Chris O’Shea sends along his latest project, a collaboration with sound designer and composer Owen Lloyd called Drop Spin Fade. Part of the Future of Sound tour, Drop Spin Fade allows users to position, sculpt, and play with sound in a 3D environment using gestural control.

Drop Spin Fade

The music/sound environment: Through a series of iterations, Chris and Owen have started simple and built increasingly-sophisticated sonic control using the setup, manipulating granular samples by spinning and bouncing them around the space. It’s not just positioning at work here: you can actually shape the sounds you’re hearing by interacting with the geometric forms in the environment. Eventually, the designers hope to give users more compositional control, making this into a kind of 3D sequencer.

The guts behind the scenes: The work was built to showcase the Illustrious positional sound system, which can use positioning data to create 3D sound environments. For control, the project uses the Gametrak game controller hardware, which you may have seen used in inexpensive golf and other sport games. It happens to be a very nice gestural controller, as well, with extremely low latency when compared to video camera tracking solutions. Visuals and hardware interface are performed in Adobe Director, routing positional control to Illustrious via MIDI and playing a live sound patch built in Max/MSP via OpenSoundControl data. There will be yet another piece as work proceeds on support for the Nintendo Wii controller.

I’m actually quite surprised that more work hasn’t been done with 3D interfaces — though I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised, as it’s extremely labor intensive! 3D has focused largely on positioning, but with powerful hardware and software capabilities bring 3D to the masses, 3D interfaces are surely next. Iterations and shared research are vitally important to any medium advancing, so I hope we’ll have more projects in this area. (I happen to be working on something different but related in the 3D space in my own research, which I’ll share when I’m ready.)

Previously from Chris O’Shea land: Muon Speakers, with Processing Visuals