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Thread: What is the future of manual sequencing?

  1. #1
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    Default What is the future of manual sequencing?

    As the New Year is approaching and we ponder on the coming year, I can't help but wonder where "manual" sequencing will lead us. Pixels are exerting their influence more with each coming year. The sheer number of channels are rapidly expanding. Sequencers are slowly evolving to accommodate the changes. For how long?

    I still haven't got a blinky-flashy display in my front yard, as of Christmas 2013. It's still the old static version. Why? I have been interested in the technology for many years. Well, for me, what I have seen has been too "strobotic", if there is such a word. Secondly, many hours need to be spent learning an evolving sequencer and then spend hours gathering songs and then do the design of light choreography. That is a stumbling block for me.

    Are there signs of a more automated approach to the sequencing technology arising on the horizon of DoItYourselfChristmas forum?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: What is the future of manual sequencing?

    Speaking for myself - I will be a "manual" sequence creator for years to come.

    I agree with you and I have seen an increase in the number of "strobotic" effects used in many of today's displays. I suspect as pixels have made their way into our displays -- the number of channels to program has become overwhelming resulting in want/need for automation.

    When I look at a display I feel like I am looking at a picture that appeals to two of my senses - sight and hearing.

    I remember a thread posted after last years Holiday period expired. It stated that is was the very best display ever produced. The display was located in Florida some place. The display consisted on a LOT of lights --- both pixels and strings - multiple MegaTrees.

    My emotions were not moved by the display. I liked the music. The lights were flashing and doing all kinds of automated effects. My mind immediately wanted to relate what I saw to what I was hearing but the was no connection - it was like watching a light display that had nothing to do with the music.

    As I said -- my emotions were not excited by the experience.

    I view a Christmas display (music and lights) like a special type of painting. Is it just a splash of non-synchronized lights with music or are the lights adding to the music in a way that the resulting emotion is more than that acquired by sight or hearing alone.

    Last year I released a concept called PixelPlane within HLS. I added an automatic effect generator with the intention of making a ton of effects available like those available with Madrix or Nutcracker. I only released a handful of effects and then stopped cold. I doubt I will add any more because I could not find a way to automate the effects with the music in a way to increase emotion. Yes -- the effects were cool but they were just lighting effects --- I wanted synchronization --- and as of today -- I have not figured out a way to do that.

    As people add pixels to their displays - I think most will look for ways to quickly sequence. Most will employ effects that are hard on or hard off ("strobotic").

    I'm hoping a few will let the "Picasso" within them come out and produce displays that inspire and create emotions. Instead of just turning lights off/on --- they expand their painters pallet and explore what slight changes in light intensity or color will have on the viewer. They create visual effects that "merge" and are "one" with the music.

    It's not how many lights you have -- it is what you can do with the lights that will differentiate your display from others --- bigger is not necessarily better in my opinion.

    Right now --- I believe my definition of a "Picasso" display can ONLY be produced "manually".

    Computers have yet to produce "Picasso" paintings so I think it will be many years before they can produce what I consider a Picasso Christmas display.

    So --- as 2014 approaches -- Some Users will "manually" create their displays while others others will automate them.

    The "manual" creations will take longer --- but from the "manual" creations will rise the Picassos of 2014.

    Just my 2 cents.

    I wish all a Merry Christmas.

    Joe
    Last edited by JHinkle; 07-04-2014 at 01:36 PM.
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: What is the future of manual sequencing?

    In general I would agree, seen lots of the lights are doing something but little tie to the music itself. I think a master of the manual so far has been zwiller of what I have seen. He does a lot with very little and the sequencing is tight. He's had a tough year getting his show going and may not even be live tonight after probably hundreds of hours of work on it.

    I had hopped to strive to his level of timing, but life and it's good enough got me there at 80% probably and I am ok with that on the first year.

    I would encourage continuing with your effects and solicit input from others, you are like the canvas maker, you never know what your artisans will do with the canvas, but if you don't give them new tools, they may never get there.

    One item I was looking at would be support for karakoe versions of songs, or the support for the lyrics themselves in a file format that say this word is at this timing point. It may allow you to more automatically make some transitions, maybe we have to manually tell it what, but it's another step forward.

    A lot of christmas music is instrumental, and the ability of audacity to make timing marks on beats and nodes etc may automate a bit more of it over time.

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    Default Re: What is the future of manual sequencing?

    I have to agree with the manual approach. I looked at many displays and I am aloways disapointed when someone claims they have syncronized music and lights and then all see is lights blnking on and off with no relationship to the emotions the music is trying to convey. I tried to make my lights convey the emotions of the music and see a big difference between my first song and my sixth song. It is hard to do and takes practice. I am a software engineer and to tell the truth, I have yet to figure out a way to get a computer to recognize the emotive elements of our world and translate thhose emotions into other forms. At the moment, this is still something that takes the human mind. So a note to the sequence developers, we need ways to manually adjust neat effects to align them to music and tune them to emotins. Our minds will have to do the rest.

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    Default Re: What is the future of manual sequencing?

    Our shows, if they are done well, trigger emotions in the human mind. IMHO some level of human involvement will always be required. Automation may free us from some of the more mundane tasks but humans will always be the creative spark in the loop.
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    Default Re: What is the future of manual sequencing?

    I would have to agree with what has been said here so far. The human emotion, translated into a display cannot be replicated by a computer. My wife made a comment last night about 3 songs I banged out real quickly as they were requests from neighbors to add to the show. She said that "you must be burnt out on sequencing." I asked her why and she said that the three songs looked too automated and lacked what was in the other 22 songs I did over the year. I watched some this morning and she was right. The emotion of the song, the shifting of beats, the intensities of lights with the lyrics, etc. just wasn't there.

    While I am no artist (refer to stick figure in another post) I agree that the human touch is needed doing what we do. If it was not, we would be buying our kits pre-loaded with songs instead of putting in our labor of love to do what we do. We may say that what we do is "for the kids" or "for our community" or "to get our neighbors into the spirit" but in the end, when someone reacts to our song, when someone sees a well timed effect and smiles, it is as if someone is smiling at a painting we just completed, or clapping for a poem we wrote and just recited. As humans, we like making people happy. If we just throw a pile of lights on the lawn and let a computer turn them on and off based upon beats and frequencies, we won't get the same joy out of what we do.

    Now, with that said, don't worry about being an artist. Don't worry about too many channels or pixels, or what have you. Take the built in effects in your program (chase, wave, twinkle, etc.) and apply them to your props. Work with them during the year. Don't even worry if your preview is anywhere close to what you are really going to have out there (placement, etc.) just get a feel for what it is to sequence. The earlier you start, the earlier you get a feel for how to add a visual emotion. Then in about July, nail down your layout. In August, start sequencing to what you will really have out there. Just do about 30 minutes of songs/voiceovers max because nobody will sit around that long and if they do, then even better.

    Ok, enough waxing philosophical, I have to get to next year's show!!! Merry Christmas and Happy Sequencing.
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: What is the future of manual sequencing?

    I agree, as many of you indicated, that some human control will always be needed, perhaps to make it human. Just like computer assembly language is very useful, much of our software evolved to a higher level language, more suitable for humans to write and read. The use of libraries has added another layer of higher level to speed up our creativeness. Perhaps sequencing will evolve in a similar fashion. Even robots have their limitations, and we have spent a lot on development of "artificial" intelligence.

    The other aspect, human emotion, is also important. I can remember many years ago when I first saw a Kaleidoscope. The sheer brilliance of the colours and their changing shape just fascinated me. Stained glass windows can also have a similar emotional effect.

    I have also turned off the sound on some YouTube displays, just to sense some emotional effect while viewing the display. This may be a poor test, but most displays were not that appealing to me. Yet, many hours could have been spent on it. I don't want be ungrateful for their artistic expression, and can appreciate their effort. For me, it wasn't something I could watch for long, mainly because of the "strobotic" element.

    I look forward to what creative minds come up with in the coming years.
    Last edited by LightUp; 12-25-2013 at 08:25 PM.

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    Default Re: What is the future of manual sequencing?

    Maybe it's time to start thinking of this as a electro-folk-art form.
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    Default Re: What is the future of manual sequencing?

    Automated sequencing is basically disco lights. No choreography, just random blinking lights and sounds.

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  11. #10
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    Default Re: What is the future of manual sequencing?

    Manual sequencing is tough! I think its the hardest part of this hobby. I stopped tackling the 3 minute songs and I'm just working 1-2 minute songs now. It's easier for me, and I think viewers of the show actually like the shorter songs as it holds their attention more. If I come across a long version of a song that I MUST have, I just use Audacity to trim it down. This worked out great for 2013.
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