Glastonbury, The Temple arena, 2014.


Mud, sun, rain, more rain, great music and a kick-ass projection system. That was Glastonbury 2014, in The Common field, at the Temple arena. Wow – what an experience…. I don’t know where to even begin with this one!

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Let’s start from the beginning. I got a really nice email via this very blog from a guy called Ryan asking if I was interested in a gig. He wanted something a little different and asked if we could talk more if I was interested. I won’t lie – I thought it may have been a small VJ gig or some kind of install using isadora – I get a lot of questions, emails and comments each week. I reply to them all but admit – I though this one was no different.

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After the initial hello emails Ryan casually said it was a venue at Glastonbury. I had to read the message about nine times over to believe it. I had never been to Glastonbury, but like many reading this, knew it was an amazing opportunity. I knew this could not be done solo – this was a job for me and Dan and his place of work; guildhall school of music and drama. I work quite a lot with Dan, we get each others workflow and being a lecturer for many years he knows I am professional and reliable around students – not only this I love getting student involved in real world gigs. In my opinion it’s the best place to learn and experience things first hand. If I had the opportunity to work at Glastonbury it would have been amazing!

So you get the idea, we then had various emails, phone calls and Skype sessions, we bounced ideas around and got the ball rolling. We looked at lots of hardware and software options but decided that Isadora was the tool for us. The video mapping features that we had custom made for Lux, Helsinki had been developed to a very high standard and whilst still under a beta we were confident we could use it.

A year passed and the gig was just around the corner, we all contributed to the video content using After Effects, Cinema 4D and a really talented student called Neville built the main Isadora patch. We all helped map the structure in a variety of roles once on site. My main job was to keep an eye on isadora, make subtle tweaks, maintain performance and spot any crucial errors, make any last minute programming changes and be on stand by incase of any crashes or errors (there were none by the way!).

The pictures show the Temple and surrounding fields aesthetic, we wanted the Mayan/Aztec like structure to come alive with a nice blend of historical symbols, images and custom graphics. There was a hint of hi-tech alien like sci-fi VJ loops also. The lighting, pyro and music all worked really well. The mapping looked great despite a few set-backs; the main one was losing half a day due to extreme rain, wind and an electrical storm; so bad that the electrical company shut down all non-essential power. This was not cool – but al part of the experience.

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It’s hard to describe the full set up so I am going to keep it simple.

  • Two Mac Pro’s 9not the new black (‘dustbins’).
  • Each Mac pro had two Touch Screens for triggering video. (one screen for DJ booth, the other for exterior)
  • Two Lindy DVI switches
  • Two Spark D-Fuser Video mixers
  • Then into a Datapath X4
  • DJ Booth had four Panasonic 16500 lumens projectors on it.
  • Exterior had four Christie Roadsters 26000 lumens each.
  • Everything was run over Cat5 once it left the Datapath.
  • We used a custom beta of Isadora (the soon to be version 2.0)
  • Modified APC20 from Akai for MIDI effects and control via Isadora.
  • A few TFT monitors via splitters for monitors, etc.
  • We also had Blackmagic capture cards running into one mac for CCTV feeds, etc.

We had a great experience, a few crashes when programming things and trying stuff out before shows (during the day) but no crashes during live sets. Because we had two Macs mixing between each other , both doing inside and outside, if one machine was to crash we had the other as a back-up, however we treated them both as live machines.

We got to VJ for some great artists, I can’t name them all here but it was a privilege to hear them, meet them and talk to them over the course of the three days. Likewise the whole team at the common were amazing. We were very well looked after and I can’t thank them enough. I can safely say we delivered what we said we would. We made it happen. The pictures and video are great – but it’s never as good as seeing it live. The arena felt alive. It felt like it had an energy oozing out the walls.

A few highlights for me:

  1. Seeing a huge que of people wanting to come in at 5:45 in the morning even though we closed at 6:00. Not that I liked people not being able to come in but it was great to see the demand.
  2. Seeing people walk up and touch the wooden lock gates when they were being projected onto. Granted some people were ‘out of it’ but that magical element you can see in peoples faces is amazing – you can see the cogs working in their heads going ‘how is that moving’, ‘where is he light coming from?’.
  3. Watching the sun come up (and down) multiple times whilst working, with a nice breeze in your face, time flew by and was just an experience I will never forget.
  4. Seeing the DJ Booth mapped for the first time was a true OMG moment. It wasn’t even fully Dark yet and it was so so bright! Seeing the visuals you had been working on for months and months finally on the structure was amazing.
  5. Waking up at 3 in the afternoon and dancing to old school jungle before going for breakfast – which was actually tea… strange, but amazing.
  6. I went to see DJ’s Above & Beyond play at the Sonic tent – incredible! This was my only 2 hours off I had the whole week and it was well worth it.
  7. Last but not least – just being n Glastonbury was a highlight. It’s so hard to explain. It’s not just another music event. It’s like a mini city. A fantasy world were anything goes. It was so cool.

 

So. It was quite an experience. There is some video being made which I will add soon. But for now… a few pictures (click to open gallery):

 

Bazik & Isadora via Syphon.


I recently stumbled across this amazing audio responsive software called Bazik.*

I have been after an audio visualisation tool for a while to incorporate into my Isadora VJ patches. And wow this one really hits the nail on the head.

I also love that “You can add Quartz animations or Shader GLSL” effects!

Here is a short demo on how I set it up.

 

*NOTE: this was limited to 100 downloads for the beta stage – very sorry!

 

 

Interview: Michel Weber


Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I was born in South Africa and lived there for the first 10 years. Then we moved back to Switzerland to my parent’s hometown.

I bought my first computer when I was 21 and only then started to explore the digital world.
In 1998 I started as a lighting technician at the opera house in Zurich (Switzerland). But the light of a single pixel was more fascinating to me than the one of a light bulb. So I started to work more and more with video.

My first contact with Isadora was in 2004 when I had to find a solution for our theatre. After evaluating different software, Isadora played the trump card with a smooth and easy learning curve, but didn’t lack of complex functionalities for the advanced user.

I’m head of the video department at the theatre of the arts that belongs to the Zurich University of the Arts. Since 2011 I am also responsible for the video technic at the “Theater Spektakel” festival (it takes place every summer for 3 weeks in Zurich). Next to that I participate on various projects as a freelancer.

Would you class yourself as a performer, technician, director or other?
First I would class myself as a technician, because that’s how I started and that’s the reason why I am where I am now and then video-/interaction designer.

What projects have you been working on lately?
Last year (2013) I was asked to do the video design for Goethe’s Faust that played in a church in St. Gallen (Switzerland), I supported and trained a group doing video content for a dance peace and did all the video tech stuff for them and I did an interactive dance game for the Tanzhaus Media Lab in Zurich using Kinect and Isadora.

What has been the highlight of career?
Participating Amitesh Grover’s work “strange lines” at NSD (National School of Drama) in Delhi. He is a wonderful director with great ideas and it’s really satisfying to work with him.

How would you describe your artistic style?
Simplify as much as possible.

What technology do you use most often?
Software: Isadora, Motion, Photoshop, Quartz Composer etc.
Hardware: Kinect, Wiimote, TrippleHead, Cameras, Piezos, Arduino (low level) etc.

How has the Troika Tronix Isadora software helped you with your work?
Without Isadora I would probably do something totally different.

Do you have a website:
www.filmprojekt.ch

If you want people to contact you, you can also provide an email address here:
People can contact me via contact form on my website:

http://www.filmprojekt.ch/

Inspiring Videos.


Every now and again I like to post some video that I’ve seen. Here they are;

A music video/live performance all done using Z-Vector; VJ Julius Tuomisto and his Z Vector software from Delicode. I love this type of live, real time visuals.

Lots of people have been talking about this video. Chances are you have already seen it. But hey, if you haven’t its amazing an well worth a watch! Read more about it here also: http://thecreatorsproject.vice.com/blog/video-exclusive-bot–dollys-the-box-unpacks-a-radically-new-design-concept

Isadora user ‘Lanz’ posted this on the forum. A very fun, vibrant and interesting piece. Lovely digital scenery! [More info here]

“Taking inspiration from fairy tales, In A Deep Dark Wood is a fun and interactive show about a little girl who bravely ventures into a dark and mysterious wood. Encountering tempting trees to climb and beguiling creatures, the tale unfolds as the young audience help to create a magical world using shadow and light to guide the little girl through her bewitching adventure.”

Last but not least check out ‘The zero hour’ by Imitating the Dog.

http://www.imitatingthedog.co.uk/projects/the-zero-hour/

“Taking as its starting point the final moments of the Second World War in Berlin, The Zero Hour follows the stories of three couples living through three very different versions of the same historical events”

If you have any cool videos to share then add them to the comments below.

World Stage Design; Free Patch



If you came to my World Stage Design talk in Cardiff a few weeks ago then you will recall me offering to share the demo patch I used on the day….

Well here it is. This is just a template. I highly suggest you watch Mark Coniglio’s tutorials here to refresh your memory.

I have added the ‘tracker.mov’ video which replicates a person for motion tracking.

[DOWNLOAD HERE] It’s in a .zip file and is 618kbs.

You can download the demo of Isadora here for free:

http://troikatronix.com/download/isadora-download/

Leap Motion


I like my gadgets. I am admittedly a bit of a gadget freak… but I don’t often actually buy them. Normally because they are expensive and I know deep down I won’t use them as much as my mind believes I will. But the Leap Motion is different.

The Leap Motion is a USB powered hand/finger tracking device. Think of it as an xbox kinect for the hands perhaps? It’s made for Mac and Windows too which is great.

The into video explains the basics very well…

I have bought one (second hand off eBay for £40 I might add) to use at work and at home. I have a few ideas for it and if nothing else will be a handy (pun-intended) gadget on my office desk – it’s already plugged in actually. It’s small sleak and sits flush to my MacBook Pro. It’s a shame it’s not wireless as it takes up a USB plug but I have a powered hub on my desk.

How am I going to use it? To be honest I have no concrete ideas. There are a few Isadora users who have made a few OSC/MIDI related actors to control Isadora scenes which I am going to look at and I am sure I can find a few uses in that area. I also like the idea of using it for generate/live painting in a VJ context. Will I look an idiot waving my hand around at a gig to make stuff appear on the screen? – probably! Do I care?…. probably! But we shall see.

I also want to see if it can be used in a commercial sense. At the museum and art gallery where I work we have interactives for visitors but people, for some reason, LOVE to hack, break, pull, snap, spill drinks, etc, etc on keyboards, mouses, touch screens, etc. Now this can’t be helped all the time of course, but there is a tiny percentage who do it on purpose, I’ve seen them! Maybe a Leap Motion placed under some perspex (military grade?) could replace the keyboard and mouse idea? Problem is the learning curve! How will people know how to move their hands or even to put their hands above the device? Similar to the Kinect sensor it’s not a recognised Human Input Device (HID)

So – I will keep you posted. Minority report… Yeah! Let’s do it!

Do you own one? Let me know how you are using it. I wanna know… Let’s talk!

Projection Documentation Tool


Matthew Haber has yet again blessed us with another cool isadora/projection tool called the Projection Documentation Tool or ‘PDbase’ for use in your shows. It has a lot to offer – just read the key features below!

I have shamelessly (with permission!) taken this from his website as it explains it all perfectly well. Thanks Matthew!

PDbase-Production is the only publicly available database application for data and workflow management for live performance projection and video designers. PDbase keeps track of nearly 400 different pieces of information for a given project, supports complex multi-user access, and can generate and share over 30 different types of paperwork based on this information. PDbase is vastly more powerful than any other known database solution and is the result of nearly 18 months of development and testing. PDbase is uniquely just as suited for the record keeping needs of a single freelance designer working alone as it is for a large studio with numerous designers, editors, and other collaborators who all need data access. PDbase can also provide other departments on a production such as stage management and lighting with the information they need when they need it via a secure webpage, saving you and your team the time spent issuing daily paperwork updates. Ultimately PDbase is far too comprehensive to explain in a single page so I recommend you download the fully functional free version and try it out on a show after reading through the knowledge base.

Key Features:

Documents vital information for cues, still and moving content, media and font assets, editing workflows and software plugins, render queues and render nodes, production contact information, video shoots, work notes, and individual task lists for team members.

Generates a diverse range of paperwork and keeps track of changes made so you and your collaborators don’t have to.

Comprehensive access controls and versatile multi-user workflows insuring the biggest of teams have access to all of the information they need while maintaining data privacy and security.

Hundreds of separate procedures that invisibly validate your data to insure any errors are caught before they become a problem.

Handles the biggest of shows with support for hundreds of thousands of records.

Built in web interface allows anyone you authorize to access important information whenever they need it.

Powerful tools to help keep track of licensing and rights management for the media assets you use in your design.

Cues, content, etc are all closely interlinked just like they are in the real world.

All data can be imported from and exported to standard formats such as comma separated, tab separated, XML, Excel, etc.

PDbase streamlines communication between designers, assistants, editors, asset wranglers, researchers, and other production departments insuring that everyone knows what they need to know and does what they need to do.

PDbase can be run locally on a personal computer or hosted on a local or off-site server.

PDbase is being constantly updated with new and improved functionality.

PDbase-Production is built on FileMaker Pro 12. This permits massive flexibility in terms of easily adding new and custom functionality. This also takes advantage of FileMaker’s built in powerful and reliable Server functionality.

PDbase-Studio, a companion application for comprehensive record keeping at a business level (invoicing, CRM, time-tracking, etc) is under development and will integrate seamlessly with PDbase-Production once it is available.

PDbase-Rental, a companion application for rental shop and general equipment and resource tracking (asset scheduling, packing and shipping management, etc) is under development and will integrate seamlessly with PDbase-Production and PDbase-Studio once it is available.

[DOWNLOAD HERE]