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Touchdesigner Video

VCV Rack + Touchdesigner + OBS Testing

Stress testing a new laptop.

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Blog

GoPro via WIFI?

As I’ve noted in past technical posts, I’m not very enamored of GoPro as a company because their support is not great, and they have not been very forward thinking in terms of camera configuration – particularly when it comes to using GoPros as webcams. Never willing to just give up on a technical challenge, I came back to this topic after a few months. Once the dust settled, it appeared that some new tools became available, thus this blog post and update.

Should you use a GoPro as a webcam?
Even if you get over the configuration hurdles, you should know that GoPros tend to run extremely hot when used for any length of time. This is especially true when used as webcams where they are constantly streaming data. USB power is a must, otherwise the battery rapidly depletes. Like many have observed, it’s probably just better to use a “traditional” webcam. USB web cams are lower cost, just as good quality, and don’t get nearly as hot!

But, if you are hellbent on getting every ounce out of your GoPro investment, and your camera meets the requirements, read on…

Live Streamer for GoPros (on MacOS High Sierra)
First, you’ll need to download Live Streamer for GoPros by Harald Meyer. The program costs about $11 US, but for what it does it’s worth it. However, there are some additional configuration tweaks to be aware of to get the most out of it. First, let’s take a look at how I got it working…

The Goal
1. Connect the GoPro as a webcam.
2. Use camera signal in OBS, and combine with other content as needed
3. Ensure that OBS is still using Ethernet (not WIFI) for the most stable broadcast quality.

The Setup
1. Be sure you have both WIFI enabled and an Ethernet connection plugged in to your computer.
2. Turn off the screen saver on the camera, and be sure the camera is powered via USB. Otherwise, the screen saver may interfere with connection.
3. Follow the setup and requirements posted on Harald’s page. As he notes, the camera must connect via WIFI. For this to work, you’ll also need an RTMP server. If you don’t already have one, try Local RTMP Streaming Server on GitHub. This worked fine for me.
4. In MacOS Preferences, set the priority of your networks to be Ethernet first, followed by WIFI. Note the IP address of your Ethernet connection.

connectionorder.png

5. In OBS, create a scene with your GoPro as a Media Source. You’ll be using the RTMP address supplied by the instructions you followed above in the Live Streamer setup.
6. Under OBS Settings / Advanced / Network, set OBS to bind to IP, referencing the IP of the Ethernet connection.

The masked area should show your Ethernet IP address. Alternatively, you could try Default (as long as the connection order is set in the previous step), but I wanted to be sure I was using the Ethernet IP without question.
The masked area should show your Ethernet IP address. Alternatively, you could try Default (as long as the connection order is set in the previous step), but I wanted to be sure I was using the Ethernet IP without question.

7. Validate that your setup by broadcasting to the destination of your choice. Then, pull out your Ethernet cable. The camera signal should continue to stream to OBS. That is because it’s connected to the computer via WIFI. However, the OBS stream should stop. This verifies that you are using Ethernet to send the signal out to the world, and not WIFI!

When the Ethernet is plugged back in, it may not recover well. That’s OK. This was just for testing. Obviously, you would normally leave your Ethernet connected!

I’ve only tested this on MacOS 10.13.6 High Sierra, but other OS options are available. If you have multiple cameras, this method can also be used. See Harald’s great video on this.

Like many, I really wish the direct USB connection of the GoPro Hero 8 Black and the “official” webcam feature was more stable, but the solution above is workable if you don’t mind having some WIFI lag on the camera before things go out on the stream.

Here’s the test in OBS. Note that even though the GoPro is set for linear view, we’re still seeing some narrowing on the lens setting (fish eye distortion).
Here’s the test in OBS. Note that even though the GoPro is set for linear view, we’re still seeing some narrowing on the lens setting (fish eye distortion).
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Blog

Boycotting a Venue

I was recently faced with a decision to continue associating with an online venue, or boycott the venue for what appeared to be some “good ol’ boys” fraternal immaturity that just didn’t seem right.

In the end, after some consideration and discussion with my wife, I determined that the right thing to do was to distance myself from the venue in question.

Everyone must make their own decisions on things like this, but I decided to boycott the venue in the form of a) canceling my upcoming performance and b) pulling any technical support for the concert series.

Even though it had been some time since I was directly involved with the concert series in question, I felt that I would be reinforcing a “guilt by association” by continuing to support the series, even tangentially. So I pulled down my online wiki which supported the series for now. I may reinstate the wiki under more generic terms as the info was helpful to many beyond this series, but I don’t want it to be associated with the venue in question.

It troubles me that – just when we need solidarity among artists during this trying time during COVID – we are faced with the same old problems of misogyny and discourteousness that have plagued physical interactions among musicians for decades.

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Blog Newsletter

Summer 2021 Newsletter

Latest Mailchimp Newsletter

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Making Video

Five More Terrariums

By the end of May and early June, I still had some drift wood, lots of rocks, and substrate materials left over from my first round of builds. My springtail culture was also going strong, and the isopod culture I started in April was doing well too.

During a flea market outing, we also chanced upon Ott’s Exotic Plants in Schwenksville, PA. It was totally unexpected and turned out to be an amazing place! I picked up some unusual plants that I had not seen before, and will definitely be going back.

Ott’s is probably the best terrarium and gardening place I’ve ever seen outside of Longwood Gardens. They have a wide selection of just about everything, complete with a indoor rainforest that you can walkthrough. The pictures below only scratch the surface.

Combined with the plants left over from my first batch of builds (some from The Rhoads Garden, also a great supplier close to me), I really needed to find containers for everything. Several trips to flea markets and other outings resulted in some great finds. On a single day I scored two of my best large terrarium jars at Berwyn Flea Market and Quakertown Flea Market.

For some inspiration, we also traveled to Longwood Gardens for a day and got to see much more of the place than we had seen in the past. At other times that we’ve visited, we’ve focused mainly on the indoor displays, but there are also substantial paths, trails and outdoor gardens.

If you are not familiar with Longwood, and you love plants, you simply must check it out. Plan to spend a large part of the day to take it in. I didn’t take many pictures this time because, honestly, they don’t do the place justice. What you see above from Ott’s… times 100? Maybe that captures it. Just go!

Each season, Longwood has different displays, fountain shows, entertainment and some of the most spectacular plants, trees and flowers from all over the world. There’s also a huge pipe organ on site. Go figure!

Anyway, with all that galavanting as context… here’s a quick overview of my June 2021 builds, presented with some original music.

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Blog

Good Times With Ivan

Audio-visual piece inspired by Ivan on Tech on YouTube. Visuals are a combination of Critter & Guitari Eyesy and Touchdesigner. Music is a VCV Rack patch I was building at the time.

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Tutorial Video

Using Ableton + External Hardware for Sample Manipulation

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Touchdesigner Tutorial Video

Touchdesigner USB Video Mixer/Controller

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Making

Refurbished Snake Tank Terrarium

When I lived at home with my parents, I went through a phase of keeping some reptiles. I think it started with a chameleon, and later (after it died), I tried keeping snakes.

At one point, I captured a mid-sized brown garter snake from our backyard. What I didn’t know was that it was a pregnant female and later it would have 13 babies. The tank we had (from the chameleon) was not really appropriate for one mid-sized snake, let alone a brood. It did not go well.

I was feeding the mom and babies with crickets, and at one point even got a white mouse to feed to the mom. Eventually the snake babies cannibalized themselves. I think the mom may have even ate some of her own brood. The mouse ended up becoming a last-minute pet instead of someone’s dinner, but after that I don’t remember what we did with it. It was a mess. We eventually let the mommy snake go.

Suffice it to say I was not educated enough about snake keeping. I still feel bad about it. Since that time I have not had the interest (or time) for pets of any kind. I’ve stuck with plants, and have done quite well. They require a different level of commitment, but are far more forgiving.

Fast forward 30 years when I am now into terrariums…

I have no intention – even now – of keeping anything beyond cleanup crew insects and terrarium critters. But I thought that the tank from back then – if intact – could be a good challenge to scape and setup.

The first issue to solve with the old tank was that a crack had formed on what used to be the front.

The crack got worse within the first day of moving the tank from my paren’t place. Since I had no plans to fill the tank with water, this crack was not a complete show stopper, but obviously it had to be addressed.

After some web research, I opted for a multi-pronged approach. I checked the tank for leaks, and there were none. So after drying out, I resealed the entire bottom with silicone as an extra precaution. Then I used a gaffer tape on the crack on the outside, and applied superglue to the crack as best I could. After the glue dried, I also smeared silicone over the entire area of the crack.

Once dry, the front of the tank (which looked like crap) became the rear of the tank, and I designed everything with the idea of hiding that entire area.

The next issue to address was the lid. When I was keeping reptiles, they needed a lot more air, so the original home made top was plywood with a screen center. Since I wanted a closed terrarium, I had to either replace this lid completely with something else, or rework this lid. Since large pieces of plexiglass are expensive and hard to cut, I opted for the rework option.

After removing the screen, I sanded the lid down a bit and repainted it. Then I found an 11 x 14 piece of plastic that was easy to cut, and set that in place with silicone. The plastic is frosted a bit, which isn’t ideal, but it is all that was available.

I knew that this was not going to be the most beautiful tank. But I wanted to give it a shot. I think it came out OK considering the thing is 30 years old and was sitting in an attic for most of that time.

The next issue was finding a good place to put this thing. After a week or more on the dining table, I finally found a space for it what worked better.

Beware halogen lights… read on…

I found an unused halogen light in my collection, and thought it would be perfect for this application. That turned out to be a mistake.

The first day the light was in use, I noticed how hot it was getting, and knew I’d need to replace it eventually. The next day, after the light was on for a few more hours, I noticed the heat from the light had begun to warp the plastic installed on the lid. This spurred an emergency lid repair and I took the halogen out of service. Another trip to IKEA for a proper light!

This project was a lot of fun, despite the setbacks. I planned everything out over a couple weeks to be sure I had time to think things through. This build used everything I learned up to that point about terrariums, and it felt good to finally see the tank used again rather than have it rotting in an attic.

The dragon stone is from Ebay, and the drift wood is from Amazon (boiled for a couple hours to remove tannins). The moss is all locally sourced. The large, darker ivy branch is from our yard, and it appears to be taking root.

I want to let it stabilize for a few weeks before I tweak anything.

May 25, 2021
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Making

Small Terrarium Experiments

These are two smaller experiments. I’m placing both of these in a sunnier location than the rest of the closed terrariums to see how they do.

The specimen jar is from Goodwill.

May 25, 2021

The other jar is from Dollar Tree.

May 25, 2021

The Dollar Tree jar contains left overs from the bastard terrarium and functions as an overflow home for springtails.

I still prefer the mid-sized and larger terrariums because they offer more space for the inhabitants.