Z-Vector & Z-Vector Touch.


Love this!

And this. Z-vector’s new Touch software.

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Isadora 2.0 – My thoughts.


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So I have waited a while before I blogged about Isadora 2.0. I did do a short blog not so long ago talking about the mapper and my work at Glastonbury.

But this post isn’t about me. It’s about Isadora 2, a new breed of Isadora. A stronger, more powerful Isadora. So much though, discussion and time has gone into it. Hundreds of emails, screenshots, skype sessions and more.

Isadora isn’t just an upgrade. It’s a radical new platform.

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I am not going to just copy and paste all the new specs, you can read them [here] instead I wanted to talk openly about why I love it so much. I love it because Isadora 2 still is the Isadora we all know and have supported for many years. It still has the same workflow, sense of direction and module approach. Isadora still does everything you’d expect. In fact, apart from the new blue splash screen and the modern dark grey theme, it looks just about the same. But I like that. Why fix something that isn’t broke? There is no need too – so Mark didn’t.

But what was broke, or breaking (dying?) is Apples quicktime support for video playback. It was clear that it was becoming increasingly unstable and just not fit for purpose. I know that Mark spent lots of time playing around with old and newer Quicktime libraries but it was inevitable that a change was needed. It’s no secret that other similar softwares are now running on AV foundation or other libraries. Not Quicktime. So it wasn’t Isadora’s fault crashes and movie playback was starting to show a weakness. She was doing her best to play the files but the Quicktime *stuff* was failing and there was nothing she (Mark) could do. But now that has changed. She has a new pair of shoes and is ready to run! But it isn’t *that* simple.

Mark decided to keep some of the Quicktime coding that was useful, useful for specific codecs. So a movie player in Isadora now switches its coding depending on the file type you load in. You will see this in the “PB Engine” (Play Back Engine) output of the movie player for reference. It switches between Quicktime and Av Foundation, it does this seamlessly so you never have to worry about it. It’s a big step forwarded and results should become clear, especially with the added bonus of being able to play multiple HD videos…. I won’t spoil the fun. I will let you try it 🙂

I also really like the IzzyMap. I’ve been using this for quote a long time, but each time it has evolved more and more. It’s now at an amazing standard and it’s superb. I am not going to ramble on about it, it does EVERYTHING! and more… the more but I will talk about. You can basically do all your mapping and then publish the mapping points. These then show as inputs in your projector actor. This means everything you do is editable – live. So if you have a moving stage, scenery or some crazy animatronic DJ booth ( – do they even exist?) then you can automate, or move it in real time and have the mapping follow it. It’s a pretty crazy tool to have. Obviously stage automation is not new. But to do it in a <$500 software and have such flexibility is new!

What else; javascript actor, Spout for Windows and other interface tools, a few updated actors and of course the lovely new interface. What else could you want right now?

A few pics…

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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):

 

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!