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Apr 072009

For the past 8 months, I’ve been working with artist Pawel Wojtasik on a project called “Below Sea Level”, a panoramic video cyclorama art piece about New Orleans. It opened this past weekend at Mass MoCA, and I highly encourage you to visit!

Below Sea Level at Mass MoCA

Below Sea Level at Mass MoCA

I was particularly pleased that we managed to pull off this project for fraction of the budget that is usual. For 8 channel, high resolution, edge-blended cycloramas in a theater this size, a budget of $250,000 is typical.

Mass MoCA did it for a fraction of that price, without actually purchasing any commercial panoramic video solutions. The brilliant tech staff at the museum, led by Dante Birch, designed and built the projector platform below:

Projector array

Projector array

I helped edit the footage generated by the Ladybug panoramic camera, as well as many other video sources, and wrote software to manage the distortion correction (for the curved screens) and playback from a single computer. I used the Max/MSP software environment for this. A key cost saving measure was to actually render distortion correction and edge blending into the footage, which saved having to do it in real-time on playback, and greatly simplified the projection system.

The soundtrack was composed and mixed 5.1 surround by Stephen Vitiello, and is played back on the same computer that handles the video playback.

I’ve written more about “Below Sea Level” on my website here, and also a couple of “making of” articles about the projection system and the panoramic video camera.

Check it out!

Jun 042008

Have you ever wanted your electronics projects to make sound? Are you interested in making your own electronic musical instruments? Do you love the sound of lo-fi electronics and 8-bit music? If so, have I got news for you!

I’ll be teaching a class on Arduino Audio in a couple of weeks, June 18th to be exact. The focus is very much on generating sound using the Arduino microcontroller, and a smattering of inexpensive parts.

I’ll be covering:

  • Basics of sound generation with a microcontroller
  • Making sound by toggling digital pins under software control (and why it’s limited)
  • Introduction to R/C (resistor capacitor) oscillator circuits
  • Using digipots to control R/C oscillators
  • Advanced digipot control: scheduling, polyphony and ADSR envelopes
  • Other approaches (Note: I won’t be covering sample playback – my focus will be on synthesis. Lady Ada’s excellent WaveShield for Arduino is a great way to achieve sample playback instead.)

You’ll come out of the two hour class with a working, breadboard-mounted circuit using AD5206 digipots to play back 3 (or 6) voices of modulated square wave sound!

You’ll need to bring your own laptop computer and Arduino board. Please bring your favorite sensors and interface devices – we can work on interfacing them during the class. The class price includes a parts kit, with digipots, stereo jacks, oscillator chip, breadboard, and various assorted components.

You can read about my previous experiments and projects on my Arduino Audio blog pages.

If you’re interested, sign up using this Eventbrite link.