Monthly Archives: April 2013

Cycling ’74: 20Concepts 00-04

In the spirit of the 20Objects lessons that I mentioned in the last post, Cycling ’74 also created (well, partially, in any case) a second series of tutorials called “20Concepts.” Perhaps the most important difference, aside from the fact that they’re not actually finished, is that they start not with the simplest object in the Max/MSP/Jitter universe – the button – but, instead, they start with one of the most complex – the Vizzie modules for video manipulations. Actually, I think it makes great sense, as it’s much more engaging to start with the big pictures. And, besides, the Vizzie modules are fun!

Here’s the complete list of (intended) tutorials in the 20Concepts curriculum:

  • 20Concepts Curriculum Overview (Done)
  • 01: Vizzie Part 1 (Done)
  • 02: Vizzie Part 2 (Done)
  • 03: Messages Part 1 (Done)
  • 04: Messages Part 2 (Nonexistent)
  • 05: Time
  • 06: MIDI
  • 07: More About Numbers
  • 08: Networks
  • 09: Subpatchers
  • 10: Presets and The Pattr Object
  • 11: Audio Generation
  • 12: Audio Filtering
  • 13: Audio Levels
  • 14: Audio FX
  • 15: Jitter Input
  • 16: Jitter FX
  • 17: Jitter Compositing
  • 18: OpenGL Part 1
  • 19: OpenGL Part 2
  • 20: Max Output

As with the 20Objects tutorials, these look like they might be short but, when you actually do all of the exercises, they are veeeery time-consuming. So far, I’ve only gotten through the first three, but they have been very, very helpful so far. I look forward to the rest!

Here are video walkthroughs of the lessons that I’ve done so far.

Completed:

  • Cycling ’74 20Concepts, Lesson 00, 20Concepts Curriculum Overview; Lesson 01: Vizzie Part 1; Lesson 02: Vizzie Part 2, and Lesson 03: Messages Part 1 (13 exercises)
  • Lesson 04: Messages Part 2 is empty on the web page
  • Patches can be downloaded from http://db.tt/GBYLb0vY
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Cycling ’74: 20Objects 00-03

Cycling ’74 has a fabulous set of tutorials under the rubric of “20Objects.” Unlike the 20Concepts curriculum, which starts very macro (with the Vizzie objects for video manipulation) but is ultimately incomplete, the lessons for 20Objects start at a very basic level (with the button object) and follow all the way through to Jitter objects. Here’s the complete list:

  • 20Objects Curriculum Overview (Done)
  • 01 – The Button Object (Done)
  • 02 – The Number Box (Done)
  • 03 – The Message Box (Done)
  • 04 – The Pack Object
  • 05 – The Metro Object
  • 06 – The Random Object
  • 07 – The Noteout Object
  • 08 – The Patcher Object
  • 09 – The Scale Object
  • 10 – The Pattr Object
  • 11 – The Table Object
  • 12 – The Cycle~ Object
  • 13 – The Buffer~ Object
  • 14 – The SVF~ Object
  • 15 – The Line~ Object
  • 16 – The jit.qt.movie Object
  • 17 – The jit.matrix Object
  • 18 – The jit.brcosa Object
  • 19 – The jit.xfade Object
  • 20 – The jit.gl.render Object

It turns out that while these all look like short lessons, they’re rather time-consuming if you do all of the steps. As such, I only got through the first three of the 20 lessons (and the introduction) before I had to go work on something else. So far, they do extremely elementary things – this is a button, this is a number box – but I’m learning things I didn’t know and I’m better for it.

Completed:

  • Cycling ’74 20Objects: Lesson 01, The Button Object; Lesson 02, The Number Box; Lesson 03, The Message Box; and Lesson 04, The Pack Object (60 exercises)
  • Patches can be downloaded from http://db.tt/GBYLb0vY
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Cycling ’74: Vizzie Quickstart Tutorials

Well, I’ve finished VJ Manzo‘s book Max/MSP/Jitter for Music but, in the true academic fashion, it served mostly to let me know how much I don’t know. (And that’s a compliment, VJ!) And so I’ve decided to start working on the tutorials that Cycling ’74, the creators of  Max/MSP/Jitter, have on their own website. I’m a linear kind of guy and I like to start at the very beginning, so I took at look at their “Quickstart” page on the fabulous Vizzie objects. Here’s my first take at what they offer.

Completed:

  • Cycling ’74: Vizzie Quickstart Tutorials (1 exercise)
  • Jitter patches can be downloaded from http://db.tt/GBYLb0vY
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MMJ4M 20: Compositions and Perceptions Tools

The very last chapter of VJ Manzo‘s excellent book Max/MSP/Jitter for Music is a final exhibition of some of the applied work that can be done with Max/MSP/Jitter, as well as a few of VJ’s own compositions with Max/MSP/Jitter. As before, these don’t have much to do with Jitter, per se, but they’re at the end of the book so they’re listed under my Jitter course. More significantly, I got some wonderful inspiration on how I could make my own music. (I also got a very informal hearing test with the mosquito patch, and I’m glad to say that I hear high frequencies just fine, thank you very much.)

The book is done but I will be referring back to it very, very often as I start doing my own from-a-blank-patcher programming. (By the way, I also just bought a print copy of the book to go with my Kindle version.) In addition, I’m going to go through the plethora of tutorials that Cycling ’74 offers on their own website as a way to continue and expand my training. All of this is very, very exciting!

Completed:

  • Max/MSP/Jitter for Music, Ch. 20: Compositions and Perceptions Tools (0 exercises)
  • Patches can be downloaded from http://db.tt/GBYLb0vY (Dead Link)
  • UPDATED LINK: Patches can now be downloaded from http://j.mp/1iy19Xl
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MMJ4M 19: Informal Music Learning Instruments

Like the previous chapter, chapter 19, on “Informal Music Learning Instruments” is more of show-and-tell than hands-on. In this chapter, VJ Manzo shows how Max/MSP/Jitter can be used to create programs that greatly facilitate the exploration of musical concepts like harmony. In addition to this pedagogical goal, though, I also see application of a lot of these principles and patches to my own hoped-for work on live looping with my saxophone, especially as VJ’s patches might be good for harmonizing. Hmm… we’ll have to see later this summer.

Completed:

  • Max/MSP/Jitter for Music, Ch. 19: Informal Music Learning Instruments (0 exercises)
  • Patches can be downloaded from http://db.tt/GBYLb0vY (Dead Link)
  • UPDATED LINK: Patches can now be downloaded from http://j.mp/1iy19Xl
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MMJ4M 18: Video Research Instrument

This was an interesting chapter because it consisted almost entirely of a guided tour of one of VJ’s patches and not much in the way of person patching. That’s fine, though, because it was a complicated piece and the principles have/will come in handy in other work.

I find it especially interesting that the patch he develops can be used to gather times feedback on videos. If you recall, my day job is as a psychology professor and I have extensive training in experimental research methods. As such, this falls right in line with some of the things that I or my students could do. In that very practical sense, this was a very useful chapter.

Completed:

  • Max/MSP/Jitter for Music, Ch. 18: Video Research Instrument (0 exercises)
  • Patches can be downloaded from http://db.tt/GBYLb0vY (Dead Link)
  • UPDATED LINK: Patches can now be downloaded from http://j.mp/1iy19Xl
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MMJ4M 17: Working with Video Files

The second major Jitter-related chapter in VJ Manzo‘s book Max/MSP/Jitter for Music has to do with accessing and playing previously recorded video. It turns out that this is more complicated than using a live video stream – not what I would have guessed but, now that I’ve done the work, it makes sense.

I especially like the jit.scissors command that slices the video window into many small pieces. (Truthfully, the object names in Max/MSP/Jitter are hilarious; not the sort of thing you can get away with in a larger corporate environment.) Things started getting very spaghetti-like, so I show a couple of the patches in both their locked and unlocked states. But, overall, I am made keenly aware of how different things can work in this program as opposed to Processing, with which I am more accustomed.

Completed:

  • Max/MSP/Jitter for Music, Ch. 17: Working with Video Files (12 exercises)
  • Patches can be downloaded from http://db.tt/GBYLb0vY (Dead Link)
  • UPDATED LINK: Patches can now be downloaded from http://j.mp/1iy19Xl
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GSWA 5: Advanced Input and Output

Chapter 5 of Getting Started with Arduino is  “Advanced Input and Output.” The topics covered in this chapter are:

  • Analogue input and output to allow continuous (or at least many-valued) values as opposed to just digital on/off
  • The use of a photoelectric sensor to provide continuous input and an LED to provide continuous output
  • Serial communication to permit data exchange between different programs and different hardware

All of this is really used to lay the groundwork for the extended example in Chapter 6. And this is where I have my first movie examples to show things changing gradually. (Always glad to have the iPhone handy….)

Completed:

  • Getting Started with Arduino, 2e, Ch. 5: Advanced Input and Output (5 exercises)
  • Sketches (i.e., code) can be downloaded from http://db.tt/f6x9Q4NA

 

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GSWA 7: Troubleshooting

First Computer Bug

The last chapter of Getting Started with Arduino is about troubleshooting. In its honor, I have posted a picture of the first known computer “bug” above. (Or, at least, the first literal computer bug. See the photo source here and a Wired commentary here.) The chapter is very short and starts by suggestions the following principles:

  • Understanding. That is, it is very helpful if you understand how all the parts in your project function and how they contribute to the intended final product.
  • Simplification and segmentation. Break the project down into smaller pieces and try to check/fix each part separately.
  • Exclusion and certainty. Test each part separately and be certain that it works.

The chapter then recommends starting by looking at the Arduino board, then the breadboard, then the Arduino IDE. Also, there are some useful resources available at the Arduino website, but good old Google works well, too.

And, by the way, was able to use essentially all of the principles in trying to sort out several problems with the sketch that I did for chapter 6, so I’m glad for the advice.

Completed:

  • Getting Started with Arduino, 2e, Ch. 7: Troubleshooting (0 exercises)
  • Sketches (i.e., code) can be downloaded from http://db.tt/f6x9Q4NA

 

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GSWA 4: Really Getting Started with Arduino

Chapter 4 of Getting Started with Arduino is appropriately entitled “Really Getting Started with Arduino,” because this is the first chapter where we actually start hooking up wires and writing code. The goals of this chapter are relatively simple:

  • Hook up an LED to the Arduino
  • Put a pushbutton on the breadboard
  • Connect the wires and write the code so the pushbutton can turn on the LED, first as a momentary switch (i.e., the LED only lights up as long as you hold the button) and then as a toggle switch (i.e., click it once to have the LED turn on and stay on, then click it again to have it turn off and stay off)

Simple concept and an excellent introduction to the entire system. I’m much more accustomed to working with Processing and, while the two are very closely related, they’re not identical and the differences are acutely obvious to me. Still, I’m trying to adapt.  Some of the differences include:

  • Explicitly declaring constants
  • Setting pins as input or output (obviously, this doesn’t happen in the software-only world of Processing)
  • “digitalRead” and “digitalWrite” as functions (again, because this is hardware now)
  • The use of “HIGH” and “LOW” as “ON” and “OFF” (I know the latter work but there is a strong institutional preference for the former)

On the other hand, much of the building and troubleshooting procedure is the same: go one tiny step at a time, when something goes wrong, take a closer look at how the machine is making sense of your code, and working through possible solutions one at a time, perhaps through commenting lines in and out. And save versions of your sketch!

So, the fact that I am now able to turn a small light on and off may not seem like much to most people, but it’s a significant journey from the virtual to the physical world for me. Onward and upward!

Completed:

  • Getting Started with Arduino, 2e, Ch. 4: Really Getting Started with Arduino (5 exercises)
  • Sketches (i.e., code) can be downloaded from http://db.tt/f6x9Q4NA
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