Initial Visual Outcomes

I have been spending some time with Apple’s Quartz Composer (QC), which is very suitable software for this project, constructing simple noise-based animations which can be modulated via audio and MIDI/OSC inputs at a future stage. The following screen shot is an example that implements 2D ‘Flow Noise’, a concept originally presented by Ken Perlin and Fabrice Neyret at Siggraph 2001, authored as a GLSL shader by Stefan Gustavson of Linköping University, Sweden, and adapted for QC by George Toledo.

The maths behind this structure is highly advanced, as one would expect from the pedigree of the authors. A simplified description – “2D Simplex Noise with analytic derivatives and in-plane rotation of generating gradients, in a fractal sum where higher frequencies are displaced by lower frequencies in the direction of their gradient”.

Another example follows. This is a simplified implementation of Rigid Multifractal Noise, an algorithm often used to create craggy landscapes in CGI. In this particular version, the output is very similar to the noise used to animate the face of a body of water – eg the surface of the sea in the CBeebies cgi-rendered series ‘Octonauts’.

I prefer this second image for it’s simplicity.

After some time with QC I went back to Processing to see what I could muster there, based on my recently improved understanding of animating noise. As will be seen from the examples of others’ work that I have referenced in the post ‘Examples of motion graphics using Perlin Noise’, I am drawn to the simpler, more monochromatic versions of this art form. I’m also interested in the virtual landscapes that are being created by the use of noise, not so much for the rendered aesthetic but for the implementation of noise to create 3D structure.

The latest outcomes strip back the rendered layer to reveal the underlying grid structure of a 3D form which is animated into hills and valleys by Perlin Noise. As the noise is attenuated (ie the effect is amplified) the hills and valleys develop into peaks and troughs.

I am much more comfortable with the line art approach and the way it reveals the ‘structure of noise’. In the above examples (which are early stage prototypes) the lines are coloured with varying shades of grey-white linked to values in the z plane, giving the impression of an angled light source being played upon some of the ‘hill tops’. My next moves will be to link audio amplitude and/or MIDI note data to these animations.

I will also have to consider whether I should port these forms to QC or stay in Processing. QC has a lot of advantages in that it is deeply embedded into the Mac OS and therefore easy to manipulate, output etc by a Mac, which is my platform of choice. But time is of the essence….

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