always been interested in Live Visuals. from the good old Uncle Ian days, where we projected films and used video monitors with the “singer” on. We had partys where we covered the walls with Super 8 projections. At one time in Portsmouth I was regularly projecting across the road onto the white house opposite. My end of term dissertation at Portsmouth Art College was on synesthesia, the art form that attempts to fuse audio and video into a whole. (not the ability to smell Blue and see G-sharp, that’s madness!).
More recently I have played “live” over the internet using the Furthernoise.org tool called Visitors Studio, and experimented with Jitter, Modul8, Resolume and Quartz Composer.

I have the original “Expanded Cinema” book by Gene Youngblood, and it is still my bible in a way, especially the naive optimism that “tuned in and turned on” freaks had about the future.

Anyway, this is just a short introduction to a collection of posts that are documenting my re-awakened interest in producing Live Visuals, specifically linked or generated by music.

Projection Mapping the Oslo Opera

A very poor video of my small effort at Projection Mapping the Opera in Oslo.
It was the culmination of a course by JOANIE LEMERCIER of Anti VJ.
It was -11 degrees on the top of the Opera at Midnight.

The course was very inspiring and it was very nice to meet so many talented and creative people. Hopefully some of them took better video and pictures than me, so I hope I can post some more later. Im terrible with names, but Ill just wanted to shout out to: The guy with the 3D Norwegian knitting Pattern, the guy with the Kinect, the guy wit the distorted and cut-up female face film, and the guy with the Black & White flash movie.

The course taught me that Cinema 4D is worth looking into, and one HUGE fact.. that Flash files can now be imported into After Effects… never knew that… obvious, it being all CS now.. but.. just didnt know… Very VERY usefull!
My raw film was this…

The first half was trying to work with the elements from the architectural feature we were working with, and the second half was just a messy grungy collage, I just wanted to grunge up the Opera building a bit, as its pretty much the symbol of the Oslo Elite. Its pretty impressive I must say, as in big…but anything BIG is impressive right?
Really.. its a hideous eyesore isnt it.. come on.. really!

My first Render from Blender

Ive been playing around in Blender, kinda hoping its a good enough (for my needs) replacement for Maya. The key words being the ones in brackets. Obviously Im not gonna make Lord of the Rings in it, so.

First impressions are pretty good, most of the controls can be set to emulate Maya, which is less of a struggle, and a quick press of the render button did this.
OK. Its ONE cube, replicated with 3 instances of the array modifier, and 3 lights. the camera was pretty randomly zoomed about and I must say I actually like the built in over shoots and easing, which is VERY rare. In Maya 3 D Max and After Effects the auto easing is horrible. Now serious people with serious 3D jobs probably hate this.. Grr a free program, Mine cos 20,000 (thats NOK) but honestly, If I cant see what the program can do, Ill never use it!!!

Anyway, a few more tutotrials need to be watched (blendtuts.com) and then Ill try modelling a.. well.. um… a thing!

Anyway, Maya doesnt work on my machine anymore, so.. thats the real reason…

Quartz Replicator

Spent the evening playing with the replicator in Quartz..

Both of these are made by starting with a simple shape, replicating that shape many times and adding offsets, that are controlled via LFO’s. At the end of a few sets of 3DReplicators I have a 3DTransformer, just to add the spin.

Sphere Replicator
This one started with a sphere, the LFO settings are changing the size of the spheres and controlling the offsets and origin transforms. I think this one is a bit too reminiscent of lots of old 80s techno graphics. Not UN-usable I like it when it becomes like snake-skin or like internal organs.

Square Replicator
(Takes a while to appear, hence black at start)
Starting from a cube where all the edges of the cube are modified via LFOs and then replicated in the same way as above. I like this one as it quite exotic and can go from spiny growths to huge fan like objects.

Both of these are never repeating in the quartz patches, here of course these videos are just showing the first few minutes. My next goal with these os to expose some of the most relevant settings so that they can be modified out of the program, in Resolume. Have them react to sound and midi clock/notes.
(If I get around to it, Ill edit these a bit and add some music…)

UStreamed at ANX

Today I sent a UStream of the set by Jon Hegre and Greg Pope, and then Xavier Querel. At ANX in Oslo.

Greg Pope has two projectors with black leader film. As he runs them he attacks the loops with various implements, the sound from the hits is amplified as it the sound that he creates by accidentaly scratching the optical audio track from the film. The piece ends when the film is scratched completely white. The whole sound is mixes, looped and effected by Job Hegre.


Video streaming by Ustream

Pure Genius!

Then later a set from Xavier Querel, who uses the projector in another way. He first runs the projector and csts shadows of it on teh screen, then he plays film the wrong way (at the audience) and onto a tiny screen, and then manipulates the film till it gets stuck and burns, he controls the burning by adjusting the lamp, so it doesnt happen too quickely. Just when you think its all over he works with teh pure white of the projector and lights the whole room, via a mirror. The beam is interupted with lenses and mirrors and the projections are cast in all directions. Working out side the projector, then inside a tiney screen then back out again.
Unfortunately my iPhone ran out of batteries soon after it started.



Video streaming by Ustream

Again Pure Genius!

Ilan Katin show @ ANX

I went to Ilan Katins show at ANX.
Last week, he gave his introduction standing behind a muslin screen, the projection then was very 3 dimensional. But for his piece today he went all out with.. damn I forgot to count them, maybe 20 screens, one in front of another… Really nice. Heres some iPhone films.

Modul8 Course with Ilan Katin


Today I attended a course on Modul8 with Ilan Katin. He is a bit of a guru in the program and paid by them as a regular walking advertisement.
Modul8 did not immediately grab me when I did my program comparisons a while back, and instead I was drawn to the maybe more professional “looking” Resolume Avenue.
This is because I am very interested in Quartz composer too. And the great thing about Resolume (stupid name, Im gonna call it Rezz from now on) is that it imports QC files and by adding a input splitter module in QC for all parameter you want to tweak live, you can get control of your QC patch in Rezz. Which is very nice.
Now having said that, at the hands of an expert, Modul8 was amazing and the course was great too, he quickly ran through the basics, but got deep pretty quickly. Funny guy, he said right out what things he likes and what things he doesnt, and I suspected when he said he didnt like something, I slightly suspected that Modul8 didnt DO THAT too well!

I was bowled over by, and here come some screenshots, the ability to make a 3D mesh out of any image, based on a grey-scale height-map (whiter means higher).

The built in particle effects, and the audio analysis tools. especially on the 3D-ified images…

I discovered that Modul8 DOES accept QC files, and one of mine popped in OK,, bt didbt LOOK that good, kind of over contrasty, but need to check that, might just be settings, but none of the controls are anywhere to be found, Ilan said, Well you can, but its difficult… ” Hmm maybe doesnt work…

Also, he kept saying, “Oh.. thats a bug, dunno when Jason (made up name cant remember) will fix that” or ” Yeah…its always done that with me too” or “Hmm thats just a quirk of the software”..

Well thats exactly what I think/thought of Modul8 actually… cool but quirky…

There is a Mad Mapper course tommorrow, that i now wish I had gone to. Mad Mapper is pretty simple program, but its not what you learn about software at these things, its seeing what other people do with it.. Video Mapping is pretty new to me, but its certainly intriguing, and if I can get a projector for my birthday (hint hint Hilde!!!) I might have a go at it… I wonder if there’s any battery operated projectors… It would be great to go out and do stuff in the snow!

VJ Program Comparisons

The Task:
To research VJ visual mixing programs for use in new musical project.
Background
I have always been interested in live visuals, both from a psychedelic hippy point of view, but also from a more art oriented and academic point of view. I’m very interested in translating sound into picture, and the visual effects of synchronization and tightly linked audio and video experiences. Indeed in my texts section, above, there is a long article I wrote at Art College in 1989, about Synesthesia.
With this new looping band (all of us are live-loopers, and will synchronize all our equipment so we all add small amounts to create a rhythmic whole) we would like to link what we do to a live generated looping projection, that is generated live, FROM the music, with little or no user interaction.
Research
I met with my friend Grete, who is a professional VJ called EYEBORG and has worked at Ministry of Sound and Renaissance, about software’s, and techniques. She told me about three packages, and a little about each. They were:

Modul8
GrandArkaosVJ
Resolume Avenue

Caveat:
Having checked all 3 packages, I want to make one thing perfectly clear. All seem great. All have lots of fun possibilities. I am certain that once you get deep into each of these you will find lots of interesting things, I was only really testing for 2 things.
1. I really cant be bothered to learn a really complex program, with all sorts of online tutorials necessary and ages before I get results, no I want “Out of the box” results, I want to see immediately how it works and how I might use it, but will NOT shy away from many days/hours working on the visuals, but I don’t want to WASTE time in the wrong software.
2. I am ONLY testing the products ability to GENERATE visuals, not play back short quirky video clips. This is a biggie, almost all VJ’s basically do this, I’m am not in the slightest bit interested in flash! made mandalas or bouncy texts, of trippy zooms, or god help me FRACTALS !!! YIKES!!
No, I need this to analyze the music(volume, frequencies whatever) take in midi clock and maybe midi notes, and use it to create visual on the fly.

Oh, and I was only testing the demos, available on there sites for free d/l. Maybe full versions bring in more cool shit!

The Test
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