Cellular Automidi – Audio App

Presenting my latest Flash Music Toy App Thing –

Cellular AutoMidi!

Cellular AutoMidi is a generative music app, making “music” based on a modified Cellular Automata algorithm.

It’s an AIR app –

YOU CAN DOWNLOAD IT HERE FOR FREE!


Check it out in action in the video below, first using Flash dynamic sounds, then using Flash Midi Server to control a synth –

Cellular AutoMidi – Generative Audio Flash AIR App from Lawrie Cape on Vimeo.

According to Wikipedia –

A cellular automaton is a discrete model studied in computability theory, mathematics, physics, complexity science, theoretical biology and microstructure modeling. It consists of a regular grid of cells, each in one of a finite number of states, such as “On” and “Off” . For each cell, a set of cells called its neighborhood is defined relative to the specified cell. An initial state (time t=0) is selected by assigning a state for each cell. A new generation is created (advancing t by 1), according to some fixed rule (generally, a mathematical function) that determines the new state of each cell in terms of the current state of the cell and the states of the cells in its neighborhood. For example, the rule might be that the cell is “On” in the next generation if exactly two of the cells in the neighborhood are “On” in the current generation, otherwise the cell is “Off” in the next generation. Typically, the rule for updating the state of cells is the same for each cell and does not change over time, and is applied to the whole grid simultaneously, though exceptions are known.

…..yep! Basically – each cell can be alive or dead. Once in a generation, each cell looks at it’s surrounding cells, and dies if it is lonely or overcrowded. If a dead cell has an optimum amount of neighbors, it will come to life! Each generation, all the cells which have come to life will sound a note. The notes are assigned based on the cell’s y position, and are all in the pentatonic scale.

There’s a few controls at the bottom which change how things work too.

  • Start/Stop – Starts/Stops the automation.
  • Load – Loads a pattern from the text box.
  • Export – Exports the current pattern to the clipboard. You can send it to friends, or save it for later, then load in with the load button.
  • Clear down – Stop and clear the current pattern.
  • Law Mode – An error when coding the cell rules gave this other odd mode.
  • Skip Audio – Just show the cell animations.
  • Sing Dead – Instead of singing the recently revived notes, sing for the recently deceased.
  • Note duration – Alter the system speed.

Also, along the top there are banks of preset systems. Click play to start a saved pattern, and click assign to assign the pattern currently displayed to that button. You can also trigger each pattern with the keyboard keys 1-8.

When you press Export, your pattern is automatically copied to the clipboard, so you can save it, or share it with people. Here’s a pattern I made – you can load it by pasting it into the load box, and pressing Load!

1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,2 ,2 ,2 ,2 ,2 ,2 ,2 ,2 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,2 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,2 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,2 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,2 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,2 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,2 ,2 ,2 ,2 ,2 ,2 ,2 ,2 ,1 ,1 ,2 ,2 ,2 ,2 ,2 ,2 ,1 ,1 ,2 ,2 ,2 ,2 ,2 ,2 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,2 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,2 ,1 ,2 ,2 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,2 ,2 ,2 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,2 ,1 ,2 ,1 ,2 ,2 ,1 ,2 ,1 ,2 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,2 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,2 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,2 ,1 ,2 ,2 ,2 ,2 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,2 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,2 ,1 ,2 ,1 ,2 ,2 ,1 ,2 ,1 ,2 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,2 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,2 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,2 ,1 ,2 ,2 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,2 ,2 ,2 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,2 ,2 ,2 ,2 ,2 ,2 ,2 ,2 ,1 ,1 ,2 ,2 ,2 ,2 ,2 ,2 ,1 ,1 ,2 ,2 ,2 ,2 ,2 ,2 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,2 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,2 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,2 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,2 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,2 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,2 ,2 ,2 ,2 ,2 ,2 ,2 ,2 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1 ,1

HINT – When drawing patterns, symmetrical patterns seem to evolve nicely.

The app is fully compatible with Flash Midi Server (my Flash to MIDI audio interface app) – it checks to see if it is running when the app is launched. If it’s not, then it uses fancy Flash Player 10 dynamic audio! I’m hoping to roll this out to the Flash Midi Server class soon – so any app which tried to access the midi server and fails, will use the dynamic audio as a backup. I’ll keep you posted!

In case you missed it, you can download the app here – it weighs in at just 79kb including icons! The screenshot images above are 79k! If you don’t have Adobe Air installed, the link will prompt you to download that too.

DOWNLOAD IT HERE!

I’d love to hear what you think of it – and see any patterns you come up with, so please post them in the comments.
Have fun!
Law.

–By downloading the app, you are agreeing to the licence below —

Copyright (c) 2010, Lawrie Cape

All rights reserved.

THIS SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED BY THE COPYRIGHT HOLDERS AND CONTRIBUTORS “AS IS”
AND ANY EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE
IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE ARE
DISCLAIMED. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE COPYRIGHT OWNER OR CONTRIBUTORS BE LIABLE
FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, EXEMPLARY, OR CONSEQUENTIAL
DAMAGES (INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, PROCUREMENT OF SUBSTITUTE GOODS OR
SERVICES; LOSS OF USE, DATA, OR PROFITS; OR BUSINESS INTERRUPTION) HOWEVER
CAUSED AND ON ANY THEORY OF LIABILITY, WHETHER IN CONTRACT, STRICT LIABILITY,
OR TORT (INCLUDING NEGLIGENCE OR OTHERWISE) ARISING IN ANY WAY OUT OF THE USE
OF THIS SOFTWARE, EVEN IF ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGE.

Arduino Project + Home Office

So, I’ve been pretty busy lately – back to work, which is great – getting stuck back into interesting Flash development for an awesome client, with some really good people.

But that doesn’t mean I’m falling behind on my other on-going projects. I’ve still got 2 games almost finalised, and my interactive arts project with Josh Sadler is coming on well.

For the arts piece, I’ve recently picked up an Arduino.

What’s an Arduino?

Arduino is an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It’s intended for artists, designers, hobbyists, and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments.

Sweet! I’ve been interested in HCI, hardware hacking and alternate input devices for a while – so I really should have picked up an Arduino ages ago!

Check out this beaut –

Here’s the kit I bought – complete with LEDs, potentiometers, breadboard and LCD screen. There’s lots of possibilites here. On the day it arrived, Josh and I managed to get it hooked up to some code we’d written (in PureData and Processing respectively).

And as a bonus, just for mentioning it, I get extra added blog cred. Just check out this XKCD –

In other news, the design site Inspiredology recently ran part two of their round up of “INSPIRING WORK ENVIRONMENTS”.

It’s fun to notice how every single one is a mac! I guess mac users are just more stylish. My current “home office” certainly offers no competition –

Yeah, that’s right. I code on a stool.

OpenCV thoughts and Flash BitmapData fun

Following on from my first post about my new generative audio project, I’ve been delving deeper into some of the libraries avaliable for Processing. One that sounded really interesting and powerful was OpenCV (Computer Vision). Peter Kirn over at Create Digtal Motion had this to say about it –

It’s a relatively easy thing for computers to “see” video, but “computer vision” goes a step further, applying a wide range of techniques by which computers can begin to understand and process the content of a video input. These techniques tend toward the primitive, but they can also produce aesthetically beautiful results. The best place to start with computer vision has long been the standard library, OpenCV. A free (as in beer and freedom) library developed by Intel and with ongoing use in a variety of applications, OpenCV is a terrific, C/C++-based tool not just for things like motion tracking, but video processing in general. OpenCV gets a lot of support in the C++-based OpenFrameWorks, but that doesn’t mean Java and Processing have to be left out of the fun.

With loads of ideas for how to implement this into my generative audio project floating around, I started following Andy Best’s great tutorial here.

I had a few issues setting up the library – so let me offer a word of warning – Make sure you download version 1.0 if you want to use OpenCV with Processing, and not the feautred download – which is a later build.

Among the fun things I got running, was this terrifying image difference threshold thing –

It reminded me of a great bit of Code Zevan posted over at ActionSnippet – AS3 Frame Differencing. Which then in turn reminded me of a couple of BitmapData experiments I never put up on here. So here they are!

I’ve wrapped them up into 1 block of code, as they are essentially very similar. The code will produce pictures like those below, by drawing sections of the webcam image into a Bitmap – either in random rectangles, or in sequential lines. These produce different, interesting effects.

//Boolean var to draw either random rectangles, or consecutive lines
var drawRandom:Boolean = false;
//Differing framerate for each type.
if (drawRandom) {
	stage.frameRate = 120;
} else {
	stage.frameRate = 50;
}
//Set up the Camera
var camera:Camera = Camera.getCamera();
camera.setMode(550,400,60);
var video = new Video(camera.width, camera.height);
video.attachCamera(camera);
addChild(video);
//Determine the maximum dimensions of the random rectangles
var drawWidth:int  = 25;
var drawHeight:int = 25;
//Boolean var for if app is currently drawing
var drawIt:Boolean = false;
//Counter to make lines sequential.
var lineCount:int = 0;

var BMD:BitmapData = new BitmapData(550,400);
var B:Bitmap = new Bitmap(BMD);
addChild(B);
B.x=550;
//Start and pause the drawing on any keypress
stage.addEventListener(KeyboardEvent.KEY_UP, toggleSnap);

function snap(e:Event):void {

	var r1:int;
	var r2:int;
	var r3:int;
	var r4:int;

	if (drawRandom) {

		//Start X and Y
		r1 = Math.round(Math.random()*(550-drawWidth));
		r2 = Math.round(Math.random()*(400-drawHeight));
		//Width and height of clip
		r3 = Math.round(Math.random()*drawWidth);
		r4 = Math.round(Math.random()*drawHeight);

	} else {
		lineCount+=1;
		if (lineCount==stage.stageHeight) {
			toggleSnap(null);
		}
		r1 = 0;
		r2 = lineCount;
		r3 = 550;
		r4 = 1;
	}
	BMD.draw(video, null, null, null, new Rectangle( r1, r2, r3, r4 ), true );
}

function toggleSnap(e:KeyboardEvent):void {
	if (drawIt) {
		drawIt = false;
		removeEventListener(Event.ENTER_FRAME, snap);
	} else {
		drawIt = true;
		addEventListener(Event.ENTER_FRAME, snap);
	}
}

Cheers.

New project – Arduino, Processing, Generative Audio…

I’m still searching for a nice new Actionscript Developer post, which means I’ve currently got more time for developing some of the personal projects I’ve been planning whilst away. One idea I’ve been keen on for a long time is Generative Systems – for art and music.

Generative Art

Generative art refers to art that has been generated, composed, or constructed in an algorithmic manner through the use of systems defined by computer software algorithms, or similar mathematical or mechanical or randomised autonomous processes.

Generative Audio

Generative music is a term popularized by Brian Eno to describe music that is ever-different and changing, and that is created by a system.

My first steps into this domain, was my Maths Flash Generative Art Animation from about 4 years ago. And I recently picked it up again in my Flash Media Server demos – Sonar and WebCamColours.

So this week I’ve been thinking about technologies other than Flash which could be used for some generative projects. At the minute, I’m looking at Processing, Arduino, Max MSP/PureData/VVVV, Kontakt and OpenFrameworks.

As my musical skills are slightly limited, I’ve teamed up with awesome sound engineer, programmer, musician and artist Josh Sadler. We talked over how to make a generative system sound more musically appealing, batted a few ideas round and left it at that. A few hours later he sent me the track below.

In his own words –

I had a go at making that music generator you were talking about. Here’s the result. You pick the scale hit go and there’s a button to change it up a bit, bring instruments in and out as you like, needs refining. This one was just 3 button clicks, I think it’s more musical although I’ve been listening to it for so long now I’m not sure what music is anymore

I was blown away! See what you think –

Musicgen2 by Catfurnace

I’m really looking forwards to seeing where this goes. Should be fun.
More info as it happens.

Flash Midi Server 0.1 released + Sonar source code and audio air apps.

The title says it all really. I’ve updated the project page, but I’ll add the info here too incase you’re reading this through an RSS reader.

Flash Midi Server v0.1

Lawrie Cape 2010
Download from the Google Projects Page.

WHAT IS IT?

Flash Midi Server is method for sending MIDI data out of Flash. Using an Actionscript 3 class and a Processing application, you can create generative,

dynamic, fun audio tools in Flash.

WHY?

Mainly just for fun. Flash Midi Server (FMS) started as an experiment to test communication between Processing and Flash. From there it developed into a

class I played around with a lot – seeing what fun things I could use it for.

As FMS is built in Flash, it allows developers to rapidly prototype audio tools, experiment with new input methods and acess to a huge public code base to

build on top of. There’s a huge amount of technical skill and creativity in the Flash scene and hopefully some of it will be applied to creating innovative

new audio apps using FMS.

HOW DOES IT WORK –

FMS sends data from Flash to the FMS server – which then sends the data as a Midi signal.

Firstly run the FMS app in the “Server App” folder.
Then run one of the Flash or Air apps. Note – you cannot run .swf files as they do not have the security permissions to access the midi server, unless you

set the permissions here – http://www.macromedia.com/support/documentation/en/flashplayer/help/settings_manager04.html

You can set which Midi Channel the audio is played through via the drop down on the FMS app.
Windows XP has “Microsoft Midi Mapper” which plays the notes back over the soundcard. Mac OSX has a similar default Midi Playback setting.

To use FMS with other audio apps, you must install virtual midi softward. For example – LoopBe http://nerds.de/en/loopbe1.html
These channels will then show up in the FMS settings drop down.

HOW DO I USE THE CLASS MYSELF? –

Place the uk.co.lawriecape.midi folder structure in you classes folder.
You can then check out the .Fla sources in the “Example FLAs” folder.
A basic setup can be seen below –

In flash –

//Import the Flash Midi Server class.
import uk.co.lawriecape.midi.flashMidiServer;
//Create an instance of the class.
var MS: flashMidiServer = new flashMidiServer();
//Add event listeners for the various Server events - (optional)
	MS.addEventListener("FLASH_MIDI_SERVER_ESTABLISHED", connectionEstablishedHandler);
	MS.addEventListener("FLASH_MIDI_SERVER_LOST",        connectionLostHandler);
	MS.addEventListener("FLASH_MIDI_SERVER_NOT_FOUND",   connectionNotFoundHandler);

function connectionEstablishedHandler(e:Event):void{
	trace("Flash midi server connected.");
	trace("You can start sending data now!");
	MS.sendNote(50);
	//or
	//MS.sendCC(50);
}

function connectionLostHandler(e:Event):void{
	trace("Flash midi server disconnected.");
}


function connectionNotFoundHandler(e:Event):void{
	trace("Flash midi server not found, please check the program is running and try again.");
}

WHAT COMES NEXT? –

There are quite a few limitations to the current system, which I’ll be trying to address in future releases. These include –
The ability to send CC data on specified CC numbers.
The ability to have audio output on multiple midi channels at once – to controll multiple instruments from a single server instance.
The ability to send multiple notes at once – eg. Chords or simultaneous drum hits.

If you have any suggestions, or make anything using FMS, please get in touch with me.
Cheers.
Lawrie.

Lawrie at LawrieCape.co.uk

See also –

Flash Midi Server – Sonar reproduction. from Lawrie Cape on Vimeo.

Download the source code for Sonar from the Google Projects Page.

Flash Midi Server – Processing + Flash + Webcam Instrument from Lawrie Cape on Vimeo.