Guitar Genetics: Case Study

Guitar Genetics is the project I’ve been working on for the last six weeks or so combining an electric guitar and Processing. I feed an electric guitar though a headphone amplifier and into the line in on my laptop. (I also split it before the headphone amp to a read amp so as you play you can hear it). Using the Fast Fourier Transform from the Sonia class, I made a visualization that resembles DNA patterns. The color of each plot depends on which string on the guitar is plucked, and the vertical position is based on the fret. Since I am using pseudo-note detection, the program reads extra notes most of the time which produce more interesting visuals. To create a print, all the note information from a recording session is saved to a XML file, which is then run though my render engine I built, so I can produce high resolution prints. I have a more detailed case study below, or you can download it as a PDF.


There are more images on flickr.

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Stepping away from the computer for a bit to blow some glass…

I took an elective though the glass program this quarter, and got to spend 10 weeks working in a flame shop and hot shop. The flame shop is where people use torches to make little things, like dolphins and marbles. Hot shop is where people do glass blowing with furnaces. I have to say that the hot shop was my pretty cool. It’s amazing – the furnaces that house the melted glass run at something like 2,100º and once they are turned on are never turned off. They have to be hooked up to a generator if the power fails. If they do turn off and the glass cools, it contracts and literally makes the whole furnace implode. So you can imagine getting right up to that furnace is pretty intense. Now I’m not the best at glass blowing, but the whole experience was great, so if you ever have the change to take a class in glass blowing or are in Corning where you can take a class at one of the glass shops there, do it.

paperweight.jpg grass2.jpg ugly_bottle.jpg

(left to right: lopsided paperweight with ‘party mix’ colored frit, glass grass sculpture made in flame shop, ugly bottle made of golden glass)

Microsoft Imagine Cup Silverlight Challenge

So Microsoft has this Imagine Cup contest going on right now. And as a part of it, they have a sub contest that is only accessible to five select universities, RIT being one of them. (I think Pratt might be one, maybe RISD too). Anyways, today was the deadline for our first submission. The theme is the enviroment and technology helping sustain it and making people aware and whatnot. The assignment it to make a unique user interface that teaches people about the enviroment one way or another. The catch is that you have to use Microsoft Silverlight. Silverlight is basically Microsoft’s version of Flash, but still in beta. But we don’t even have to go there yet, luckily, since I can see absolutely no reason at all to switch from Flash, which I have about five years of experience with, to Silverlight. All we had to do was submit more or less a design document. What a nightmare.

File Name:
Upload #:

The submission site is so confusing, there’s actually no mention of the Silverlight challenge on it, it’s like a secret bonus mode that you see once you submit your file. But in order to do that, you need to complete a checklist. There are various requirement on it, one of them being sign up for a Live ID account (no reason why, just because I guess). But that’s all the info on the check list. Some of the items are hyperlinks, but not for this. So I was left wondering how I take the Live account I just made (I had to Google it to find it) and make it so the competition knows I made one. Well luckily there is a little ? icon that you can rollover for help – which is just an image with an alt tag that doesn’t even work, or when it does elsewhere on the site just says the exact same thing as the text item it is next to. A lot of help that is. Finally, by accident, I found where to sign in. It was off to the left in what looks exactly like an advertisement panel. Other people had the exact same problem and thought the exact same thing, so it’s not like I’m just a moron (unless we’re all morons maybe). So once I log in and link my account, I get a nice message saying: “Round 1 has ended. Check back on 02/22 for the official results. You can submit or update an entry for an Achievement Award, like the U.S. Microsoft Silverlight Challenge (U.S. teams only).” So that scared me since the first thing I saw was ‘Round 1 has ended’, and then I was confused by the countdown timer below which stated we had 16 hours, 43 minutes, and so many seconds left to submit. Luckily, since the Silverlight Challenge is in a different category, even though it is in the Interface Design category, has it’s own rules so we could still submit. But overall, the whole thing was very unclear and a pain to navigate though. If the top prize was not $10,000, and for the fact that only four other schools could submit and there are only 25 finalist (so if you’re picked you have a 1/25 chance once you submit your final piece), this would not be worth the effort. Also, Adam Smith really was pushing this and he was one the one that helped set it up so we could enter it, so I owe it to him to at least try.

But if anyone is wondering “Why should I use Silverlight” my answer is this: “Only because you can win $10k.”
But to be fair, if you are interested in Silverlight, one of the New Media Team Project teams is exploring Silverlight and making a web application in it, so defiantly check out their blog: They’ve been doing a great job so far, and they’ll be paving the path for future development of it.

Genetic Panoramic Test

 After talking with colleagues, I’ve decided that I want a print to be the final result of my project involving using an electric guitar as an input device. I like the idea of something resembling sheet music, but also showing how the music is made up. So I looked at DNA pattern images, and based it off of that.

I just finished building a prototype, and the next step is hooking it up to the guitar part. Makes me kind of nervous, because I fear it might run too slow once integrated with the sonia library. This image is just based off of the mouse, but for the final one there will be six colors, one for each string, and the vertical placement will be determined by fret.


Guitar Art Progress

More work with an electric guitar and Processing. Gave a presentation today on what I was working on, and got some great feedback, especially from Nate Wolf who suggested something that would be accumulative, s no fading. I had the idea of it building before as it scrolled, but something about how Nate put it made it strike me to take a second whack at that idea. Later I was talking with Sarah Merchant, and we were talking about how it could be a big print and I thought it might be really neat to make some sort of genome looking thing, so after you play a song or whatever, you have a long scroll (like of sheet music) of ‘genetic code.’ I’m going to have to look into that. (If anyone is interested in financing and being a patron for a 100-foot or so print, let me know – I sure know that I can’t afford that right now.)

Motion Tracking Experiment #2

Another clip playing around with SynthEyes, Cinema 4D, and After Effects. I can’t seem to get the GI to stop flickering, even though I have it set to ‘camera animation.’ I might have to upload a saved solution file or something to netrender. Additionally, if you’re having a problems recently with After Effects not rendering out due to a permissions error, you need to update QuickTime to 7.4.1 or whatever the new one is. They also cut out a lot of codecs, but as long as H246 is there I’m good.