Chris Randall: Musician, Writer, User Interface Designer, Inventor, Photographer, Complainer. Not necessarily in that order.
April 9, 2008

Psychosynth, and 3D in general...

by Chris Randall

I noted with interest when Matrix put up a little blurb about Psychosynth the other day, which is an open-source no-table-or-Bjork-required clone of the Reactable stuff. Now, right from the outset let's get one thing clear: my patience for that whole "breaking down the barriers between the artist and his shit" routine is essentially nonexistent. My interest in these sorts of tools is limited to workflow questions entirely. Personally, I think the audio results of the Psychosynth specifically are underwhelming at minimum, and for the most part downright bad.

Now, with that massive caveat out of the way, here's why I bring this whole thing up. My job with Audio Damage, aside from providing pithy responses to emailed questions ("why doesn't Dubstation 1.5 work with Cubase VST in Windows 98?") is generally related to forest matters. As opposed to tree matters, which are most definitely Adam's department. So the general look of Audio Damage products, how they fit in to the world at large, and the personality they have are generally my responsibility, while Adam deals with the internal structures, the actual DSP, and turning my flights of fancy in to actual usable products. That's the general way things work around here, with notable exceptions.

So I'm always on the lookout for new ways to do things that will separate AD from the herd, and one of the things I keep coming back to are true 3D interfaces. I had a rather deep experimental phase going a couple years back, and I kept inflicting a little filter I made with a true 3D pure OpenGL interface on our testing crew. They were nonplussed by the whole thing. I believe one actually pondered whether I still had a firm grasp of my sanity. To be sure, there are several products out there, some well-known, that use OpenGL for drawing. (Expert Sleepers' Minky Starshine is one such, although it ain't the prettiest thing out there, and I'm fairly certain that Urs Heckmann uses OpenGL for some of his stuff, although it might just be a combo platter of CoreGraphics and GDI+; hard to tell. Plogue Bidule is done in pure OpenGL, for what it's worth.)

The reason for using OpenGL is to open up the Z plane; VSTGUI, which we use for everything right now, is firmly bound to X and Y, with nary a Z in sight. To be certain, it is perfectly capable of doing most everything we need to release fine products. But in my head (the afore-mentioned flights of fancy) I see user interfaces for products that evoke Anymails and Fidgt, and for that we need something a bit lower level and more fluid in its execution. I actually have one such product in my head that continues on a theme we started in the early days of AD, but I won't elaborate on that at this juncture.

Long story short, go watch the Psychosynth videos if you have a minute and think about how a true 3D interface could be used for other things. Personally, as I said, I don't find the Psychosynth stuff very interesting, but I do see the logical extensions. For the record, Psychosynth was done with the OGRE 3D game engine and CEGUI. He has downloadables there, but only for Linux, naturally. But this discussion I'm envisioning isn't really about Psychosynth at all, but rather taking advantage of the platform in which we all work, the computer screen, and making things that are completely new, rather than evoking some crusty piece of gear with my Mental Ray chops. How dangerous is this course of action?

April 7, 2008

Audio Damage Dubstation 1.5 Now Available...

by Chris Randall

Dubstation 1.5 is now up in the AD Store for your purchasing and downloading pleasure. If you are an existing Dubstation customer, it'll just be in your account ready to go, as it is a free update. If you don't own Dubstation, now's as good a time as any to get in on the party. This is Audio Damage's second-best selling product (after Replicant) and with good reason.

If you missed my earlier announcements, Dubstation 1.5 gives our venerable favorite a new UI, and the oft-requested HI-CUT knob in addition to the LO-CUT, so you can have a measure of control over the high end; it is still controlled largely by the delay time, and the sound of Dubstation is unchanged if you have it all the way anti-clockwise.

Other changes: some minor bug fixes, and the delay knob behavior has been altered to match that of Dr. Device; you no longer have to automate hidden values. Dubstation 1.5 has a different name and VSTID than the original, and they'll live side by side happily, so you don't have to worry about existing projects being affected. Enjoy!

April 6, 2008

Choppy, Glitchy, Fuck Yeah!

by Chris Randall

As I mentioned in an earlier comment, I've been pondering a thread starter on glitch programming; nothing has really come to me that wouldn't take the form of a tutorial (which I don't find that interesting, at least to make) or a rant. So I'll just provide some materials and we can go off on whatever tangent is appropriate. Don't you wish I was your teacher at Full Sail? An education at that place might almost have been worth something.

In any case, what got me started on this whole thing was this video on GooTube, in which this Pix fellow demonstrates far better than I could type the CTRL-AL engine in the MachineDrum. I use this technique extensively, and while I kind of discovered it independently, I hadn't taken it to the lengths that he has. Also, I'm trying to work out a plugin concept (much to Adam's bemusement) based loosely on the technique exhibited in this video, which takes advantage of a quirky behavior in Live. It is fairly complicated to pull off, and can't be done in real time, but the result is kind of nice, which is why I've been pondering how to do it in a plugin.

In any case, Replicant aside, I tend to do most all of my glitchy programming by hand. This is time consuming, of course, but once you get the hang of whatever your DAW uses for dealing with small chunks of audio, it is fairly productive. Currently, assuming I'm using the MachineDrum for rhythm, I'll use the CTRL-AL "feature" to come up with something interesting, record the section, then go in and start chopping and moving about the audio file in Cubase to end up with what I want. Since I tend to record separate parts, I throw everything in a folder track when I'm done so it can be dealt with like an individual loop.

What's your favorite methodology for doing this sort of thing? Are there any crafty videos on YouTube that I haven't seen? Or are you just gonna say "I went to Full Sail, and look at me now, bitch! I'm the patchbay monkey in the finest studio in Pittsburgh!"

EDIT: I almost forgot the excellent videos from our good friends Sonniccouture that deal with using their KSP scripts with Kontakt. You can find them here and here.

April 4, 2008

Friday Open Threadage...

by Chris Randall

Okay, we've got Dubstation 1.5 VST done on both Mac and Windows; the AU is giving us a little bit of grief as usual, but that should be hammered out shortly. (AU users, feel free to go watch this awesome video while you're waiting.) I imagine that I'll be uploading the new installers to the server on Monday or Tuesday, if all goes well. Since we're essentially swapping one product for another, as far as the store is concerned, I can't just put up the Windows one; they both have to go up at the same time, so unfortunately you Windows people will have to tough it out. It'll give you a taste of the other side for a change. ;-)

No open thread topic in particular. What's on your mind?

NOTE: I was gonna make the open-thread subject eight-channel ADA convertors, but I just found out I owe the IRS a five-digit number, so that's not gonna be happening this month. They can take that economic stimulus package and ram it up their collective asses.

April 3, 2008

Helter Skelter... uh... right...

by Chris Randall

This one is really for the non-US readers, as an example of how American politicians go insane after they lose a primary attempt. This fellow is Mike Gravel. He was a Democratic candidate for president, but he was soundly thrashed early in the primaries. He dropped out, and decided to run as a Libertarian. (For those that don't know, Libertarian is Latin for "Xenophobic Redneck.") This is a blatantly obvious attempt at making some sort of artificial meme, of course, but it's still silly enough to laugh at, especially for us.


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