August wasn’t quiet at all

Its getting to be about a month between posts, id like that to be less and I’m going to work on it being less time between. I did have a really god post written in my head mid august which i should have written down, alas i didn’t. Thats why I’d like to post more to capture those ideas and things which might be interesting to get into the digital realm or blogosphere, you never really hear the word blogosphere anymore.

Going back on my last post I was expecting August to be a pretty quiet month, historically it is, and last year I went to Berlin for 6 weeks to have a holiday and take german language course. This year i was going to just get away somewhere spur of the moment maybe travel around, and then I got a contacted from Stockholm!

Frederik from the Dramaten theatre emailed me on Saturday to check if i was available to do some d3 programming for a show as their normal video guy Bullen was out of action for a while. By Tuesday i was in Stockholm with he challenge of setting up the d3 media server, with at the time 3 projectors and a few non uniform surfaces.

002 OchGeOss

After a couple of days setting up tweaking, encoding content and modelling an unusual screen we were on the right track. The above screen I thought looked really good, it was basically made up of over 100 a4 sheets of paper painstakingly attached to thread and hung. I did a relatively quick model of the screen in Sketchup, and increased the edge size so the model was 10mm larger than the actual screen on all edges. I then brought this into C4d and UV mapped this as a flat map and finally brought it into d3 and used QuckCal to lineup the projected model screen back onto the real screen. For such a short modelling time I was quite surprised at the lineup, it was 95% bang on! Unfortunately it was cut and never made it into the show, boo!

001 PHM randD

I was in Sweden for 5 days when I had to fly back to London for some meetings and R&D at the Philharmonia for future projects. We spent 2 days going over ideas and trying stuff out. It was a good opportunity to showcase some of the digital departments ability to the rest of the orchestra team. One of always the popular exhibits is the Conductor Pod which is like the computer game Guitar hero but instead of playing guitar, your movement is tracked with an xbox camera and you follow the conductor with your hands yourself and try and conduct. The programming was done by Chris Plant and its a really neat piece of software.


003 Projector exposed

After a couple of days with the Philharmonia and then a brief meeting with Nick from Yeast Culture about a project in October i was back on the plane to Stockholm again. Frederik had asked me out for a further 5 days to carry on programming the show and look after the ever changing video setup. For the main back wall projection we had a Barco HDF w30 which needed boxing in to help reduce the fan noise spilling down onstage. To aid airflow even more we took the back of the unit off and I was surprised to discover that your still able to power it on with all the electrical terminals exposed. I was all pretty safe as it was boxed in and 10m up in the air away from prying hands.

From 5 extra days i ended up being at the Dramaten theatre for almost 3 weeks programming the show through to the end. The show is called Och Ge Oss Skuggorna which translates to And give us the shadows, a play about the playwright Eugene O’Neil. It was really good to meet and work with he tech/stage team at the Dramaten, such a lovely bunch of people. The video team consisted of 2, that was myself and Axel local to Stockholm, after press night Axel heard of a forest party going on so at around midnight we got a tax to somewhere south of Stockholm.

004 Forest party

There are a couple of hundred people there once we got into the forest, it was a brilliant setting, in a opening near a lake. I don’t know here the time went but it was fun, before I knew it it was light, the music had finished and there were still quite a few people chilling out by the lake top evening.

004 Axel post forest party

 

That day Axel had to sort all his stuff out for a tour to South Africa, I was pretty dam hungover when I eventually made it back to my apartment. That day we had another show on the Sunday, again with a standing ovation from the audience.

006 Vasa

With a few hours to spare before my flight back to the UK, upon Piers recomendation i went to the Vasa Museum which was all about the ship called Vasa which sank 300meter into its maiden voyage in 1628 and then was finally recovered in 1967. Its a really good museum and recommend it if visiting Stockholm.

007 Smoke machine

Again on the subject of me thinking it was going to be a quiet August it was exactly the opposite. The day after landing I was driving down to Stage One to start work on a new project along with upping spares on some ongoing ones too.

010 Face

 

Ahahahahah! This is one of the wooden panels from a project called Prouvé House currently been built/renovated at Stage One, faces everywhere!

 

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Storm before the calm

I started writing this post as I normally do, finding a load of photos and then writing some words to go along with them. I got to 1000 words and I was not even 1/3 of the way through and then when i read this words again it felt like a bit of a dull read. So instead heres lots of pictures and a few straight to the point words.

This is Grace Jones in southampton Common people festival, where in a single day i had the task of programming and operating video under the direction of her production manager. It was a seat of the pants gig and all went well in the end, she’s a great performer, go and see her if you get the chance.

I was traveling to HSL to do a catalyst video setup for LD Andy Hurst and just before I got there someone crashed into he back of my diddy hire car at some traffic lights. I had driven almost 2000 mile in the past 10 days and this happened in the last 3 days of hire!

 

Spur of the moment I booked a holiday to Prague, booked it on the Wednesday and was there on the Friday. I walked many miles exploring the city, its a really beautiful place to visit. I stopped at the Apartcity Hotel which i recommend to if your planning a trip, Kristina the owner is a brilliant host and tour guide!

This is a great bar, out door and on the riverside with electronic music, people just seep to gather and drink beer and hang out, great atmosphere and well worth a visit. I couldn’t fid a direct link to the bar but this is a good lace to find out about it.
Bajkazyl 

Whilst in Prague i visited a museum and learned about something called an Ossaury which I found quite interesting in a macabre way. An Ossuary is the final resting place of human skeletal remains, not just one person but many people all in the same place, its thought the were built to evoke emotion for the dead, though there are many theories.

In returning to the UK i was out with Michael and Chris when purely by chance we bumped into our mate Spook in the street home we hadn’t seen for YEARS! It was a great opportunity to catch up over a beer or two.

Couple of days later i was at StageOne getting some training on how to use the Comet L3D laser scanner. This scanner uses the structured light technique to produce a highly precise detailed point cloud. It was good to learn the technique and workflow of how from he scan you turn the point cloud into a mesh.

Once again I was with the Grace Jones team but this time in HydePark where we were performing. The show went well and she once again done a very entertaining performance where she climbed off stage and then got a security guard to bring her back on his shoulders, priceless. After us Kyle was on, she’s very little and looks good.

After hyde park i was with the lovely people from the Royal Court and we were off to Brussels to remote the show 2071. Nice few days working with some good pals.

Straight from Brussels, off the Eurostar  and straight on a mother train to truro I was doing the last install for Universe Of Sound for the Philharmonia. This is a multi screen video install with synchronised playback of footage of the orchestra, this video explains it perfectly here: Universe of Sound walkthrough. Whilst in truro we visited Perranporth beak and swam in the chilly sea!

After the install at truro I traveled to London, with Steve by car, it was an entertaining trip full of nonsense.

I spent a couple of days in London hanging out with the ArtAV guys whilst they were looking after video for the Greenwich docklands show Four Fridas. Steve showed me his Timecode to UDP device which allows you to easily stream timecode across a network, lots of potential uses!

During my stint in London I managed to catch up with Slaney where we enjoyed a few quite strong beers at the Euston tap.

After London I picked up my d3 server and drove to Skegness where I was looking after projection for the finale show on the SO festival. We were projection on a 20m wide rollercoaster shape structure from 70m away.

This is a shot from rehearsals, where we turned the structure into a classic fairground “Duck Shoot”. It was a fun week working with may mates i hadn’t seen for quite a while!

After getting back from Skegness I got a call to go to Stage One to help with a very last minute job for a rather large light box, this is 1/3 of it.

And this is all of it, i think was 5m on the longest end, here we were waiting for the extra LED drivers to be delivered, nice box!

And here we are at the end, I nearly fell over when i saw this face. Whilst in Truro with the Philharmonia team we went for an Indian’s and when Jessie’s starter turned up it was exactly like this! Brilliant!

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30th May 2015 50 days

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!!!!!!!

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22nd March Consonno

Today was the weekly Sunday off from work on the Hive which is quite good because nearing then end of the week you could tell everyone was quite knackered, and working at the heights we are now everyone needs a fresh head. Ive been trying to make the most of the day off over the past few weeks and this week I thought it would be a good idea to visit Consonno. Consonno now is basically an abandoned town which was once an adult Las Vegas style playground with bars and casinos which is now abandoned and fallen into ruin. A much more detailed description than i can do justice can be found here
Count Bagno’s City of Toys 

After a bit of googling and asking one of the local’s Massimo at work i discovered it was relatively easy to get to, so early Sunday me and Jon set off. This involved getting to Garibaldi station and getting a train to Calolziocorte (try pronouncing that out loud) which took 50mins or so. From here we followed google maps toward Belvedere with is the start of the windy road which takes you up to Consono.

Its pretty steep most of the way once you leave town so if your going to do this by foot be prepared to get a bit warm.  You can drive right up to the top between the times of 10:00 & 12:30 on a Sunday but  if your still there after the gates are closed your car is stuck. By foot however there are no constraints.

Eventually the road begins to flatten out and quit an onimous building comes into view, I’m not actually sure what this is but it looks like it was started but never finished. I was tempted to go on the upper levels but after going in and looking at the staircase with was a ramp of broken ceramic bricks i gave it a miss.

Under the building straddling the road you come to the first sign, rusty and barely readable it says.

Consonno e il paese piu piccolo ma piu bello del mondo
Translated: Consonno is the smallest but the most beautiful country in the world

Carrying on you pass a more modern sign and the dilapidated buildings of Consono come into view. We passed a few people walking down the hill whilst we were walking up but when we got here there was such an erie silence, no traffic and all the sound was deadened by the hills and trees.

We carried on up the hill and did eventually see some people in the distance so we weren’t to only people here. Through the overgrowth and trees opposite the main building bit there was what looked like a water feature of an old lagoon. It was really strange as there were a load of frogs, you could see them all over but the sound their were making was bizarre. 100s of them making a rumbling sound in unison.
I found this video on youtube which shows Consonno how it used to be:
Consonno the smallest but the most beautiful

Theres allot of really neat graffiti around the place, here I found one of Frank Sidebottom dressed as a rabbit on LSD, just how I imagined he would be.

Further on through a doorway you come to a kind of courtyard where there are more buildings, once of them which has half collapsed, such a great image, frozen in time. Its difficult to tell how old some of these buildings are and how long they’ve been like this for.

I like this, a green giraffe saying fuck, what more can you ask for!

We eventually made our way onto the mid terrace of the main building, everything is rusty and weathered with a load of graffiti inside too.

This is really nice piece, a load of detail too, theres some text saying Hartecore collective. I found their Facebook page here with lots of really nice work.

Right on the roof you get a good view of the valley, its a stunning area and I bet on a  brighter day during summertime there will be quite a few people visit Consonno.

Its cool under the dome, and quite surprising how much of it is all still in tact, the place is a mix of hollow brick, solid brick, rebar and concrete, again brilliant views framed by the pillars of the dome.

Back down behind the building and around the corner there was a van with post apocalyptic written on the side, i uses that pretty much sums up the feel of the place.

After a good wander round and a a bit of packed lunch we headed back down the hill, each time there was a gap in the trees you couldn’t help but appreciate the views. From the station tot he bottom of the hill it took about 30mins and then up the hill it took roughly an hour. I don’t think it took quite so long to come back down as you’d imagine.

Last but not least, having a reputation for seeing faces in things, this week at work, James brought me this piece of rubber!

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What to do on new years eve?

Its March and I’m talking about new years eve, know, it sounds strange but  I promised I’d post about this after the event but never got round to it, or possibly just got lazy.

So, roll back to the 31st December 2014 around about midday, i was working in the hangar at Stage One building and testing the LED rings for the Milan Expo job (yes its this job has been a long one).

Paul who was working with us mentioned about this thing which happens at Allendale each new years eve. The local men of the village march trough the town with flaming barrels of tar on their head and throw it on a bonfire to mark midnight and the start of a new year. This was the basic description and neither of us knew what it was really about, so a quick Google search helped firm up the details.

Heres a link with a better description : The Allendale Tar Barrel Festival 

So, I finished work and drove back north towards ‘home’, called my mate James and suggested going to see this as something different to do on new years eve. We were both in agreement, and generally it seems like going out into town these days on NYE is pretty crap.

From google searches we found out that nothing really starts to happen until about 23:30 when the march would start. We set of about 21:30 and were son on the a69 heading towards Allendale. we got there around 22:30 and struggled a little to find a place to park. Eventually right through the other side of town (which isn’t very big) we found a spot and parked up. It was a pretty cold and pretty windy evening, e did a quick lap of town to see where everything was, which basically meant finding the unlit bonfire in the middle of the town. with time to kill we had another little wander and then went into one of the only 2 pubs we could seem to find in town. The pub was RAMMED, lots of people in fancy dress and a good atmosphere. At around 23:10 we headed over to the bonfire which was still unlit and waited, eventually, just after half eleven the band started playing. It was quite an erie sound of the band and there was a strong smell of paraffin coming from where the music was, we couldn’t see anything at this point.

Eventually the band came marching by followed by a load of people dressed in fancy dress with large flaming barrel pots balanced on their heads.

The old rules say (so I’m told) that to be part of the parade yo have to be a gentleman who was born in the village, no non villagers are allowed to take part, i don’t know the exact rules but thats what seems to be the case.

It was a really good atmosphere as the people were marching by, it was a really windy evening and embers from the fire on top of their carriers heads were going everywhere. You could feel the heat given off by these things so gone knows how it felt to be walking behind someone whilst carrying your own flaming pot!

If i recall, all of the carriers were dressed in some form of fancy dress or a kind of ye’olde style outfit, from postman pat to spider man it was a brilliant insane sight to see.

When the first carrier got to the uncut bonfire, he threw his pot straight down to the base and immediately the whole thing went up. The flames were huge and with the wind they were gusting arround. I think we were only about 8 to 10 meters away and you had to turn away when the wind blew the heat in our direction. Flames were flying allover and James had to put the old ladies hair out next to us which had caught fire from one of the many rogue embers.

Not put of by the wind and the heat the carries continued to throw their tar pits on the fire until they were all done. It was brilliant, everyone was wishing each other happy new year and we were all shaking hands with the people around us.

I know I keep saying this but it was such a good atmosphere, there was no healthy and safety like you would find on a commercial event which made the whole thing more special. Everyone was so close to the fire, behind a small temporary barrie fence of course,  but with a huge dose of common sense and I hope it stays this way.

After telling a load of people about this the following day I’m pretty sure its on the cards again to go and see 2015 into 2016 with more friends.
Lastly, heres a little fella i found in a flightless latch.

 

 

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Assimilate ubiquitously

Ubiquitous Assimilation — meaning to absorb everything everywhere all the time.

This is a quote form a film I watched a few weeks back called Detachment, its really worth a watch and this phrase stuck with me. Theres a whole lot more to the quote but its better you watch the film rather than hear it from me!

Its been a while since I’ve posted (again), were well into 2015, the last third of the first quarter to be more precise and I’ve been busy for pretty much every day of it. So where to start after a rather long blog hiatus?  To save the potential bore if going over the past few month and trying to catch up ill start from right now!

Right now I’m in Milan in the final stages of quite a long project I’ve been doing for Stage One and were building the UK pavilion for the Milan Expo. The element i have been working on is the LED lighting in a structure called The Hive which is made up of an intricate system of aluminium rods and plate. This forms a 14m square cube with a spherical voice in the middle in which visitors can enter. Around this void is scattered one thousand individually controllable high power custom LED lights. These will resonate with colour which is derived from he audio stream of a real beehive back in the UK and with some processing and algorithms specified by Martin Bencsik, who has done in depth research on bee’s and their activity, we will convert this into a visual stream shown as colours in the Hive.

For a better description in the form of a 3D render have look at the website of Wolfgang Butress, the architect who came up with the design for the Hive. In a nutshell heres a photo rundown and explanation of the progress.

This is the supporting wooden and scaffold substructure which the hive is being built on, and as each layer is built and gets progressively higher it meets with the ring beam which is the grey ring poking up. The substructure is temporary, this will eventually be taken away and the whole hive will be supported on the ring beam.

The earlier days onsite were very cold and very wet, this is us measuring out the wooden template position proper to the first parts being laid down. It really was pissing down hard with rain this evening.

And here we have it, layer 1, made up of many water jet cut aluminium plate and hundreds of bolts and connecting nodes. Myself and Jon my colleague came out to fit the initial LED rings as the structure was built, but as there was no structure we all jumped in to help things progress.

During the build of the first few layers the weather was rather cold, sometimes snowed and was always below zero. On many occasions if we had to loosen bolts to fit nodes, we first had to get a heat gun to melt the ice which had frozen in the bolt hole before we could get an allen key in. The ice was treacherous when walking around and over the aluminium and thankfully no one slipped as the edges of the aluminium are incredibly sharp.

The first 5 layers of the hive are densely populated and the LED we were installing are inside this forrest of aluminium rods. This meant that once the next layer goes on access to test and potentially fix things is very difficult. The above picture shows Jon in at about ring truss 6, its probably impossible to get in any further until the lower floor is taken away.

The first 5 LED rings were installed and left for 4 weeks as we went back to Yorkshire to manufacture address and these fur following 22 rings. This meant that these were left out to the elements and I was quite nervous on who the electronics would hold up in the damp and the cold. We made the units watertight at every opportunity and when we came to test them the only problems we had was a wrong DMX address on one of the pixels! Hooray!

This is a panorama looking down from the top of the hive and the image is somewhat distorted by the panorama feature on the iPhone. I think this shows us up to layer 20 here. As each layer goes in we follow with the next LED ring, each of which has it’s own polar offset to match the lighting layout pattern as specced by the architects.

This is Jon clipped onto the hive at layer 15, this is about 4 meters up from the temporary floor and I’m around 6 meters up. Sometimes when the element of the hive which we need to fit LED onto aren’t ready we will switch rolls and help with the assembly of the hive, its a varied job.

Above is a screenshot of the LED control software, which is still been tweaked and worked on. Here we take in the live audio stream of the real beehive and analyse the spectrum. This is then used to create an image based on the various frequencies over time and then we pixel map this to the sphere. From there this is then converted to DMX via Art-net and output to the pixels spread over 8 universes. Im looking forward to getting this all up and running in the next few weeks.

As I say the above is just a whisker of the work which has gone into this and is still ongoing, theres still allot to do, but there is a good team here and things are progressing.

To finish off, heres a face I found in my potato a few weeks back!

 

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Say Hallelujah!!!

The post title has no reference to this post what so ever, it was just the first thing which popped into my head, from the lyrics of this song Dr Alban, its been a week of ‘classic’ tunes whilst working in the hangar. Ive kind of started writing this post arse first, as normally I would go through my photos to see whats worth typing about and then start typing. This time I’ve just started typing subject randomly.

As always time absolutely flies by your busy and I’ve just realised it was almost 4 weeks ago when I decided i would go and see my mates band The Dust Town Dogs in Consett, I hadn’t seen anyone for I guess around 8 year ad it was a proper good catch up. Everyone was still as good craic as ever and i was well happy to see Peter Boyle who i bet i hadn’t seen since 2002!!!!

Peter used to be the recording engineer at Northern Recording, a community recording studio where I first got introduced to live events and mixing sound for bands. This all eventually led on to various related jobs and gigs crazy live event technical world I live and work in now.

This is my GrandMA Lighting desk setup, it hasn’t been out on hire or being used too much this year so I decided to get some nice photos together to either sell it or hire it out more. Mr Froment at DanceCity gave me a hand and let me use the theatre space to get some decent photos. I built this up a couple of years ago, fully designing everything myself, integrating a computer into he flight-case and the monitors attached to Ergotron articulating arms. Im pretty proud of it, and it does look the bees-knees!

That weekend my mate James introduced me to Hustlers Pool Hall, I’d never been before but it was right in the middle of newcastle near the Laing Art gallery. It was a great way to spend a couple hours, and drink a couple of beers! Its amazing the things you get shown in a city you thought you knew like the back of your hand!

That following working week Jamie and Myself went to a days PLC training in Cannock with a company called All Drive & Controls, it was a good introduction day. We covered the basics of input, output and touchscreen controls. The Unitronics PLC’s are incredibly powerful devices and it was good to see the kind of things that could be done with them from simple I/O to multiple stepper motor control!

At the end of that week i was heading down to London to do a weeks work at the Royal Court. Travelling down I knew that smithy was in london so when i arrived at KGS, I met him for a Black pudding Scotch Egg at StPancrass. I know that sounds like an euphemism but you can get some really good Scotch Eggs covered in black pudding rather than meat, I cant remember the name of the shop but if you go to the top end of StPancras, its directly opposite the Starbucks which is there. This is Smithy in his natural state.

The following day I was in the Royal Court, the last time I was there was over 2 years ago,  June 2012 where was working on a show about global population & warming called 10 Billion. This time I was working on a show called 2071, another show about global warming and again directed by Katie Mitchell. This time we had a d3 media server to play with and I was working with Luke Halls who as designing the video. The whole process was incredibly compressed, we installed on the Friday, checked some video on the Saturday and then had only 2 days tech and rehearsal  before doing our first preview on Wednesday. It was great to be at the court again and see old faces and some new, its always a great atmosphere in that building. Also it was great working with Luke, he had his work cut out getting everything animated with he time schedule and nothing really been set in stone script-wise till very near the end. I guess i am a little biased with workeignon the show but it does look really good, the monochrome projection combined with the brilliant shape of the set we were projection on worked incredibly well. Were off to install this in Hamburg in the middle of this month (December2014), if your around i recommend you go see it.

The following week I was back at the hangar in Tockwith where we were finishing off the tweaking and updating more requested software & hardware updates to the 3d camera flying system. Karl had made some incredible mods to the NextQ motion control system to make the bridle brilliantly smooth with loads of new features. I wrote the software for the 3d visual environment for control of the bridle, designed and built the 3d joystick console with could probably be described as a bolt on to the system enabling us to fly a gamble around on joysticks. The whole system is incredibly fast and responsive, the entire stage one team working on this have produced a brilliant piece of kit!

Its been a relatively short blog post, I reckon for the past 12 months I’ve been promising to post more often as many many things get missed when I try and compress a month onto one post.  The only reason this post has gotten finished today is because last night I set my alarm for 05:30 instead of 06:30. It wast until I went down to breakfast at the tell when i realised i was an hour early, atleasr it s been productive!

Finally, a face, not just any face but a massive face featured in 2071!

 

 

 

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Insert title here…….

Its Wednesday the 22nd October and time to update the blog about whats been happening over the past couple of weeks. My time has been quite nicely split across various projects, across various disciplines. So from where i last left off i was back to the hangar at stave one to continue development of a which speed winch 3d control system which StageOne are developing for a client. Karl and myself spent quite a which ironing out various little niggles which always arise when doing a new product. Ive been writing the 3d control software for the user 3d joystick flying and Karl has been doing some rather clever work in handling data transfer for a smooth flight.

On the weekend, I somehow, and I’m not yet sure how it happened as we are all never in the same place at the same time, but I managed to catch up with my good mates Mitch and BigChris. We went out on the motorbikes around northumberland and i was riding pillion on the back of Chris. I wasn’t expecting him to be accelerating as hard as he did and yes I did shout some profanities the first time he took off and I was confined i was coming off the back. It was a top time catching up!!

On the sunday i was to travel down to London to do some video programming and playback for a gig for YeastCulture. But before that i had to go through all of my stuff to make sure I had everything and at this point i decided to empty my rucksack as it was big and heavy and i really count remember everything i had in there, this is some of the contents, mainly less 2 laptops and 2 power supplies.

So, from top left to right reading like a book we have:

  1. 5 Point + H&V Laser, for projection lineups Link
  2. Passport, take it everywhere.
  3. Oyster card, priceless for London.
  4. Coloured pens, everyone likes pens!
  5. Super lightweight packable running jacket.
  6. Red backed Bicycle cards for doing sleight of hand
  7. Matrox Dual head2go, used for this Yeast culture gig.
  8. Leap Motion used for playing and developing softwares.
  9. Pencil case of random adapter cables.
  10. Wera portable screwdriver set, So useful. Link
  11. Korg Kaossilator II for making noises and general entertainmet. Link
  12. Webcam, for debugging & developing softwares.
  13. Gaming mouse, my RAT Link
  14. Some video signal adapters, HDMI/Minidisplayport.
  15. Leatherman Skelltool, Lightweight Multitool Link
  16. CUBE BOT Link
  17. USB Light (Around cube-bot)
  18. Bosch PLR50 Laser Measure Link
  19. LACIE Thndebot SSD external drive FAST!! Link
  20. Led Lenser Headtorch, dimmable & Focusable Link
  21. DVI Parrot used for spoofing EDID signals.
  22. 3D Mouse, i use this with 3d modelling software allot! Link
  23. Pitor, my little blue mascot from Poland when I briefly toured with Jonsi.
  24. BOSE Mini sound link portable speaker, I LOVE this Link
I eventually repacked my back with all the things I needed, and then packed my suitcase with clothes for the week and by sunday evening i was back down the big smoke again ready for an early start at Rich Mix in Shoreditich to begin rehearsals for the gig “Index of Metals” 

It was acne easy start tot he day and I met David and Ian from Sound intermedia who were looking after all the live mixing and audio playback, and also Simon who was following the score and cuing the piece. I was there in the roll of video & projection specialist to set up the system, program Qlab and make sure it all worked. We had been given triple screen content prior to the show split across 3 seperate video files so to make things more robust i spent a couple of days rendering out all the clips in to one long wide file which ensured sync across the screens. This was prep well worth doing, allows with rendering out an hours with of timecode which was used on occasions where the conductor needed to keep track where he was in relation tot he score and the time.

Two days later we were in the queen Elizabeth hall in the South Bank centre. It was a relatively easy morning setting up, apart from one broken VGA cable which took a while to find, and then a successful couple of rehearsals during the afternoon. After rehersalsand before the show I met up with with Nick from Yeast Culture and it was great to catch up over fish and chips! The show went very well and everyone was really happy, a success! It was a really good few days working with some really nice people!

The following day I was due to travel back north to the hangar at stage one to continue on LED development but received a call off roy asking if i could go and help Ben on a job in Battersea as Jam who was meant to be there and an ear infection and couldn’t make it. So the following day i was with Ben and the rest of the chaps from stage one installing automation for an event for Youtube.

Everything went in smoothly and ben had a nice view from front of house! The automation consisted of 3 revolves each of them with a double sided led screen on. In sequence and timed with video and performers the screens revolved for presenters and performers to come on and off the stage. Once everything was up and running it all looked really good. I must say that the production company Flourish Creative were incredibly nice people and looked after everyone really well. It was tiring out to be a brilliant week!

Early monday morning I was on a train up to Yorkshire and then headed to the hangar to catch up with work on the current large LED project.  This stage i was putting together the prototype power data distribution circuit boards, this time we had ordered to prototype PCB in red, mainly for my own amusement. After getting over a couple of silly errors it was all working swimmingly.  Heres a picture of one part of the workshop, I have to apologise for to Jamie as even though i start the day really tidy, by the ned of the day it works out like this. Sorry Jam!

Later on in the week we were on the disused airfield next to the hangar doing some real word testing on the 3d camera flying system which provided some good feedback. Thankfully for the 3 days it was up the weather was SUNNY!!! Since we have implanted quite a few improvements, and I’m looking forward tot he next test.

Here are some beautifully machined pieces of aluminium, containing lights, these elite things are really coming together. These will be used on a project going live next year.

I haven’t really seen may faces recently, this was the latest one, diddy robot head on a hydraulic valve on a scissor lift. Nuurrrrrggg!

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A Fast Month!

After I left of the last post where I had went for a run around Taunton we had one day left in Karls studio doing some LED development trying out some different optics. We discovered that if we introduced a smoke machine, and put an optic from an LED Lenser P7 over a 120 degree 4 color led you got quite a nice effect. Not the result we were looking for but pretty all the same.

The following Monday I was back in the hangar working on more led design as the brief had changed and the goalposts moved a little, which, to be honest, is for the better. This did mean back to the drawing board with the physical design and new challenges.
Boo, Jims dog was back in the hangar after a holiday and was looking healthier after his diet. This did mean that every time you were eating something or even just ventured into the kitchen you got this…..

After a quick turnaround design process and some lovely CNC machining of a combined heat sink and case we had a foundation for the printed circuit board, before sending off the PCB for manufacture I printed off the circuit to scale just to make sure it would fit.

On the weekend I was back in Newcastle, and even though the angel of the north has been there since 1998 I have never actually went and visited it. So on the Saturday morning after I had been for a I drive to the site of the angel. Apart from a few picnic tables and some playing fields and of course the sculpture there is not allot there. It is though when you get up close a very impressive structure and generally just a nice place to hang out of you just want to read a book have a picnic or just sit in the sun.

On Sunday I drove down to Birmingham to do a gig for the DRP group in the Hilton Metropole. It had been years since id been to this venue and when I got there nothing had changed. I didn’t know a whole lot about the gig before I got there apart from there were pair of Panasonic projectors, which needed blending into a single image. We started at 06.00 on the Monday rigging 6 projectors and all the relevant cabling. After some creative projector manipulation we had a basic projection blend setup by the evening. We were projection on to a set, which the content was mapped to, the tricky bit was that all we had was a single HD feed from power-point. Normally you would use some software to output 2 feeds with an overlap to do the blend. On this, from Brads suggestion we used the zoom and HV shift on the projectors themselves to select the part of the image we wanted and then did the blend on the projectors, it actually worked a treat.

I was looking after video playback on the conference, I haven’t worked a conference for probably 2 years and had forgotten how long some of the speeches can go on for. During this time there is nothing to do apart from wait for your next cue. Its at this point I started doodling, we were doing the conference for the SPAR brand, so I did a Spar doodle!

On the Wednesday morning I was driving back north to Stage one where work continued on the custom LED. I had built up some prototype units and was trying to get as much brightness out them as possible before they either overheated or drew more current than the circuit could handle.  They are now BRIGHT and so far, after 36hour full whack testing the firmware is bulletproof! More testing to follow!

I had to recycle some old broken electronics which I found in the workshop to make a power data breakout unit, its amazing what you can do with a Dremmel, some wires and a bit soldering to make life easy!

That’s a condensed month from my last blog post, its been a fast month too, in-fact its been a fast year! Here’s a face from the Days Inn Weatherby! I can’t believe I haven’t seen this before!

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Back to Work!

No sooner had I been back from Berlin (11th August) I was off away again to Spain for the install of Priscilla Queen of the desert in a theatre in Madrid. It was all VERY last minute, I hadn’t done the install for 2 years as my good frond Iain had been looking after it so we had literally one day for Iain to pass over all the info form the past 2 installs, lots on memory keys but also sobs very important notes in notepads!

I don’t actually live anywhere at the moment as I spend most of the time, not quite on the road but in various locations around the UK/Europe so when I’m in Newcastle which I call my base, my best mate James has a spare room for me and i generally buy the beer which works out well. Whilst packing for Madrid, one of James’s cats, Rosie decided to make a nest in my case and took quite a bit of persuading to get out!

I Landed in Madrid and finally got to the theatre midday on the 13th August and it was nice to see familiar friends whom many I hadn’t seen since Sochi. Most of us had installed this before which was useful because its a bit of a task with so many bits to put together mechanical and electrical.

Gethyn, Davide, Ian, Simon, Smithy

For anyone who doesn’t know what I’m talking about there when I say Priscilla here is a basic explanation. Priscilla Queen of the desert the musical is made on the film of the same name about 3 drag queens who drive across Australia to Ayres Rock. Priscilla is the name of the bus they drive around in and for the stage show the bus is an incredibly complex piece of stage equipment. The bus can be remotely driven around the stage in any direction because of the 4 wheels can pivot independently an be turned in any 360 degree direction. Ontop of that the bus has 3 lifts inside which raise performers onto he roof and the entrée side of the bus opens like a massive garage door. Thats the mechanical part and now for the electrical! The bus is clad in 40,000 LED’s which can display low resolution video on all sides along with may theatrical lighting fixtures hidden inside the bus to light the performers when the garage door is open. This was a picture I sent to Iain with his nickname Waldo t let him know how we were getting on.

The bus is getting pretty old now and electronic spares are hard to come by as most of the components are custom produced, thus manufacturing more is quite expensive and people don’t want to spend the money for an overhaul. So because of this I had a box of electronics which i didn’t know what was working and what wasn’t. Luckily there was only one LED driver card which got damaged in transit so i managed to  put together a new unit from working bits on several different non working bits!

The bus has done well considering the age of here and that she has done close to 2000 shows  between London, Brazil, Sweden and now Spain. I think the next time it moves to a new place the people with the money are going to have to reach into their pockets for a major electronics and cosmetic overhaul. This was her on day 4 when we had almost everything together and it was just tweaking and tidying after that.

A day after i got back to the UK I went and helped out Nitelites with some content mapping for Shindig in Hoults yard. Because they were orienting the screens at 45degrees the pixel processor doesn’t allow for this adjustment, so using Mad Mapper and syphon so the VJ could still use his preferred software Resolume i set up the system so the content fitted the screens correctly.

The following week I was back at the hangar at Stage One and that friday one of my good mates Si Bye was leaving the sweat house for good, this meant one thing, leaving drinks. There wasn’t just a few drinks there were many which almost broke me. This is Simon Me and Bully in the Boot and Shoe at a civilised part of the evening!

Visiting My parents house the following weekend I was sorting through some stuff which had been at the back of a cupboard and I was quite surprised to find this poster. This was part of a series of gigs that my mate Andy Magee and myself put on in 2002, we did all the promotion and also provided the sound equipment, we were essentially making work for ourselves. It was  great fun and i can’t believe its over 12 years ago now!!

Currently, August 2014 I’m working on a project for Stage one where we are designing a high power RGBW led pixel to be installed in an architectural structure. Im not sure how much I can say about it apart from that were looking to produce about 3000 high power pixels which will run very low resolution video across,  this was a printout of the PCB design to make sure the components would fit. Once we had the layout correct the designer changed his mind about some visual elements which meant we had to redesign the PCB, turns out that after much head scratching of how we were going to do it, it should be better wight he new layout.

This week just gone i was down London working on a gig called The Dinnerparty Revisited with Ash Green. I didn’t know much about it until getting down on the sunday evening when Ash talked me through it.Its the brainchild of  Katherine Araniello who is a disabled performance artist. The gig was split across 2 venues each containging 6 tv screens which played back characters at a dinner party prerecorded with Katherine acting in them. When Katherine went over a sensor in her wheelchair at the south bank centre the associated TV at the Purcell rooms, south bank centre and at arts Admin would play the video. Both venues had actresses playing Katherins butler and her personal assistant, and because theres only one Katherin, we had a inflatable effigy with a live feed of Katherines face from the Purcell rooms projected onto it. There was also a live feed of both venues sent to each other and vision mixed onto a big screen upstage. The show was bonkers and as part of the show the actors drank Prosecco as part of the show and gave it out to the audience. In the venue where I was looking after the tech we had Laura and Katie who were superb, incredibly funny and kept the audience when sometimes it was quite difficult to understand because of the inherent delay of video feeds between he venues. It was a crazy bizarre show but everyone seemed happy when they left, i think the champagne helped too :)

Whilst in london I was  staying in a flat in Balfron tower, one of the last bits of undeveloped Poplar. Most of the tenants have been moved out the grade 2 listed building in preparation for it to be developed into expensive flats but currently there is a guardian scene where people can live quite cheaply although they may have to move out within a week or a month’s notice. Theres no real guarantee that you will have somewhere to live for anymore than a week/month thus the low rent. We were the because our producer Andrew Mitchelson has something to do wight he tenanting and we had an amazing view from the 24th floor, top digs!

On the wednesday I was off straight to Taunton to Karls workshop where we were assembling and testing the first prototype of LED i mentioned earlier. Whilst there i want for a run around Cotford StLuke’s where I was staying, it was quite nice to be in the country direct from busy busy london! I wasn’t sure what do do when crossing the railway line as the sign said don’t, so i did!

Last of all, a face to finish, this was in the flat at Balfron tower, an old TV ariel socket making a pretty good skeleton face! Booooom!!!

 

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