Darkness in Glasgow

Category : Sound Design, Video

It looks like a video of mine will be shown in Glasgow next week…

As we speak is an artists video screening night in Glasgow dedicated to the promotion of new contemporary video works. The next one will take place on January the 20th 2009 in Stereo, Renfield Lane (behind Central Station). Free entry.

See the As We Speak myspace page for more information.

To celebrate, here is the video that will be shown, for those of you who can’t make it (including me, unfortunately!). It’s called “Darkness”, and it’s a strange abstract sci-fi short story about what would happen on a planet where sound and light do not act in the same way they do on Earth.

The concept of a planet where light and sound are reversed is an idea I’ve had for a while…it has some pretty interesting implications, and I find it generally fascinating to think that light is made up of vibrations, just like sound, but that those vibrations are so fast that we can’t hear them. That has always seemed rather arbitrary to me, and I love to think about what life would be like if we had evolved to hear the frequency band that we now perceive as light. Even more fascinating, perhaps, is the idea that everything is made of vibrations anyway, as illustrated by string theory.

But I’m getting out of my depth! Back to the video…whilst sketching out the concept for “Darkness” I wrote a short story and made an image to explore the ideas. The short story eventually turned into the narrative for the movie, and you can see that image here:

Wii + Video = Fun

Tomorrow night I will be doing a performance at the launch event for the new issue of Yuck n Yum, a publication by a group of pretty hip artists in Dundee.

This show is going to be a bit of a departure for me, as I will be doing some new things that I have not yet tried in public! Hurray! Because of this, I thought it would be fun to give a sneak peek of just what exactly I will be doing. That’s what blogs are for, right?

This picture shows most of what I will be using, conveniently labeled for you (click to enlarge).
The equipment list is:

  • 3 Wii remotes with Nunchuk attachments
  • Laptop
  • one-stringed guitar, fitted with ultrasonic and light sensors
  • Arduino microcontroller
  • mixer, preamps, etc
  • projector

I’ve set out a process for creating sound out of all of this mess, with video as the starting point (another first for me).

The first step, then, is the video. I made a patch in Jitter for controlling two video streams independently, and overlaying them. The two videos can be warped, stretched, colored, and mixed together in real time. The output of each manipulated video stream is being analyzed, and sent to a synthesizer which is creating sound based on the visuals. Thus, by manipulating the videos, which are then generating sound, the video manipulation becomes an “instrument” of sorts.

In addition, the audio of each video can also be used independently of the visuals and passed through various effects.

The guitar, meanwhile, is fitted with various sensors that are plugged into an Arduino. These sensors will control sampling and playback of the guitar signal, creating textures underneath all of the sound from the videos.

Finally, the webcam on my laptop will also be activated, using live footage of myself to trigger more synthesis in Jitter.

Where do the Wii remotes fit into all of this? Well, rather than sitting in front of my laptop clicking through my Jitter patch, I will be using several wii remotes to control it all, with the ultimate goal of being able to do the whole performance without touching the computer at all. All of the video manipulation, audio effects, guitar sampling and playback, and synthesis will be controlled with the Wii remotes. The rotation of each video, for example, will be controlled by twisting and turning my left hand, while the playback speed of each video will be mapped to the movements of my right hand. A wii remote will be attached to the guitar, so the angle of the instrument will dictate the pitch of the sample playback.

Does that makes sense? My goal was to try and combine video mixing, Wii remotes, and music. If you’re in the Dundee area you should definitely come along. If not, the show will hopefully be recorded and I will definitely post the video as soon as I can.

Is that a cowboy outfit?

Category : Sound Design, Video

Here’s a cool video art piece by Lucy Keany, with sound design by me:

“Is That a Cowboy Outfit” by Lucy Keany from The Amazing Rolo on Vimeo.

It was shown at the Edinburgh College of Art degree show 2008. Imagine it projected into a totally blackened room.

Doing the sound design was loads of fun – Lucy and I agreed very quickly on the sound aesthetic we were after, which makes everything easier! I found much of the source material on archive.org, which is a fantastic place to look for copyright-free sound and video.


Category : Sound Design, Video

Darkness on Vimeo

Above you can watch a short movie I finished this week. It’s a strange sci-fi narrative that takes place on another planet, where sounds and lights are perceived differently than on Earth.

You can download an ipod-ready version here:
The Amazing Rolo – Darkness (34 mb)
(right-click, “save as…”)

And you can read about what I was trying to do (and how I went about doing it) here.

If you would like a higher resolution version just send me an email or leave a comment on this post.

Going for a walk.

Category : Amazing Rolo, Music, Video

Here’s another music video for you! I took all the pictures the last few times I went home to the Farm…I compiled them all in After Effects and then wrote a short song that sort of matches the theme and mood.

Click to watch (16 mb quicktime movie)

Thanks to jonbro, as usual, for all the help.

And, as usual, let me know what you think!

I had the nicest dream.

Thanks to a little encouragement (and a lot of help) from my friend Jonathon I recently started learning how to use After Effects – the software that I’m now realizing is used to make every car commercial that you see on TV. I picked it up fairly quickly, probably because of the similarities with audio software. I think I’m only barely scratching the surface, but it’s a useful skill to have, and I thoroughly enjoy it, even though waiting for video to render is the most mind numbing activity ever.

In any event I used After Effects to compile a lot of footage that I took at the Farm one day over the summer, and I lengthened and remixed an old song of mine to create a music video! I’m fairly happy with it. I think it’s a good initial foray into the world of video.

Click here to watch or download. It’s a 20 mb quicktime file, so be patient! Make sure your volume is turned up or else it gets kinda boring.

A fun little project.

It was really rainy here on tuesday, and I really liked the sound of the rain on the shed where we keep the Truck with a capital T. So I made a little movie about it. Let me know what you think!