Oh! That’s me. Pre-gig projector worship? https://t.co/9ghL8sF4xi— toby*spark (@tobyspark) June 5, 2016
Oh! That’s me. Pre-gig projector worship? https://t.co/9ghL8sF4xi— toby*spark (@tobyspark) June 5, 2016
my favourite bit of tekton is of course what nobody sees, or for that matter should see. this is the view from behind, and while yes, it’s the makers mark, what gets me is the rainbow cable against soft yet rectilinear aluminium. something quite pure about it.
made gallery opening night. just. the video the gallery commissioned is great: watch it.
it’s on. much gazing.
d-fuse in conference. it looks done,right?
PSUs installed. belt installed. motor and driver installed. ribbon hung and wired. controller electronics installed. LED bars mounted on and hooked up.
the upright bars should have been in place on my arrival, that was the pre-requisite for me being able build the installation. as things were, the now partially pre-assembled units were only going up two days later, with only two days to go. this wasn’t good, but it did at least force some pleasant down-time where i got to do some things i’d wanted to do for ages, but motor issues had kept me from. so here is the oled finally looking nice, and not impairing the machine running at 60fps. drawing any text using python’s imaging system was way too slow, but with a little inspection of the adafruit driver library, i saw i could swap out the image buffer and flush that to the screen, which would be near-instantaneous. so with a little pre-rendering, the oled could now update while the controller waits for the next frame’s start time. controller code, now at ~9th revision
finally, two uprights and the two slide assemblies installed. i am about to spend a lot of time up that ladder.
into the gallery at the crack of dawn; out, blinking, some time later. look behind us: waa! that massive billboard wasn’t there earlier. shame the print has over-saturated the beauty out of paul’s hero image, but so it goes; out of our control.
in wood st. galleries. inevitable delays. machine yet to be proven. hours ticking. and so it starts.
hotel room view for the d-fuse show install. welcome to pittsburgh, quite the view.
arduino loops to the microsecond to give smooth motion weren’t the only performance-critical bit of code required. the animation sequence wasn’t playing far too slowly - nowhere near the 60fps the animations were authored for, and now we can see it moving, it was clear it needed to be that fast and smooth to play with your perception as you looked on. updating the oled display and addressing the led pixels was taking too long. i knew you could drive this kind of oled crazy-fast as i’d written my own library from scratch for the mixer hardware, and i knew there was a lower-level way of driving the led strips. so: abandoned updating the oled for the time being, and advanced the controller python code to construct a bytearray per strip rather than set each led individually… and voila! naked-eye illusion. code. tho’, somewhat by definition, the video doesn’t quite capture that (tho’ watch the leds as the bar accelerates up…).
in the midst of those debug wires was a logic analyser that hooks up to a desktop app. best thing ever – thanks again to ninja friend Arron Smith. using the logic probe to examine the control signals, i stripped down the control script to create a constant turn and the result is not good. stepper pulses, top: looks even. stepper pulses, middle: hell no. that’s just a little later in the same sample.
of course, things are never straightforward and the particular nightmare of this project starts: motion control. every single aspect has problems. start the analysis, isolate issues…
LED baton mounted on the vertical slide mounted on the floor-ceiling bar, power supplies installed and wired up, first pass software to run the LED strips… let there be light!
carriage blocks machined, pcb assembled, parts mounted and LED bars have LED strips fitted and on their way to being wired. damn fiddly, not without it’s trials and certainly time consuming, but looking damn sharp.
blocks of metal, calipers, drill presses… haven’t done this since mechanical engineering at uni in the nineties.
this is a daughter-board for the raspberry-pis that will run each arm of tekton one three. in theory, it was trivial: bridging the pi’s header pins to connectors for the specific cable runs that needed to be made, via 3.3v-5v driver chips. in reality, it was a painstaking hand layout: as well as the data lines, this was the power distribution board for whole lot of LEDs. double digit amps, most of the ribbon cable between moving carriage and fixed upright is simply power.
to glastonbury to exhibit small global: extreme energy. greenpeace asked d-fuse to feature their work on fracking with the school of advanced study, university of london as the centrepiece of their ‘clIMAX’ dome. happy to oblige, on all fronts.
watch, it’s really quite good. an online video is not the same as an installation, but put it full-screen, keep with it and you’ll get a real sense of the mounting intensity and serious subject.
b-seite charge two: a performance. it’s good to do things away from the stresses of big theatres, to be able to experiment amongst your peers. and wonderfully, there was mesh, smoke machines and the very capable tim vis. there’s a one minute video on vimeo.
jupiter, through the lens of d-fuse - and, less desirably, the lens of my phone.
to the opening concert of belfast festival: d-fuse have been commissioned to provide a visual score for holst’s ‘the planets’. here, the inevitable shot of test card on gauze screen.
warmed-up from the apple store gig, its down into a concrete bunker for two d-fuse sets at the redsonic festival. small, intimate and stuffed with 50 speakers in a surround sound dream, its quite the gig. matthias rocks out, his musique concrète scores now chasms of sound; latitude is the immersive drift that totally captured the audience, the trip of particle finally is (how else to describe it?) dancing in abstraction to the music, and mixes to a finale of new work by paul that in drawing the audience back into a breathing-like minimal simplicity had them in the palm of his hand. gasps and whoops: nice!
with mike sharpening his critical muscles doing an information environments mres, there’s not been much d-fuse action since los angeles earlier in the year. but here we are, in an apple store for latitude – not quite the theatrical staging, but oh my: the slightly surreal setting disappears upon using the new generation of laptops in anger for the first time. vdmx b8 + quad core i7 + latest radeon + ssd = finally, flawless performance for us. the ghost of perfectly smooth hardware playback has been hanging over my head since moving us to a software setup is banished in a blaze of compositing and audio-reactive tweak. happy days.
last two days in LA spent with the excellent morgan bernard, though again largely behind laptop screen: trying to pull the PhD and whatnot back into focus. a welcome diversion came by way of scenic diversion coupled with morgan’s realisation there was a GH1 camera in an office in town… cue hours of amazing filming around san pedro docks. perfect blue gradated sky with industrial everything scrolling by against it. and we even found the same container and car trains that had been snaking through the windfarmed desert at the beginning of the trip.
straight from the rhythms and visions workshop to “levi’s film workshop” for a performance of latitude. the place is a bit like santa’s grotto for visualists, all sorts of equipment there to be borrowed and used. its also in the same building as moca’s street art exhibition, an embarassment of riches with some standout shephard fairey pieces (yes, its his constructivism cliché, but the textural qualities of the physical pieces was amazing).
as part of the rhythms and visions event, a day of workshops was organised. los angeles visual artists - lava had the morning, and covered the past and present of ‘visual music’ works. mike, matthias and i had the afternoon, which we nailed the four hours precisely with a tour through the d-fuse oeuvre and a journey through our particle production process. the latter was my main contribution, and its a tricky balance to give: lots of really cool stuff – shooting, taking crops, building abstracting effects – but with what can reduce down to a sea of noodles and buttons. pretty happy though, good feedback that the thread was there and it all tied up: people got it.
endless cities over, the scrim is dropped and its time for particle. the last performance of particle – cynetart – had the sense of finally getting to a definitive, rounded piece. this, then, with the new season upon us should have been the start of particle phase two, starting with much upped audio-visual linkage and a higher-res two-up 16:9 format. the world has a way of conspiring sometimes, and instead for me it was one step forward and three back as the challenges of the format re-working and no time outside this trip ate any creative or rehearsal time just to get a functioning show. which isn’t to say that it still wasn’t quite an experience for the audience. as the photo shows, it was not the average film school evening!
first d-fuse performance: a new cut of endless cities with live score from matthias and guest brian lebarton. me and mike have to stay on stage even though its press play on the visual side, so i spend 45 minutes in front of my laptop trying to not look idle while not touching it for fear of disturbing the playback.
onto the reason behind the trip: d-fuse are to headline the rhythms and visions: expanded and live event put on as part of the visions and voices initiative at the university of south california. arriving there, i do like seeing that magic photo printed up nicely and put around.
and those wind turbines were placed there for a reason: keeping the tripods still wasn’t trivial.
live audio-visual projects are hard to take a measure of. its something that only exists in the moment, but in that moment you, as the performer, are as far removed from a position to judge the work as possible: you’re not in the audience experiencing the whole effect, but on-stage in the middle of those screens locked in a specific mindset… if you’re lucky you get to look up from the laptop screen to the monitors, which themselves are no real representation of the final projected whole.
straight on the heels of the ‘holotronica’ onedotzero d-fuse performance, to dresden for ‘cynetart: international festival of computer based arts’. after the experiment of holotronica - more diversion and distraction in the end - this was the return to the real thing, and the chance to up its game with a refined set of footage.
there is now a mac pro in china running DFD, something that has been consuming my time for a while now. the roadshow d-fuse have been developing is our first big foray into automated dynamic content, lighting and audience interaction, and so without us being there for every gig holding it down with a hacked-up vj setup we needed something that you could just power on and the show would start. and so d-fuse/dynamic was hatched, a quicktime and quartz composer sequencer which reads in presets and its input/output functionality from a folder we can remotely update, and essentially just presents a “next” button to the on-site crew.
happiness is twelve hex bytes, generated by a pocketable custom LED fixture on detecting a bounce, transmitting that via xBee, receiving into the computer via RS232, being parsed correctly, outputting into a QC comp, doing a dance, and commanding back to the fixtures via Artnet via DMX via xBee.
- What is AV:in — Introduction To Audiovisual Arts
Audiovisual Culture is rapidly gaining momentum with new technology and information resources quickly aiding the drive. In 2010 more and more people are seeking and acquiring the skills required for audiovisual production and interactive creation. This global movement is spreading into screens, phones and other commercial applications as well as providing a rich source of culture for digital communities inspiring new trends in design and art.
AV:in is a new media course for this market. We have designed AV:in as a comprehensive online educational program for audiovisual studies. It follows a trend of regular workshops and lectures and professional training, which have continued to grow in popularity all around the world on the subject of audiovisual production and performance.
the iPad-screens interaction isn’t even half of it, though. the project is to be a roadshow travelling through china, a modular setup of stage and staging reaching out into the club. two ‘hero’ videos with dance choreography and interactive props (hello LED balls), a video feedback piece, a live drawing piece, the backbone of the evening as the iPad interaction and audio-reactive graphics, all feeding out onto the mains screen, duplicated onto any in-house video system each venue might have, with LED sticks extending the video canvas out from the stage and video controlled stage lighting effects.
there is a big d-fuse production in the works, where the brief rather wonderfully was emphasising interaction with and within the audience. as briefs often do, things have changed a lot since the heady time of working on and winning the pitch, but the core of it is still generative graphics and punter control from the club floor. and so here, courtesy of dr.mo‘s crack team of coders is an in-development iPad app talking over WiFi to a QC plugin, where my two fingers-as-proxies-for-collaborating-audience-members are sketching locally and that is being incorporated on the club’s screens.
particle’s air conditioning units finally get an airing, midi sync or no. it turned out a really good gig to try new things, i was really happy with the ‘noodle’ i got going.
with the musion to play with once more, to the shunt vaults with for an experimental performance of particle.
may wouldn’t be the same without the annual pilgrimage to the excellent mapping festival. fourth time running now, having played as part of narrative lab performances and workshops, then journalism, and last year doing a workshopped kinetxt performance. this time, its as part of d-fuse, performing particle.
aaah, a proper theatre. well resourced, good tech crew, and a lovely auditorium for the audience.
there’s no denying its like a flight deck of buttons, but props to vdmx’s configurability and plug-in friendliness. full playback control of both single screens and the dualhead spanning as quicktime sources, and a hardcore quartz composer patch wrapping a lot of custom openGL code, fronted by an interface builder laid out UI panel.
d-fuse were asked to do something with the musion screen at kinetica art fair. particle was designed for a transparent screen layered in front of the cinema screen behind, so mike got to work on a 15 minute redux. playback was just hitting play on two laptops simultaneously, and even for this oh how i was reminded that i should write that basic show playback app…
this friday i will be doing my vj thing together with mike, matthias and sarah of d-fuse, paul of labmeta, and mo of electrovision. we have the run of the london transport museum, who are opening late with a bar. its the first time we’ll have done something there, so it will be baby steps but i think there’s real potential with the victoriana building with the spatial feel their scale of exhibits gives, the covent garden location, and the real gem of their proper screening theatre downstairs.
a sunset to end, aaah. lucky with the weather for our filming day!
and here we go, leading into the bridges
coming into newcastle, but can’t shake the oil rigs yet, just too good.
two screengrabs of output featuring footage andrew shot at tynemouth. oil rigs, beaches and a bleaching sun.
the title should really be ‘live at sea’ by the looks of this clip. not to mention the setup looked a bit like the bow of a ship.
the performance was to be the newly transformed great north museum‘s event space, a big, white, and empty room. standard two layer ‘proscenium arch’ presentation not so suitable, mike came up with a triangular staging.
up to newcastle with d-fuse for a performance of particle as part of reinventing the city. we collaborated with locals novak for a day of filming and a day of performance/prep. nice to be out with them with a camera on a glorious day rather than worrying about wiimotes and audience interaction.
having spent a day documenting our work, i can say this steadycam rig may look the part but is the most awful thing to actually try and use. makes you realise why the film-grade ones are basically terminator suits.
a tribute to fellow frequent d-fuser paul mumford: its pretty tough: you’ve been holed up for weeks on end with the impossible brief of this video environment; master of after effects or no, a 11,000px canvas is going to hurt, and you’re finally seeing the results… and you can’t even get a photo of it all, ‘cos its wrapped around walls and towers surrounding you!
from pitch and the day-long meetings to kick it off, its now three months later and i’m actually in the sony stand at ifa 2009. a non-disclosure agreement, a 11,000x1080px canvas in after effects, 15 full-bore mac pros compositing their slice of the 400GB drive image full of particle layers and product prisms, eight screens pixelmapped in surround across the stand’s towers… its been one of those projects of scary statistics, corporate reputations riding on the line and knowing there is no preview, the not-yet-there architecture is the output monitor.
…but all that fades away against the rift of paraisópolis and morumbi. o m g. to see this was why we’d hired the helicopter. just unreal.
lots of urban visual goodness from the air in são paulo… great concrete vistas, modernism old and new…
and then there we were. above the city, doors removed, pointing cameras wherever we could.
são paulo is an interesting city for a number of reasons. statistically, its a big hitter in the d-fuse world of urban conditions: the first or second most populous metropolitan area in the americas with a cool 21 million, and with the rich escaping the traffic via the largest helicopter fleet in the world. and so, mulling on that, we found ourselves at the heliport…
with the standard in the bank, it was onto the experiemental performance, the world premiere of ‘particle’.
abertura was the first time i really got to throw myself into a ‘particle-esque’ performance, using the d-fuse content with the live setup i’d created. as a warm-up for são paulo, it was a great one: the music and visuals really came together to give an intense show in the relatively small space of abertura’s hall, it really gave me a confidence boost.
as a warm-up to d-fuse‘s trip to brazil, we performed a test of the new live piece “particle” at electrovision. it definitely felt like a test, as things were plugged in and loaded up to be used in anger in for the first time, and while i wasn’t so happy creatively with the form this first rendition took, that is secondary to what happened there: the dvi-mixer i’ve been dreaming of for years - and that my work turning transforming d-fuse’s live shows has been predicated on - worked as simply and unobtrusively as it should. all the sophistication and craziness lives in the laptop, where we have creative control as far as we’re wishing to configure and code, and we have hardware reliabiliy to ensure we can a) guarantee solid output signal to the projectors no matter what is going on with the laptops and b) mix together and tag team the performance between two visuals laptops.
beyond visible things like keane3D, lots of work has been going on in the background with d-fuse this past year or so. some of it pitching, some of it pushing along internal projects, and at the moment a massive commercial job under NDA: all things which don’t really get to this diary. but i’m glad to announce a little preview of something i’ve been working on a while, which is transforming d-fuse live.
after much shenanigans, keane3D did happen and d-fuse were part of it. no mapping-on-keane-artwork-triangles-with-antivj, no live layered-in-space reactive projections, either of which should have worked amazingly with the multi-3Dcamera filming setup, instead the program graphics. this meant on the day i was in charge of getting the content into the more-than-impressive and bespoke for the occasion outside broadcast rig - always be prepared to reencode everything squatting round the back of a rack of equipment - so always a nice moment when you actually see it going out live from the gallery.
i started writing an essay about this gig - the light surgeons performed “true fictions” and d-fuse presented “surface”, both huge and important works shown to a sell-out audience on the biggest screen in europe - but the window of opportunity to get it coherent let alone finished has passed for now, so here is a placeholder to say at least to say it happened.
this is during the ‘straight’ performance of latitude, essentially an edit. as i hoped, there was call for an encore and i had vdmx ready for a much more layered, graphical remix. its so gratifying when an improvisation like that goes really well, especially when the time you’d planned to rehearse and shape it was taken with dealing with after effects consistently crashing half way through the updated led renders.
thanks to multiplicidade for the photo.
weird to see the clarity of this photo against my blurred impression from within the performance. having been told there was upward of a thousand people out there waiting to see us, they are of course in pitch black it being a theatre/cinema and i couldn’t see anything… until the moment came to release the secret weapon, bathing the place in light when we got to the buddha-like moment before knocking it down to highlights of the imagery.
thanks to multiplicidade for the photo.
ok so actually this is just being put up in the hour before the gig, but that didn’t stop 900 people coming to the gig. lets just repeat that: 900 people attended a live cinema gig. on a tuesday. rio and multiplicidade rock.
…and the laptop looking positively dwarfed by nasa* mission control, aka d-fuse live. setup finished the day before the gig, soundcheck and all: definitely the way forward. especially when your 45 minute render for the led panels crashes after an hour and a half right near the end.
…with the led panels on the side walls firing with my pixelmapped dfuse test sequence…
thats two big projectors, a lot of seats and the beginnings of the live setup…
hello batman, director of multiplicidade, rio de janeiro’s festival of ‘unusual image and sound’. and quite something too, a marathon through spring, summer and autumn producing a new event every 15 days. and on tuesday, d-fuse will be presenting ‘latitude’ as the opening event of multiplicidade’s new strand presenting works in a theatre that takes their capacity from 100 to 1000. so between now and then, i’d better work on making assets to fit the led panels at the side of the theatre space, and working out an encore with musician si-cut-db, as for this trip, d-fuse is me.