Dan Hume's Blog


Performance Video Final Piece
January 11, 2011, 4:39 pm
Filed under: Abelton Live 8, Modul8, Performance Video

Synopsis

For this project I decided to focus on the observation of daily life in the city. Like the music I’ve put together, everything builds up to a climax, e.g. daytime. Using the fader controls on the iPhone, every time a faders value is increased a piece of audio and imagery appears at the same time. I started the video off slowly with some ambient music that is accompanied by a image of canary wharf, showing the awakening of the scene. Then using the middle rotary control, at the bottom of the iPhone’s interface, movement begins to develop. As all the fader controls are increased, the whole scene comes to life.

Evaluation

The above video is a pre-recording of a live performance I did at home. I used my iPhone to control Modul8 and Ableton Live together to make a live audio and visual performance. Due to having lots of trial version software, doing a live performance at the crit most definitely wouldn’t have gone to plan. I was using this application called Osculator, which sends out MIDI signals from the TouchOSC on the iPhone to any audio software. The trial version of  Osculator has a limited time until it gets interrupted by a message saying that it needs to be activated. I have tried purchasing a serial from the company to activate it, but the activation codes didn’t seem to work so I was still cursed with same issue. However, the pre-crecorded video demonstrates my idea perfectly well.

This project was quite challenging to begin with. When I think back to what my initial ideas were, I feel the final outcome is quite different… Visually that is. The idea of converging both visual performing and audio performing together has been my main focus point of this project, which I feel I’ve achieved.

I started out wanting to make an iPhone application that would allow you to control both audio and visuals at the same time. I later discovered that there was an application called TouchOSC, which allows you to create your own interface, which can then be mapped to any audio software, just like a normal mixer. Before I discovered the TouchOSC application, I found myself looking and making my very own custom made multi-touch trackpad. This was achieved by using a decent sized cardboard box, which was roughly the height and with of an  width of an A4 piece of paper. I used a basic picture frame, which would act as the interface. I used a thin sheet of plain A4 paper to go underneath of the glass of the frame. I then installed a webcam inside the box so any movement made on the frame glass will be picked up from the camera and the data will be sent to this piece of software called Community Core Vision.

The brief entailed that the overall piece should combine both sound and visuals that are generated by a live performance. I’m not a musician and I’ve ever used any professional audio software until now. I thought this project would be the best opportunity to get to learn a bit of the basics of creating a simple track in Abelton Live. Phil gave me a good incite into the overall interface of Ableton and I took from him what I thought would be relevant for my idea. Abelton can be used for two purposes, mixing or recording. For me I was mixing… to a certain extent. I basically gathered 6 audio tracks I bought from a CD containing lots of royalty free liquid drum and bass loops. I think mixed them together to make one piece of music that was on a loop. The reason I did this was because it linked into my idea really well. The building up of the start of a day, links in with the building up to a piece of music.

For the visuals I was introduced to another piece of software called Modul8. From the beginning of my initial idea, I was trying to work out if it was possible to use After Effects and be able to use that as a tool to make a live performance with. The reason I was fixated on using After Effects was because of the flexibility and the varied effects it has to offer. However, I later discovered I could use Modul8 to my advantage. After experimenting with bits of footage I had, I realized Modul8 was quite a flexible piece of software and there were lots of things I could do with video and still images.

One of the difficulties I had was mapping the midi controls from Abelton into Modul8. After doing some quick research into this I found out that the IAC Driver, which is already installed on macs, needs to be enabled live so that the data from Ableton can be sent to Modul8; therefore the two programmes become in sync with each other. It was a very simple solution in the end… like most things.

There are definitely ways in which I could improve this project. The audio is one thing I could improve on upon. Throughout the video I’ve used  a mixture of looped samples, so if I had to do this again I would possibly look at mixing in more detail to get a varied production in the music. The visuals could also be improved upon by experimenting with more layers and mapping each to different obscure sounds, just to make a scene more interesting. I think if I had a bit more time I’d like to have thought more about how the visuals could be displayed as a performance. The initial idea throughout this project is that they would be displayed on a backdrop/screen behind a DJ in a club environment.

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