Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Signal Strength, A Concert By Subway Musicians Over Skype.

Chris Shimojima and Anita Anthonj director and producer of the Signal Strength project, brought together a composer and 9 subway musicians together to produce the Orchestra above. How did they do that? They had some help from Skype.

To accomplish the task, the Director, producer duo got together with Ljova, a local composer, who composed the piece for the concert. (Listen to the studio recording here ) Then the duo went recruiting musicians in various subway venues, specially ones with quietness (in a subway station?) and availability of WIFI. Once these were secured, they went to work.

The musicians had a phone, powered by a battery pack, allowing for prolonged Skype use. The signal did drop or become uneven at points (for ex. when trains roared by), but enough takes (about 8) were filmed to work around this. WiFi latency was about a half-second but was removed in editing. A portable audio recorder was placed close to each musician for better quality sound.

To ensure a strong connection in Bryant Park, They arranged the event one early morning on a Sunday. Two Verizon Jetpacks were present as additional WiFi hotspots. As you can see, there were nine MacBooks, each on a Skype connection to a Musician in one of the subway stops. A 10th MacBook helped the conductor (Ljova) by feeding a click track and harmony plus a live video feed of Ljova into each Skype connection.
From that point, it was music, to all our ears.


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