Isadora Version 2.1


http://troikatronix.com/troikatronixforum/discussion/2312/isadora-2-1-is-available

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 09.16.53

Big news from Izzy HQ…. Isadora 2.1 Some very nice additions here to expand on the already amazing version 2.0:

Isadora v2.1 adds several new features to Isadora v2.0, and addresses bugs in the previous release. Highlights of the new features include:

  • More Flexible Video Routing: Isadora v2.1 allows GPU video to be routed directly to multiple stages at the end of the rendering chain.
  • Improved native Black Magic Video capture integration provides low latency video capture and output.
  • Many Isadora video processing actors have been enhanced to offer highly efficient GPU processing while retaining their classic CPU functionality.
  • Newly added FreeFrameGL (FFGL) effects offer additional video processing options
  • Global variables allow easy scene to scene communication.
  • New patching shortcuts speed up common tasks when connecting actors.

More info can be found here:

http://troikatronix.com/isadora-2-1-release-notes/

Enjoy!

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Isadora Art Gallery Interactive.


I have been working on a nice little project at work. I’d rather not say too much about it just yet as it’s a bit of a secret.

But it’s basically a push button interactive that will use a webcam and Isadora. Its stand alone and fully automated. Here is a glimpse of it from the back – if you are a techy like me then you always like to see the ‘guts’ of the piece.

A 32″ samsung LED TV has been used. A standard 2015 mac mini, a HD Logitec webcam, the amazing Makey Makey original board with a commercial grade push button. All houses in a custom made frame.

I will take some more pictures and probably some video once the project is complete.

Here are a few images!
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What the bloody hell is OSC? (Open Sound Control)


OSC – Open Sound Control.

What the hell is this I hear you cry? OSC is becoming used more and more. VJ’s DJ’s and AV interactive peoples (and everything in between!) are starting to use it. It’s not very clear what it is and how it all works. I found it complicated when I first discovered it. So, this is NOT a how to get OSC working with software A or B just a general overview of what it is and how it works – hopefully in a friendly delivery.

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 09.49.28

OSC BASICS.

In it’s simplest form, is a protocol which sends numbers from one location to another.

OSC uses an IP address (Internet Protocol address) which means it has to know the address of the computer it is sending to. So, You can think of an IP address as a street name.

So let’s take a theoretical IP address:

90.44.129.91

We can think of 90.44.129.91 as a street name such as “Victoria Lane”. But Victoria Lane could have thousands of houses on it or a big block of flats, etc. So we need a house number.

After an IP address you generally have a port. A common one is:

9001

Therefore now the address is 90.44.129.91:9001 (note the : its not a . after the 91)

So now we have Victoria Lane, house number 9001.

But perhaps you want to know what room in the house you need? In OSC this is called a channel. Channels range from 1-999

So lets say we want OSC channel 4. Now our address is: Victoria Lane, house number 9001, room 4. Or in OSC talk 90.44.129.91:9001 channel 4.

However…

Computer’s change the IP address every time they start a new network, shut down and re-open, etc. This is a way of safe guarding your machine from attacks and hacks.

How do you find your IP address?

Google: “how to find your mac IP address” it will show you at the top. This is the same for Mac and Windows.

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 09.26.10

Static IP
You can however create a static IP address. This is fixed and will never change.

Static IP is generally better for performances as the numbers never change and you are in control. Downside is when you create a static IP you can not connect to the Internet like normal. You are basically creating a Local Area Network. (there are ways but I don’t want to complicate things).

How do you create a static IP?

http://www.macinstruct.com/node/550

Localhost

This can be confusing. Local host is always 99% of the time 127.0.0.1 think of this as a home/default IP.

It’s almost like a feedback loop. It’s hard to explain but you can find out more here:

http://www.tech-faq.com/127-0-0-1.html

In’s and Out’s.

The ‘house number’ that we chose earlier is an IN; we chose 9001. But if we want data to be sent back we need and OUT and we can’t go IN an OUT door. They have to be different.

So the OUT port would need to be a number close to 9001. Maybe 9002 or 9005 (anything really).

WHY DO WE NEED AND IN AND OUT?

Say we press a button a TouchOSC app on your iPad. The signal is as follows:

Press button: sends value OUT to 90.44.129.91:9001 on channel 4. Software receives this Value and ch 4 is mapped to a button : the button turns on an effect.

Most apps like OSC will automatically light up and change depending on if the toggle is momentary or toggle.

But if you changed the button on the software using your mouse or QWERTY keyboard you want the iPad app to update so it says in sync. So you can tell 90.44.129.91:9001 on channel 4 to send a message ‘light on’ (or change state – basically replicate a button press)…. but it has to be on a different port.

This is often the case with VJ/DJ’s who have multiple controllers and wanting all the hardware and software to change and keep updated. Such as Touch OSC.

Packets and Strings.

OSC can send either a long string of numbers constantly. Like water pouring down a stream. It has no start and stop and everything travels in one long line.

OSC packets are small chunks of data bundled up in packets/parcels. This is like collecting water from a pond up stream in a big glass, carrying it downstream and then pouring it back out. [excuse the really random story telling – I don’t know where I get these ideas from! lol].

This is only a very simple explanation and the advanced users reading this will be laughing but in a VERY basic format this is all you need to know for now.

Summary.

Without confusing you, or incase you don’t know it OSC is similar to MIDI/DMX. The values range from 0.0-1.0 and send the data very quickly over WIFI or down cables.

You can read more here:

https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Open_Sound_Control 

http://opensoundcontrol.org/introduction-osc 

http://troikatronix.com/support/kb/using-touchosc-with-isadora/

I hope this helps some of you.

Thanks,

skulpture 

Don’t let Apple kill Open Ni


http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/apple-let-apple-kill

Written by Mark Coniglio:

Artists, designers, makers, and tinkerers around the world have leveraged the power of 3D cameras like the XBox Kinect and XTion Live to create innumerable interactive installations, performances and other compelling works of art. The OpenNI SDK is a key technology behind many commercial and open-source software programs that have empowered this artistic expression. So, we were surprised and shocked when we saw the notification on the OpenNI site that said the web site would close on April 23rd.

Apple, you bought Prime Sense, and now you want to kill this critically important technology. We’re respectfully asking you: don’t do it.

Many of us in this community remember a time when Apple was our champion. You provided us with a truly innovative operating system that offered unforeseen ways to interactively control and present media. This in turn led to the development of of thousands of applications that empowered tens of thousands of artists to inspire and entertain audiences around the globe. (And, by the way, help you sell millions of computers.)

Mr. Cook, your action to take away OpenNI runs counter to that history. We know your priorities have changed. We know that it’s all about mobile devices these days. We understand that you likely have your own plans for 3D imagining technology.

But, empowering personal expression through technology was one of the core values that made Apple the great company it is. We are asking you to remember that part of your history today, and to support us by changing course. Keep OpenNI open and available to us.

PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION! WE NEED THIS TO STAY!

http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/apple-let-apple-kill

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!

Configuring an Apple Mac for commercial/instillation use. [UPDATED]


So for the last 12 weeks I have been working as a Digital Creator at York Museums Trust. This has meant I have had to totally rethink the way in which I use and implement technology. I have not found any forums, Facebook pages or anything for us creative bunch of ‘Digital Creators’ and I feel a little bit on my own in this delicate but creative role. So I decided to use my blog and maybe people will find me along the way!

Forethought 

In some areas of the museum and art gallery spaces there are already a lot of DVD players, TV monitors, projectors, etc that need turning on each morning and off again at night. The tour guides and volunteers already have enough to do of a morning so one important aspect to consider was the starting up and shutting down of the systems. Might sound quite simple… but not necessarily. How do you make sure that a computer is going to behave? Let’s discuss….

Hardware

We use Mac Mini (mostly) for the systems as they are small, quiet, cheap(ish) and have good overall performance. There are enough USB ports and most screens and projectors have HDMI/DVI-D now so its a good choice.

Configuring the OS (tame the lion!)
The first things I did when the machines came where:

  1. Auto-Sign in. So that when a machine stats up there is no password. All of our machines are locked in secure spaces and are trackable anyway.
  2. Disable all energy-saving features. We do not want the HD to go to sleep.
  3. Turn off screen savers. (it might be ok to allow the screen saver now and again – up to you)
  4. Change the wallpaper to something appropriate. Remove icons from off desktop so that if the system does crash then it doesn’t look a mess.
  5. Disable all notifications (note: for Mountain Lion (10.8). This will show you how…[LINK] Even if you disable notifications manually in System Preferences the Apple Software update still show up. It can really get annoying.
  6. Turn on restart if power cut. This is really handy for the rare occasion that a power cut may occur! Obviously.
  7. Turn off all your software automatic updates. Go through all the menus in preferences to make sure!
  8. install VNC or another similar screen sharing software. It’s handy, trust me.

Other things to consider

If like me you are running the machine to power  kiosk style interaction then you need to make sure that the software if going to keep running and running. Obviously testing is the best way to do this. Self testing is ok but you know the system and unconsciously are ‘nice’ to it. Ask a few people from various departments, ages, etc to try it out. Make sure everyone can work the system. See if any other problems occur.

But I decided to create something to make sure the software stayed live and even if the software did crash it would re-open within seconds, it’s all automated and can select precise files to open. I did this using automator (with the help of Mark Conilgio) and posted a link on the Isadora forum (this is the software I use for interactive AV design) The discussion can be found [HERE] You need a little bit of knowledge but if I can figure it out you sure can!

Auto Start/Auto Shut Down
Some of you will know what Apple Macs have a function that ‘Schedule’ the machine to turn off and on each day…
You will find this in Energy Saving in System Preferences

This can solve a big problem already… but what if you need something more advanced? Well I found a brilliant website called If This Then That, also known as IFTTT (I prefer the abbreviation!) And as you can see in this link for the Date & Time channel it can do quite a lot of stuff, and its web-based… BUT it works even better with a WiFi enabled plug! The Belkin Wemo Switch. The two companies have joined forces and API’s to allow each to talk to each other. So you can set the plug to turn on at 8:30 every morning and thus the machine will turn on. This saves energy and also works like a normal plug. [I must warn you at this point that we have had issues with the plug and our WiFi, it works best with ‘normal’ home WiFi and not advanced ultra secure networks like ours at the trust!]

There are other softwares and techniques but for now… the above should help some of you. Next…

How to check it all systems are online?
I can’t walk around all the various sites each morning to check to see if all the machines have turned on and are running. Of course I can ring and ask each site but not very efficient. So I decided to automate something that would let me know. The keyword here is automate and the little app called Automator on Mac is a godsend. I created an app that you can add to your log in items (more detail here) so that as each machine starts up it can either; run a quick and basic terminal command and save it to a drop box folder. So each morning I have a Dropbox folder which I can glance over and see that I have a new system report for each machine (including other system details such as RAM, wi-fi, etc) and if I do not have a report for machine…. then I can investigate! You can change this to take screenshots or anything you fancy really. Oh; and type “last” into terminal for a basic idea of the info I get.

Using my good friend IFTTT (look above if you don’t know what that stands for!) Dropbox is also useable; so a file added to Dropbox can A)email me B)tweet me c)SMS text me D)anything else I can think of that is IFTTT activated! It’s really neat.

So, By 9:00 every morning I already know that my machines are turned on and running. If not I get straight off the train and go and investigate. Most of the time the Internet is down and it just hasn’t synced the file in Dropbox.

I know people will say just use VNC and log into each machine but I really don’t have the time and this was it automatic and I can do it on the train via my iPhone or iPad. I set up a bog standard but hidden twitter account and it tweets my personal twitter account once each file from each machine has loaded before I even get to work. Depending on my 3G signal I receive all the tweets at the same time within a 10 minute period; again its simple and effective.

Final thoughts

Once the system is working then hold off for as looooooooooooooong as you can before updating. If it ain’t broke dont fix it! Even a simple update might change a file or directory that handles video, images, audio, etc. it might take you hours or even weeks to figure it out and that means a lot of down time for the system.

Keep a back up and save it in two or three places. The software files and media need to be backed up. it’s boring but do it! If files are small then email them to yourself or buy a cheap USB hard drive and drop them on there. Put it in a draw and forget about it – hopefully you wont need it.

I would really like to get some dialogue going between other AV creators in this sector. Please drop me a message!

UPDATE JUNE 2015

I have decided to re-visit this post. Two years on and the apple mac’s are still going strong. I had a few teething problems but all went well. My first issue was internet – the Wifi was not strong enough to cope so I do not use IFTTT now. I just have to live and hope! But; I will leave it in my blog as it’s handy for others.

I also use a lot of apple scripts now. I found that they are handy for automating tasks. I then export all scripts and automator workflows as apps and put them in login/start up. Here is a basic one I use to quit all apps and then just open my Isadora patch.

Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 14.51.17

Once you get into Automator it’s really handy! it can run terminal commands and all sorts.

I also have a few handy links for you:

http://vormplus.be/blog/article/configuring-mac-os-x-for-interactive-installations (a blog similar to this one!)

http://www.interpretationshop.co.uk/product-category/software/ (really cool software and hardware)

https://www.peterborgapps.com/lingon/ (some advanced start up scripts and stuff to make apps re-open on crashes, etc Ive not used it but may do one day for the small fee)

I hope this helps. Comments welcome!

Thanks,

Graham