Tag Archives: YouTube

Live Looping Is Live!

Woo hoo! It’s a tiny step but an important one, as this is our first successful experiment with live video looping, which will be central to our Dance Loops project at Utah Valley University. This video is based on motion sensitive recording and processing in Max/MSP/Jitter via my Mac’s iSight camera. You’ll notice that the movement from the first half persists during the second half, in which additional movement is layered. The looped videos for Dance Loops will be filmed with a Kinect video/depth camera and will probably be played back in a very different way, but this represents the first step in that direction.

 

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Exposing My (Intellectual) Self

Homemade by Trisha Brown (1966)

[The above is not me. Rather, it is Trisha Brown performing her 1966 dance “Homemade” with a projector strapped to her back. Way ahead of her time.]

In an experiment with intellectual and creative transparency, I’m going to make public the starting-from-nothing draft of a collaborative art/research project that I will do at Utah Valley University this fall with Nichole Ortega, Jacque Bell, and a large group of students from across campus. (Actually, I have been planning and working on my part for a while; it’s the active collaboration part that won’t start until fall.)

The project is tentatively titled “Dance Loops.” In the shortest possible explanation, it’s an attempt to do with modern dance what Zoë Keating does with the cello. (See zoekeating.com or search on YouTube for more info.)

More specifically, what we’re trying to do is allow a pair of dancers to capture, modify, and project looped videos of their movement during a live performance. To do this, the two dancers use onstage controllers (perhaps Novation Launchpads) to trigger motion capture with their respective Microsoft Kinect depth cameras. Using both their controllers and bodily motion (i.e., gestural control through the Kinects, which will run through Ableton Live and/or Max/MSP/Jitter), the dancers can control the playback of both the music and video projections of their dancing. The dancers will accompanied by an offstage visualist who will program the controllers, load audio clips, and control a central projector.

Well, that’s the idea, anyhow.

This past Tuesday (01 May 2012) I submitted a grant application for this project to the UVU Scholarly Council. If you’re interested, you can see the application letter here. It’s a quick turnaround so I should know by the 15th if the grant gets funded. If yes, fabulous! If no, I’ll see how much of it I can get done without all of the hardware and software.

And so, this brings us back to the transparency issue. I have a few reasons to start the manuscript now and to make it public:

  • To help me focus my thoughts on this project (which is generally a hard thing for me to do)
  • To avoid having to hastily recreate the process at a later date (which has happened to me more than once)
  • To make sure I explore my technical and artistic alternatives and make justifiable choices for the final decisions
  • To get feedback on early ideas
  • And, if nothing else, to get some outside help on proofreading and MLA style, which, as an experimental psychologist, is still new and confusing to me

[Note: The paper currently does not use MLA style headings because I want to use the formatting shortcuts in Google Docs. However, help with citations is welcome at any time.]

And, perhaps for comic effect,

  • To let people see how often a tenured research professor copies and pastes from Wikipedia. (The answer is “constantly” when I’m just starting the project, although it may all be replaced by other resources at the end.)

So, I invite anyone and everyone to check on the project’s progress. Please feel free to comment on the document by selecting the relevant text and then going to “Insert > Comment” in the Google Docs menu. Any insight or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Just click on j.mp/dance-loops-manuscript

Thanks!

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Bart Discovers Machinima

[Above: Still from From “Dear Fairy” by Tom Jantol aka Madame Zhora. In this short film, Pinocchio wants to be a wooden toy again. See it on YouTube.]

Oh, my, it turns out that there’s yet another Brave New World out there. I just found out about “machinima” (a concatenation of “Machine” and “Cinema,” as you might have guessed), which is basically movies made with video game software. It’s a way to get 3D animation without actually having to be able to animate. Fascinating. While machinima apparently has its roots in first-person shooter games like Doom, where gamers would record the action to show how quickly they could get through a level, people soon found they could write their own scripts and action. The comic series “Red vs. Blue,” which uses characters from Halo, is a good example of such adaptation.

On the other hand, as far as I can tell, there are a couple of video games that seem almost created for machinima, the most familiar of which is Second Life. It looks like there are entire (online) film festivals dedicated to Second Life machinima, such as the Ma Machinima International Festival. Also, a quick Google search for “Second Life” Machinima reveals a number of tutorials and videos on how to get started.

But it’s even easier in the simulation game The Movies, which really was created for making movies. I even got a (miniscule) book on how to do this called Machinima: How you can use The Movies to produce your own animated films by David Mark. I’ve installed the game on both of our MacBooks so my son Quinn can hack-and-slash at it on one while I go through my overly-methodical, start-at-the-beginning approach on the other.

Anyhow, it’s a fascinating discovery for me. I can’t wait to see what I can do with it. I’ll let you know.

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Getting It All on Video

I’m planning on creating a whole bunch of things on my computer that can’t be adequately represented with screenshots. (I will, however, still include those as often as possible.) As such, I thought it would be nice to upload some small videos so my professors could see what I’m up to. I already have a YouTube channel at youtube.com/bartonpoulson but that functions primarily for my statistics tutorials (which are doing very nicely, thank you) and I didn’t want to mix these up with those.

At first I thought I’d try posting my artsy videos on the extra artsy Vimeo service. But then everything got very, very complicated. Vimeo wanted money, they wanted me to wait 30 minutes to see my 30 second clip, and so on. Then I thought I would try WordPress’ own service, VideoPress. But that, too, looked like it would be expensive and cumbersome.

Then I found out that I could simply embed the URLs from YouTube. Quick, easy, and free. As Yul Brenner, as Pharoah, was wont to say: “So let it be written, so let it be done.”

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FrankenMac

So, it’s not really anything to do with my sabbatical, per se, but it is a significant accomplishment. Several months ago my daughter Talia spilled bubble juice onto the keyboard of my wife Jacque’s white MacBook. Since then, the kids would come down and steal my external keyboard whenever they wanted to play Pirates Online or PBS Kids. The local repair store wanted over $250 to fix it (ouch!), so, in the best Do-It-Yourself spirit, I eventually bought a replacement keyboard from China, some tiny screwdrivers from Radio Shack, and watched a few videos on YouTube to figure out how to do this myself. (Delayed tie-in to sabbatical: I’m going to work with Arduinos this semester so it’s time for me to get handy. This was a nice warm up exercise.)

So, my son Quinn and I spent about an hour and a half to do what could be done in 10 minutes by someone who knows what they’re doing and, given the not-quite-perfect replacement parts, the fit’s a little off, but — wonder of wonders — it works again! It resembles Frankenstein’s own Macbook now, but at least I can keep my spiffy external keyboard all to myself.

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I ❤ lynda.com

Okay, after my Photoshop meltdown, I decided I had better get some extra help. While our teacher is wonderful and has given us some excellent written materials, I felt I needed more. Fortunately, I knew where to turn: The fabulous, miraculous, life-saving, lynda.com! (By the way, while the founder, Lynda Weinman, spells her name with conventional capitalization, the company’s name is all lower case.)

[Immediate disclosure: I only learned about lynda.com when they invited me to create a course for them on the statistical package SPSS, which I gladly did. You can see a preview of it here. As one of the authors, I both get money each month from royalties (but not a lot) and I get free access to the site, which is normally $25 per month. That said, I love it and I would gladly pay.]

Anyhow, it’s just fabulous to have video lessons that I can pause, back up, repeat, and so on. Now I understand why my statistics and research videos on YouTube have been so helpful. (You can see those at youtube.com/bartonpoulson.) I’ve been going through lynda.com’s introductory courses for Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, Flash, and Fireworks. When I have a little time, I hope to go through the courses for Python, CSS, HTML, Google Analytics, typography, etc. Also, the “Creative Inspirations” series is a gem, too. It has extended interviews with prominent professionals where you/I can see all of these tools in use. My personal favorite is with one of my high school heroes, Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo. Whee!

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