Resolving Resolume’s reactiveness

My initial plan has been to use Ableton live and Resolume arena together as I wanted to have the viewer actually remix on the fly. Initially looking at it I thought it would be great to trigger video and sections of songs. I attempted to put this together and have found that the Leap Motion only sends through CC messages (a continuous stream of data which has a value between 1-127) rather than piano note data (a single button press if you will, usually used to trigger samples or video clips). There may be ways to get around this, but due to time and ease, I’ve decided to stick to a pre arranged sequence and manipulate the video and audio with effects and plugins.

Attempting to put this all together I’ve encountered some issues. I originally exported my video at 1080p. I wanted it to be as sharp as possible. I had to convert my video into DVX format which is a proprietary format from Resolume and apparently allows it to play better. Previously I have found that a JPG sequence has worked well playing back in Ableton live’s video window. Avoiding H.264 as, although great for streaming, is terrible for programs like Resolume or Ableton. I’ve found though that the 1080p video is a little jerky, so may try it at 720p.

Setting up the controls for both Resolume and Ableton has been tricky as I’ve had to go via Geco, Leap Motion’s Midi controller software. It does work well, but there are so many options open to you, that you don’t know how people are going to use it, especially as they have no proper training and it’s just “wave your hands over this thing”. I’ve considering using a small picture which shows what to do, without stopping people from experimenting. Presently I have various controls mapped to movements, a distortion on the video matching a distortion on the audio. This is proving very tricky though as I’m manipulating several streams of video and audio.

All this said, I think I’ve figured out the problem. the controller would jump channel numbers if I mapped to another effect. I can solve this by mapping to Resolume’s control panel and then matching that to a global effect rather than a specific effect.

Cloud Tanks

Today I’ve been wrangling the mythical beast that is a cloud tank. Lots of research on these, and weirdly there’s little in the way of info out there. Thanks to Shanks FX though I had enough info to make it work.

First I began to look for a fish tank that would be good enough to use. I didn’t really want to spend too much on it as I wasn’t actually going to be using it again. Thankfully a friend had one they were no longer using. only issue was, it was a piece of crap.


I cleaned it up and purchased various salt. I ended up using dead sea salt as I figure it makes things float in the sea pretty well… yeah. I also had a look at epsom salts and standard rock salt.


I boiled two pans of water (about 4 litre) and added around 800g of salt. I then filled the newly cleaned tank with the water and let it settle for a few hours.


I used a black velvet curtain behind the tank so that it didn’t reflect the light. Next, once the water had settled and cooled I had to fill the rest of the tank with fresh water. This is done by laying a plastic sheet (or bin liner in my case) on top of the salt water and gently filling the bag with fresh water. Once full you slide the bag under the fresh water so the two waters meet without mixing.


Once this was done, I set up my camera and started to drop my liquids just beneath the surface. I used various types of liquid, but mainly condensed milk and food colouring.

It’s simpler than I thought it might be, but somewhat time consuming. If I wanted to have a clean tank every shot, I would have to boil more salt water… pretty laborious.

Some technical gubbins

Boujou is great, but it can have some issues… especially on green screen footage. There are a few things I’ve had to do to make sure the solves are working, such as grading shots with more contrast before the solve and adding manual tracking points. There are of course some quirks I’ve come across such as it’s slight drift in time. Boujou doesn’t differentiate between 24fps and 23.976fps so I’m having to adjust where I can.

Primatte Keyer by Red Giant is a pretty good alpha key removal plugin, but I’ve been having numerous issues where I’ll key out the green screen and find myself 2 minutes later re-keying the same section because it’s reverted back to an improperly keyed selection. No idea why it’s doing it. Instead I’m going back to After Effects own Keylight plug_in, which I used for the Thrive video. It’s surprisingly accurate as long as you’re willing to tweak with a few bits. Using a mixture of the two my keys are now becoming more accurate.

This is my first time using linked compositions. Using Premiere and After Effects at the same time and bridging them between each other. It’s actually very useful. Previously I have exported files from after effects to place into premiere. This causes problems in sections being slightly lossy. Tones not being quite so deep, slight colour errors, that kind of thing. This pretty much bypasses all that. Definitely a way I’ll be using it in future.

I’ve also probably made my life harder with my choice of skies and atmospheric effects within Vue. My render times have shot up again with the use of morphing clouds and spectral lighting on everything. looks great but I’ve only got one more week to really finish all the editing! Render farm anyone?12274739_10156276522200440_2242265019664618893_n










You get the idea. So I have been attempting to render as many scenes as possible. I think I’m just under halfway with all the panned and moving shots. Which is pretty useful. Biggest pains in the arse have been;

  • The screwed up way that 3ds Max (the camera track format read by Vue) does it’s X, Y, and Z axis. It’s unlike any other program!
  • What to export your camera as, in Boujou? ‘static camera, moving scene’, ‘panning camera’, ‘moving camera, translating scene’ so on… what?!
  • Finding a ‘floor plane’ in Boujou. Easy enough in some ways, but when you want to move your camera and tracking points up, I know, lets flip it all 90 degrees! Why?!
  • the inability to move your camera in any way, once you import a camera solve into Vue.

I have a weird thing about solving these issues though. For some reason I kind of enjoy it. maybe I’m a masochist?

Mainly I want to get into the real interesting side of all this editing though. All the keying out will come next. I’ve sent Billie some frames of the edit so that she can draw over them and create her sections. Obviously they will be moving, so I hope I can implement them well enough.

I’ve also changed the format of my background renders – I was using BMP files due to their lossless quality, but each file was coming in at around 6mb. Overall it just made the whole thing quite unwieldy. I’ve since decided to render in jpg sequences as they seem to not have any major negative lossy qualities.

dominion take 10_000003

Additional inspiration

There are a few video styles that I’m quite interested in drawing from. Billie’s illustrations are all in pencil and the artwork has a very monochrome feel. That overall feel, linked with the Victorian medical look, is informing the look of this video, the album inlay and the merch.

It seems I’ve been influenced by a lot of monochrome videos. Although I don’t think I want to do something completely monochrome, I think the colours will definitely be drained in the final outcome.

Meshuggah : I Am Colossus

A stop motion video that has a claustrophobic feel. There’s nothing fast or aggressive about it, but it does have a creeping terror to it.

Vattnet Viskar : Breath of the Almighty

Great use of stillness and sky. It’s a black/post metal band that manages to create a video that shies away from the traditional imagery. quite modern, but unrelentingly dark.

Dimmu Borgir : Gateways

A lot of mucking about with focus here. That and slow motion / over cranked film. There’s a small amount of colour, but it’s mainly drained.

The White Stripes : Blue Orchid

Floria Sigismondi has produced various videos that have a dark and odd look to them that I find interesting. Other videos include David Bowie, Marilyn Manson and The Cure. Possibly more chaotic than I wish to achieve, but interesting use of speed.



Mac: 1

PC: nil

So, my first render on my PC took around 2 days. It wasn’t even that complicated. Problems:

Time it took to render. If I continued to use the PC I wouldn’t be able to get the thing rendered for the hand in, even if I worked 24 hours a day. So alternatives are useful. Swapping over to the Mac has significantly decreased my render times, despite it not having a 3D card. Mac it is…

Exporting from Vue as an MP4 somehow includes the Alpha channel over the sky, and therefore completely screws the look. Though this could be a help later when I need the Alpha intact for the night time scenes. Instead of MP4 I’m just rendering them as a bitmap image sequence. It’s lossless and I can pick up any abandoned renders whenever I need to.

Camera tracking. Although it seems to work I need to go back to the camera tracks in Boujou and make sure they’re sufficiently smooth. the keys are a bit jumpy right now, so they don’t look too great. I’ve checked it out and there’s tools within Boujou to smooth out camera tracks.