99Fridays: Last Minute Systems

Performance Systems

Joi started an initiative at the lab to support low pressure experimentation with party technology, so Brian and I have been having fun connecting things to other things. We’ve got a system (actually mostly Brian has a system, but I’ll brag about it because its awesome) where the DJ’s is analyzed and broadcasted in a format where anyone can subscribe and get data for lighting and other stuff that might need to react to music. So far there’s a really fast 31-band FFT and amplitude. But we could really add anything to it.

All that data is picked up by various systems (code I wrote for DMX/Artnet output, code Brian wrote for some wireless LED tubes and mini moving heads) and used to make the party awesome. Best of all, it runs over the internet so really anyone can contribute or use the data from anywhere.

Last Friday night we did one at Redstar (with the directors fellows) and bounced all the data for the party off a machine at the lab with basically no latency penalty.

My favorite part about 99Fridays is that it is really a low stress, low pressure place to experiment. Plunge the room into darkness? No problem. Work on code/soldering/machining during the party? No problem. We’ve been able to experiment with some wacky stuff, like putting our OSC controllable mixer on the internet and giving the bar tender iPhone control over music, or attaching the smoke machine fan speed to the level of 50Hz in the room.

Next thing I want to work on is meaningful abstractions. We do that all the time with performance sensor data in our group, but we haven’t really touched on it yet for party inputs like FFT. Peter has a couple cool FFT-derived abstractions like consonance, but there’s a whole world of stuff to try out. We began some very simple experimentation at Redstar using an abstraction on the lighting control to map a color gradient over various amplitudes. There’s still some hacking to be done there, though. All in time!

Photo by Kongo!