r _Web.log

tag: audio

New work at GDS EXPO 2010

The Goldsmiths Digital Studios (GDS) is a new audiovisual interaction laboratory here at Goldsmiths, University of London. We're celebrating its opening with GDS EXPO 2010, a day of seminars, installations and performances taking place next Wednesday (17 Feb).


As part of the launch, I'll be showing a new AV work in the studio's ambisonic space, hooking into the 3D motion capture and projection system. Above is an advance screen grab; more info, video and code coming soon...

Hackpact 2009/09/#4: iPhone SuperCollider remote control


My iPhone Developer License materialized this morning. After a final resentful mutter about the inherent unpleasantness of being asked to pay to develop for a third-party platform, I starting hacking up the #hackpact day 1 OpenFrameworks code to communicate over OSC with SuperCollider - creating a bouncing, throwable and tippable particle system which remotely generates sound effects as particles collide. Latency is low, render rate is high, and it kind of feels like the ADC price tag is already justified. Principles, shminciples.

tech notes: as mentioned in the openframeworks forums, it's necessary to download the oscpack source and replace the headers+library in the openFrameworks distribution with a fresh code tree, which is then compiled afresh for the iPhone ARM architecture. A couple of lines relating to the 'Nil' constant also need commenting out.

mp3 artefacts becoming preferred by young listeners?

K http://radar.oreilly.com/.../...

O'Reilly Radar reports that the 'sizzle' sound of mp3 artefacts is becoming increasingly preferred by music listeners. Yes, preferred; in listening tests performed annually over 6 years, listeners have increasingly rated songs with low-bitrate mp3 compression above those that a higher rate.

The author suggests that this is akin to vinyl listeners preferring the crackle of wax over the cleanness of digital recordings — though I have always figured that the vinyl preference is less subjective and more to do with its innate warmth and high-frequency rolloff. The "hot dog at the ball park" analogy is compelling, however, and there's undeniably something comforting about (say) the compression of FM radio when indoors on a cold winter's night, or listening to a cassette through a battered pair of headphones. It's not inconceivable that the mp3 sizzle could be headed for the same fate.

Sixense TrueMotion 3D controller

Recently demoed at the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas was a control device that could rival the Wiimote for gestural input: Sixense's TrueMotion, which uses a wireless handset coupled with a (presumably USB) base station to determine motion and position information. The big leap here is the latter: the Wiimote's accelerometer can only give relative motion data, and absolute 3D positioning is nigh on impossible to derive from this without some inaccuracy and drift. Some positional info could be gleaned using the Wiimote's IR LEDs, but this was still less than ideal and had the inherent limitations of a line-of-sight system.

The TrueMotion device functions by locating the handset within a magnetic field, which appears to give snappy and precise location data. It reminds me of the Ascension Flock of Birds sensor, which I briefly played with a couple of years back, albeit without the clunky serial I/O and hefty pricetag: the TrueMotion is estimated at $100 for a base station and handset. There's an interesting interview with one of the Sixense chaps over at Engineering TV.

I'm looking forward to get more info on this as it sounds like a potentially paradigm-changing controller for audio and video. Transmission range? Multiple devices/base stations? Proprietary drivers? We shall see, as it is due to hit the market later this year.

Ableton Live Python/OSC API available for OS X

K http://groups.google.com/.../c0c808a7fb82c2d8

It's rare for me to envy Windows users, but I have a long-harboured jealousy of the unofficial Python API for Ableton Live that's been available for the past year or so -- as I'm sure the reader would agree, there's little in life that could rival programmatical access to arguably the world's greatest DAW. So, it was to my joy that I discovered that an OS X version of this API was quietly announced just a few days ago, coinciding with me delving back into Python for an ongoing project.

Expect some monstrous hacks as soon as I have a free moment...

sc_utils: Helper functions ported from SuperCollider to Processing

K http://www.erase.net/projects/p5_sc/sc_utils

In support of the p5_sc library, which provides the ability to communicate with SuperCollider's synthesis server from Processing, I've developed and amassed a series of basic helper functions ported from SC's client library. These provide frequently-used operations when interfacing between control and audio-generation objects, including:

  • converting MIDI note values to cps
  • random number generation with nonuniform distribution
  • value clipping
  • mapping between value ranges (linear and exponential)
  • support for Spec objects, including a global named Spec register

It's undocumented, besides code comments, but hopefully useful.
Download sc_utils here.

South London sound art events

Tomorrow (January 31st) at Goldsmiths University, Joe Banks of Disinformation is talking on Rorschach audio and the tendency to romanticize and creatively inflate perceived EVP phenomena:

“Rorschach Audio” offers the primary hypothesis that an understanding of the relevant aspects of psychoacoustics provides a complete explanation for most EVP recordings, and a secondary hypothesis that an informed understanding of these processes is as important to understanding the emergent field of sound art as studies of optical illusions have historically been to understanding visual art.

Next month (February 22nd), Experiment 1 Arts Collective present Flesh and Flame, a night of performance art, music, sculpture and flesh, taking place at Corsica Studios in Elephant. It looks to be a great night, and tickets are half price until the end of January.