Thursday, 29 November 2012

Final blog post - Finished sound pieces

Had critique on the 28/11/12 and I think it went well, everyone seemed pleased with my installation and how I created my pressure pad. I also think they were happy with my sound narration piece about exploring my Grans house. I set up my installation and demonstrated how it works and explained how I created it.

With also some explanation about the project and some examples of my blog posts since it would of took a long time to show all of it. Also passed my development sketchbook around the class, feel like my sketchbooks could use more in them but I've sorta run out of everything else I could put or add in them. Felt thier was only so much I could do for the project since it is a sound piece with less visuals.

Guess the only thing that is left is to post my finished sound piece. I left the video black since it is a narrative sound piece and feel it is quite intense on its own. The best way to listen to it seems to be through headphones since it is in stereo. It's been a weird and postive journey through this project since its been quite personal. But also learned a lot about what its like to make an installation piece in a way I did'nt know how to or was sure I could of achieved.

Set up for assessment all my files and installation seem to be working fine just hoping for the best and that it doesnt get broken or stolen.

Also for the mini sound piece we did at the start of this project I ended up doing something different from the memory project. For the first sound piece I went around charity shops and made a abstract piece with toys I found that make noise. This piece was more of an experiment to get into using sound again and practising with the field recorder and trying out the sound studio.

These were the toys I used for the piece I just recorded different samples of them. Then overlapped them and used different effects on the samples in Audacity. It was fun finding the toys and playing around with them even tho I'm not very musical.

 Kinda nervous since it will be my first uni grade but we shall see. On to good times at christmas and to the next project.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Development - Installation set up and recording

Took my little installation and sound piece into uni to set it up and record the process of it working and someone interacting with it. I used the studio space to set things up since for time and because I did'nt have any free days to watch my installation all day. Incase anything was tampered with or stolen before the critique and assessment. But if the time comes I may do this in the future to just see the kind of results or reactions of people. But because of this I booked out a camera and mic and for the past couple of days have been filming the installation working.

It being set up with a chair with a slight opening has been perfect for the wires and pressure pad to sit on the chair. Also as long as their a surface like a table behind the chair it makes the speakers be heard quite well at ear height. Their is also the option to use ear phones since my sound piece is much more intense through ear phones. My mp3 player has also the option to loop tracks which would be perfect for the sound piece to play all day if it could for each listener interacting with it.

Just filmed little clips of each little detail of the installation and of it being pressed and turned on to give the viewer a general idea of how it works. Decided to just use imagery of shots and edited it that way in a sequence to explain it working that way. I also interacted with the piece to show the general idea of how it activates when it is sat on.

I look so happy with my sound piece ha ha! Will sleep good after the project and everything is all done.

The camera I used was the Z-1 with a professional tripod and a Gun mic to pick up the best sound. I used this camera because its the one I'm most familiar with to a degree but using it again was a leanring experience. It even took me a while just to attatch it to the tripod and begin filming but got there in the end.

The camera uses tapes to record footage so I bought a tape from the store and then after filming used the tape player box thing thats in this picture. (Forgotten its name just now.) And captured the footage into final cut pro. It took me over the last two days to edit the film but I got it done. It took a little while because I had to familiarize myself with final cut pro again. Also incountered a lot of the same file problems trying to make it work on the studio computer like the first project.

It's just a really basic film to show the installation and to have evidence of it working.

Hope it shows how it works clearly enough but I'll be able to find out after feedback at the critique tomorrow. On to finishing sketchbooks and recording the installaion at the crit.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Development/Research - Research sketchbook and Development sketchbook

Been quite busy since the last few blog posts been jumping between all the other tasks that is needed for my project. Since my sound piece and pressure pad has been working out quite well my attention went back to my sketchbooks. Been working on them slowly for at least 2-4 hours every night the past couple of weeks.

 I have did two sketchbooks one for research and one for development been finding it kind of difficult to fill up my research sketchbook. But this is because I had to narrow down a lot of inspirations and sources for this project and also because its a sound project so their is less visuals. I have been went back and added a little more research and anitation but still have a little more to add.

I have added the radio narratives research and some research about sensors but I would like to add a little more if it is possible.

 However my development sketchbook I feel has been coming along very good and I have a lot to add to it. I think this is because this project has been quite personal and positive since it being about family and childhood memories. I have explained my ideas and project in it as well as added all the photographs of my Gran and examples of my resources for the piece. Their is also a lot of extra information and explanations as well as photographs I have not shared on the blog. But I did this because I liked the idea of it being in book form like a sort of memory book of my Gran and my personal journey about this project.

I have also found it easier to create comparison pages about my Grans home with tracing paper and drawings over the recent photos I found on the estate agents website. I did this to show the contrast between the house now and then what it was like 16 years ago to how it is represented in the sound piece. This is also to give anyone who is interested an insight to the narrative they would be exploring within the house as it was.
Since some of the sounds may only make sense to me and my family but may relate or trigger other feelings or memories for the listener. But their is more insight and explanation to the sounds in this sketchbook.

I also have drew out a birds eye view of the layout of the house and area and explanation and arrows throughout the house. This is to show the listener how they are actually traveling through the narrative and what rooms and interactions that are representing the sounds. I also have been documenting how my recording of the project went and the planning of how it was created in Audacity.

I have began the parts of explaining and documenting how the pressure pad was made and how the tests and experiments have went with it. I also have been documenting how the filming of the pressure pad has been going the last couple of days before crit. This will also be added to the sketchbook and blog in the next coming days as well as how the critque and feedback was recieved. Hope it all goes well just gathering the last the documentation and videos for asessment.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Research and Development - Sensors and experimentation with installation

I researched what sensors where and how they worked but it ended up being very broad since their is so many different kind of sensors and how they worked. Heres the general discription of a sensor and to explain how it works.


A sensor (also called detector) is a converter that measures a physical quantity and converts it into a signal which can be read by an observer or by an (today mostly electronic) instrument. For example, a mercury-in-glass thermometer converts the measured temperature into expansion and contraction of a liquid which can be read on a calibrated glass tube. A thermocouple converts temperature to an output voltage which can be read by a voltmeter. For accuracy, most sensors are calibrated against known standards.
Sensors are used in everyday objects such as touch-sensitive elevator buttons (tactile sensor) and lamps which dim or brighten by touching the base. There are also innumerable applications for sensors of which most people are never aware. Applications include cars, machines, aerospace, medicine, manufacturing and robotics.
A sensor is a device which receives and responds to a signal when touched. A sensor's sensitivity indicates how much the sensor's output changes when the measured quantity changes. For instance, if the mercury in a thermometer moves 1 cm when the temperature changes by 1 °C, the sensitivity is 1 cm/°C (it is basically the slope Dy/Dx assuming a linear characteristic). Sensors that measure very small changes must have very high sensitivities. Sensors also have an impact on what they measure; for instance, a room temperature thermometer inserted into a hot cup of liquid cools the liquid while the liquid heats the thermometer. Sensors need to be designed to have a small effect on what is measured; making the sensor smaller often improves this and may introduce other advantages. Technological progress allows more and more sensors to be manufactured on a microscopic scale as microsensors using MEMS technology. In most cases, a microsensor reaches a significantly higher speed and sensitivity compared with macroscopic approaches.

But for the type of method I want to do because my sensor will be inside/under a chair and I want it to activate when it its pressed. It was suggested that a pressure sensor would be my best bet and the right one to go about doing.

Pressure Sensor

A pressure sensor measures pressure, typically of gases or liquids. Pressure is an expression of the force required to stop a fluid from expanding, and is usually stated in terms of force per unit area. A pressure sensor usually acts as a transducer; it generates a signal as a function of the pressure imposed. For the purposes of this article, such a signal is electrical.
Pressure sensors are used for control and monitoring in thousands of everyday applications. Pressure sensors can also be used to indirectly measure other variables such as fluid/gas flow, speed, water level, and altitude. Pressure sensors can alternatively be called pressure transducers, pressure transmitters, pressure senders, pressure indicators and piezometers, manometers, among other names.
Pressure sensors can vary drastically in technology, design, performance, application suitability and cost. A conservative estimate would be that there may be over 50 technologies and at least 300 companies making pressure sensors worldwide.
There is also a category of pressure sensors that are designed to measure in a dynamic mode for capturing very high speed changes in pressure. Example applications for this type of sensor would be in the measuring of combustion pressure in an engine cylinder or in a gas turbine. These sensors are commonly manufactured out of piezoelectric materials such as quartz.
Some pressure sensors, such as those found in some traffic enforcement cameras, function in a binary (on/off) manner, i.e., when pressure is applied to a pressure sensor, the sensor acts to complete or break an electrical circuit. These types of sensors are also known as a pressure switch.

So been looking into different ways about how to create this type of sensor and what other materials I would need to make it work since money and time is limited. I researched different methods and tutorials on how to create the sensor and found some really useful ones on youtube. Theirs all sorts of different ways to go about creating the sensor from easy to really complicated ways.

 These are just some examples but ended up finding this one the most useful down below.

Since it was really simple to make and was made out of everyday items you find round the house. 
After finding out how to create a pressure pad I had to look into what other equipment was needed to for the sound. It turned out we had some speakers lying around in the flat from the previous flat owners who were friends and didnt want them anymore.

With help from Alastair who was happy to assist me and used to play around with eletronics as a kid and had every wire known to man.
(go figure)
Explained to me and showed me how the process could be done and what was right equipment.
We experimented with the different types of speakers first to see how the sound piece sounded through them since it sounded fine with headphones. We used a AV switch as an extender to from the laptop and then to the speakers with a button control also. We had trouble with the speakers since they were mostly bass speakers and sometimes one would cut out. We opened it up and tried to fix it on the inside but it didnt seem to help. We tried another set of speakers but had problems then with the sound quality and of the piece being in Mono instead of Stereo.

After that not working out so great and spending till 3.00 in the morning trying to get it to work in every way we thought possible. Decided the best thing to do was to hunt for some new cheap speakers the next day. Ended up finding a small descent set that had different connections and pretty good sound quality.
We also got a audio jack extender from poundland which came in super handy.

We then began to create the pressure pad following the tutorial on YouTube.

We used tinfoil, cardboard, foam, normal tape, and then cut the middle of the audio jack extenders wire to expose the circuit. We then transfered my sound piece onto a mp3 player I brought from home incase it could be useful. And then it took a while but we tried all these different wire combinations to get the right circuit balance. A lot of strange things happened such as sometimes the sound would only work in one ear and then next only the bass could be heard. It was really strange and different each time the quality of sound trying to get it to work.
One time the sound did'nt work until we turned the pressure pad upside down very weird!

Eventually we found the right combination of wires and linked it all up to the speakers and mp3 player. I can also play my sound track on loop with the mp3 player which is what I wanted for the sound installation.

The pressure pad works really well but is a little fragile but it does work and we even tried sitting on it. The effect of the stereo also works quite well with the speakers. But now I have to try and get it to work in a space in the university and record the process. This will be my next step as well as continueing with sketchbooks and the rest of the blog posts.

Development - Sound piece and installation ideas

It took mostly a full day but I ended up being able to finish my sound piece but I won'nt post it until after my critique and feedback. But to create it ended up using Audacity and using the sounds I recorded at home with a field recorder. Any others I could'nt achieve because of weather or other difficulties where found on YoutTube and Freesound.

Since my memory isn't fully reliable since I was only little remembering Gran I asked my parents to listen to my work. Asked for honest feedback since it was parents and their opinion might be biased. But they really enjoyed listening to it and said it sounded almost exactly like my Grans house. That the narrative is quite clear and that you know you where your going in the house from when you start at the front door to the end.  I felt that their opinion on it was important since they visited and remember more about the house and Gran.
But thats just my parents perspective which is important to me but I want to see what other listeners will say about it and their perspective.

I had many ideas for the installation part of the project and have researched many artists and sound installations for ideas and inspiration. It has been quite broad and my ideas ended up becoming far to complicated and trying to fit to much into one. My initial idea was to create a space or small room that resembled a room of my Grans or have a display case with her belongings. While sound played around the listener or started when the listener interacted with it.

But after thinking about the project again and because of time restraints and factors of being able to build and make something like that work. I had to rethink my idea and make it a lot more simple and the sound piece could probably be strong on its own.

Ended up coming up with the idea of a chair and it having some sort of sensor or button on the seat. And that when the paricipator sits down on it or interacts with it that the sound would start playing or be heard. After discussing this idea with my tutor it seems that this was a much better way of creating an installation. That it is more reasonable to achieve within the time and having the technology to achieve it.

We discussed different ways of how I could do this since all of this was very new to me and I still didn't fully understand how sensors and electrionic equipment worked. We talked about the different types of senors I could buy or even create which helped with having names for research. To how I could use different methods of activating the sensor buy even 'bluetooth' or even 'The wizard of Oz method'. Which would be me hiding somewhere and pressing a button to create the sound for the listener.

Also I discussed what I was trying to achieve with the technicians and they suggested that the best method would be to have a pressure sensor for the listener to be able to sit on to activate the sound. They let me be aware they had some equipment I could use to aid this method but now it was just choosing how to go about it.