Category : Video

Train Lines
In my spare time over the past few months, inspired by the work I was doing building interactive installations for the Love Music Festival, I’ve been exploring other ways of using computer vision to generate sound and visuals. This is relatively new for me, but there’s obviously enormous potential (from creating an synthesized fly buzz to gorgeous interactive face recognition installations).

I also tend to spend a lot of time on trains, which I love. I often have my camera with me and I have loads of footage taken from trains, particularly of the electricity lines passing overhead.

I recently combined these things to make software that analyzes the video footage in real time and looks for lines. When it recognizes a line it will draw it on the screen. By pushing various parameters the software will begin to see lines that we don’t see, and make connections between them. I automated these various parameters and applied them to some of my footage from trains. It’s a very basic idea that uses some of the most standard features of the cv.jit library, but I found it to be very moving. I was originally going to have it generate sound, but I have come to really prefer it silent. I will probably improve it slowly, eventually adding music and better video footage, but for now I’m very happy with it.

This video, and indeed the ongoing project, is dedicated to my sister Gwen.

Running Time at the National Galleries

A story about technoIt makes me very proud to say that one of my videos, “A story about techno”, is included in the massive and groundbreaking show currently on at the National Galleries of Scotland. The show, Running Time, is the biggest ever exhibition of Scottish video art, and the first ever dedicated exclusively to artist films in Scotland. The show has been going for a couple of weeks now, and each week there is a new theme. This week’s theme, within which my video is included, is Sound and Vision. From their website:

Sound and Vision explores the influence of sound and music on artists’ work, revealing a distinctive stylistic approach to film-making. Artists such as Katy Dove and Craig Mullholland integrate experimental music into their practice whilst others, including Sam Spreckley and Will Duke, use a range of manipulated sound recordings to create unsettling soundtracks.

If you happen to be in Scotland be sure to check this out, it’s at the Dean Gallery and is completely free!


LumièrophoneThis week I was very happy to present at The Sounds of the Silents, an event at the University of Edinburgh about the history of film sound. There were some amazing lectures and demonstrations from historians and foley artists and more. dsc_5323My presentation was about the Lumièrophone, a screen that I made with Kristina Johansen. As you can see from the photo, this screen has light sensors sewn onto the surface. These sensors control a synthesizer I built that generated sound based on what was projected on the screen. All the sound was thus generated in real time, and without any computers or anything, just a 9 volt battery and some speakers. The Lumièrophone (named after Auguste and Louis)was designed especially for the showing of an abstract film by Walter Ruttman, and I think it worked very well! You can see a video for yourself:

Rough Cut Nation

I feel very honored to be involved in Rough Cut Nation, a brilliant show that’s happening right now at the Nation Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh.

In a nutshell, the Rough Cut Nation project is a bunch of Scottish artists who took over the Portrait Gallery, which is closing for renovation at the end of the summer. They covered the walls with their work, which looks absolutely brilliant. I got involved by making an interactive temporary paint installation!

Check out the video I made, featuring music by the one and only Handface.

Together with Kristina Johansen, we also made a glove using conductive thread and embedded LEDs to make the interaction a bit more natural:

I originally got in touch with Richie Cumming, the organizer of the show, to help him set up a sensor system for switching on some UV lights. The idea was that they would light up every so often to reveal hidden textures on the walls that were painted with UV-responsive paint. Long story short, we ended up not going with that plan, and instead I built something that was a lot more interactive and loads of fun to play with…I got some UV LED’s from Patrick Hickey at Nipht Technologies and turned put them into jars and boxes with little buttons. When brought near the walls they made the phosphorus paint glow in lovely magical way.

The jars and boxes felt a lot like futuristic spraypaint cans…I started thinking that maybe the different types of containers I put them in each represented what spraypaint cans will become in various divergent futures. Hmmm.

In any case, the UV LED things fit really well with the whole show, because it gave people the opportunity to paint the walls themselves in a fun and temporary way. It went down a storm at the opening on Friday!

Rough Cut Nation will be open to the public until August 30th, and it’s free! It’s also your last chance to visit the Portrait Gallery for a couple years, so get in while you can. There’s also a nice little café they’ve set up just for the show. You can find out more on the Rough Cut Nation Page of the National Galleries of Scotland website, and on the National Galleries Blog!

Coming soon…

Many of you already know what I’ve been working on for the past few months with Jon and MikeMujik, a charming and fun music toy for the iPhone. We have submitted version 1.0 to Apple and we are just waiting for them to approve it and put it on the app store. In the mean time, here are two sneak peek videos that show what Mujik is all about…check back very soon for more details. Lots more to come!

Unique Beats

Last week I was sorry to miss the amazing sounding Unique Beats festival of electronic music here in Edinburgh. I was able to make a few short appearances via video, though! Here is the first video I made for them, a tutorial explaining how I made the Wii BeatLooper in MaxMSP:

The Unique Beats podcast also features an Amazing Rolo song in episode 1!

The Wii BeatLooper

Here’s a demo video of a new mini piece of wii music software, made in preparation for my trip to the Maker Faire next week. The BeatLooper is a fun scratching looping device! I’ll be posting this software very soon, along with the Max Patch, and of course there is much more on the way!

Penalty Shootout

Category : Sound Design, Video

On the 28th of January 2009, Dundee United and Glasgow Celtic battled to a 0-0 tie in the semi-final of the CIS Scottish League Cup. The game thus went to penalty kicks.

Celtic won, but not before every player on both teams (including the goalies) took shots in what must have been one of the most epic penalty shootouts in Scottish (if not world) football history.

Watching the coverage I was struck by how the camera angles were always very similar for each penalty. I edited the footage and layered each of these similar camera angles on top of one another to create a composite version of the shootout, compressing the 24 shots into one. The angles were all different lengths, so sometimes you only see one or two layers, and occasionally you see many. I did a similar process with the sound, although I wasn’t quite as rigid, as you will hear.