Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Behind the scenes

A quick peep behind the scenes, at what happens away from the hilltop to turn walks and traces into single audio tracks for web playback.
As well as the 'public' face of Soundlines it has also been a pioneering project to develop and pilot a system of capture, playback and reflection as part of the Strata learning tool-suite. Ben's been doing an amazing job of turning our wish list into reality.
Now I'm going through all the logs, and using the processes he's created for us, to turn the 58 walks into 58 unique mp3 audio tracks.

We asked everyone to come up with a code name for their walk - some reflect the animations and stories about Sand Point, others are more of a personal memo!

Each ipaq (pda hand-held computer) was set up to record a 'log', a text list of things about each walk, including the codename of the walk, time, the position of the walker every 10 seconds (using gps - satellite tracking), the audios that they triggered by their movements, and the end time of their walk.

There are 50 different audios, most made by the participants and recorded in the music improvisation workshop back in November.
Those 50 audios were mapped, sometimes several times, onto the Sand Point hilltop, spread over about 75 different 'regions' (active trigger areas) for walkers to find as they explored. Some chose to stay in a 'region' listening to the sounds in that place, others ran around, or moved backwards and forwards to catch the sounds they wanted to hear - or to avoid! 

So the first job was copying all the logs from the 21 ipaqs used, onto one computer.
Then checking through and changing any codenames that had been used more than once so that it's easy for their authors to locate them later.

Next job is to use the system that's been especially written for the project, to turn the 58 walk 'logs' into 58 music scores - but not the traditional score with manuscript and notes. Instead we want them as instructions to audio software that can then re-compile the audios as they were triggered on the walk, and make a digital 'score' with the correct audio coming in and out at the correct time!

The picture below shows what just one part of the digital 'score' of one walk looks like. The walk codename is '1998' and you can see that it was made on the 30th March '10, starting at 10:00am. Each block is an audio that was triggered.
This screenshot shows 9 or 10 audio tracks - music made with Sand Point themes including geese, fanfares, submarines, hilltop ambience.
The whole walk (and so the whole digital 'score' also) uses 37 of the 50 available audios, and lasts 30 minutes.
The 'score' then gets 'mixed down' and exported as an mp3, ready for use in the web playback system. - That's another story!

Fingers crossed, the walk, with it's full mp3, and extra surprises, will be up on our website in the Soundlines gallery later this month! 

A folder with some of the 58 walk 'logs' to be processed.
Screenshot showing a tiny part of the log for this walk codename '1998'

Screenshot of part of the 'digital score' for one of the walks.

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