Intro

The project was initiated by Jason Richardson in his role as curator of the Griffith Pioneer Park Museum in Griffith New South Wales Australia. Jason approached Scott Baker in his role as Abre Ojos, an audiovisual artist, to collaborate on a projection mapping workshop to be run at the Park in-conjunction with the Griffith International Sculpture Symposium.

The long weekend in June 2016 was chosen as that enable two full nights of working on site to develop work and train the workshop participants.

Content/Concept

Photo by Andrew Keith

Photo by Andrew Keith

There were many email and phone conversations around how this was going to play out with limitations such as time, the unknowns of the workshop participants skills levels and how the technology would work in the environment. It was decided to draw on both Jason and Scott’s significant back catalogue of audio-visual content to work with for the weekend. Jason is a regular participant in the Disquiet Junto project as well as audiovisual output as Bassling. Scott has been working on the audiovisual Abre Ojos project for ten years and as such has a broad collection of video clips, audio reactive generative animations and other content to draw on.

A comparison to an athletics meet where a runner trains to be ready for the big race whatever the conditions is a fair metaphor in this situation. With so many unknowns and a limited amount of time, the years of combined experience made us confident we could make something happen.

Technology

An email from Scott on the 18th May brought the project structure together:

Projectors:
2 X EB-1751 Epson projectors – 2600 lumens
1 X Unknown but about 2000 lumens
Computers:
Scott’s MBP – Yosemite 10.10.5 running Resolume Avenue, Adobe CC, Lumen, HeavyM, VPT, Ableton Live, Maschine, Komplete, Arturia Synth pack.
Jason’s MBP – Yosemite running VPT.
Cables & Connectors
15m VGA cable
20m VGA cable
5m VGA cable
VGA Splitter – 1 source to 2 outputs (good for mirror projecting)
Male>Female & Female>Male VGA connectors
4 X 20m extension leads
3 X 6 output power boards
1 X Safety switch 4 output electrical power box
2 X 5m stereo 1/4 cables
4 X 1m 1/4 cables
Controllers
2 X Korg Nanokontrols USB
1 Evolution X-Session USB/Midi
1 X Beatstep Pro USB
1 X Maschine Mk1 USB
Content
220+ Abre Ojos video clips and loops
150+ Abre Ojos audio samples
Bassling video clips and loops
Bassling audio samples
So the idea would be to set up “creation stations” where we match systems (laptop with audio-visual tools, projector, controllers, audio output (chat about this in a minute)) then the participants, in teams, each build an audiovisual piece for a sculpture of their choice. Everything is done in the box so the software tools we require will have to cover the content generation for both audio and vision.
Creation Station Ingredients
Audio creation tools – either software on the laptop or even an iPad with a range of audio tools.
Video creation tools – using either provided (Abre Ojos & Bassling) content or a content generator (After Effects, Lumen, Resolume – or other free or cheap generators)
Video projection tools – HeavyM free or HeavyM Live, VPT (free) or MapMap (free)
Audio Output –  small PA or amplifier
Video Output – projector
USB or MIDI Controller for both live audio and video performance
Misc cables, connectors and power leads to make it all work.
Each station should also have a large tarpaulin (I have one, you got any? The park or the council have any?)
Torches/lanterns
A table (card table, trestle table)
Roll of gaffa tape and some cable ties ;-P
Either you and I can be a team or we split up or rotate thru the groups (or all of the above) helping out with the audio &/or video aspect. Then hopefully in the time we have there are a number of completed pieces that we can then document indivdually and as a whole installation. Day 2 would be either doing the sculptures we didn’t get to one day 1 or refining the existing pieces.
Audio output*
1 X Behringer Europort EPA150 small portable PA
*This is the only hitch- what have you got that could generate sounds- even a bass/guitar amp(s) would be awesome. How ever many audio output devices can be sourced will dictate how many “creation stations” there are and thus how many sculptures we can do at each time. Once each one is done we could do a live jam and document that as a mini performance.
And that was how it was done. We ended up having two creation stations but were limited by only having one PA system meaning only one sculpture could be recorded at each time. Thus only five of the seven sculptures got the treatment.
 

Process

Working through through the sculptures one by one here was the rough process:
DSC_0083One of Seven – Eternity – Being the first there were quite a few bugs to work out to get a solid process and just make something. We started using HeavyM Start to map the sculpture but the combination of trying to map the internal spiral of the sculpture and three crashes of the software forced a quick change of direction to using Resolume Avenue and a simple mask to map the sculpture just as one large rectangle. Audio for this and the other sculptures was created using Native Instruments Maschine.
Two of Seven – Solidio Grigio Silenzio – The basic squares of this worked better to use HeavyM Start with the edges easily mapped in a short amount of time. The non-symmetrical quads of the three layers of the sculpture meant that some of the built in geometrical animations in HeavyM were distorted but still gave a good result. The application decided to behave itself and there were no crashes although the limitation of no midi control on this version of the software made it extremely difficult to make smooth transitions of effects and animations. The audio was a live jam been Jason & Scott – Jason using a mini-Kaoscillator and Scott playing Maschine.

Photo by Andrew Keith

Photo by Andrew Keith

Three of Seven – River – HeavyM had a bug on the Mac where it wouldn’t activate the single video layer no matter what we tried. We moved to using VPT which is an amazing FREE(!) video mapping tool. It allowed not only multiple video layers but also allows Syphon inputs meaning that we could load video into some of the mapped sections and feed a live stream from Resolume into it as well. VPT’s interface is a bit counter-intuitive but once the basics are understood and you save your masks it is a fabulous tool! Using Resolume meant that there was full midi control and  audio reactive animations could be used. Out of all the sculptures the process for this one flowed the best.

 

Photo by Andrew Keith

Photo by Andrew Keith

Four of Seven – Water is the Driver of Nature – Jason did this one all by himself using VPT. He had a number of processed video clips that he had shot with an underwater camera at the local pool that he used for the content. We recorded a chunk of video of Jason changing clips live on the sculpture but did not use live audio for this one. Jason provided a track he had previously made for Disquiet Junto which was added to the video in post-production.

DSC_0136Five of Seven – Wine and Orange Blossom – The surface of this was begging for HeavyM to be the mapping tool of choice. The squares were meticulously mapped into five different groups and even though the mapping was relatively easy, time consuming but easy, HeavyM was having multiple spats. Again it crashed multiple times, once even forcing a reboot of the computer and even though the projector wasn’t moved, on the restart the saved mappings had shifted so significantly that the sculpture had to be remapped. by this stage it was getting towards midnight and the pressure was on to complete this sculpture. The temperature was quickly heading towards 2 degrees Celsius and we were battling a heavy dew that was settling on all the equipment. Once a number of animations had been created in Heavy M and some drone sounds created in Maschine it was time to start the recording however HeavyM let us down again as for some reason the audio reactivity had stopped working. Another reboot, another shifting of the projection map sent frustration levels through the roof. It was decided to forget about the audio reactivity and manually change the animations and how that synchronicity would take over and the animations would look synced to the sound.
 

Final Assembly

All the recorded media from the two days was collated and Scott edited into the form you see it here on this website. Assembly of the videos was done in Premiere Pro CC with final audio mixing and mastering done in Adobe Audition.