qc workshop dilema

dust's picture

[edit short ? no rant ]

ok i went on a rant there below so i am rephrasing the question so you don't have to read my rant to give some hopeful feedback.

i'm teaching a qc workshop to 1st year new media students and their professors. i am having a hard-time coming up with a project to assign the students that will take two weeks to complete in a collaborative group setting. i don't think this only me when i say this but there isn't much you can't accomplish in qc overnight with the exception of programming plugins. (they take time). what im saying is something that could take two weeks to code in a group collaboration could easily be done in QC in a few hours. does anyone have any suggestions as to what a lengthy qc project could be ? don't get me wrong it has taken me the better part of a year to get to where im at with QC and i'm still learning on a daily basis, and have only scratched the surface of some of its powerful technologies but i can't say your assignment in the next two weeks is to learn all of quartz composer thats ridiculous.

so i need to come up with something that would be challenging for them but also leave them feeling accomplished i guess would be a good idea. don't worry if it sounds hard, they have spent the last few months doing php, processing, max-msp and the arduino, actually making them all work together in a networked pong game. so im pretty sure they will be happy to learn qc. although that seems like a lot to grasp in the first semester of your first year at college when you thought you where going to be drawing flowers in photoshop. so no networked pong for the above mentioned reasons and other reasons below.

[end edit - short version ]

[workshop dilema rant]

i have an important question. well let me be a bit narcissistic which is totally not my character by the way. narcissism can bother me, its a recursive issue i have with my x wife. so my question is important to me and maybe not you but it is equally important to furthering the interest of quartz composer and possibly creating a bigger user base. so depending on your perspective of things in regards to quartz composer, its users, and how instantiating a greater interest will effect the community as a whole i'm asking for any feedback possible.

i have been invited to instruct a work shop in quartz composer. this is exciting for me because i'm still an undergraduate interdisciplinary student and usually professors and phd students are invited to do these workshops. i know a few of the people on here have done similar workshops because i have watched them. the university that the workshop is held at, has just been awarded a very large grant for the purpose of incubating innovation and developing emerging new media technologies.

besides the construction of buildings and labs, quartz composer has been chosen to be integrated into a course curriculum for new media students. so it is my task to introduce quartz composer to the 100 level students and some faculty. fortunately i have had the opportunity to skip requisite classes like this and take graduate level courses in new media. i won't bother explaining why because its not important plus i don't get credit for classes i was able to skip so it is irrelevant but keep this in mind if you choose to the question i will get to in a second.

i think QC is perfect for beginning students although a bit different than the other traditional motion stuff like AE or animation stuff like Maya. it defiantly has the ease of connectivity that other programs like it do not have. dragging your video clip onto the editor can not really get any simpler is what i'm trying to say. i do think that having some sort of hard coding or scripting knowledge would be highly beneficial to understanding quartz composer. unfortunately new media students usually take computer science as a math requirement and not as pre requisite to an intro new media class.

so im sure i will have to spend time explaining QC terminology, and basic stuff like data types etc... although they might be familiar with processing by this point so maybe not. lecturing a work shop isn't my problem, i can certainly find lots of things to talk about and have more than enough files of my own and examples from this forum i can show.

my problem is that that i have to assign a project for the class to work on in groups for two weeks. so this may not sound hard to you as i need your input, but i don't think i have ever made a patch that has taken that long let alone had group collaborative support and effort. actually i don't think i have ever worked on patch for longer than a day with the exception of programming plug-in patches which sometimes take a few min. but my last audio component plug-in i debugged for week and put it to the side so i could come back to it refreshed. its because of this reason that i like qc so much (not the debugging part, but the quick dev times)

sure there are instances where a quick javascript patch is quicker than some noodles but if you take the qc context as a whole and all the frameworks used to make the standard patches. it would really take along time to accomplish some of the things we do visually in code. so to me its the rapid development and ability to prototype ideas and sketches very fast in qc. i think something that could take 2 weeks with group effort in coding can be done in QC in one evening. so with that said what could be a good project to keep a class busy with quartz composer that can be accomplished in two weeks by working in groups ?

some previous assignments not related to qc have been to make a networked pong game using processing, php and max-msp. that assignment is cool because half the challenge is just getting max to talk to processing to talk php all in real time and group collaboration is needed or it doesn't work, pong that is. i want to stay away from pong even though there has been a resurgence in the general interest of pong mainly do to the multi-touch community. no matter how great a game of pong can be and how there probably is bunch of pong patches i have not seen, i don't think a group of kids would take 2 weeks in collaboration to make a networked pong game. when the whole class could make an 18 hole golf course in unity 3d's terrain editor that would look better than tiger woods. i'm not knocking tiger woods i actually enjoy a competitive game every now and then.

i'm actually working on a 1st/3rd person multi-touch frisbee golf game in unity with some of the spare time i don't have. plus this workshop dose not have anything to do with unity although using cv-tools facial recognition to fps look at head tracking and using some optical flow to translate the camera in unity i think would be a fun but then again the controlling interface could be easily placed together with developer examples in a few hours leaving two weeks to build 3d asset art which i find is the time consuming task. this however i can not lecture on because the students have not taken any maya courses yet.

blah blah rant rant. if you read this tonight or tomorrow during the day i could use some feedback as i have to start the workshop tomorrow at noon. once again the question is a project idea. the assignment obstructions are it needs to take two weeks in group setting.

honestly it has taken me almost a year to understand quartz composer technologies and everyday it still leaves me more unexplored options to investigate. so i understand that lots of things can not be covered fully in a two week session, in addition quartz composer may be user friendly in some aspects in comparison to the time it takes to the same things with other tools. qc is more of a intuitive thing, and its hard to teach intuition or inspire innovative creativity. all i can to do is foster the students in a crash qc course in hopes that they will choose qc as there weapon and ultimately give them an additional tool that they can choose to use as the journey down the path many others have.

if you ask me its kind of a lot to throw QC, processing, max-msp, php, flash and arduino all at a first year student all in one semester. (maybe it was a good thing i skipped to graduate classes.) in addition they also have to learn the other fundamentals of FCP, motion, DVD pro, CS4 etc.. in other classes. so i'm not expecting much. the professor likes to give hard assignments in short times. i guess its a challenge and he understands that usually the goal is never met. so don't worry if you have an idea that sounds to difficult.

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sbn..'s picture
Re: qc workshop dilema

Well, two effective methods I've enjoyed in the media courses I've taken:

1) Historical context. This was a sound editing / proTools course.

  • Day one - no computers at all. Students make mechanical sound devices and instruments from trash, then perform.

  • Day two - recording instrumentsfrom day one, basic sound editing. Everyone edits a one-track piece from their recordings (no multitrack allowed).

  • Day three - basics of multitrack. Then after lunch (and here's the trick), the explanation / lecture on the history of electronic sound. The excercises so far are put into context: The mechanical instruments as invented by the Futurists, the one-track editing necessitated by the editing on film stock (before magnetic tape) etc.

  • Rest of the course - no holds barred production of a sound piece.

This approach requires some grasp of art history, though. For video, you could take Oskar Fishinger, Rutt-Etra, Nam June Paik, Warhol's oil projections etc, and create restrictions based on those.

2) Focus on the effect rather than the tool. E.g. let the assignment be to make an interactive installation (maybe stipulate that the format is space + projection and motion detection camera), but spend the first few days brainstorming and sketching out ideas for interesting interactions. Then, the tech will follow naturally. Maybe your students will have to do an Arduino > processing OSC bridge, or get OpenCV to behave, or rig an SMS server. If they finish early, use the time to do cold-testing with an unprepared audience, then discuss and modify the installation. If time allows, try some of the other ideas from the brainstorm.

In any case, it's always a good idea to top it off with a show / premiere / vernissage type deal that's open to the public. Students like to show their work, and you'll get points with the professors for highlighting their department. Plus, students get some real drive from having to premiere their stuff.

cybero's picture
Re: qc workshop dilema

Quick Skinny response :-

How newbie are the newbies ? How many contact and non contact hours timetabled for the project?

Do not throw in everything, including the kitchen sink :-)

You could spend a fair old amount of time just explaining the interface, the application and how to achieve even the basic protocolised types of compositions.

A QC project to create a set of timelined audio interactive compositions that you could then output via Quartz Crystal, whilst also exploring and proofing as a standalone item might be a goer.

If Quartz Crystal isn't available then you could seek to create maybe a demoscene type standalone. Maybe give them a nice piece of Classical music or Jazz to interpret.

Seems to me you need to be pretty prescriptive - like use this, include that, etc.

Create a fairly demanding and satisfying project that you know [fairly well in your mind and heart] , could be tackled within two weeks timetabled hours by a total newbie.

Include definite goals and extension activities. Stage by stage. Think organically. How we build up patches and sub patches as we develop our original compositional works. How we re-use components and data within compositions. How we can protocolise essentially the same type of composition for very different output purposes.

Include useful compositional skills - leaving notes in compositions, using the Editor information , using Project folders and local paths were possible.

Make sure you give them the exemplars they'll require, even if your just as it were, moving the stage set around. Don't have to do all the leg work for them.

If these are intermediate QC users looking to become even more capable, then you can expect them to achieve at a far higher level.

Unless you've been told any different, you might as well expect most of your students to still be learning about QC.

[All good suggestions above from sbn BTW]

Enjoy. :-( Oh and Congratulations.

photonal's picture
Re: qc workshop dilema

give them a composition using iterator, meshes and OpenCL and get them to optimise it (and then share it with us) ;-)

cybero's picture
Re: qc workshop dilema

& the crash reports :-)