Taking it Easy with High Fidelity, aka AKA sing

HF-logoThe folks at High Fidelity has been blogging a lot lately. I covered recent moves with improvements to the avatar facial expressions and synch the mouth / lips to better reflect their movements as we speak (and sing!), and one of the more recent blog posts is something of a follow-up to this, with members of the Hi Fi team having a little fun. It’s fair to say that if they keep things up, Emily and Ozan and (I think that’s) Andrew on backing vocals could find themselves in-demand for gigs virtual and otherwise!

Anyway, we’ll get to that in a moment.

The other two posts are focused on Philip’s favourite subject: reducing latency, particularly where sound is concerned. As the oldest of the posts Measuring the Speed of Sound, from August 13th, reducing latency is something of an obsession at High Fidelity, and the post talks about various experiments in trying to reduce audio latency. I’m still not convinced on Philip’s big downer on voice communications over mobile devices, where he’s in the past referred to the 500 msec delay as a “barrier” to communications; I’ve yet to find it silting conversations.

That said, I can see his point in ensuring that audio and video remain synched when it comes to direct interaction, particularly given the nature of what High Fidelity are trying to achieve with the likes of facial and gesture capture to achieve a greater sense of presence. Within the post, Philip discusses the most recent work HiFi have been carrying out in comparing various mediums and how they handle audio and audio latency.

Paloma’s Javascript Project touches on the work of 17-year-old Paloma Palmer. A high school student, Paloma has been honing her JavaScript skills during the summer vacation as an intern at High Fidelity. Video interviewed by HiFi’s Chris Collins, she describes her project in coding voxels to respond directly to volume inputs over a microphone in real-time, coding a form of graphic equaliser in voxel cubes which responds, with minimal delay, directly to both her and Chris’ voices and intonations as they speak – a further demonstration of the low latency goal HiFi are aiming towards, and one which, as the blog post notes, “opens up a bunch of new creative content areas for the virtual world”.

HiFi's Chris Collins talks with Paloma Palmer, the 17-year-old intern who has been working at HiFi through her summer vacation (inset)
HiFi’s Chris Collins talks with Paloma Palmer, the 17-year-old intern who has been working at HiFi through her summer vacation (inset)

However, it is with High Fidelity’s AKA covers Easy, which sits sandwiched between Measuring and Paloma which offers the most fun, as well as demonstrating some intriguing elements of HiFi’s capabilities.

The post actually takes the form of another music video (and embedded below) in which Emily, with Ozan on guitar and I think (and I see Ciaran Laval is of the same mindset as me) Andrew Meadows (himself aka  – or at least previously aka – Andrew Linden) providing the backing vocals. Together they’ve formed HiFi’s own band, AKA (as in Also Known As), a name chosen because, as Emily explains, it allows them to be anyone they want to be. Chris Collins and Ryan Karpf are also on hand, although they don’t participate in the song.

The video this time is a cover of the Commodore’s Easy. We’re promised a deeper explanation of some of the technicalities behind it from “Executive Producer” Ryan at a later date. What is great about the video is that it is totally informal (witness the start, and keep running right until the end when you watch it).

The video is worth watching for the way Emily’s avatar clearly reflects her emotional response to the lyrics, and for the way Ozan’s avatar appears to be playing his guitar, rather than simply strumming it one-handed, as we’re perhaps used to seeing with avatars; his response to the music is also clear. I assume this has been done by some form of motion capture via whatever camera system he is using, but we’ll have to wait for Ryan’s follow-up to know more.

There are other great delights in the video – Andrew’s surfacing from the pond waters to give the backing “ahs” had me snorting coffee; they are delightfully surreal. I have to say that Chris Collin’s avatar looks somewhat blissed out (aka a little stoned – no offence, Chris!), an impression heightened with the cutaway to Emily’s look on his comment about feeling very cool and relaxed prior to the song starting!

All told, the video is an absolute delight, and also reveals some interesting little elements within HiFi (witness Ryan’s enthusiastic hand-clapping at the end).

Anyway, enjoy!