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Thread: Project brief feedback - volumetric music visualizer

  1. #1

    Project brief feedback - volumetric music visualizer

    Hello everyone, I would like to see what you think of my final year high-school scholarship project

    My issue;

    Listening to music without visualization, is like eating without smell.

    Problem with current visualizers(the classic long vs short term use)

    I believe that over the years music visualizers have become all about fancy graphics, no longer aimed to connect to more music, as well as they can. Following the simile; if all foods had the same aroma, really no food would smell (after you're used to it). There is normally a trade off for the initial cool factor and the visualizers ability to connect to music

    For example this visualizer has a very high connection to the music, but this music visualizer is a lot cooler when you first see, but it has a very low connection to the music.

    Base of Solution

    By taking music visualization to the third dimension it opens up the field for cool effects, that a 2d visualizer has to trade musical connection for. There are also an average amount of very nice 3d music visualizers, but as three dimensional creatures watching something 3D on a 2D screen is always a compromise.

    A volumetric display is the best host for music visualization, and due to the low resolution requirements this can be achieved taking advantage of a simple technology.

    Here is an example of a volumetric display, there are only a few out there.

    This is an example of a type of visualization I definitely want to try.

    Main Problem still remains

    Even a music visualizer with the best possible resources(display medium and analyze data), there still comes the main problem. Music visualizers are as unique as music and the humans that listen to it, its not commonly applicable to change a human or change every song you think could be better. But the workings behind a music visualizer can be taken down to different variables and modes.

    A customisable music visualizer is the way we can enhance more of our music more conveniently. Even if one makes a customisable music visualizer, there is still a large bias.

    The best way to achieve a more universal music visualization, is in the open source community. With a spread of interest motivated contributors, a large selection of music visualizer could be combined and refined in an ever growing cycle. But that ever growing cycle has the potential to branch to a fully commercial product.

    The Real project task

    The real work I will be doing for the project, is getting the hardware and the software to a point where the music visualizers can be built upon.

    Made by the hobbyist for the hobbyists

    All comments welcome, I will use your responses to help prioritise design factors etc

  2. #2
    Instead of analyzing the audio track directly and then converting it to visuals, create an info file for each song that you want to visualize--a file that contains maybe tempo information, feel changes--just a few simple things that will make the visualizer respond more realistically to the music being played. You could do this by creating a simple midi file. Or you can create your own open-source filetype and write the software that can create and modify these files so that people can make their own versions of visualizations for different songs and share them with each other.
    Last edited by reginalStetson; 05-31-2013 at 02:17 PM.

  3. #3
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    If you have a mac, there's an app called beatunes that can both put BPM information into the tracks in your library but also assigns 'colors' according to various track properties - might be interesting to check out. (N.B. I haven't dug into their colors and assignments yet to see if they're sensical, it's still chewing on my library and i want it more for the bpm information, but it could be useful for you).

  4. #4
    Senior Member PaulStoffregen's Avatar
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    Nov 2012
    I'm curious how this relates to Teensy? It's perfectly fine if it doesn't, but since this forum is about project guidance, I'm wondering if you're planning on doing the analysis part on a PC or Mac and having the Teensy do the display? Or maybe you're envisioning an analysis algorithm light enough to run on a Teensy3?

  5. #5
    Yes I plan on powering it with the teensy 3. I will do the fft in processing, this will be easy to get going and leave the potential for a nice control interface.

  6. #6
    Senior Member PaulStoffregen's Avatar
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    I wonder if it's feasible to do the FFT and other analysis stuff on the Teensy 3.0 using ARM's optimized math library?

    Of course, doing all the analysis in Processing makes good sense for developing the algorithms.

  7. #7
    Yeah I have decided using processing will be the best option all round, but the design approach wasn't exactly what I intended this post to be for, yet.

    What do you actually think of the idea? Could you see hobbyists using a kit/design, to jump to working towards the large goal of better music visualization?

    The ideal scenario would be if the project became a self excited open project, like the classic led cube etc. But with things like led cubes the design hasn't improved much considering how many people have made one, because there just isn't much room to grow. I believe that if my idea grew that large, there would be huge improvements in the result.

    I know that for it to work the base hardware must be cheap, easy to build and still cool enough to gain that needed attention. What other things are important, if this was to work?

    Thanks Paul, you are probably the best person to ask, being the creator of something as big as the Teensy!

  8. #8
    Senior Member PaulStoffregen's Avatar
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    Sixteen years ago, Eric Raymond published a paper titled "The Cathedral and the Bazaar", and a book a few years later, advocating the strengths of open source software development. The Bazaar turned out to be a powerful metaphor, perhaps too strong? Regardless of what Eric's writings actually say, many people have been left with an overly optimistic impression of the ease and speed which a brand new open source project might mature and attract substantial contributors.

    I don't want to discourage you. This does sound like a pretty awesome project, so I hope you'll pursue it, but with reasonable expectations.

    I also don't want to write much more on this subject. I'm certainly no expert on these matters, even though I've published a bunch of open source code. Many people have studied open source project development and in recent years published works far more insightful that I ever could. I also have an incredibly long and ambitious to-do list, which doesn't include musing on open source strategy....

    Please do post here on the forums as you work on this. I'm really curious to hear.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulStoffregen View Post
    I also have an incredibly long and ambitious to-do list, which doesn't include musing on open source strategy....
    LOL, thanks for the chuckle. I can relate.

    I 2nd that recommendation. I also very much liked "Just for Fun" by Linus Torvalds (the creator of linux).

    And I enjoyed this movie:
    OS Revolution

    It might be a little different seeing it in 2013 vs 2001, but it's entertaining to see the personalities involved in the movement.

  10. #10
    Thanks for the interest and advice guys.

    Yes the success of an open project comes down to a lot of factors out of my hands.

    But all I really want is an epic music visualization, it ends up being that an open project is better for that goal. If I was designing this for the alternative(commercial prototype), it would mean I would spend a lot of time doing things that I don't think matter and there would be no chance the project would grow from there.

    This isn't actually the beginning of this project for me, I just adapted it to this brief for the reasons above. I expect to have my design completed in the next few weeks, at that time I will share it here to see what you think.

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