Its Saturday the 30th May today, pretty much once we round the numbers , 50 days since last putting a post up here. Allot has happened in that time, its been a well busy! Right now I’m sat in a café/bar drinking Czech next to Kampapark in Prague, I’m having a few days break, or more so taking the opportunity of not being booked for work to get away somewhere nice. It really is nice here though ill save that for the next blogpost. So, lets reeeeeeeeeeewind……… I left off where Jon and myself had visited Consono, that feels like a long time ago, so does looking at some of the photos I’m putting up here time is a little bit elastic like that, there are allot of photos in here also.
Late March, that shen the image above was taken, Rory spent many hours up that scaff tower fitting the nodes in the centre crown fo the hive and swearing now and again, all in good spirit though! Things never seem as bad in heindsight but we all really did have some wet miserable days putting this together, sulthough, when the sun was shining it helped make up for it. The schedule was a little missplaced in some places which resulted in some irritating holdups for Jon and myself fitting the LED but it all happened in the end.
I was well pleased to have Jon on the job helping me install the LED and help combat my sometimes grumpines. I hadnt really seen Jon for a few quite years untill late last year when we met up for a beer, a few month later we were in Milan grafting, Jon if you end up reading this, I couldn’t have done it without you.
This is the day we shrunk Karl and the lady who was standing behind him at the time , an hour later it work off and he resumed normal size again. Karl came out to Milan with some programming kit, a sense of humour and knowledge as we were having some of the LED’s responding to the incorrect address. At the time I wasn’t sure what was happening, whether it was interference making the led read the wrong address at start up or some other weirdness. Initially we thought we may have to reprogram every led with a hard address which was our worst fears, eventually we narrowed the issues down to just several LED. Due to slight differences in manufacturing not all of the LED cases were completely waterproof, this enabled the ingress of moisture, which in turn shorted some of the pins on the dip-switch making the microprocessor read the wrong address on startup. This seems really obvious now but at the time it was such a random issue to fault find and fix. Lesson learned from this, (a) water will find even the most microscopic gap to get though & (b) Never take “it’ll be fine” as a piece of advice.
I left site in Milan on the 11th April, everything was up and running though we didn’t have any internet to site at the time. This meant, rather than the hive responding to the Live feed from the Beehive in the UK it was running on a pre-recorded loop of 90hours of beehive recording. For each major iteration of the software for control of the beehive I named after a Sting song, in keeping with the Bee theme, ho ho ho, oh how we laughed. The final version was called Tea In The Sahara, which funnily enough abbreviates to Tits, that also amuses me, I have a simple sense of humour.
After leaving Milan I was straight into a Job for Luke Halls whom I had worked with video programming on 2071 (make link to blog post here). It was all quite sporadic and basically involved doing a 4 projector map of the dome above the stalls in the coliseum theatre London for a charity gala dinner. Luke was already busy on another job so he got in Jan Urbanowsky to do the content for this who it was nice to meet and work with. Earlier this year I invested in my own d3 4×2 system, this gig involved driving down to London with the media server rack, lining up in an incredibly short space of time with a model of the dome, which was created from really old drawings of the theatre. It was all quite mad, there was no time for a proper laser scan of the dome but with the various warping capabilities in d3 we managed to get the content lined up and the edges blended on the dome.
The gig went well, there was around £250k raised for charity by the Naked Heart Foundation, which is not a small figure at all. We all packed down and I got the kit into the van and started my journey north. I had been up at 06:00 that day and planned to find a travel lodge, not far out of London then continue the rest of my journey the following day. Could I find a hotel with spare rooms, COULD I FUCK!! After my third attempt at pulling up to a motorway travelodge and hearing the phrase “sorry we have no rooms” I parked the van properly in the carpark, put the seat as far back as they do in a Peugeot partner and slept until the sun came up (this was about 3 hours later). Once I rubbed my eyes till I could see properly again I continued the rest of my journey north, dropped the van off and slept from 17:00 until 08:00 the following morning.
Following on from the Coliseum gig I was, down the south coast working with the Philharmonia Orchestra installing Universe of sound. This is a multiscreen projection synchronized installation where visitors can experience an orchestra and learn about an orchestra without having to go and see an orchestra. It’s a really brilliant installation to visit. It was really good to be working with the team again, catching up with friend’s and putting this whole thing together again. Above is the new 8 screen projection dome, it’s not really dome but its been called that since its inception, this is version 2 made of “dome” built especially for frequent touring of the show. The install went well, there’s a good team on this, we’ve done Plymouth, Torquay, where it currently is at time of writing, and then twill finally sit down in Truro for 2 weeks in June marking the end of the tour od the south west.
Directly after the install in Plymouth, Steve dropped me off at Bristol where I flew the following day back to Milan to commission the audio lighting link up for the hive. This is another aspect for the hive, the first element is the audio feed from the beehive generates the swarm lighting pattern on the lights on the hive. The other element is that when certain frequencies of the incoming audio stream peak, these trigger audio samples, which are mixed in with the soundscape in the hive.
It was a great few days tying everything together, initially on the first day when I arrived it was absolutely pissing down, the water was bad but the patterns the water created when the water pooled on the hive were quite calming in contrast.
This is Tony, one of the composers of the soundscape; it was nice to meet more people involved with the project, there’s a big list, also a quite allot of people who have given there time for free also.
Pretty much immediately after returning from Milan I was into the next job which was looking after video for the main stage of 23rd Shindig. I had been essentially managing everyone involved in the video side, setting up the content templates and then providing my d3 system to easily map the content to the screens and mi-strip. There was a reasonable amount of setup, involved, modeling the stage and sorting the mi-strip layout so the content fitted correctly. The preproduction paid off and once the screen was up and working everything was mapped perfectly. I was taking the VJ feeds into d3 using some Blackmagic HDMI to SDI boxes which worked really well, I’m astounded the quality which you get for your money from Blackmagic design products.
More so on this gig it was great to be working with mates I hadn’t seen in quite a while. Above is James who was stage managing the DJ setup son and off, we see each other quite often as there is a quite regular beer drinking interval which has to be kept up.
This is Elliot and Clive from Novak, on the weekend it was cold and windy, sometimes really cold and really windy, note the macbooks taped down. It was definitely 12month since I’d seen these guys!
This is Neil, I don’t see Neil enough, seen here being very happy about the weather and the wind. Despite the cold and rain it was well good catching up and having a natter.
This is Aaron from Novak who was VJ’ing all weekend alongside Itaru who is Ritchie Hawton’s VJ. I was impressed with the Richie Hawton set, Itaru had built a custom touch designer interface, which meant he could deliver real-time generative continent matching the content to the set via a controller. Its one of those things that the general punter would never know bit I really think, along with the sound and lighting this humanization of things really helps make a good show. Maybe I’m biased as I love this technology, which allows you to make a show without it being completely payback. The gig almost didn’t go ahead after pretty bad weather on the Sunday, only with perseverance from the team did it happen, Nitelites, DATechnical, Impact, Novak, Shindig, to name a few, what a great, sometimes wet weekend.
Here’s the obligatory shot from the office, HDMI to SDI, monitored on an HD SDI screen, inputting to d3, mapped out onto the LED screen and mi strip, how many acronyms can you fit in one sentence!!
A few days after Shindig I was back out in Milan again, FINALLY, there was internet to site, I have no idea why it too so long, but it did. I was back to commission the live linkup so the hive was finally responding to a live feed from a REAL beehive in the UK. It took a little bit tweaking and setting up and now it seems pretty stable. If the live stream cuts out I have it set up so that it sends me an email to say it has cut out. If I get an email I can remotely log in and check where down the line the issue are via remote access, and normally fix it immediately. If not there is an inbuilt backup to the system, which means if the live stream stops for any reason it automatically switched over to a prerecorded stream. From a relatively small piece of software there’s quite allot in there now!
There is generally allot of work to be dome but sometimes you end up with an hour to spare here or there when waiting for a flight, bus, train to take you back home. On this occasion I managed to get the use of the UK pavilion Brompton to cycle around the Expo site. Apart from official expo bicycles, all other bicycles may have been banned onsite but I never seemed to get into any trouble which. is a nice change! So that’s it for now, this still doesn’t actually take us up to date but covers 50 days of work since last posting. Its actually been 70 days since I last blogged, I still need to fill in those 20 days to be current.
I’ve seen quite a few faces recently, but, LOOK AT THESE TERRIFIED BOXES!!!!!!!