posts tagged with the keyword ‘audio’

2015.06.08

Yeahs! Pi!

I presented A Life Time of Yeahs! at Bay View Gallery Night but I didn’t really post much about how it was made, so I’ll do that now, as well as talk about the shortcomings. Above you can see the front and the back. The front piece is actually from an IKEA picture frame I found in the trash. It was a nice smooth MDF-like surface, so I figured it would take the vinyl and paint pretty well.

For the illustration of Mr. Rollins I did a few searches and didn’t find anything that was perfect, so I grabbed a few images as reference and traced/drew my own in Inkscape. I then created a stencil by cutting vinyl on the Silhouette Cameo (including the lettering) and stuck it all down to the IKEA board which I had already painted white.

With the vinyl in place I then painted it all flat black. I didn’t leave it all smooth as it sort of looked too polished, so I smeared some paint around with a brush and then with my fingers so it gave it some texture. I’m still not sure that was the right thing to do, but I did it, and there’s no going back.

Once I had the front piece done I found some scrap wood for the frame in my garage and cut it on the table saw. I made sure the wood was wide enough to fit the speakers into. It was, but as I’ll get to in a bit, wider would have been better…

Yeahs!

The back of the piece contains a Raspberry Pi, a set of speakers, and a Teensy 3.0 with a few buttons connected to it. It’s all powered by a power bank from Brown Dog Gadgets.)

The speakers are USB powered so they, along with the Raspberry Pi, connect to the power bank. Turning on the power bank boots up the Pi and starts a script called “rpisounds.pl” which is a Perl script that starts running and waits for keyboard input to do something. That “something” is playing an audio file if you press the red button on the front of the piece. There’s also a small button on the back of the piece that safely shuts down the Pi if you want to turn it all off.

Yeahs! Pi!

It’s been suggested that the Teensy in addition to the Raspberry Pi is overkill, and… it is! I originally had a separate project that used some of this code and hardware and ended up just grabbing what I had lying around because it was quick and easy. Sometimes it works out that way, and that’s fine…

I should have went with the more powerful speakers I had, because as I learned last time, if you’re doing something with audio in a public space, make it much louder than you think it should be. I had a louder pair of speakers, but they would have required AC power, so I compromised. Oh well. (You can’t tell from the photo, but there are speaker hole drilled in the side of the frame.)

I’ll probably clean up the code and publish it eventually, but essentially it gets kicked off by /etc/rc.local and runs it a continual loop waiting for a key to be pressed. If you press “a” (the button on the front) it randomly selects an WAV file and plays it. If you press the button on the back the script sees a “r” and shuts down. Why an “r” instead of an “s”? I don’t know… There’s another button that was taped up that types a “q” for quit, which quits the script, and is handy for debugging or troubleshooting if you have a monitor and keyboard attached.

That’s the summary of my Raspberry Pi based interactive painting titled “A Life Time of Yeahs!”

I hope you enjoyed it… As always, let me know if you have any questions.

2015.06.05

Yeah!

In 1987 the Rollins Band released the album Life Time, which was produced by Ian MacKaye of Minor Threat, Fugazi, The Teen Idols, and of course, Egg Hunt.

The album Life Time was groundbreaking, not just in showcasing the talents of Mr. Rollins as one of the greatest screamers of all time, but in cementing into our popular culture the use of the word “Yeah!” for emphasis. You may remain unconvinced that Mr. Rollins accomplished such a thing, so I listened to the album Life Time over and over and over again. Yeah! I! Did! I then fired up my audio editing software and collected all of the best “Yeah!” moments.

Obviously you know the opening of “Burned Beyond Recognition” (the first track) starts with five consecutive “Yeahs!” and you also know that “Turned Out” ends with a massive, some would say bone-chilling “Yeah!”, but there are so many more great “Yeah!” moments. After collecting the best “Yeahs!” I culled the list to just under 50 (it was not easy!) and I’ve provided them at the push of a button for the interactive piece titled “A Life Time of Yeahs!”

Yeah! Button

I believe “A Life Time of Yeahs!” stands as a testament to the positivity that Henry Rollins exudes in everything he does. From his position as a lead vocalist to a spoken word performer, and from his portrayal as an actor to his role as a talk show host, you can expect nothing but positive “Yeah!-ness” from Mr. Rollins. If you’re feeling down, maybe you’ve got the “gun in mouth blues” or you just need someone to agree with you… Mr. Rollins and “A Life Time of Yeahs!” has got you covered.

2014.03.12

Boom Pole Mount

Recently I’ve been on a few shoots where I’m doing the audio, and if you’re holding a boom pole and trying to keep the mic out of the shot, it can be a bit difficult to adjust the recorder, which you’ve typically got resting on something nearby, or if you’re moving around, holding in your hand. Obviously I needed a “BPM” and this time it’s not “Beats Per Minute” but “Boom Pole Mount”, which will hold the Zoom on the boom pole freeing up one hand to made adjustments or, you know, help steady the boom pole. (Maybe it needs a better name, like “Zoom2Boom” or something.)

As often is the case… 3D Printing to the rescue!

3D model

I measured the second segment of the boom pole and it came in at 30.2mm in diameter, so I fired up OpenSCAD and started to design a piece that would mount to the pole. (I should also note at this point that I’m not the greatest at math.)

2D test

I thought that instead of printing a test piece I would make a paper prototype to test the fit, so I converted my 3D STL file into a 2D DXF file in OpenSCAD. I figured that wasting a bit of paper was better than wasting a bunch of plastic. It’s also much faster.

Silhouette cutting

I used the Silhouette Cameo to cut my DXF file using a page from an old calendar. (Reuse! Recycle!) Of course once it was cut I realized that I used 30.2mm for the radius instead of 15.125mm. Drat! Lesson learned, you can use d for diameter instead of r for radius in OpenSCAD.

Final 3D model

Back to the old drawing board, by which we mean the “constructive solid geometry” software. This is version 2 of the design. Version 1 was lacking the holes for the hex bolt heads to fit into on the flanges, and was a little thin. Version 2 seems to have resolved all the issues that version 1 fell short on.

Boom Pole Mount

A few bolts, nuts, and knobs (just like the arm uses) and we’ve got a pretty solid piece that I trust to hold the recorder to the boom pole with. The one thing we may need to watch out for is over-tightening the knobs, as that could lead to cracking the plastic. I can probably solve this by adding more infill to the print (it’s at 35% now) or by a slight redesign. We’ll field test this one first though, to see how it holds up.

2012.06.09

Since I’ve got the RepRap I can start on some projects I’ve been meaning to tackle, one of which is printing some camera accessories.

Hot Shoe Audio Mount

Thingiverse is full of weird combos of objects smashed together, such as the Lepus Colberus (The Colberabbit), but you can also combine individual objects in other ways.

I grabbed this 1/4-20 Thumb Screw and this Nikon DIY GPS Holder and combined them into a new thing.

Hot Shoe Audio Mount

The nice thing about the “Nikon DIY GPS Holder” I printed was that I can see it being a generic part I can modify in the future. I can easily import the STL file into Google Sketchup and built on top of it. (I did find this camera mount accessory, but the assembly was a little more complex than I wanted to deal with.) It did take a little bit of work with a file to get the part to fit the hot shoe on my Nikon, but that’s probably a good thing. I got it to fit just as snug as I wanted after minimal filing and sanding.

Hot Shoe Audio Mount

I’m still calling this one a prototype. I ended up drilling out the hole for the bolt, and I cut the head off the bolt to be able to make it all fit together. It works, but I can see some improvements for next time. (I’m also expecting better quality from the RepRap as I get better at calibrating and operating it.)

Hot Shoe Audio Mount

Here’s the mount on the hot shoe of my camera. I haven’t done a ton of video shooting with the Nikon D3200 yet, but I know that most DSLR microphones are not very good, and secondary audio is pretty standard, so by mounting the Zoom H2 on the camera I can get better audio, and I can also monitor the audio, which you can’t do with the Nikon D3200. (The Nikon D800 does allow you to monitor audio from the camera, but we still haven’t received ours.)

So besides two nuts and a bold, there’s probably 10 cents worth of plastic. I think this shows the power of 3D printing in making things you need. I wouldn’t have been able to make this out of wood or metal very easily, but a 3D printer and a hardware store made this a pretty trivial project.

2011.09.13

tools

In the world of professional media making (and other things) it often pays to learn not just the One Tool™ but some of the alternatives… especially some of the free/open source alternatives.

In the world of video, there’s Final Cut Pro, which will often do 95% of what you need done with video, but when you need that extra 5%, that extra push over the cliff, there’s other applications to make that happen. Things like MPEG StreamClip, FFmpeg, and VLC have become extras in our toolbox that we’ve come to rely on. MPEG StreamClip is killer for getting things into the needed format, and if it can’t do it, I’ll move on to FFmpeg or perhaps VLC. They’ve all got their specialties.

Even things like iMovie (the most recent version, as well as the older version) are worth keeping around… Same goes with iDVD, which is usually a simple and fast option when all you need is a looping DVD. Photoshop? I love it…. but sometimes iPhoto is exactly what you need.

On the audio side of things, we tend to use Logic, but we’ve also got room for things like Audacity. What’s that? Need an 8 bit/8kHz mono WAV file for an antiquated phone system? I can kick that out in Audacity in 1/10th the time I’d figure out the settings in Logic. (And yes, that’s something I had to do last week.)

NeoOffice, OpenOffice, LibreOffice? I’ve used them all, and believe it or not, they all have subtle differences which maybe of use depending on the situation. (In fact the one I left out is Microsoft Office, because I don’t use it, but years ago, if you used a Mac and wanted to open the latest Word files from Windows, you could only do so with NeoOffice.)

So here’s my advice…. Learn the pro apps, and learn them well, but spend some time digging through the open source/free tools as well. Figure them out, what they are good at (and bad at) and keep them around for that special task that they excel at.

Have you got any favorite “lesser” apps that complement your “pro” apps?

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