[A]ura Video


A nice 3 minute video from Aura here, it’s a bit late – i’ve been rather busy!

[A]ura – WYSIWYG
What You See Is What You Get

A performance-gallery with open-source-choreography
One day the internet will be as sacred as a giant ancient cathedral. And everybody will sacrifice their details to pay tribute to the digital gods.
In the interactive performance (A)ura, the user is transformed from spectator, to creator: during the weeks before the premiere they can find a unique feature at ChoreoMixer, with which they can design and remix the choreography and contents of (A)ura, by using the browser.
Walter Benjamin says that in modern art the aura of the work of art withers because of mechanical reproduction, and inaccessibility, due to too close a proximity to the observer.
At the same time, a completely different aura of amazement will be created by new technologies. Every user can be a choreographer, an innovative remixer and in that way create his own virtual memorial which perhaps will follow its own unexpected ways. Closeness and distance will join crosswise in a new way.
But what about the situation when the digital medium refuses to cooperate with the user?
What you see is what you get.
choreography/dance: Elke Pichler
music/video: Alexander Nantschev
stagedesign/costumes: Monika Biegler
programming: Stefan Lechner
interactive technical support: Graham Thorne
legal consulting: Clemens Lahner
pr: Stefan Eigenthaler
camera: Philipp Aichinger
Kindly supported by:
MA7, Kosmostheater and Ars Electronica Center”

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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):

 

Working with FeinSinn


On the 11th October 2013 I received an email via my website asking me for some help and guidance with an interactive dance performance in Vienna. I presumed one or two Skype sessions to help them with a bit of motion tracking (commonly most of my Sundays are spent helping people on Skype 🙂 ) I had no idea that I was going to become friends with two lovely people.

I enjoy ALL of my sessions online but Alexander Nantschev popped up on screen with the biggest smile on his face saying Hello! Shortly followed by his partner Elke Pichler and they made me smile right away; very down to earth, happy and interesting people. After the initial adjustment to internet lag, accepting my weird Liverpudlian (Liverpool, UK) accent we discussed their performances and the problems that lay in front of them. I will be honest and admit I was a little skeptical when I heard that Alexander had very little knowledge of Isadora and said from the get go – keep it simple (but effective). It is always difficult to get the balance between “Yes that is a great idea – we/you can do this” and “but – it’s very difficult and took me 5/6 years to learn… you have 6/8 months…”. 

Saying this, I could tell the duo would be hard-workers and I could see the passion in the eyes via the slightly pixelated webcam interface. I was excited after the first talk and knew this was something a little different. The idea of ‘Aura’ was one that I looked at during my MA Degree so it resonated with some memories of mine – which was nice.

We spent nearly every Sunday talking for an hour a time. An almost daily flurry of emails back and forth with ideas, links, isadora patches and similar. Alexandra met my wife, my teacup chihuahua  all via Skype (or FaceTime) and we genuinely  started to talk as friends – one highlight was hearing a strange machine which turned out to be an iRobot…. an automated self driving hoover! I was very impressed . It was also devastating to hear their tales of thefts, people not doing work for them despite being paid and a few of the technical problems they had. Equally they both asked about my wife who in between all this has been in and out of hospital for operations on her lower back.

The pair conquered some amazing technological problems. From arduino based triggers, advanced mapping, online audience tool – the “Choreomixer”, clever syncing of multiple machines and even (very wisely) implemented a back up system, to name just a few.

I really felt I was helping and I was kindly sent small snippets of video from rehearsals to show how Elke was creating visuals or interacting with live feed video, etc. It was really cool. The piece was very well thought out and the theme (aura) seemed from my point of view, despite never seeing the final piece,  well portrayed. The feedback from critiques was great and the images I have seen looked stunning. Due to work commitments I could not attend the piece which was sad but I hope they both understood.

Alexander is now a well established Isadora user, he is now very active on the forum and regarded highly in the Isadora community. Elke – although I did not talk to you as much online it is clear you did amazing and the pictures look brilliant.

I have to admit… I miss our Sunday afternoon talks. I hope they hurry up and plan another performance soon! 🙂

A quote from Alexander about my input:

„Graham Thorne hat in unglaublich sympathisch und geduldiger Art und Weise uns in die „harte“ Welt der interaktiven Medien eingewiesen. Seine nette und zuverlässige Hilfe war eine unentbehrliche Hilfe zur Realisierung unseres größenwahnsinnigen Projektes. Mit Beständigkeit hat er uns motiviert, unterstütz und Mut gemacht unsere Ideen zu verwirklichen.”
 
Google translate:
“Graham Thorne has sent to incredibly sympathetic and patient manner us in the “hard (I think Jamie [Griffiths] said with a smile: its tough interactive world outside)” world of interactive media. His nice and dependable assistance was an essential aid to the realization of our megalomaniac project. With passion he has motivated us, supported us and given us courage (in order to) make ​​us realize our ideas.”

(images above from: http://www.reinhardwinkler.at/feinsinn_aura/)

More pictures here: http://www.reinhardwinkler.at/feinsinn_aura/

FeinSiin: http://feinsinn.org/

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/

World Stage Design 2013 ‘Isadora and Interactivity’


World Stage Design 2013 ‘Isadora and Interactivity’ workshop.

I am pleased to announce that I will be doing a workshop at World Stage Design 2013 in the UK, Cardiff, Wales on Friday 13th September.

This one day course will cover key areas of the Isadora software. And its use as an interactive tool. The workshop will cover many topics that are relevant to a wide range of disciplines including dance, theatre, VJ/DJ and technician/installation.

Delegates will have the opportunity to gain an insight including real-life tips and tricks, from one of the UK’s top Isadora experts (me!).

Who should attend?

Professionals and students within all areas of theatre design

Price: £12

More info here: http://www.wsd2013.com/whats-on/isadora-and-interactivity/

Some of my work [video]


A good friend Dan Shorten from Anomic (Multi-Media Theatre) hired me for various projects in 2012 and January 2013. You can see a trail of these events in my past posts.

Basically I worked in all of the development stages and then worked in the background as a sort of’ technical supervision’ role for all three of the projects in the video. If Isadora had any hick-ups I could jump in and solve and problems; especially in Helsinki were the conditions were so extreme.

This professional video from Polymath films did a fantastic job as they followed Dan and the various projects from start to finish.  I was lucky enough to be interviewed at the Heslinki Event at LUX too; you can find my section from 7:10 (but watch it all its well worth it!)