What is a live production ?

For the moment there is no real definition of that. It's also called live act, but it can be messed up with a music live act, which is very different from a demo live act.
Here is our definition. It's a show, with music and demo-engine-powered visuals, that are fit together at real-time. It obliges you to :
  • Have a technology permitting live (read, no basic 3ds player).
  • Prepare the live : prepare the tracklisting, and a set of visuals.
  • Have a great place to play, good for sound and visuals.
  • Get an attentive audience.
  • Be ready to drive your live.
As this definition is a little laxist on what is done during the show, and what's done off the show, it's up to everyone to say what they're able to do. See S/V Making of for details on what was live and what wasn't. Don't mixup live with impro, it's quite different.

S/V live at Synthesis Party 3

by Epidemic
live at Synthesis Party 3
23:15, 14 March 2003
For Your eyes

by Epidemic collective
in a Breakbeat style

Download videos :
S/V : part1 on scene.org (77mb)
S/V : part2 on scene.org (248mb)
(videos by gol / wipe)

codename : med_blue

jaia's scene

S/V Story

After Run Away and Run Away (Responsible Remix) Francis made smode more and more live-able. In fact, even before releasing Run Away (Responsible Remix), we decided to do the live for Synthesis Party 3.
Tresh / Epidemic (also Duplex) was ready to give a try creating a breakbeat set (usually he's more about house, and variants). We asked him a set of about 20 minutes, he did a perfect one, a month before the live. Francis, Jb, and I where working on visuals. We did work on the concept of mini-invit to give a boost to our creativity, and it worked, see More about the Synthesis Party 3.
At the party, we merged the graphics, Jaia, my fellow dude came with a great opentro, and an awesome scene for the live. Xos, not really constant in his production flow, did some really good 2d layers for the scenes we already had. We finished the attribution of the scenes for each part of the music tracklist, and did the binding for the midi keyboard. We hope people enjoyed as much as we did doing it. Additionals thanks to Gruiiik, and Blaine, for their help.

codename : med_blue

codename : smousselight

S/V Making of


For the music, Tresh (call him DJ Tresh), the guy on the left of the screen in the video, mixed the breakbeat playlist using 2 turntables, a laptop, and the system called Final Scratch.

The playlist

  • 1 - Ken Ishii - Extra
  • 2 - Bt - SmartBomb
  • 3 - Way Out West - Domination
  • 4 - Hybrid - How Soon Is Now
  • 5 - Slam - Positive Education (Josh Wink remix) (start @ 1'01)
  • 6 - Groove Doctor - 100% Natural
  • 7 - Josh Wink - Verano Azul (start @ 1'23)
  • 8 - Technasia - Future Mix
  • 9 - Technasia - Hydra (start @ 0'58)
  • 10 - Radix & LLuvia - Tournesol
He managed to get a constant BPM through all the live, it was really helpfull because it permitted to avoid all resync. 3 weeks before the live, Tresh gave us an mp3 of the recorded track mixing, it permitted to feel the atmosphere of the live, and prepare scenes that would fit even better.
I listened about 20 times this playlist to be able to drive the live. We did not try the live much, only once juste before the show, to be sure nothing was missing. We wanted to keep the live feeling complete, not just like an other demo experience. The experience was intense.

codename : anneau_remix

codename : lightwall


Making the visuals was a really big part. I did not want to do another
Run Away remix, but it was hard to get a new visual style. Working with Francis, and Jb brought new good ideas, it was very helpfull.
We had about 3 weeks of serious work, to prepare the live.

What was prepared

The list of things that were done during the preparation phase.
  • The scenes : the setup of each scene.
  • The effect sets and states sets : we created differents states to be able to make the scene vary during the show (changing camera, colors, enabling/disabling effects).
  • The export of bindings : with smode you have to bind some midi key or controller/keyboard/mouse/else event to actions. Smode provides a learning module permitting to bind actions like changing states, making vary controllers, or playing timeline/scripts. We exposed to the midi input the control events for each scene.
  • Some little syncro loops, like : set camera1, decrease light, set camera2, increase light. The most usefull loops where those using 2d alpha layers, and changing cameras.
  • Some automatic live changes : some effects are completely live, then change on the measures of the music, like : camera_mesh : permitting to have a different camera on each measure based on 2 random vertices of a mesh; camera_particle : the same with 2 random particles of a particle system.

  • The roadmap : we decided the order of the scenes following the music. We decided of the key moments of the syncro, that were intense moments of the music.

What was live

The list of things that were done during the show.
  • The realtime rendering :)
  • The macro syncro : Changing scenes.
  • The precise syncro : Effect states changes, and each flash ;)
  • Some camera changes.
  • Most effect variations : Each scene had 7 controllers exported to the keyboard, that permitted precise control on colors, size of particles, scale of objects.
You may think it's not much, but it's pretty much for one person, so we needed 2 ;)

How to drive the live

Driving the live is activating effects, states, changing controls, changing cameras, changing scene,...
We applied a simple method to make decisions of what to do during the live, we needed :
  • 1 person doing all the precise syncro, on advices of the others. He has to know the playlist very well, because he must not miss the changes of the music. During the live every one did some, but I did the most because I know the playlist and the scenes the best.
  • 1 person doing all the macro syncro, he has the roadmap in his hands, and says when to change the main scene. For that, he prepares the other to do a transition. It was Francis' job :)
We splitted the keyboard in areas for : scenes, camera, states, precise syncro (like flash or 2 layers). Plus a [panic !] key permitting to restore to a known scene when it does not go like it should, it was used a few times, you may have noticed.

codename : smousse_cb

codename : spherering


Here is a list of little extras that did a lot for the quality of the live :
  • The place : the party was really nice, the room was good, and the people really supportive. Thanks to all the orga, and the attenders for that.
  • The sound and video quality : Sly did a great job, the sound quality was awesome, you can feel all that in the video of the live, but it was even better than you can imagine ;) The video projector quality was really impressive.
  • The dual screen : the dualscreen permitted to limit some of the leaking bugs of the live. we had a screen with all the panel of bindings available.
  • The light spots and the laser : Sly (him again ;) managed spots, smoke and laser on the scene during the live, you can see it on the video, its was a big plus.

codename : med_blue

codename : echec

codename : echec

codename : starcollide

codename : mfx_fld

codename : substract_rope

Smode (1.28)

Smode is a completely interactive authoring tool, and we always did some live tests, during the creation process of our demos, it was almost unavoidable ;) The big features for live acts, since Run Away (Responsible Remix) are :
  • Live Time/Beats/Speed : Now the time reference is the beat, all the time passed to the effect behave like 1 sec was 1 sec at 60 bpms, so 1 secs is 2 seconds in the effect at 120 bpms.
  • More complex states : States also include controlers, the way it changed was quite disturbing from the way I used to use it, but I can't deny it was very usefull.
  • Live oriented effects : More effects that are able to vary alone, like cameras, or texture lists, etc.
  • FFT input : The input of your sound card or the mp3 you're workin on, can generate events (changes, or variations).
  • Support of multimonitors with OpenGL : Dualscreen was a key, but painful feature to have.
  • Input learning system : When you wanted to bind effects and more on a key, you simply press the key and do the action, it records it.
  • Timeline : a wrapper over controls and scripts, supporting loops.
  • GUI improvements : Drag & drop system, plus right button on controllers for constructing timelines. Icons for effect activity monitoring. Impoving
An impressive thing was that there was no crash at all during the day of the live, and no crash during the live.

smode : new concepts

More about the Synthesis Party 3

You can go to the
Synthesis Party website. It was a party organized by Cymagine and Epidemic.


Several invitations have been made for the party : Plus a special Opentro made by Jaia, openning of the party, made with smode.

The second live

In addition to the live presented on this page, there was also an other more improvised live with a DJ Set made by Sly / Cymagine, and visuals by Francis and Jb. We are in the process of getting the video too.

And now ?

When smode begun to support live, I said that I would go to it using smode. Now it's done ! I've been the main user of the tool for now. Now it's time for other people like Jb, Jaia, Butcher to replace me now. Smode does not stop here, it has already been improved since, containing great new features :
  • Scene compositing : removes the channel concept.
  • Efficient rendering to texture, using extensions :)
  • Transparent faces sorting.
I may try it once I get more free time, but I won't handle a new Smode production, I have several others demoscene projects, that have been waiting too much now ;)