Dan Hume's Blog

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


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.


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.


Integrating Modul8 with Ableton
December 22, 2010, 5:58 pm
Filed under: Abelton Live 8, Modul8, Performance Video

I’ve now pretty much got the audio sorted for this project and the visuals are coming together. I’m now at the stage where I need Modul8 and Ableton to talk to teach other. After some research I discovered that the IAC driver on the mac is the tool to use for this process. It’s basically the communicator, which enables you to send data from one software to another so they become connected.

The IAC driver can be found in Applications, Utilities, MIDI Setup and Show MIDI Window. When I opened the window I double clicked on the IAC Driver Icon, which brought up another window (IAC Driver Properties).

I made sure the device was online. In Ableton’s preference window, under the MIDI tab, the IAC Bus 1 Driver was now showing in the MIDI ports.

Then I went into Modul8’s preferences and clicked on the Key/Midi Mapping tab. I enabled both the Osculator and IAC Driver device.

Then this allows the midi output data from Ableton to sent to Ableton. From here, I was able to start adding the midi controls in Modul8 on my TouchOSC interface. I am using the same controls as I was in Ableton. I am linking the sounds with certain visuals and effects.

Music and Ableton
December 14, 2010, 6:22 pm
Filed under: Abelton Live 8, Performance Video

I’ve never made music or used any audio software before, but I’ve had a small desire to learn a little bit. For this unit I’ve made a liquid drum and bass track using royalty free samples and loops in Ableton. It’s a very basic track combined of five bits of looped audio ranging from a drum beat to ambient sounds. I wanted to create a an urban sort of sound because I want to set my visuals in the outskirts of London.

The screen shot above shows the sessions/mixing viewer in Ableton. This is where you drag all your audio clips of samples and loops into categories and also select the effects you want to use. The left of the screen is where all the music library is stored. Alot of Dj’s use this window in Ableton because it’s designed and laid out for living mixing. I’ll be using this window because that’s the aim of this project to produce a live performance.

Above is a screen shot of the six audio loops that make up the whole track. The controls I’m going to be working with are the Volume/Fader controls and Solo buttons of each of each tracks. They will be synced to TouchOSC so I can control them on my iPhone.

Audio Effects

The Dry/Wet controls in Ableton will synced to the Rotary controls on TouchOSC. This one control determines how much of the effect is produced.

The Warm Reverb Long effect is self explanatory. It creates an echo effect on the music, creating the illusion of density of the music being played in an actual environment.

The Autowah effect is kind of a strange distorted effect like the sound is drowned. I can imagine, visually, the images magnifying according to the beat of the sound being washed in and out.

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