Laser Light Show Software with Fedora

Brendan works with us at WindWorks Design, and contributes occasionally to the blog.  Here’s a link to an article and interview with Brendan from Fedora Magazine.

https://fedoramagazine.org/creating-laser-light-show-with-fedora/
Brendan Laserhttps://fedoramagazine.org/creating-laser-light-show-with-fedora/

 

 

Posted in General Interest, Lighting Technology, Theatre Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Laser Light Show Software with Fedora

Hardware Failure is Not An Excuse on a Gig

Double WX Instrument Case

Electronic musicians are dependent on more gear than many.  From talking with my friend Bob Norton, we both believe in carrying duplicates of nearly piece of electronic gear so the gig can go on.  After all, you can’t tell your client “my WX broke, so we can’t play the gig”.  Hardware failure is not an excuse.  Been to a large rock concert lately?  You will see two lighting consoles, tracking each other.  That’s typically an extra $30,000 piece of gear just for backup.  Now this is for large arena venues with 10,000 in the audience, not a small gig.

Your wedding or jazz gig clients deserve the same.  For those of us who play wind synth, we are dependent on a host of electronics, including the wind controller which is prone to moisture damage.  Add to that your synth or laptop for sound generation, then your amp and speakers (or amp/speaker combo).  Plenty of opportunities for failure.

You may be thinking, “really, you carry duplicates of everything?”  Yes!  As a wind synth player with a duet partner, that means a 2nd WX7 wind controller.  I carry both in a custom made dual instrument case pictured above.  There’s also a second synth module and a backup amp/speaker combo.  For the amp, my partner and I each carry and play through our own small amps.  Both of our keyboard amps are capable of accepting two inputs.  I can plug into her 2nd channel, or she can plug into mine.  And don’t forget cables to support this, as my amp has RCA for the 2nd input instead of 1/4″.  The odds of two amps going down at the same time are small, so we seldom carry a 3rd amp since we can share.   Between the two of us, we only bring one spare synth module.  The spare is an old WT11 which includes a WX input jack.  Sure, it’s old school and the sounds are not ideal, but since we play baroque flute duets, the FM flute sounds will be just fine in the event of needing a backup.

We don’t carry extra music stands or other non-electrical gear, but I always have a complete tool bag in my car which includes spare fuses, gaffers tape, electrical tape, 2-3 prong plug adapters, zip ties, and a complete tool set.  Multi-tools are handy, but in event of things going wrong, having the proper sized screwdriver or pliers is more helpful to me.

And finally, I have an AC noise filter.  A church I used to play in always gave me fits over odd noises coming into the audio chain.  Adding the AC noise filter was always able to solve it.

So if you are an electronic musician and gig modestly often, make sure you bring spares.  Even if they stay in the trunk of the car.    And thanks to Bob Norton for the various discussions on this.  In another blog post we will share how he updated his own gig rig to lighten the load yet still carry spares.

 

Posted in General Interest | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Hardware Failure is Not An Excuse on a Gig

VL70-Wizard: a new programming interface (part 2 of 2)

ScreenShot-VL-Wizard3

Here is a Q&A between Mr. Verpaele and WindWorks Design on his project, VL70-Wizard: 

How did it start?
My hobby is sound design. I have a specific interest for Acoustic Modelling and Modular Synthesis. Years ago I became owner of a VL70m and WX5. It was frustrating not to be able to get better sounds out of this module. As a result this module lost my attention for a long period and I was at a point to sell it.  Luckily I did not….
 
A few years ago I discovered the MAX/MSP development platform from Cycling 74.  Finally I’ve got a development platform allowing me to get into go deep MIDI – Sysex programming.  So, I decided to give the VL70m a new chance and did start the VL-Wizard development project.
 
I did get in touch with Manny Fernandez and Bruno Degazio to get more info. I also established indirect contact with the brain behind the VL technology (Mr. Toshifumi Kunimoto, head of R&D Yamaha). He confirmed that I was allowed to reverse engineer the VL-Expert Editor and VL-Visual Editor. So, I did digged deep into the MAC-VL-Expert editor and analysed the sysex it produced…I also studied the VL1m voice structure and mapped this to the VL70m and step by step I discovered how the VL70m synth hangs together. 
 
What equipment do you own?
My current setup is a Clavia G2, Technics sx-WSA, Yamaha S90 (with 3 PLGVL cards), VL70m with a third party PROM, and within a week or so I will be a happy owner of a VL1m and a EWI4000S. This means that if the VL-Wiz is a success that I will work on a VL1 editor…  
 
What is the status?
sorry…I’m a perfectionist..…as a result I restarted several times the design and development cycle in order to get the right solution. Today I reached the point where I believe the VL-Wiz is doing what I had in mind. I did listen to many testers and tried to incorporate their requests, additionally I invested considerable effort designing the right graphical look and feel…the commercial version will go a step further but I leave this as a surprise… I can say that the editor is for 95% ready and steady. What is missing is documentation, but soon after release I will spend time creating video tutorials and extra guidelines..
 
How will this change the quality of the VL70m voices?
The VL70m is a very expressive and underestimated sound module. It’s front panel parameters are far too little to get better sounding voices. The VL-Wiz offers in-depth editing of the hidden advanced parameters (the VL-element) and therefore unlocks the full potential of the VL70m or PLGVL cards. With a bit of effort and understanding of VL design (see the VL design guidelines of Manny) you can build a voice that responds the way you want it respond.  The VL-Wiz allows you to tweak parameters while listening.
Thanks to the visual key-scale / breakpoint editor you can also fine-tune the behavior of the voice within its low, medium and high range.
The ability to edit multiple VL-units (VL70m and/or PLGVL’s) at the same time allows to introduce layered voices like the VL1m does. The fact that the VL-Wiz can support up to 8 VL-units opens doors for polyphone VL. Believe me, using my Yamaha S90 with 3 PLGVL cards to play a string instrument is really addictive.  
 
The VL-Wiz includes a feature called, midi snippets. This feature will allow VL-voice designers to establish and share a library of frequently used snippets that can be loaded and directly put a set of parameters into a specific setting. Example EQ snippets for Bass guitar, Classic guitar, Cello etc…

Also the VL-Wiz includes a template selector allowing to quickly load a standard voice template based on the selected Driver and Body. This gives a quick start towards designing voices.
The tuning module does include the features of the original VL-Expert editor and allows for auto tuning or single key tuning. My best experience is using the single key tuning feature.
Do you have some examples of what can be done using multiple VL units.
Here are some examples. More realistic examples will be made available in the future.
https://soundcloud.com/rudy-verpaele/spanish
https://soundcloud.com/rudy-verpaele/fender
https://soundcloud.com/rudy-verpaele/l7-pluck

When will it be ready?
If my real job allows then I will launch the commercial version end 2015.

 
On what platform will it run?
It works on a MAC and on Windows (32bit mode). Due to compatibility I could not include support for Windows XP.

What will it cost?
– the free demo version, this will include limitations in terms of storing voices into the library/disk, tuning etc.
– fully working + minor upgrades be around 100Euro. With reduction for those kind VL-users who already donated money for the project (allowing me to invest in VL technology)
– the existing library contains unedited voices that I collected, extracted and converted.  I do play with the idea to design voice expansion packs.
 
What where the biggest challenges?
– finding enough time to combine this project with my real job.
– keeping myself motivated to complete this big project and convince my wife that this effort will make many VL-users happy.  
– designing a good graphical user interface
– building the voice-tuning process, keyscaling editor and multipart sysex engine
 
How to stay informed?
By sending a mail to VL70m(@)imoxplus.net
Can we support this project?
Yes, donations are motivating and can still be done via paypal, these kind people will receive a reduction on the commercial version and priority in terms of support.

 

Posted in Music Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on VL70-Wizard: a new programming interface (part 2 of 2)

VL70-Wizard: a new programming interface (part 1 of 2)

Rudy Verpaele has “developed a new advanced VL70m editor – librarian – effect editor” that he calls VL70-Wizard or VL-Wiz. 
Vl-Wiz copy
It has been in beta for a long time but now he’s almost reached the point for a official release.  Here’s his update sent to me:
 
“Hi Art

The final beta 3 has been released and yes, the next release will be a commercial release…finally…
The Beta3 did become a bit too complex for setup. This will be resolved as part of the commercial version.
VL-user can still request a copy, as long that they realise that support will be limited so I can focus on the commercial release.
Hereby an overview of the standard features:

  • Fast and direct access to an organized voice library (contains about 900 voice I did collect. Important: Some 3rd party voices are protected and not part of the VL-Wiz)
  • Ability edit voice tags and search voices based on this tag information
  • Native sysex voice format, so you can also send the voice with any kind of sysex transfer tool
  • Realtime parameter editing using 4 graphical editing modules, the Element Voice, XG Part, VL70m Effects, Tuning
  • Intelligent activation and deactivation of parameters based on the selected Voice algorithm
  • Parameter labels that correspond to the selected Voice algorithm (eg string vs pipe)
  • Ability to load Current Voice dumpout from the VL70m
  • Compatibility with PLG-VL cards (XG-VL mode)
  • Import capability for .ALL .LIB and .SYX (VL70m format only)
  • Voice Template manager (similar to the Yamaha Visual Editor)
  • Ability to store voices into the Custom + Internal Voice slot 1 to 6 of the VL70m (and in the commercial version up to 16 slots for the EX5)
  • Tooltips explaining what the advance parameter does
And these are the additional features as of beta 3;

  • Poly and Multilayer support. Editing VL-Voices across multiple VL70m & PLG VL’s
  • Quickly (re)-store a chunk of settings (eg. EQ’s, Harmonizer settings etc.) using Parameter snippet tool
  • Mapping midi controllers to VL-parameters using midi-learn
  • Play a one track midi loop while editing using the midi phrase tool
  • Sending midi reset (panic) to kill hanging notes
  • Loading & Sending VL70m effects from another voices without touching the element voice
  • A configurable sysex engine,  set interval time between sysex dumpouts and sysex bytes, handle up to 8 VL devices using their individual Device ID and Part
  • Switch your synth into VL-Mode (eg. S90, MOTIF, EX5, MU series)  by sending an initialization sysex as defined in the listbook of your synth
  • Send extra sysex data before and after each voice(s) upload
  • Select multiple midi-in and midi-out ports
  • Select the midi-in and out channel
  • Enable/disable midi-thru
  • Considerable amount of bug fixes
  • Color Schemes
  • Undo feature (doubleclick on parameter does set back its previous value)
  • Improve license key validation

It is clear that I will need to make a few video tutorial to explain the usage of all these power features but first I focus on finishing the commercial version.”

——
 Some Screen Shots: (click on the image to visit the blog)

b_VoiceBrowserb_InstrumentEditor b_KeyScaleManager b_Common_System

Posted in Music Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on VL70-Wizard: a new programming interface (part 1 of 2)

Shop Tools and Tips – Boelube

I sometimes get questions about how we build some of our custom projects, both musical gear as well as theatre props and special effects.  Inspired by one of our favorite YouTube publishers, Applied Science, here is the first of what may become a recurring “Shop Tools and Tips” postings.

Shop Tools and Tips:  Boelube

Boelube Paste

Instead of liquid cutting oil for your drills and taps, Boeing developed “Boelube Paste” is a wax based cutting lubricant that is simple to use and doesn’t run all over the place.   It comes in a plastic jar as a blue soft waxy compound.  You just poke your drill bit or tap into the Boelube Paste, then get to work.  While not a perfect replacement for cutting oil in some applications, our shop in New Zealand as well as here in the USA both use it.  It is a bit expensive ($30 for 12oz, $10 for 1.5oz, but the large large container is easy to divide into smaller containers (old school film cans) to keep at different work stations.  Thanks to a video from the Stan Winston props shop for turning us on to this.

 

Small Tap-Drill Set

In the photo, you might notice the simple drill/tap set.  This is an expensive drill/tap set that we really like.  While our shops have several full sized sets of number drills and English/Metric taps/dies, this simple plastic kit has what I need most often, without looking up the drill number to go with a tap.  It’s a small kit, but has what I use most often here in the USA shop:  1/4-20, 10-32, 10-24, 8-32, 6-32, and 4-40.  I keep one in my theatre tool bag for retapping holes too.  These are available under various brands such as Vermont American, Craftsman, and non-branded.  They all seem to be the same.

Posted in General Interest, Lighting Technology, Music Technology, Theatre Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Shop Tools and Tips – Boelube

Fun Home – a review of the Broadway show

Fun Home Cast Photo

 

Fun Home – a review of the Broadway show by Max B.

Beautiful. I had seen the performance done at the Tony awards, but that was basically it. I didn’t know much more. I didn’t need to. You don’t need to have read the graphic novel memoir Fun Home: a Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel, which the musical is based on, to understand the piece.

The lighting design was by Ben Stanton and he did a terrific job lighting in a very tough environment. For those of you who have not seen the show, it is presented at the Circle in the Square theatre, which is in the round. That means that there are people watching from every conceivable angle, making lighting a real challenge. I saw a lot of usage of moving lights, lots of gobos, but I also saw some good old-fashioned straight lighting. There was lots of use of color temperature to give a sense of place and a lot of tight shuttering to give a sense of location because of the limitations of the In-The-Round staging. There was also a lot of spotlighting, but that is pretty normal in broadway shows. A standout aspect of the lighting was the light squares, gobos, projected on the floor, meant to represent the cartoon squares in the original graphic novel. Also, another cool effect was bathing the stage in 20+ independent squares of colored light. A good job on lighting.

On sound, the design was good, but again due to I think the limitations of the space, to avoid feedback, the actors’ microphones were a little quiet. They weren’t garbled, though. Clear as a bell.

The show is great. I could go on forever spouting things I’ve learned from interviews I watched after the fact. Instead, I’ll just say this: It didn’t win the Tony for best musical for nothing. The actors are great. The singing is great. The story is great. The staging is great. The lighting is great. It’s great. It’s a new format for a musical (nobody has ever really done a musical with a lesbian protagonist). One of the most striking things is that the main character is played by three different people, depicting her at three different stages of her life: Growing up, in college, and middle aged. It has its laughs, but its strength lies in its seriousness. Songs like Ring of Keys will live on forever. I can see Fun Home running for a long time.

 

Verdict: YOU SHOULD SEE IT.

Here is a montage of scenes and songs from the show:

Posted in General Interest, Lighting Technology, Music Technology, Theatre Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Fun Home – a review of the Broadway show

Musician’s Stories from the Trenches – Stephen Gagne

Editor’s note:  This is another in our recurring series of musician’s stories.  Some are biographies, others are specific events in a musician’s life.  We hope you will enjoy reading these original stories, as told by the musicians themselves.

Stephen Gagne’s musical story:

 

I’m happy to write a blog posting, but not sure it’d be of interest to your readers. I say that because virtually all my gigging and performance work has been on real horns – clarinet, bass clarinet, alto sax, and soprano sax. For the current show I’m working on, on one number they needed a recorder player. I bought a recorder and discovered the learning curve was unrealistic for the time frame, and dusted off the wind synth as a stand in. For that, emulating recorder it’s working great, and does a credible job.

And sometimes for the French Canadian folk music group I’ve performed with, it’s been great to have a tuba; again the WX does a pretty decent job on that sound.

What’s happened for the most part, however, is that I’ve gotten good enough on the “real” horns so that the wind synth’s best sax and clarinet emulations just don’t measure up, particularly for live performance; don’t give me the degree of depth, expression, and tonal palette I can get out of real reeds and real horns. And the wind synth just doesn’t have the, well, sex appeal, frankly, of a real alto.  Not that I’m at the level where I’m going to be doing national tours or anything, or looking to score women from performing — I’ve been happily married for 30 years — but I think you probably know what I mean.

When I first got into the wind synth, I was blown away by the way I could do a credible bassoon, flutes, etc. And if I was doing film scoring work again, I think I’d use it a fair bit. But for live performance it seems best reserved for speciality routines, at least for the kind of music I play.

Here’s 2 links of my recent playing on saxes/clarinets-

This is the Ease Coast Swing band I gig with regularly, for dances, weddings, and the like:

http://banddupays.com/BandduPays/Song_samples.html

Second, for the international folk choir ensemble I am bandleader in (and direct/edit video productions of our concerts) – the link below will take you to a page of 5 videos, which also have stereo mixes recorded with multi-track and mastered in my studio. If you scroll down, the 2 that I’m playing horns on are:

Maramica Na Stazi, Metamorphosis, May 2013

Odovjala Lisickkata, Village Concert, September 2012

I am featured for a time in both numbers as I recall, but it takes a while to get to those sections of each piece.

Here’s the link:

http://www.rogueworldensemble.org/media/

So that’s my current story.  Perhaps at a later date I’ll post again with more details on my wind synth playing including instruments, synths, and styles.

gagne band

Posted in General Interest | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Musician’s Stories from the Trenches – Stephen Gagne

James Turrell – not great lighting art

I have studied James Turrell’s work, and seen it in person at the installation in the Guggenheim museum in NYC.  As the 3rd paragraph in the NY Times article excerpt below indicates, you are sitting in a very, very dark room waiting for your eyes to adjust.  This is the output of the “… one of the greatest living artists”?  Go sit in an interior bathroom for 20min and tell me what you see from the light sneaking around the door jam.  Hey, now you are one of the greatest living artists too!!

The primary installation in the Guggenheim was a stretch fabric stepped cylindrical thing with LED fixtures shining on it.  Pleeeeeeease.  My freeking living room often exhibits the same “nuke blue” from LED lights for which Turrell was being praised.  Why are people so taken by simple lights hung on custom truss with stretch fabric?  Sorry, this is not wonderful artistry.  It is brilliant salesmanship.

Want to see Turrell type work?  Please send me a commission, or stop by my house sometime and I’ll setup some LEDs in the living room.  Please don’t mind the cat box by the front door.
– Art

Quoting from the NY Times:
“… James Turrell, the US light sculptor.

Turrell, who must be counted as one of the greatest living artists, is a rare presence in Britain. His work demands three primal givens that are generally in short supply in the contemporary art world: space, time and sky. All three are available at Houghton Hall, where a beautiful mix of old and new pieces results in the pop-up show of the summer.

The Marquess of Cholmondeley has been commissioning work from Turrell since 2000. The first piece to be built here was a Skyspace, one of his mysterious wooden pagodas with rectangles cut in the roof through which you can watch the changing colour of the sky. I’ve seen the heavens turn black in several of these Skyspaces around the world, and can confirm that Houghton Hall’s is the most elegant and best.

Another work permanently on show in the grounds is in an old water tower. To experience it, you need to walk into what appears to be total blackness. Five minutes later, it’s still black. Ten minutes later, still black. Fifteen minutes later, something purple begins looming up before you. Twenty minutes later, you find yourself sitting in front of three Rothko-ish purple fogs. The light hasn’t changed. Your eyes have. ”  

ref: http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/culture/arts/article1578307.ece?shareToken=f613c2b0639e515c398f70178bc227c5

Posted in General Interest, Lighting Technology, Theatre Technology | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on James Turrell – not great lighting art

DMX Wiring Over Cat5 or Cat6 Cable

Cat5e connector

I did not know there was a “standard” way to wire a DMX on cat5 cable.  This is from Pathway Connectivity Solutions.
http://www.pathwayconnect.com/images/stories/wiring/Pathway-DMX-Wiring-Guidev2.pdf
Pathway DMX512 over Cat5 cable

Posted in Lighting Technology, Theatre Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on DMX Wiring Over Cat5 or Cat6 Cable

Roland M-200i – Scene Recall Issue

Roland M-200i in use at WindWorks

 

Dear Roland,
Earlier this month I was using our new Roland 200i digital mixing console for a theater show (see posting below). This show was my first time using scene memory recall. This feature is very important when there are 16+ actors wearing wireless microphones moving on/off stage between scenes. The unfortunate part of scene recall on the 200i is that is takes a snapshot of the entire console when saving a scene. So when adjusting the input trims each night during mic check, I had to reset every input trim and save for 26 scenes. BAD IDEA, ROLAND.

Likewise for the compressors, and even the output patchbay. I didn’t get my output configuration settled until mid-week of technical rehearsals, so I had to spend time re-setting the patchbay for all 26 scenes.

Why can’t you give us a simple choice of “just faders/mute/solo” and/or “entire console” for scene recording? I’m not asking for tick boxes for each aspect of the console. Just a choice of recording faders/mute/solo only.

I have some other suggestions, but let’s first fix the scene recording so each night I do mic check, I don’t have to then reset every input trim on every scene. Don’t get me wrong, I love this console. Many complements on the sound by the audience, and the compact size suits my gig requirements when mixing for my band, American Moondogs.

Can we just fix the scene recording so I can adjust input trims and not have them overwritten by the next scene recall? Who at Roland can I talk to about future software for the 200i?

Thanks for allowing the rant….

Posted in Music Technology, Theatre Technology | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Roland M-200i – Scene Recall Issue