Hearts of Metropolitans – Blog Post 2

Our team divided in two, comprising of Vini, Harith and me. We are responsible for capturing audio, sampling and composing coherent audio to tie in to the visuals. The other team members are working on I have been assigned to do the research into the technologies, compare and choose which one better suits our workflow. I am also involved in planning the process and collating files before bringing them into the live set.

Consulting the lecturer for advice on our project


After the workshop on Wednesday, I had a brief chat with Fariz the presenter from MotioFixo regarding applications that can work best for our project. He suggested VDMX as an option. Another person from the Faculty of Creative Media also suggested the same application for controlling visuals using MIDI Keyboard.

I followed up with a little bit of research into VDMX the next morning then went to attend the second workshop of the week with Takashi Aiman who is part of a multimedia visual collective. Takashi’s works is mostly creating visuals for live performances. His presentation helped me strengthen my understanding of “audio-visuals” and how sound differs to audio. Takashi showed us some very interesting and inspiring examples of music videos and live Video Jockey performances which related a lot to “Heart of Metropolitans”, our project. These were definitely sources to go to for more inspiration.


Takashi’s presentation ended on a high note with a mini live Video Jockey performance. He gave us a live demo with a software he used called “Resolume Arena”, a very intuitive and straightforward solution. It works seamlessly with MIDI controllers, with the ability to map your keys to clips. Resolume Arena shifted my interests in software for live visuals. I spent a few minutes speaking to Takashi about our project and he highly recommended that I try Resolume Arena into the workflow. His last advice was to focus on either the sound or the visuals – this reminded me of how we have setup our team and each other’s responsibilities.

Post presentation chat with Takashi


Thursday night, when I got back at the apartment, I continued researching on Resolume Arena and I also setup Ableton Live for test run. Few hours after learning Ableton Live, I managed to create an Audio template, which I intend to use for checking audio coherence of all the tracks. I have been very sceptical about Ableton and its user interface for a long many years. What I learnt in the few hours of pushing myself on Ableton was that I missed out on how seamless the creative workflow is for sound designers. One of the key features that caught my attention was how samples can be looped or assigned to be played once. Our project definitely requires such categorisation to dissimulate an element of spontaneity when the audience interacts with the MIDI controller. When all the loops have been triggered, they will blend into a musical composition whereas the other samples will create distinction.

Testing out Ableton Live


Mapping MIDI controller onto Ableton Live tracks


On Friday, we met in the studio at Multimedia University again for brainstorming, project planning and idea execution. In the early part of the morning, I managed to have Resolume Arena setup and linked with Ableton Live. The others were busy creating visual elements using water colour and After Effects generative art. I discussed a bit more with the Malaysian students on how the audio-visual arrangement will look like using scribbles on the whiteboard. There was a bit of confusion beforehand among the concept. However, we managed to clear it up and move ahead with our plans. In the afternoon, we discussed about file formats, styling and gathered our assets. We discovered that our Malaysian teammates had a great number of videos that was fit for use in our project. About twenty minutes before we left to go back to the apartment, it started raining heavily. I managed to quickly grab the Zoom recorder and capture some sounds of the rain on the metal surface of the shelter and the roof. It sounded very powerful when the rain drops were hitting the huge metal surface in the open area between the FCM café and the studios. Definitely an experience not to be missed when you are in Malaysia.

Creating a flowchart for our project planning

My next steps forward with the project is to dissect all the sounds alongside with Vini and also to map the MIDI controller to simultaneously work with Ableton and Resolume Arena. A bit more learning and testing on Resolume Arena and Ableton is foreseen in the next two days.


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