by: Filip Slawinski
About the project
“Kulki” is a music visualization/vj tool. My application is mainly based around Fast Fourier Transform analysis. I'm using it to manipulate certain features of 3D shapes present in the application such as for example colour and radius. Different frequencies manifest in new shapes. The visual aspect of the application was inspired by everyday life – time and space. Its an abstract planetary system with gravity present and various modifications to the particles(planets) orbit movement. I've added many elements to enhance the visual effects. One of them was automated camera behaviour. VJ aspect of the application is users ability to have influence on visual variations by simply pressing a key on a keyboard.
“Kulki” is about visualising music so it has many applications considering its use and intended audience. First most accessible target are the music lovers, party organizers, Dj's. The application works perfectly when its input is dance music and its being displayed on the projector on the party space or behind the performer. As second application and the most successful in my opinion is using “Kulki” displayed as a visual installation. In the museum or a form of exhibition etc. The best outcome of the application in my opinion is achieved when the music going through “Kulki” is long in duration, slowly developing, nostalgic, etc. - preferably ambient genre. It gives an impact and creates great atmosphere and context between sound and visuals when application is used as an visual installation displayed on a big space – creating a great audio-visual experience where changes are slowly developed and aesthetic to look at.
My background research was mainly based around getting inspirations from different artists that visuals are a big part of their performance. Another things I've researched were space documentaries and science fiction art. It helped me to grasp aesthetic inspiration. When I finally decided that I want to do an abstract planetary system I spent time learning the physics of gravity and other mechanics of planets movement.
I wanted the visualiser to be accessible and easy to use for everyone. As well as aesthetic context I wanted it to be universal and applicable to most of people. The subject of planets and everything connected to outer space its a matter that is very interesting, as it's the area that human kind has very little knowledge of. Aesthetics of the universe intrigues most of us as well. I've used “3d advanced shapes” example from openFrameworks. That example outputted a particle system with swarm intelligence aspects and harmonic movements. Then I took different openFrameworks example called “soundPlayerFFTExample” which had basic FFT functionality in it. I combined both examples so the particles from first example will manifest in different band of the FFT analysis and be reactive. From that point I could focus on visual and aesthetic aspects of the program. I changed the swarm intelligence mechanics into a planetary orbiting movement with gravity, added lightning coming out of the main particle so it imitates the sun, changed colour reactivity, added skybox 3d environment, automated camera movements to achieve different viewpoints and other aesthetic changes. The goal was to achieve a slightly abstract, sound dependant space environment slowly developing over time which will be aesthetic, minimalistic and universal.
After many unsuccessful attempts of making a vst plug in I've decided to pivot and abandon the idea and build on the technology I presented in technical research session. There were many problems I encountered while developing my application. One of them was a problem with working with Maximilian addon for openFrameworks (a lot of bugs and errors). I've decided to not use it at the end because I found out that FFT functionality can be achieved by just using plain openFrameworks package. That made my code clearer and easier to make changes in. Another problem I've encountered was organising the movement of orbiting planets. I was experimenting with different equations and finally I found one that made the particles movement much more organised and easy to follow. Another problem I had was the use of skybox addon as the idea of it was new to me. After time spent researching on it and implementing different variations of code I finally ended up developing a great looking background simulating outer space. In my opinion the biggest problem I encountered while working on my project so far was tweaking the FFT bands as well as features extracted from FFT in relation to visual output to achieve the best effect possible.
When applying my project to be used an art installation displayed for long hours with the ambient music as a sound input I think “Kulki” has a very successful outcome. I met most of aims set for myself such as (minimalistic output, clean and aesthetics, interesting particle mechanics, reactivity – visual manifestation of sounds). I received a lot of good feedback while displaying the work in different spaces and sending it to artists working with visuals. When making projects based on aesthetic outcome there is always a feeling of unfulfillment present. I mentioned that I met most of my aims not all of them because there are many more aesthetic aspects I wanted to implement but at the end I had to make a conscious decision about which version its going to be final so I can stop making constant changes and be satisfied with the final outcome.
Skybox - https://github.com/kalwalt/ofxSkyBox
openFrameworks - http://openframeworks.cc
Stackoverflow - http://stackoverflow.com
Wikipedia – wikipedia.com
William basinski – Silent night
William Basinski – A Shadow in time
Hoaxes (Filip Slawinski) – Interiors
Thomas Koner - Daikan