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Thread: Pangolin Abstract Generator *ROCKS*

  1. #1
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    Cool Pangolin Abstract Generator *ROCKS*

    I've had my QM-32 rig for a couple months now, and I'm slowly learning how to use it. I've watched most of the shows that come with the software, but I haven't looked through all the frame files yet. However, I did finally manage to fire up the abstract generator and play around with it some over the weekend... (Who's idea was it to hide this powerful software tool nested inside a modest drop-down menu within LaserShow Designer? It deserves better!)

    OMFG!

    I have *never* seen such beautiful patterns in my life! The colors! The incredible color blending! And the mesmerizing geometry... I don't even know where to begin when describing how beautiful the patterns were! (Analog RGB has *never* looked so awesome!)

    I loaded up each and every one of the abstract files that came with Pangolin. And each time I was amazed at the resulting images. Seriously, I must have spent 3 or 4 hours staring at the patterns on the wall yesterday, and even more time today. (Much to my wife's dismay.) And it's not like I've never played with a lissajous box before. I own several different types, plus I spent a lot of time playing with the Alphalite over the past year an a half, so I'm not exactly new to abstracts...

    I managed to make a few unique abstracts of my own, though none of mine were anywhere near as cool as the ones on the Pangolin disc. I did learn that, while you can accomplish some very cool-looking lissajous effects by just using the sine wave oscillators on the abstract generator, you can *greatly* improve the quality of the image if you use a simple geometric shape (an ilda file) as the waveform for the first oscillator and then choose one of the other waveforms (triangle, square, etc) for one of the other oscillators.

    I tried to get some pictures of the patterns on the wall, but my camera couldn't capture them fast enough. (Low light = long shutter time = blurry images, because the patters are in constant motion.) I also shot some video, but I'm not sure how it's going to come out. (It looked OK on the TV, but I haven't digitized it yet - maybe later this week.) But take my word for it: the patterns are fantastic in real life!

    I used to think that one of the strengths of the Alphalite package was the abstract generator. And while that is still true, I had no clue about just how much better the Pangolin abstract generator is. Wow! I mean, WOW! It will absolutely blow your socks off!

    Last week my goal was to finally conquer the Showtime user interface and complete my first Pangolin show. But now that I've discovered the abstract generator, I think I'm going to put my goal on hold for a bit. There's far too much fun to be had just playing with the settings on the oscillators to see what comes up! (Sigh - there goes the last of my free time I guess!)

    Adam
    Last edited by buffo; 05-27-2007 at 17:30.

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    Wow, Nice find Adam

    Abstracts are my favorite

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    Quote Originally Posted by Buffo View Post
    OMFG!
    HeHe! I built a rather complex abstract generator a long time ago, using AD534's to mulitply several signals together and get pretty complicated abstracts. When I got my first pangolin qm32 I basically threw the abstract generator in the trash. The pangolin abstract generator is outstanding. You may have noticed the "Z" on all the modulators, turn that on and select auto rotate and you will see what that does. You can get pretty creative with that part of pangolin and spend hours creating that perfect abstract for a show. Also, instead of using the standard color modulation routines, you can select a frame to use for color modulation, thats when things get really interesting! Another cool feature that you will find in showtime is "masking". You can create a show and have an abstract "hide" another frame behind it, only being visible when the center of the abstract opens up or whatever. There really is not much limit to what you can do, its almost overwhelming...

    David

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    This sounds very cool. I never liked the sequenced frame idea so much, but this sounds more interesting by far. How much control can you set on what is changed or fixed, and how much of that control is realtime? Ideally I'd like it to be something like the Zyklus MIDI Performer device I once saw advertised. Or at least take MIDI input so a musical instrument can be used as the control surface. I'd want to play it the way I used to play an old analog monosynth (SCI Pro-One). If this thing is up to it, I think I might save to buy what is needed. The only reason I put so much emphasis for my own efforts to learn what it takes to control scanners is that I didn't think anything like that existed, but it looks like this abstract tool could be a way toward it, so long as it can replace automatic controls with human ones.

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    Smile RE: Pangolin Abstracts...

    Quote Originally Posted by marconi View Post
    Abstracts are my favorite
    Hi Chuck!

    Yeah, it's too bad you got called away so early during our first FLEM event... While we did play around a little bit with the Abstract generator on Dzurcher's rig, we probably would have spent more time on it if there had been more discussion about it's capabilities. (For sure I would have liked to see some of the other effects it could do!) If you can make it to SELEM this summer, I promise you there will be more abstracts to look at!

    Quote Originally Posted by DZurcher View Post
    When I got my first pangolin qm32 I basically threw the abstract generator in the trash. The pangolin abstract generator is outstanding. You may have noticed the "Z" on all the modulators, turn that on and select auto rotate and you will see what that does.
    Hey David!

    I completely agree; the software is *really* powerful. I messed around with the Z slider on a couple of the patterns, but I wasn't exactly sure what I was doing, so I didn't fool with it all that much. I guess I need to keep experimenting though.
    you can select a frame to use for color modulation, thats when things get really interesting!
    Hmmm... So the colors would cycle in the order that they appear for the frame you chose? That would be neat... I need to try that!
    Another cool feature that you will find in showtime is "masking". You can create a show and have an abstract "hide" another frame behind it, only being visible when the center of the abstract opens up or whatever.
    Saddly, I'm nearly certain that my older QM-32 system doesn't support masking. (I don't have support for projector zones either.) But I can see how that would be *very* cool... (Yet another reason to upgrade to a QM-2000!)
    Quote Originally Posted by The_Doctor View Post
    This sounds very cool. I never liked the sequenced frame idea so much, but this sounds more interesting by far. How much control can you set on what is changed or fixed, and how much of that control is realtime?
    Hi Doc!

    It *is* very cool. Much more interesting than static beams, and more visually entertaining than a simple animation. As far as control, I'd have to say that it's pretty much limitless. You can speed up or slow down the patterns to the point where they freeze in space. Same thing for the color cycle speed. (You can adjust the frequency in 1 hz, 1/10 hz and 1/100 hz increments for all the oscillators, and the range is from 0-1Khz.) You have three banks of three oscillators each (x, y, and z - for a total of 9 oscillators), plus modulation on each bank. You can select any waveform you want, including the resulting waveform from an existing ilda frame, for each oscillator. You also have size (gain) controls for each oscillator, plus a few other switches for things like auto rotate and such. Oh, and the x, y, and Z oscillators in each bank can either be ganged together or separated for even more effects. Plus, after you create an abstract, you can save it, then load that abstract *BACK* into the editor (as a waveform) and add even more effects to it! (But I found out that it doesn't take too many iterations of this trick before you end up with hash as your final pattern!)

    As for real-time control, it's all real time - at least in the editor... As you adjust the oscillator sliders, the pattern is drawn in real time, so you can see how small changes will affect the pattern. Some patterns take 15 to 20 seconds to loop around through all the iterations before they end up back where they started. You can save the final pattern and use it in a show, or even assign it to a key in the LIVE! player and trigger the effect manually. You can also switch back to the Showtime screen and step forward to the next abstract you have loaded in the frame bank, then go back and tweak the settings for THAT file...

    I don't know if the LIVE! player will allow you to adjust the abstract settings though... I think you'll need to have the abstract editor open to do that. And it sounds like you're looking to be able to run a show in real-time straight from the editor, which would be possible I guess, but I think it would be very complicated. (Lots of adjustments!)
    Ideally I'd like it to be something like the Zyklus MIDI Performer device I once saw advertised. Or at least take MIDI input so a musical instrument can be used as the control surface.
    Hmmm... Interesting idea! I see where you're heading with this, but honestly I don't know if the software supports it or not. Maybe with Live! Pro (which is the newer version that is included with the Pangolin QM-2000 system) you can use the midi input as a trigger... But I'm not sure about this. (Hopefully Bill Benner will chime in here with more details about your idea.) Like I said earlier, you could do everything from the editor, but I think it would be very difficult to make all the adjustments in real time to "play along" with a music file. It would probably be easier to set up a series of "stock" abstracts in the editor and then tweak them one by one as the music plays... (I know that works, because I did it over the weekend!)

    If you get a chance to attend one of the UK get-togethers that are being planned for this summer, be sure to sit down next to someone that has a Pangolin setup and ask them to show you the abstract generator. You'll be amazed!

    I'll try my best to get some of the video digitized later this week so I can give you some idea of what it can do.

    Adam

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    Hi guys,

    Thank you for your kind words about our abstract generator, and other aspects of the software. Just a few points (as usual)

    First, Buffo, yes you do have masking. In Showtime you press Edit Animation, and then you will find Masking on the far right tab. You can find it described in the help file too.

    Second, as David said, abstracts also have a Z axis, so they make real 3D entities. If you go into 3D view, and select a sort of angled view BEFORE starting the abstract generator, that is one way to see the 3D-ness. Another way is to press the "auto-rotate" button while the abstract generator is running.

    Third, also as David said (at least I think it was David), you can select a "Frame as a waveform". For example, if you select the ILDA Test Pattern as the waveform in bank 1, what you will find is that you can run this test pattern at different rates (in this case, you specify it in Hz instead of PPS) and you can add other waveforms to it. Try loading a test pattern or simple visual image, then add a slow sine-wave and with only around 2% amplitude. You can also simulate having ground loops this way And when you choose Frame as a waveform for "color", it means that it takes the color from that frame and applies it to your abstract image. Mike Dunn does some of this in his shows.

    Fourth, what I find particularly unique, and particularly useful is that you can "morph abstracts" on the timeline. Like, lets say you have one abstract that has the X frequency of bank 1 set to 30 Hz, and another abstract that is the same, with the only difference being that the X frequency is set to 60Hz. When you put these on the timeline and tell Showtime that you want to morph between abstracts, what it really does is "move the slider". So in other words, you can make things that look like they have a human feel, but you can do it perfectly synchronized to music.

    You should pay particular attention to the "Money & Us" show by Mike Dunn which makes extensive use of this concept. And just for kicks, you should check out the beginning of the "Time" show, which does abstracts in a different way.

    Anyway, I am glad you are finding more enjoyment than frustration. The abstract generator is just a bunch of sliders, and there are a whole lot of combinations of slider settings that will make spaghetti rather than a sensible image. One thing to remember about the abstract generator is that it is all "harmonics". If you find an abstract you like, try adjusting all of the frequencies by double, or by half. You will see the exact same image...

    Best regards,

    William Benner

    PS: One abstract show I particularly enjoy, and will never forget, is one that David Zurcher showed me. This is a show that he shows to friends when describing the equipment he has spent thousands of dollars on. Hopefully David will one day reveal the secrets of this amazing show...

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    Cool More thoughts on the abstract generator...

    Quote Originally Posted by Pangolin View Post
    First, Buffo, yes you do have masking. In Showtime you press Edit Animation, and then you will find Masking on the far right tab.
    WOOT!!! Cool! Thanks for the tip Bill! I'll check it out.

    RE: the Z axis and the auto-rotate button... I tried the auto-rotate button a few times, but don't think I had the Z oscillator set to anything at the time, so when it rotated the pattern just got flat. I need to play with that some more. 3D abstracts sound even cooler.!.
    you can select a "Frame as a waveform".
    Yeah, I tried this a few times already, and it's *very* cool. Instead of starting with a simple circle (or square, or diamond), you can start with a complex shape like a 5 pointed star (or Hey! a 3D cube!) and then add all the other abstract effects to the shape.
    And when you choose Frame as a waveform for "color", it means that it takes the color from that frame and applies it to your abstract image.
    David mentioned this in his post above; I must have missed this feature when I was experimenting. (I probably didn't scroll down through the list of possible choices on the color cycle menu. ) But I can see how that would really open up a whole new series of effects. I need to play with that some more...
    Fourth, what I find particularly unique, and particularly useful is that you can "morph abstracts" on the timeline.
    Wow! I need to try that! (And it's also getting close to what the Doctor was talking about in his post above... Though not quite the same, it's in the spirit of his idea.)
    You should pay particular attention to the "Money & Us" show by Mike Dunn which makes extensive use of this concept. And just for kicks, you should check out the beginning of the "Time" show, which does abstracts in a different way.
    You know, I don't think I've loaded that show yet... I had an initial problem with the audio file for it so I didn't watch the show. Later on I got so invloved with other things that I forgot to go back and watch it. But you're right, I do remember some very cool abstracts in that show. (We watched it a couple different times at FLEM.) I think I'll load up the frame file and have a look at what the settings for the abstracts look like.
    Anyway, I am glad you are finding more enjoyment than frustration.
    Enjoyment? Hell yeah! I'm having a blast! Shoot - the abstract generator alone is just about worth the cost of admission in my opinion. Mamba doesn't have *anything* like this, nor does Full-Auto. And while the Alphalite does have an abstract generator, it's *nowhere* near as powerful. Seriously, the colors and the patterns are positively mesmerizing. I could waste *WEEKS* just playing with the settings. (Of course, my wife would probably leave me if I did that!) Er - honey? Honey? Where are you going?
    The abstract generator is just a bunch of sliders, and there are a whole lot of combinations of slider settings that will make spaghetti rather than a sensible image.
    Yeah, but that's true of just about any abstract generator. I remember creating lots of patterns that just looked like hash with my Alphalite... Even my old-school analog lissajous generator will make garbage if you're not careful with the potentiometers. But as you said, it's all about matching the frequencies to get various multiples of the base oscillator frequency. (Though sometimes it pays to be slightly above or below the perfect harmonic setting.) I've had great results with even harmonics, but sometimes you can get some cool results with odd ones too (or even fractional harmonics - ie 1.33 times your base frequency).
    One abstract show I particularly enjoy, and will never forget, is one that David Zurcher showed me. This is a show that he shows to friends when describing the equipment he has spent thousands of dollars on. Hopefully David will one day reveal the secrets of this amazing show...
    Hehe! David gave me a copy of that show. (He also showed it to us at FLEM, so I was already in on the joke.)

    Adam

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    For those of us who don't own Pangolin, how about some pics/videos?

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    Eric;

    I've got some video, but I need to digitize it. As I mentioned in my first post (above), I'm hoping to have some free time later this week so I can get it uploaded. But yeah, it's on my TO DO list.

    As for pictures - well, so far I haven't had much luck. The abstract images are normally in motion, so you need a relatively fast shutter speed in order to get a clean image. But since the room is dark, you need to leave the shutter open longer to get decent exposure. But slow shutter speeds = blurry images.

    I guess I need to move the camera closer to the wall so more light will enter the lens. I'll try to take some more pics later this week - hopefully about the same time that I get the digitizing done. (Been busy as hell so far this week!)

    Adam
    Last edited by buffo; 05-29-2007 at 03:12.

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