This week I started to wind back the doctorate. People tell me there is no shame in going part time, in fact the research office were very supportive about not trying to work 70+ hours a week. December 2011 was utterly miserable (it included Death, Taxes and a healthy helping of Walls) and I can’t face that level of insanity again. Brutalist U willing, I am back to 16 hours a week on top of my day job.
When visiting the FASS research office I spied two familiar cases sitting on the shelf: my “album of albums”. I think the FASSRO were quite happy to get their shelf space back and I was happy to see that one of the cases was still intact! Nice to have it back again after these years.
Anyway, I’m at a point where shit gets real, So far I’ve talked about still images and that’s not enough. A video work is a moving image and you can’t assign it a single point on a graph. It would rather be a kind of tube extended through the five dimensions. I’ve decided to call that a Twistie, because I can. In my review one of the panel noted that I hadn’t really described how a sequence of abstract scenes would form the equivalent of a story arc. At the time I said that the system couldn’t decide on the relationship between sample points – it takes a human operator to discern a Twistie and drive the replay through it. I still think that’s correct.
However the Twisties don’t have hard edges. When there’s two videos near to the sample point, each is represented proportionally in the result, just as when you tune a radio you can hear two adjacent stations. If you were to lay two videos near each other they can and will overlap and intersect. Very pretty but not quite a ‘retrieval’ as advertised on the tin. That needs to be made clear.
Another big problem presents as I have been asked to create material for demonstrating the device. It needs to be abstract and be able to be performed according to OCEAN. So I need Anxious and Neurotic and so on expressed as videography – which I started to make by using the same colour and form decisions as have been made since the beginning of motion pictures. But my argument has been that these weren’t reliable measures. Am I just disproving myself and maybe elements like hue and brightness really do hold the key? If you are willing to self critique then it can be depressing to spend weeks finding fault in your argument instead of the pleasure of moving along a learning path. I suspected that I’d got myself in a tangle but instinct told me that part of it was sheer bloody tiredness and that the blockage would pass.
Since I started to write this entry something wonderful happened.
I had to give a lecture about game sound, in which I always include a quick rundown of FMOD. In a demo of the new FMOD Studio the demonstrator sets up a whole array of sound cues that are connected to game states – then he creates a ‘fear’ controller. He raises a slider on the MIDI controller and says quite calmly ‘so we can create automation based on fear and…’ my mind did an atomic explosion. YOU WONDERFUL BASTARD YOU JUST SHOWED ME A PARADIGM. I am not going nowhere, there is a light visible ahead of me…
How long has this been sitting in front of me? I’m a fucking idiot. The intention of FMOD is to parallel a branching visual narrative. Because a game is a state machine, the multi-track in FMOD doesn’t represent a single fixed time line. Rather it uses the x axis to hold individual durations that overlap depending on the values called up by the game engine. For example, given the intensity of a battle sequence, mix the sounds in a given way at a given point along x.
First garbled thoughts: untie this from a story arc and limit the controllers to the OCEAN psychological grid that I’m proposing. Replace the sound flows with video clips. The operator places the clips on the multi-track, having previously assigned weights to key frames within them. Automation lines are splines that flow through the control points we’ve identified = maths is relatively easy. Now as we change the OCEAN levels, the clips are replayed in an appropriate mix at states along the multi-track.
Even if that reads clear as mud, it’s something achievable, something that is a relative of a procedure that is already ‘standard practice’ and yet an incremental advance. As I am trying to facilitate an art form that’s the exact place to be. I feel like Baird and his hat box.