October 28, 2008
check out Robert Hodgin’s page for this story.
October 21, 2008
This is the Waltz from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake suite, rendered through the Zeno music visualiser.
This is an entirely generative/audio reactive animation, i.e. no keyframing or manual input or editing. Programmed using the Processing language.
I had to tweak a little the audio frequency selections - the Bodysnatchers setup didn’t translate well. The Radiohead track basically has two volumes – loud, and very loud. Orchestral pieces tend to have a vast dynamic range and more subtlety. Ideally I could have written a bit of code to automate this, but there’s a certain artistic sensibility and enjoyment involved when choosing which sounds will affect which bits of the animation, which leads me to think visualisers of the future could be more customisable by the user, as option though.
When I was watching this back, Disney’s Fantasia popped into my head. It’s kind of obvious now that I think about it, perhaps it’s all been a subconscious desire to do my own Fantasia mmmm now there’s a thought…
October 18, 2008
This is my first attempt at music visualisation, based on the Zeno animation system I’ve been developing for my first two videos Music is Math and Metamorphosis. This time it’s Radiohead with their Bodysnatchers track from In Rainbows.
Technically not to much of a challenge, it was more about finding the right frequencies of the audio to work with, and what to apply where in the graphics and motion of the animation to make it look interesting.
What has helped this particular form of music visualisation is that it’s already based on a pre-existing generative animation system, so the audio reaction just adds another dimension. It’s a 50/50 generative + audio reactive piece. The Zeno system has done a lot of the hard work, even in a neutral state with no audio it would hold up pretty well (which is basically what is happening with Music is Math and Metamorphosis). I always try to create a sense of a seamless visual journey, through different spaces, I don’t like cuts and edits or static points of view.
The generative visuals have 4 layers:-
1. Background layer of stars.
2. Bluish cloud.
2. Reddish Zeno (the vine like things)
3. Greenish Zeno.
Incidentally, the green and red sprites were created with fractal flames. But this a topic for another day.
Here’s a breakdown of how the audio is interacting with the generative:-
1. Bass guitar – makes the red shading on the red zeno pulsate.
2. Lead guitar – affects intensity of inner glows of both zenos.
3. Treble – affects size of sprites.
4. Vocal – additional affector to red sprite size, affects speed and directions of all sprites, affects size of stars in background.
5. X Factor – this is the name I gave to the overall amplitude – an ‘excitement’ factor. This controls the camera Z depth (near/far) – loudness brings us closer in, quieter breaks bring us out again. This was important to get that sense of a non-static journey and spatial interest that married with the music. The X Factor also increases the speed of the zenos growing, and the intensity of the blue cloud.
Audio analysis is an art in itself, finding whats interesting, isolating cleanly from everything else, and hooking it up with the visuals somehow. You can see there are endless variables and permutations to play with, which makes it a fascinating form of audio visual art, especially when mixed in with generative animation.
October 15, 2008
This was my second video for Peter Gabriel. It’s based on a recursive, repeating pattern technique I’ve developed in After Effects over the years.
This song is a remix of the more commercial single ‘Steam’ he released from his US album in 1993. It was a sort of son-of-sledgehammer affair, but didn’t really cut the mustard I thought, but such are the commercial pressures on artists to have an MTV-friendly glittery pop release to help promote sales.
Anyway, ‘Quiet Steam’ was actually a B-Side remix released in the same year, a much darker, ambient affair, and a much better piece of music. Years later I had been showing PG lots of experimental animation tests using my pattern repeating technique, and I was asked to come up with something for Quiet Steam.
An interesting approach I thought would be to take images out of the original video, and apply my technique to these, thus ‘remixing’ the video – creating lots of new spiralling abstract animation using the original video as source. What I thought was unique is that both the song and the video were remixed into a completely new piece.
The video is yet to be released/used anywhere, it doesn’t exactly scream top ten hit, but who knows, could end up as a DVD easter egg sometime in the near future.