milkymist as art studio?

Wolfgang Spraul wolfgang at sharism.cc
Fri Jun 10 23:09:39 EDT 2011


Jane,
as usual you ask excellent questions, thanks a lot!

> I know people get annoyed when I do this, but is there a general
> way to gauge how that spartan fpga would compare in the regular,
> cpu world?If not, would it be able to run Blender, K-3d, or another
> 3d editor? 

Why annoyed? Without comparison no understanding.

> image editing
> 2d animation of all sorts
> 3d animation
> audio recording of all sorts (midi, synths, etc.)
> video editing
> 
> I realize MM's core goal is real-time VJ, but perhaps it can be used like a digital studio?

Hmm. 
Right now you can see Milkymist One as 'just' a simple video synthesizer.
At least that's how I approach it mentally, then grow from there
to see what else is possible.
With 'simple' video synthesizer I mean something that can make
interesting looking effects on a good old 640x480 VGA resolution.

BUT... of course there is more.
Next you realize - there is video-in functionality, and it comes
with a small camera. There is DMX - meaning you can control lights.
The product right now is focused around the idea of use on a stage
or some kind of large display. In real-time like a music instrument,
but with the output being visual, not acoustic.
You can hook it up to the Internet and people can send messages 
directly to the display via Twitter hashtags you define. You can
use it at conferences to entertain people in breaks.

A slightly different way would be more passive, in a lobby, or your
living room as visual artwork/wallpaper.
Works react to the microphone which will give them a live character,
like leaves swaying in the wind.

That's what works today.

Going forward I think you can expect polishing of these features,
like higher resolutions (it seems 1024x768 is doable). Easier ways
to record or stream the performance - right now there is basically
no way to capture the visuals, aside from a VGA grabber. The ability
to process still pictures or pre-recorded videos.
The video-in feature can probably be hacked into something entirely
different, like using Milkymist One to watch your plants grow and
create and upload time-lapse videos automatically... (although I
doubt Sebastien will work on that :-))

Finally you can see the whole box just as a general purpose computer.
Of course we can port a nearly infinite amount of software to it, from
C++ compilers to other kernels (Linux) to libraries and applications.
By moving certain workloads into the FPGA we can create enormously
powerful software, same as the video synthesizer we have now, that
can compete with multi-Ghz systems. The entire platform is free
technology, way below the usual kernel, into IC design and electrical
design. Over time smart people will make use of that.

But getting back to your original question, I do not see a direct
path, or maybe any path, to porting traditional 2D/3D creation or
post-processing applications to Milkymist One, for example something
like Blender, to turn it into a 'digital studio'.
Even though I don't know much about Blender and have not used it, my
guess is that these apps are focused around traditional desktop or
workstation ideas and workflows. Lots of very fast memory, large
screens, multi-GHz CPUs.
The beauty of Milkymist One and what I like about it is that it
bypasses all that. Instead of trying to compete, or rather catch
up, with such apps and workflows, we go an entirely new way directly
from the user of the box to creative output. It's not a studio, it's
an instrument.

I could be wrong, or others disagree, but this is my current thinking.
Aside from demoing the product, I will probably use my m1 as digital
wallpaper/artwork mostly, I think I can come up with some nice and
relaxing works in an acceptable timeframe...

Hopefully this answered your questions and makes some sense :-)
Cheers, thanks so much for asking,
Wolfgang




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