Visuals are a big part of the Tycho live show and I’m often asked how they were created and presented in a live setting. The answer is VDMX, a modular video performance platform. For those of you familiar with video editing / effecting, you could think of it as a stripped down, real-time version of After Effects where every parameter is controllable via various protocols (MIDI, OSC) and even by other parameters. It can mix multiple sources using blending modes like multiply and color burn all while utilizing Quartz Composer effects.
I’ve been using VDMX for a few years now and it’s become one of those tools that I can’t live without. Because it’s modular, VDMX’s interface can be arranged in any way you prefer. I personally use three video decks with and effects bin on each and then a master effects bin. I trigger clips and modulate parameter via MIDI over IP from Reaper running on a Macbook Pro w/ a Vertex 3 MAX IOPS drive (VDMX eats data bandwidth alive!).
VDMX is an incredibly deep and flexible application which I have yet to see any real limitation to. The workflow and functionality is so abstract that there are myriad ways to accomplish pretty much anything you can think of. And therein lies the only real problem I can find with VDMX; the flexibility and modularity afforded by the abstract way in which the application functions comes at the expense of usability. The learning curve is very steep and many of the initial concepts are a little tough to wrap your head around. Vidvox (the developers of VDMX) have put together some great tutorial videos which can help move the learning process along.
Thankfully a new version is out, and with it come some very helpful additions and changes. VDMX 5 is an entirely new program, written from the ground up. For those coming from older versions a lot of the way VDMX works will feel familiar. But you’ll quickly notice that some subtle changes in workflow make a big difference. I just started learning the new version during this current tour and it was pretty straight forward.
VDMX, while certainly not geared toward the casual user, is one of those apps that will allow you to grow into it. The relatively steep learning curve will pay off pretty quickly when you realize just what it’s capable of.
So we’re in Colorado doing a couple Tycho (w/ full band + visuals) dates with Emancipator. This is the first time Tycho has played Colorado so we’re really excited to bring the show out here. We’ll have some posters, the deluxe Dive vinyl, and CDs so come back to the merch booth and say hi if you make it out. Details follow:
Friday, Nov. 18th – Aggie Theater, Ft. Collins, CO – Tickets Saturday, Nove. 19th – Summit Music Hall, Denver, CO – Tickets
See you there!
Photo from Music Hall of Williamsburg show by Every.Seven
We’re very pleased to announce that Tycho (full live band) will be joining Little Dragon for an East Coast tour this month. Details follow, hope to see you out!
Tycho – Fall Tour w/ Little Dragon
Wed, Oct 12 @ The Hoxton – Toronto, ON
Sun, Oct 16 @ Music Hall of Williamsburg (Bowery Presents) – Brooklyn, NY*
Mon, Oct 17 @ Royale Nighclub – Boston, MA
Tue, Oct 18 @ Union Transfer – Philadelphia, PA
Wed, Oct 19 @ Shadow Lounge – Pittsburgh, PA
Fri, Oct 21 @ Masquerade (Haven Stage) – Atlanta, GA
Sat, Oct 22 @ Grand Cenral (Poplife) – Miami, FL
Sun, Oct 23 @ Firestone Live – Orlando, FL
Tue, Oct 25 @ Crowbar – Tampa, FL
Tycho will be playing live with the full band in Los Angeles next Tuesday to kick off a three date west coast stint leading up to the Bumbershoot festival in Seattle. We’re giving away two sets of tickets (two tickets in each set) to the LA show at the Echoplex. Just answer the following question in the comments for a chance to win:
Please be sure you’ll be able to make it to the show on Tuesday, August 30th, 2011 and are 18 years of age or older. Winners will be chosen at random. Be sure to leave a valid email so we can contact you. Good luck!
I’m headed to Graz, Austria where I’ll be playing a Tycho laptop set at Springfestival and doing an ISO50 talk at the related Springsessions conference. The talk is on Saturday, June 4th from 15:00 – 16:00 at Kunsthaus Graz and the Tycho set is early the next morning, Sunday, June 5th from 03:15 – 04:30 at P.P.C. All the details are at the Springfestival site.
Sorry for the late notice, but I wanted to be absolutely sure I was going to make it out there. The Tycho album is now in the very last stages of mixing/mastering so I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to make the trip and the album delivery deadline. To make it all work I decided to hack together a portable computer setup from my main tower PC so I could finish up some remaining songs before I return when the mastering will begin. After some light dremel work I had all the components fitting inside a small aluminum case I found laying around (pictured below, the PSU is separate. And yeah, I’m planning on spending a fair amount of time at airport security). You might ask why I don’t just port the project over to a laptop; the reason is that the projects are simply too large to run my current notebook (early Macbook Pro Unibody). In order to run the big projects (96+ tracks with 250+ VST instances) I had to add three SSD drives in a RAID 0 (in other words, three fast storage devices chained together to act as one very fast storage device) configuration to my existing Intel i7 rig.
I had already been bringing my tower to Count’s (aka Mikael Eldridge, the engineer who I’m working together with to mix the album) studio to mix. We decided to mix several of the songs directly from Reaper as opposed to porting them to Pro Tools like usual so I had to bring my machine in. This already had me thinking about slimming down the rig to make it more portable. It’s really been a freeing experience being able to move around with my main computer; I’m so used to bouncing down projects, flattening layers, and generally compromising things to get them small enough to run on my Macbook Pro when I travel so the idea of having all the power of my studio computer with me anywhere is pretty exciting.
Of course, this is just a temporary stop-gap measure to get through a scheduling conflict. I think the next step is to get a powerhouse laptop machine with Lightpeak/Thunderbolt so I can get a PCI SSD RAID setup or some storage device with equivalent bandwidth. I was thinking about the Dell Precision (I’m PC only when it comes music and design, although I have several Macs and love them, just not for creating on) or some “gaming” laptop. It really doesn’t need to be that small, just more portable than a tower as I wouldn’t be moving it that often. Any suggestions? My wish list would be Intel i7 or better, 16GB ram, and at least 250GB of SSD storage with a bandwidth of 500MB/s up/down. Probably a tall order, but I’m hoping something on that level will be available soon.
Thanks to everyone who came out and made last night in SF amazing, we had a great time playing for you.
I’ll be doing a laptop/visuals set along with Com Truise and Heathered Pearls (Jakub’s alter-ego) on Saturday, April 16th at Cameo Gallery, Brooklyn. The show is limited to 250 people, ticket link is below. See you out there.
Sat, April 16th @ Cameo Gallery, Brooklyn
Above is some (poorly shot on a phone, sorry) test footage from the new visuals set for the Tycho live show (next one is this Thursday, 4/7 in SF). The song is from the forthcoming album. It’s not all completely tightened up yet but you get the idea. I recently stripped down the entire live set — audio and video — and started from scratch. With the new album pretty much wrapped up I decided to rework the visuals to go with all the new material and to have everything work better with the new live band. What you’re seeing is VDMX effecting / compositing video in real-time on a Macbook Pro. Everything is being triggered / synced by another machine via MIDI over IP running Reaper which is handling all the audio duties.
I’ve been using VDMX for years now but just recently switched to Reaper as my DAW for recording and decided to use it for the live shows as well (Was never happy with Ableton. It’s a great app but it just didn’t fit my specific needs / workflow). It’s been a very freeing experience to say the least. Being able to use the same software in the studio and on stage has helped immeasurably and opened up some possibilities that didn’t exist before. Here’s hoping it all works as smoothly on Thursday (the first Tycho show to feature the new album and visuals) as it has been during rehearsals.
I also wanted to take this time to give a bit of a progress report on the new Tycho album. It feels like forever since I started, but everything has finally come together. Things took a lot of twists and turns; a lot has changed and some songs have been shelved while new ones have taken their place. But I think the album is now — finally — what I envisioned it to be when I started this process some two years ago. All that is left to do now is tie up some loose ends and complete the mixing / mastering phase and things should be ready to go. With label schedules and all that I’d imagine a release date sometime after this summer.
Thanks to everyone for your patience and support over this past couple years. You have afforded me the ability to focus on my work in a way I was never able to before, and for that I am extremely grateful.