USound04Cylinder example from sound-responsive visuals workshop last weekend, see code below

I’ve just announced two more NYC workshops for the weekend of September 8+9:

It’s currently looking like my busy Fall schedule will mean that I’ll be doing less of these workshops over the next few months, so if you have any interest in taking one of them this might be a good time.

The first sound-responsive visuals workshop happened last weekend and was a lot of fun. Here are some of the key elements we looked at:

  • As it turns out, Minim’s FFT.logAverages() method (which divides the FFT into logarithmic averages) give a far more useful result than the raw spectrum data on their own. Using that as our starting point we built a FFT helper class to act as our source material.
  • Since our focus in looking at the sound data is to turn it into a useful parameter for driving visuals, I demonstrated a series of data modulating strategies that give us greater control over the sound input.
  • Adding temporal damping of the FFT data (interpolating between old and new values) allows us to control the rate of signal change, which is crucial to make the sound-driven animation match the perceived tempo of the sound space.
  • Finally, we used a simple envelope shaper (a 1D Bezier interpolation) to de-emphasize the lower part of the spectrum. Bass tends to be over-represented in the FFT data, so to get a better distribution we can simply tone down the low end of the FFT by multiplying each data point with a modifier dictated by the shaper function. Initially we also scaled up the top end, but that produced noise and artificially high values, so in the end we kept the shaper function within the [0..1] range.

See the attached Processing sketch for an example that we went through in detail. The libraries in the “libraries” folder must be copied to your Processing libraries folder before running.

Sample code: USound04Cylinder.pde

Download: USound04Cylinder.zip (includes Modelbuilder and ControlP5 0.5.4, requires Minim)