Multimedia Authoring – Week 07

Class Work

We were introduced to sound within Processing this week. Using primarily the Minim library, we took a look at how to get sound both in and out of our sketches.

I’m quite interested in how sound can be used in programming and installation work, although I’m aware of Processing’s limitations with this topic, so it’s not something I’ve pursued. I think a more powerful approach would be to link Processing with either a sequencer like Ableton, or to try and learn Pure Data or Max/MSP. Any of these options are fairly time consuming, so it’ll stay on the back-burner until I have a little bit of time up my sleeve.

Code Research

Create Digital Music, along with Create Digital Motion, are sites that I frequent almost every day, to check up on AV nerdery. The primary writer, Peter Kirn, is across all kinds of technology and has a real DIY aesthetic, which I love. More often than not, the posts on both sites give you links to everything you need to get started with interesting video/sound/code projects.

I came across this post on CDM, which shows a unique glitchy sequencer, totally built with Processing…


The creator, Bret Truchan, uses the Game of Life as a type of randomising step sequencer and arrangement tool. I’m a big fan of the results you can get using the Game of Life (and I’m not alone – it’s hugely popular amongst nerds everywhere) as a means for generating random results. As a concept, it has some more meaning than a simple number generator.

In an attempt to edit this weeks’ tutorial sketch into something useful for my project, I added code which recognises sound coming into the computer (microphone, line-in etc) with one of the RSS sketches I have outlined below. This resulted in an interesting problem: the visuals associated with both sketches did not appear together. I didn’t have a chance to really work through the code and get to the bottom of the problem, but led me down a tangent of searching for the use of ‘layers’ within Processing. Nothing to report as yet.

Concept Research

So now that we’re really just a few weeks out from handing in our finished project, there are definitely some alarm bells ringing. Speaking to other people in the course, I’m feeling fortunate that whilst my concept is reasonably strong, the execution for my program is relatively simple. And there are a bunch of great resources out there to get me well on my way. I can break my project down into four main components: the text/RSS feed; the particle elements; silhouette/reflection; and sound. This is where I’m at as far as sourcing code…

Text/RSS Feed

romeFeeder is one that I’m really glad I came across. This sketch takes the RSS feed idea and pushes it a step further: it searches Twitter for tweets which include a particular word, or phrase. This could be a powerful way to contain what is displayed within some kind of context.

Another great library in the text world is NextText. It allows Processing to use TrueType fonts, which means I could get a chance to use Trade Gothic, or something equally sexy, rather than Times New Roman, or (God forbid) Comic Sans.

Particle Elements

traer.physics is where all the impressive real world stuff takes place. I imagine that this is where things will get tricky. I still feel as though my coding skills are lacking, and whilst I would love to be able to spend a good amount of time getting this right, I know only too well that as things get more and more hectic toward the end of semester, time won’t something I’ll know much of.


So that really only leaves the silhouette. The Golan Levin article, Computer vision for artists and designers: pedagogic tools and techniques for novice programmers (just as an aside: what’s going on with titles for academic papers? Why do they feel the need to impress how intelligent they are before you’ve even reached the first paragraph?) has some excellent Processing sketches in the Appendix that whilst being written for older incarnations of Processing, will probably be quite simply reworked into a current, functioning sketch.


There are a slew of libraries out there that will do what I’m after with sound: basic, randomising array of samples, with a simple low-pass filter. Because it’s a relatively simple area of my sketch, it will no doubt be left until the end.

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