An Orchestra of Linux Laptops, and How to Make Your Own Laptop Instrument

For a generation of musicians of nearly every genre, the laptop has become an instrument. It’s easy to take for granted, but the rise of the computer for music has been remarkable. Less than twenty years ago, real-time digital synthesis and audio processing was the domain of expensive, specialized workstations. Now, $700 per seat can buy you a full-blown musical rig, with the computer hardware, gestural input courtesy the Nintendo Wii controller, and even a DIY speaker made from IKEA salad bowls. The next challenge is to make this setup as flexible and reliable as possible. Enter Linux. According with …

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Qeve: Free Live Visual – VJ Software, Built in Pd

Qeve is a promising-looking, open-source visual performance tool built in visual patching environment Pure Data (Pd). It was built primarily on Ubuntu Linux but should also run with some adjustment on Mac. (Pd itself runs on Windows, but some of the visual dependencies are not available on that platform. I’d still recommend Linux.) Aside from being free and open, and a set of patches you can go in and modify, there are some nice-looking features here: Audiovisual mixing and step sequencing, transitions Video browsing Beat sync and master clock 3 layers, supporting multiple formats (video, 3D, photos, text, paint), 3D/2D …

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Free Pyppet for Blender Maturing Fast; Animate 3D Characters, Video, Use Wiimote

Blender, the insanely-powerful free 3D modeling software (and compositing software, and animation software, and game engine) is finally coming of age. And with it, so, too, are some of its plug-ins. Witness the sophistication of Pyppet, a “digital puppetry” plug-in for Blender. It allows you to take 3D models you’ve created and “perform” them in real-time using a variety of inputs, including the lowly mouse, gamepads, microphone audio input, and even the Nintendo Wii remote. In case you’re not a talented 3D character modeler (cough, okay, as I certainly am not), you’ll be especially interested as visualists in the addition …

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Set Up Ubuntu Linux for OpenCV

OpenCV in action: Fungi by Todd Vanderlin. (CC) Linux can be an ideal operating system for visualists – with a little attention, anyway. Because it’s a free OS, you have a unique amount of control over hardware, and you can easily deploy your setup to any machine – perfect for last-minute computer changes for gigging, or for shipping off for installations. We’ll be looking at various tips for working with this OS, but I wanted to start with some install tricks for using Intel’s widely-used, open-source computer vision platform. On Windows and Mac, you have fairly easy installers. Linux is …

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Linux Music Workflow: Switching from Mac OS X to Ubuntu with Kim Cascone

Here’s a switcher story of a different color: from the Mac, to Linux. It’s one thing to talk about operating systems and free software in theory, or to hear from died-in-the-wool advocates of their platform of choice. In this case, we turn to Kim Cascone, an experienced and gifted musician and composer with an impressive resume of releases and a rich sens of sound. This isn’t someone advocating any platform over another: it’s an on-the-ground, in-the-trenches, real-world example of how Kim made this set of tools work in his music, in the studio and on tour. A particular thanks, as …

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The Mobile Music Netbook: Linux-Powered Indamixx OS + Laptop Looking Slicker

Going ultra-mobile: Korg’s nanoKEY controller plus a svelte, two-and-a-half-pound netbook running Linux and energyXT. Laptops for music are nothing new. But better versions of Linux make no-hassle music production easier and more powerful – and new netbooks make it cheap and ultra-portable, too, for times when even that 15” laptop feels clunky. Netbooks aren’t for everyone, and I imagine some people will miss Windows and Mac OS, even with better compatibility and powerful features on Linux. But if you are looking for an additional, more mobile machine, the combination is definitely worth a look. A significant revision to the one …

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Weekend Inspiration: Cheap Camera + Free Blender Software = Motion in Hours

For further proof that you can make footage in Blender, here’s an example whipped up by Troy James Sobotka. Troy’s approach is one familiar to a lot of us: grab the simplest camera possible, go shoot something, go make something. I think it’s part of what I find appealing about the world of live visualists – exploration is encouraged. The tools in this case: A Kodak Zi6 camera – cost: US$160. (I’m impressed; sure, it’s broad daylight which is ideal for cheap cameras – but it still looks better than what I’ve seen from the Flip.) Blender for editing, effects …

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Blender Video Editing: Yep, Your Free 3D Powerhouse is an Editor, Too

Life is short. You find yourself having to absorb the work techniques of a lot of different software. And some of those divisions — between vector and pixels, 3D and 2D, motion and stills — look increasingly old-fashioned. Since the early 90s, we’ve seen a succession of software try to bridge those gaps. But for the first time, there’s an open-source entrant that promises to bring just about everything involving 3D and motion, minus audio, into a single tool. That means the ability to run on any OS, and a greater sense of a community that can hack the app …

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Mixxx, Open Source DJ Tool, Adds Vinyl Control

Mixxx running with a custom skin. Mixxx is an impressive-looking, fully free and open source DJ package for Mac (Intel only), Windows, and Linux. (It’s also the featured DJ tool on the Indamixx, Linux-based ultra mobile PC – mine just arrived, so hands-on is coming soon.) Adam Davison from the Mixxx development team points out some juicy features in the new 1.6.0 release, out yesterday: We now support vinyl control with Serato, Traktor, and FinalScratch vinyl, as well as Serato CD. This means that you can use vinyl control to drive your mixes without having to buy expensive software or …

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LittleGPTracker Hits 1.0; Free, GP2x, Linux, Mac, Windows, Does Lots of Stuff

LGPT, shirt optional. (Just in case you long for a tracker you can play topless.) Starpause jamming, via the LGPT site. Our friend Marc (“M-.-n”) writes to let us know version 1.0 of music tracker (think alternative sequencer / music making tool) LittleGPTracker is here, with quite a lot in the way of new features. As always, the banner feature of LGPT is its ability to run on the open, Linux-based GamePark mobile game console, making it an ideal choice for tracking on the go. But it runs on Mac, Windows, and Linux desktop systems, too, with features enhanced in …

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