[LIPP week 3] Further into Jitter, and performance ideas

Assignment:

Continue building a video playback system:

  • Take what we learned this week and add it to your existing playback system. If the patch gets too complex or messy don’t be afraid to start from scratch. Start to think about how you would perform with this patch because you will be doing exactly that 2 classes from now.
  • Write another blog post showing what you were able to make this week using either screenshots or screen recordings. Explain what worked and what you discovered. Also explain what was frustrating or confusing. Be prepared to show your patch in class and talk us through it.

Performance ideas:

My interest in projections came from my work as a lighting designer, more specifically in wanting to explore color and movement while not having access to moving lights and LED fixtures. The first projects that I developed were using Processing to create shapes, textures and color, but in Brazilian context, no one can really afford my work if I have to spend a month developing an interesting personalized code from scratch for every performance. Also, I usually work with music shows, and I will only be contacted one or two weeks ahead of the performance. That used to get me very nervous and feeling unprepared, so I trained as a lighting improviser for 5 years. With that, I could easily improvise with conventional lighting, but couldn’t do so with projections (I had a separate program for each visual, usually related to each specific song in a band’s set). In trying to find ways to add this layer of dynamic to my work, I found Tagtool.

Tagtool is a layer-based live drawing/animation iOS app with an amazing interface — ultra intuitive, dynamic, fast and very well designed. Working with it brought a whole set of possibilities to my work, and it fulfilled all the concerns that I exposed above. Still, the app is very new and unstable in many ways. It has a very specific way and order in which it has to be connected to the projector, at a certain point adding or deleting layers will definitely cause the animation to freeze for a second, and there are some functionalities that I wouldn’t even try to use in a live performance, for they are sure to bug or crash the app after a few layers.

Tagtool only has free hand drawing options, which means it takes a long time to create interesting textures and images, and the user is limited to their drawing skills. I feel like after a year and a half exploring the app, I have arrived at an exhaustion point in which everything looks similar, and most of the works done with it have a similar aesthetic that seems weird to me, considering all the possibilities that it gives the user.

With that, I would like to transpose some of the app’s features to Max, adding all sorts of graphical possibilities that Jitter has to offer. My goal would be a layer-based performance tool that I could draw to, import videos and images, add effects, and animate the layers independently. It is hard to imagine a tool that could be as easy to play with as Tagtool, specially for the ease of dealing with a tablet screen, but also because the number of controls available is very sufficient in giving great effect while a human being can still have a bigger picture of everything that the tool can do, and more importantly, what it is doing at the moment. I believe I would need an interface that has easy ways to travel through the layers and effects, while relying on the mouse/pen to draw and position elements on screen.

For now, I would like to explore [jit.lcd] in its geometry and drawing possibilities, and how to create interesting effects on top (or under) it.

 

Further into Jitter:

After presenting some of these ideas above to Matt Romein during office hours, we arrived to this patcher:

office hours patcher week 3

We used [jit.lcd] to draw a circle on the mouse position, keyed out the background, and replaced it using [jit.rota] to rotate and zoom in the drawing. In my assignment, I used the same premise, but changing the circle to an actual line, and finding ways to control the colors of the pen, background and chroma key. I had trouble switching the dimensions to the new window, which resulted in some very cool effects such as the image on the top of this post.

After understanding what was going wrong, I added last week’s patch to it, playing around with [jit.op] and [jit.xfade] in between two video sources, and the sketch and a video. After a while, I realized that the fading effect wasn’t very interesting to me, so I changed it all for operators, and divided into sketch + noise, and video + video, adding (or doing whatever operation) the two results into a final output.

Here is a screenshot of the final patcher, which is a mess, and a video of me playing around with it in presentation mode, so I could see what I was doing:

patcherweek4

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