Final Project Proposal: The Dynamic Music Visualizer

I’m fascinated by the way sound and images combine, and how we perceive them. I like concerts because the music is accompanied by visual compliments, whether it is lighting, dancing, or (increasingly) digital images and videos on the big screens.

In the big leagues, these visualizations are high-quality animations, often specifically designed for the song that is playing. One that always comes to mind is the animation that accompanied Tiesto’s ‘Escape Me’ during his Kaleidoscope world tour. It was many years ago, and this was the best video I could find:

Amazing production, the visuals really complimented the song; but what about music in the mid-leagues or little-leagues? Is it possible to entertain and engage people with more accessible stuff? This is the avenue I would like to explore for this final project.

My goal is to create a dynamic music visualizer – an accessible sketch that detects something in the music data and provides visual feedback in real (or near-real) time.

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From API to LED: Physical Specifications

As the technical feasibility of the API to LED project comes together, it is time to consider the physical specifications, including design, construction, and materials. Here is the current conceptual design:

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Sunrise, Sunset

Above is a little illustration that depicts the sunrise and sunset times (listed on the y-axis) of two locations in the world for each day in the year (spread across the x-axis).

See the code and web version here (press the play button – not optimized for mobile).

In this current case it is the 2016 sunrises and sunsets from Eastern Standard Time (EST) – aka New York –  and Central European Time (namely Switzerland & France).

At many stages in my life, for different reasons, I have found myself doing a mental calculation to imagine this time difference, and specifically when our normal waking hours overlap.

These days, both a friend and my girlfriend’s father are stationed in Switzerland.

This illustration is designed to show that our days share a lot of the same sunlight – especially in the summer. So even if we are far away, we can often look up at the same thing in the sky. ?

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From API to LED: Duplex Communication

Friday night! The perfect time for expanding on the API-to-LED work from last week. The improvement now offers a more diverse set of information and utilizes duplex serial communication.

The result is that now we can now use a toggle-switch to see the 1-hour price change of either Bitcoin or Ethereum in the form of LED lights. The position of the attached toggle switch determines which currency is being shown.

The programming also features a p5 sketch that reflects the information being sent through the serial.

For example, in the video below Ethereum has had a modest positive 1 hour price change (0.06%), so it lights up the green LEDs a teeny bit. At the same time, Bitcoin has had a larger, negative price change (-1.16%), so it lights up the red LEDs quite a bit.

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From API to LED: First Connection

The simple joy of making one single LED light turn on returns this week with the first step towards linking the IRL, moving, ever-changing internet to an Arduino.

Using serial communication and an API call, the green and red lights indicate if the price of Ethereum – a popular cryptocurrency – has gone up or down in the past hour, as per Coin Markets Cap.

What is more, this light shines with different intensity depending on the degree to which the price has changed (i.e. bigger increase = brighter green light).

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Two D-10 vs One D-20

The dice theme continues this week with a p5 program that lets you roll a variety of dice and observe the historical distribution of your rolls.

Play with it here (best done on a computer, not mobile).

Inspired by D&D and my general fascination with stats – this is designed as an interactive and informational tool to observe what distributions can be expected. Compare, for example…

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Make an atlas of the whole universe

…and fly through it!!

First class of ITP (Applications with Nancy) featured a presentation from Carter Emmart, who toured us around space to show you how small and unimportant we are.

You can see a version of it for yourself here.

The atlas is a feat of data mapping and visualization capabilities. It took a big team of people to put together and was met with resistance by traditionalists who saw it as a waste of funding.

But it was a powerful experience, and definitely got me interested in planetary and galactic concepts I wouldn’t otherwise care to know. So take that, lame scientists!