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A Little Space Visualized - Portrait of the Music as a Young Artist
By Ben Ohmart
(more articles from this author)
2004-03-26
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The collaboration between creator and listener has gained another collaborator. With the aid of composer/performer Alan Gruskoff, now the music itself speaks to us as an artist. No, we aren't getting into heavy semantics, nor is this a new marketing gimmick.

In this chronically visual world of ours, it was only a matter of time before music videos went one better. For those Windows users out there, you'll understand the principal of this new DVD, A Little Space Visualized, by switching on Windows' Media Player and watching the visualization come alive during whatever you're playing. That's the concept. But whereas Windows is more pulse-oriented - giving you colors and motions to the beat - ALSV goes far beyond that in several ways.

For those who remember the album A Little Space this DVD is based on, you'll remember that it's a collection of soulful, pop-based, jazz-influenced songs - some with vocals by Terrell Moran and some instrumentals - that are best listened to at night for the full flavor. Alan suggests you also watch the 'performances' with the lights off. He's right. The electric, electronic styles and computer-generated collages that stream and roll and explode like other-worldly fireworks take in the tone of the expressive bass-friendly tunes.

Obviously, flash and people and big budgets aren't the future of audio-visual realms. After all, isn't that why MTV branched into the dreck that is reality television?: the rocker video with its smoke and fast editing and rich, rich people prancing around is passe. Let the music have a chance to speak for itself for a change.

But just how is this magic accomplished? The music won't tell us, so Gruskoff answers that "each song file was played using a unique Visualization plug-in, (10) in Sonique and (2) in WinAMP media player software. The Visualization plug-ins are made freely available online by artists for the sheer joy of the eye candy. The output of the computer video was captured to a Digital Video camera, then imported into a DVD Authoring system to be synced up with the uncompressed Stereo Audio from the CD."

7 minute Streaming Video Preview
of excerpts from 4 of the 12 songs on
"A little space Visualized"

/

All of that took 2 weeks to arrange and record just the video components. The DVD Authoring took about 3 months, using the existing music which took about 9 months. "While fooling around with digital audio players (Sonique, WinAMP) I noticed some really interesting playback graphics that to me, assumed the 'life' of the musical content. I thought it would be interesting to have a whole album arranged this way. I was right."

So how did this whole notion come about? "I produced a rock single for a friend one day. At the end of the day, I sat him down in front of the monitor in a darkened room and played his song back with a most interesting Visualization, something he had never seen before. He said it was the greatest thing that ever happened to him, and that convinced me to pursue a Visualized album.

"It was a long process to match up maybe 20-30 Visualizations to see which best expressed the feel of the song. Each song uses a different Visualization plug-in and is recorded to DVD, as such they will always playback the exact same content. I can tell you that I constantly see things I never saw before on successive viewings."

Alan wants to do more of these albums, especially for the project he's doing now. "I came across some real interesting software a fella in my area produces that goes way past Visualizations. I would like to think we could do video project visualizations live in real time - audio fed into a computer outputting video, but we're not there yet. We may also pursue a real 5.1 mix."


* Genre: Jazz
* Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
* Website: alittlespace.biz
* Buy "A little space Visualized" Music DVD
* Contact a little space

Critics and audiences don't know about all this yet, though. It's only a matter of time. Soon we'll all be seeing this kind of property in Blockbuster and at college music and video stores. Right now you can secure a copy from The Orchard in NYC, its retail distributor. Both CD Street and CD Baby have units in stock at a nominal $12.99 for the DVD.

Alan: "While developed by and for artistically adventurous adults, children find it fascinating. Ask people this: 'When was the last time you listened to your favorite album, just sitting there staring at the speakers?' You will get a blank, confused look in return. This media is designed to be the audio and video in your environment. Now you can see what the music looks like."


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