Sunday, September 9, 2012

Cannons in the Hall

So, most recently (January 2012), I got another new job, and this one even larger than the last!  I work at Grand Valley State University now, as their Equipment and Stage Manager for their Music and Dance department.  I have helped in a number of projects so far, but this one is of particular significance for this blog:

So, to kick off their Fall Arts celebration (tomorrow night), they are doing a number of Beethoven pieces.  My task has been to make sure everybody fits on stage, and that the lights and mic work.  Additionally, I get to make the cannon sounds happen for their performance of Wellington's Victory.  Rather, I built a rig, and my friend (the timpanist) is physically making them happen, according to the Cannon part he is reading from.  Sweet.

I'm low on time tonight, so I'll keep it simple.  It is two kick-pedal drum triggers hooked up to a Jeenode (with a pull down resistor so that each pedal acts like a big, fast potentiometer).  That Jeenode talks to another Jeenode connected to my computer, running a little Pd patch that plays the cannon sounds through speakers I put up in the back of the hall.  If you're in the Grand Rapids/Allendale area, check out the show tomorrow night (9/10/2012 8pm Louis Armstrong Theater, GVSU Campus in Allendale, MI) and hear it live (with the excellent musical talent Grand Rapids and GVSU have to offer).

Here's a pic:
Talk about low-profile!  Next, I want to work in some velocity sensitivity, so I can really use it in my own setup.  See you!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Birdie Installation

I haven't come up with a name for it yet, but I'm putting together an interactive video installation for the Lansing Media Theater Project (which may or may not have a new title these days).   Professor Alison Dobbins gave me a prompt of making something with Boids, and I thought she was spelling it funny.  Turns out, it's a flocking thing, and Processing has a demo patch built into its examples.  I was up super early today, so I made a pretty solid start to the whole thing.  Here's what happens:

  1. Birds fly on the screen
    1. They flock using this Boids stuff
      1. Each bird is an instance of the Boid class, called by the Flock class, which is started in the main patch
    2. They flap!
      1. actually, it's just a picture of a bird that is alternately squished and not squished. :)
  2. Three ways to interact with the birds so far
    1. Whistle a descending third, and a new bird is born
      1. Pure Data and Processing are talking over Open Sound Control, and Pd listens for a note in whistling range, then waits for a note somewhere between 2 and 5 half-steps lower.  If it hears it, it tells Processing to make a new bird/Boid
      2. There is also a tweet sound :)
    2. Make a noise too loud, and the birds go away for a while all flustered
      1. There's a decibel threshold in Pd that, when crossed, tells Processing that the birds are "scared" and the boundaries of the screen are removed, allowing the birds to disappear
      2. You also hear a fluttering sound, as the general bird noise loop fades out
    3. Wave something green in front of the camera, and you can herd the birds on the screen.
      1. There is a grid made out of groups of the pixels from the camera.
      2. Each group is checked to see if it is mostly green
      3. If it is, it is recorded in an ArrayList
      4. Then, a function checks how far the elements in the ArrayList go left, right, up and down, and draws a box around the whole thing (drawn as an ellipse on the screen).
      5. That box is now an object that the birds avoid.
As I learn more about capturing video from my screen, I'll post more detailed things with pictures and such.  Here's one!

Friday, September 16, 2011

New Job, Old Role?

So, out here in Grand Rapids, I've been floating around a little for the past couple weeks, applying to too many places from bookstores to Guitar Center to coffee shops, and I finally got something!  I'm teaching and fixing things at Grand River Music in Grand Rapids, so if you send your guitar or amp or anything there to have some electronics fixed in it/them, I'll likely be the guy doing it!  I've been doing this kind of thing for a long time for friends (and family), so I probably won't break your stuff. :)  There's a fun bench where I've worked so far too!  Check it:

I'm really quite pleased with the whole situation. :)  Maybe some fun stories of fixing will turn up here too!  More soon!

And also (if this isn't enough of a plug already) here's more about them:

Friday, September 9, 2011

Bookshelf Funtime

My good friend and colleague built a bookshelf the other day.  I don't know if we saved any money with this project, and we certainly didn't save any time, but we got a pretty sweet place to put our books out of it, and it has a special Wurlitzer cubby!

We also do lots of our projects together, and we agreed to time-lapse everything we possibly could.  Here's one!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Mechanical Mower

This was a fun project.  Screwed the handle back on to this mechanical mower of my parents', and now we mow our lawn with it!


It may be early to post about this, but my friend Dave and I have an idea.  Numbers are nice inside the computer, but they're even better in a funny little box.  With JeeNodes, some java and shift registers, you can get just that!  This idea is more developed than that, I promise, but like I said, it may be early to post about this.  Here are some pictures:

Washtub Bass!

My friend Corrina and I made a washtub bass together.  I was going to play it in a play (called the Grapes of Wrath, maybe you've heard of it?) with my friends Meredith, Linnea and Emily, but I forgot I had a thesis I had to finish and an opera to play in (oddly enough, also called the Grapes of Wrath!) and I was very disappointed, but the bass lived on!  Here's how we made it:

I don't remember now, but I'm pretty sure I got most of my details from this website. These instructions are good too!

In fact, their directions are good enough, so here are some pictures instead.  Lazy blogging!