Square Pixels are So Last Century

I like mosaic-ized versions of images, but the standard photoshop pixelize (or half-tone for that matter) is done to death. So I asked myself, what other geometric shapes can be used to build up images? I came up with two fairly simple ones that give the mosaic an arty and luxurious feel.

1. Rotatable diamonds
By using diamond shapes that are either divided horizontally or vertically, we get a really nice effect. A simple algorithm just chooses the orientation of each diamond that minimizes image distortion. Click the image for full-size svg vector art.
Debbie Harry image encoded with diamond mosaic
2. Hexagon segments
Here, equilateral triangles are used to build up hexagons. Hexagons happen to be the optimal shapes to arrange points in 2D space for vector quantization. Click the image for full-size svg vector art.
Debbie Harry image encoded with hexagon segments

Auto-tuning for Acne Digital

I’ve been busy for two months working with the digital production company Acne Digital (only slightly related to the clothes brand). It is a campaign site for Radiotjänst*, where you become the star of a music video. Of course, no modern pop music video is complete without heavy vocal processing including Auto-Tuning, and that is what I have provided in this case.

The vocal processor is written from scratch in c++ and includes auto-tuning, filter-distortion-tempo-delay, and a multiband normalizer/compressor. Initially, I wrote a command line VST host to run 3rd party tuners (Antares, Yamaha, etc), but they turned out to sound bad for regular speech input, because they are designed for singing voice, which is more periodic and predictable. My tuner is superior because it can find the globally optimal pitch track using dynamic programming.

Go here to make your own silly music video, and click here to watch mine on the original site.

*Footnote: For our foreign readers, Radiotjänst is the agency that collects funds for Swedish public service media. In this campaign, you’re told you’re a star for paying the fee (basically because it’s easy to avoid paying, by just saying that you don’t own a TV set).

Vocoding for Robyn

"we dance to the beat" interactive beat machine

One of my latest projects is now online: an interactive music video for Robyn. It was produced on a shoe string budget with volunteers from DinahMoe, B-Reel, North Kingdom and Blip Boutique, among others. In other words, a bit of a dream team! Jakob Nylund dreamt up the VCR-ish design, Johan and Erik at DinahMoe did the sound interaction bit. My part was generating the vocoded voice that says the name of each beat creator (under “stream”). This was done using the open source speech synth flite, the mda vocoder, and a fair amount of custom code to nice up the sound, all running on a minimal virtual fedora machine over at rackspace. Enjoy!