Posts Tagged ‘CDM’

MonoTouchLive, the Lemur, Imitation, and Hopes for an Older, Wiser CDM

May 5, 2009


Even online, words have a tendency to linger long after you write them. And I recognize that the risk here is not only what those words mean to me, but others, too. So I want to revisit a topic today in the interest of moving forward.

I wrote a kneejerk post earlier in the life of CDM about MonoTouchLive, a single-touch interface with UI widgets inspired by JazzMutant’s Lemur. MonoTouchLive was (and is) Windows-only, standalone software for controlling Ableton Live. It’s now free of cost.

I’ll be honest: in my original post, I overreacted, and I didn’t choose my words as carefully as I should have. Some regular readers called me out on it at the time. Since that time, I’ve tried to be more careful. Some comment threads referred back to it, though, and the developer, Pablo Martin, has continued to push his tool and has been outspoken about not liking what I wrote.

It’s now clear to me that I can’t just let this go, as Mr. Martin today has posted a multi-page diatribe focused largely on my short, now nearly three-year-old blog post.

A little of JUSTICE please

To be clear: I got carried away. I have since come to the realization that copying – loosely or closely – isn’t such a bad thing. They’re a learning process, and if something really is original, it does tend to shine through.

Also, to my knowledge, Mr. Martin is correct: the layout on the Lemur was apparently a mock-up to show what the Lemur would look like if configured with the layout of the MonoTouchLive. I incorrectly said that both the widgets and layout had been copied, as I misunderstood the image I saw. Axou created that design as part of athread with some complaints about the similarity to the Lemur widgets, but I now try to make CDM less like a quick forum post.

I don’t think there’s anything really wrong with MonoTouchLive. It may indeed be useful to some people, and I expect (as I even said in that original, ill-advised post) that the growing availability of affordable touch and multitouch screen hardware will mean many more such creations and ideas. DJTechTools even suggested a US$250 solution involving something like MonoTouchLive and a small, USB-powered external display:

The $250 Lemur

There are some of Mr. Martin’s remaining contentions, however, with which I still take some issue. First, he implies that this was some sort of ongoing thread on CDM. It wasn’t; there were two stories out of several thousand, but as is clear from the URLs he copied, they were posted on the same day, September 11, 2006. I don’t know what was going on with me that day, but I should have thought before I published. I understand his frustration, though – because I didn’t write a follow-up post, those stories continued to come up on Google. But, at least I can say truthfully, I didn’t mean for this to become an ongoing issue.

Second, while it’s true that MonoTouchLive didn’t copy a Lemur layout, it did clearly copy the look of the Lemur interface widgets. My original appeal, if poorly worded, was for creativity and variety, and I stand by that now. Mr. Martin is clearly a developer with some skill, and I’d love to see something that looks different. I stand by that criticism now as before – and because I’d love to see new visual ideas.

It’s worth noting, in fact, that I wasn’t alone – jaded, perhaps, by people copying designs instead of making their own, many in the Ableton forum responded the same way. The lesson here is, if something is a copy, you may want to acknowledge that and explain your intentions. The lesson for the rest of us is, we probably should have considered the author’s intentions before responding.

Lastly, while “JUSTICE” claims Dexter “saw the light” of MonoTouchLive’s fixed layout, I still like the idea of modular, editable layouts over fixed layouts. It’s part of the whole advantage of a touchscreen over hardware. The “JUSTICE” article also implies – intentionally or not – that JazzMutant was following MonoTouchLive’s lead, which I think is unlikely. That said, I’m sure MonoTouchLive could be useful to someone with a fixed layout, and they have their advantages – muscle memory, for one.

What Really Matters to Me: Looking Forward

I won’t say anything more about this matter. I think what JazzMutant did was really important, and I think MonoTouchLive is a worthy idea. But what I’m most interested to cover in the future is work that takes touch in new directions.

For touch and multi-touch to really catch on, I think these interfaces need to be substantially different in function and experience than conventional hardware knobs and faders. I’d aim that criticism at JazzMutant as much as I would at MonoTouchLive. I’m really eager to see more experimentation. I shouldn’t have pushed that desire on Mr. Martin and his work, though, and for that, I’m sorry.

Just complaining in this case was out of line. I believe criticism and frank criticism is part of the function of blogs – not pulling any punches, as the saying goes. But I also believe in being constructive, and I think those comments weren’t.

I expect I’ll continue to make mistakes, and I will be the first to defend the value of writing frankly on the Web – warts and all – and responding. It’s because of a few years of doing that, in fact, that I think I have a different perspective in 2009 than in 2005 and 2006 – because of your feedback. So always keep it coming.

I don’t view my role as a cheerleader, in case that isn’t already clear. But because I believe in the value of criticism, I’ll be working harder than ever to make sure it’s the right kind. Comment threads are comment threads, but I hope we’ll all consider that we’re leaving words for strangers around the world.


dubSpot Kicks of Live 8+APC Workshop Tour in San Francisco – CDM Discount

May 5, 2009

Guitarist/composer/musician Christopher Willits is on faculty for the dubSpot series. Photo (CC) Buzz Andersen.

dubSpot, the West Coast + East Coast music technology training center is doing an eight-city tour of the US to talk about Ableton Live 8 and the Akai APC40 controller. They’re enlisting some of my favorite people to do the workshops. I like the curriculum: it’s not just “here’s how to use Live,” but a real focus on music production, finishing actual music, and pushing the envelope with live visuals, onstage performance and controllers. We also have a $25 discount exclusively for CDM readers if you want to attend.

I want to thank dubSpot for helping sponsor CDM this month – their support makes possible our own free tutorial content and artist coverage slated for later in May.

The tour kicks off this week in San Francisco, but will travel to other US cities soon (dates to be announced; stay tuned).

The artists doing the instruction are some folks whose work I particularly enjoy:

  • Jon Margulies, author of Ableton Live 7 Power among other things, and the person doing the Live 8 curriculum here in NY. And like me, Jon is a secret Medievalist (he’s played early music at Spoleto).
  • Moldover, “Moldy” to his friends, co-founded the Warper series in NYC and the new LoveTech party in SF, and has become notorious for hacking Novation keyboards and espousing controllerism.
  • Christopher Willits is an utterly brilliant guitarist capable of morphing the instrument into all kinds of sounds, for those of you who don’t know his work. And he’s been doing a lovely series of tutorials for our friends at XLR8R TV.

… plus a powerful roster of artists: Funkaid for Africa, Dub Mission, Jason Short, Dub Gabriel, and Barry Cole.

The workshop is $125 for one day or $225 for both. If you are lucky enough to hail from sunny San Francisco, dubSpot is also offering a $25 CDM discount if you head to their site via this link:

But we’ll have more for the rest of the world, too – I’m playing with the Warper crew on the sidewalk in front of dubSpot NY in June, and we’re working on a way of doing a live stream to the CDM planet from there. Stay tuned.

Moldover, Live + Reaktor, and his modded Novation keyboard at our Handmade Music event a couple of years ago.

Augmented Reality DJ: Scratch it with a Camera, Plus AR Resources

April 28, 2009
AR scratching from vanderlin on Vimeo.
“Augmented Reality” is a fancy term for describing ways of using computer vision to overlay digital intelligence on images. In other words, you can, for instance, scratch a vinyl record using a camera – plus a tag for identifying the object’s position in 3D space.
Cambridge-based designer Todd Vanderlin put together an elegant demonstration of the possibilities here, and his video has accordingly been making the rounds. (See: Synthtopia – and I actually heard about it this morning from a high school friend. The power of the Internet.)
Todd has more details on his site, which includes all kind of wonderful projects, like laser sound fountains and, always favorite around here, creepy circuit-bent baby dolls.
AR Scratching [Todd Vanderlin]
There’s actually some work to this: you need to figure out how the album is spinning. And of course, because this is augmented reality and not reality, there’s real potential here to imagine a new kind of vinyl DJing in which normal physics don’t apply.
From the video description:
I was playing around with some AR markers the other day and came up with this idea. taking just a plain old vinyl record and attaching an AR marker to the label you can track the record in 3D space. The next question was, can you scratch the record?
So by figuring out the velocity of the records rotation and applying it to the payback of the audio you can scratch. There is some digital noise that needs to bee worked out, but sounds pretty good. Its still really hard to scratch, it takes some practice but is super fun. The next step is to figure out some nice triggers for different modes. I like the idea of not needing a turntable but the actual spinning of the record helps with the scratching and playback. I made a couple modes, one where the record is paused and you can just scratch through the song. The other looks for zero velocity for x time and then continues on with the song. If there is velocity you then are scratching and the audio is affected. I think that this project has some legs can’t wait to play more.
I Want My Augmented Reality TV
So, this has sufficiently inspired you and you want more augmented reality? We’ve got more for you.
Digital artist and magician Marco Tempest has just demonstrated what happens when you do card tricks with augmented reality – and he shares some details of his rig:
Virtual Magic: Augmented Reality Card Tricks with Marco, OpenFrameWorks [Create Digital Motion]
We’ve even seen augmented reality climbing walls.
If you’re ready to do this yourself, we have a number of resources:
CDMotion has Andy Best’s tutorial on OpenCV with Processing (not an AR-specific library, but relevant): Getting Started, Popping Bubbles
We’ve also got an in-progress library for use with mapping projections in space for “spatial augmented reality”
A New Year’s video with a library for Flash, Java
A tutorial on getting started with augmented reality using Flash
openFrameworks, a library for C++ coding (which in turn supports multitouch, augmented reality – you’ll see some projects on that page)
Bryan Chung is working on a library for Processing