IMA Number: IMA 78321 | 1 credits

Course Type: Production

Course Registration Number: 61684

Professor: Sam Tarakajian

This class meets Saturdays, March 25th and April 1st - 10:30am-5pm in HN 544

Full Course Description:

How do we build systems for shaping and manipulating video in real time? Much like improvised music, real-time video communicates rhythm and energy, and moves in patterns of tension and relaxation. Our challenge is to design an interactive system that will let us mold video in the same way that a musician improvises with sound. This raises a number of technical and aesthetic challenges. How do we organize video source material so it can be easily retrieved? How do we decide which effects to work with, and how best to control them? How do we construct and organize mappings between hardware controllers and software processes? Finally, what is the best way to extract data from audio, so that it can be used to manipulate video in a meaningful way?

One approach is to use Max/MSP, a flexible and powerful tool for programming interactive systems. Originally used to score avant-garde electro-acoustic music in the late 20th century, it has become the foremost visual programming language for defining interactive multimedia systems. In this workshop, we will learn how to use Max to build an interactive system for live visuals. Before the first lesson, students are expected to read through the first few Max tutorials. These tutorials provide a basic understanding of the organizational units of Max: objects, messages and signals. We’ll solidify and build on this knowledge in the first lesson, where we’ll look at Projects and different ways to pull source material into Max. From there, we’ll investigate video processing techniques using, a Max object that creates pixel shaders. From there we’ll look at how to get MIDI messages into Max, and how to route them around to control effects in real time.

In preparation for the second class, students will be asked to bring in video material as well as some audio that they would like to score. We’ll see how to get tempo from music, and we’ll look at how to process video using feedback techniques. The second class will end with a workshop, where each student will be asked to prepare a video accompaniment to the audio source, which can be improvised in real time.

We’ll look at video improvisation work from artists like Tarik Barri (, Masato Tsutsui (, and Anton Marini (

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