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Aerodrums outdoors in daylight

Posted: Sat Jun 30, 2018 4:45 pm
by Wolfgang
I would like to report that I have successfully performed a gig outdoors in daylight. We started in the early evening and we played under trees, there was no direct sunlight coming in, but like you can see on the photos (in the second part), the sun is still reflecting from the house-walls behind and beside us.

The 21th of Jun we have here in France the day of “La Fête De La Musique”. There are bands playing everywhere, on the streets, in parks, bars, etc.

With some friends we wanted to play in front of a bar place Dugommier in Paris, and this year I really wanted to use my Aerodrums for this event.

The place is complicated for an Aerodrums performance, even at night-time. On one side are big windows from shops, on the other side and behind are streets with a lot of cars and street-lights. Two years ago I already wanted to do just a little performance with my Aerodrums at the same place, but it was impossible because of all the lights and reflections. My advice for everybody who would like to do the same, never go to an important gig without having tried Aerodrums there before and in real light-conditions.

This time I was prepared much better. We’ve bought three elements of this (1), attached together with adhesive tape forming a trapeze, stabilised with an extensible curtain rod (2) on the open side using also adhesive tape and after we wrapped around 3m x 3m of blackout curtain and fixed it with safety pins. In the middle element we have put a powered speaker (Mackie Thump 15) (3).
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It was a windy day, but the weight of the Mackie was enough for keeping everything on the floor.
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But there was still a lot of light coming in from both sides. I had big red stains on my setup-screen from the top to the bottom, moving around and changing it’s sizes, surely because of the trees moving in the wind. Very difficult to eliminate with the new feature. But here’s the solution I’ve used:

I created a mask; using my thumb and index finger I was forming an arc and hold it in front of the camera the way that it covered all problematic regions and let after Aerodrums do the rest in eliminating all together. The resulting screen had been something like that.
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. . . to be continued

Re: Aerodrums outdoors in daylight (second part)

Posted: Sat Jun 30, 2018 4:53 pm
by Wolfgang
Just to say that this all together worked like a charm, I hadn’t any light problems.
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If I’m counting right, this was the 7th time I was playing Aerodrums in public and like every-time time I’m feeling myself like an Aerodrums demonstrator at a music show. Each time a lot of people are asking about the product, how it works, where to find it and how much it costs. And NOBODY had ever heard about it.

Here is how I’m setting up my Aerodrums. The stand I’ve build myself and the camera is screwed on it. My computer placed on the floor under the camera. This way I’m less annoyed by the camera’s light and it helps me staying in line and not drifting to the side.
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Just some ideas for discussion.
1. Wouldn’t it be nice to have the possibility for creating masks inside the setup-screen? Two sliders, one for each side like you are doing with the choking feature, which would bring in a masking curve from the top and the side. I think this would help to eliminate light coming in from there. All in all this are regions where you can’t play, but which can be very annoying by triggering all the instruments beside them if there is any light-source.

2. The ability to save (and load) personal masks like mine which cuts of everything around your set, but maybe this could even help to setup the camera more fast at your place, e.g. with the help of some shiny markers.

3. When we started to play the overall light-intensity was that bright, that just moving my head 20 cm towards the camera, my face was seen by it. Would it make any sense if we would have the possibility to slightly adjust the light-sensibility of the camera in a reasonable area, of course with a reset to default button? I see two reasons for this:
a) slightly lowering the sensibility in situations where the environment is to bright
b) slightly increase the sensibility in situations where the environment will be brighter later in the day, just for having the possibility to mask regions which will be a problem when the light-conditions change. Each day I’m playing I have to setup Aerodrums 2 or 3 times because of changing light-conditions. Even if I can see the problematic regions at first setup, but they don’t become red.

This all could be hidden expert settings. I hope it’s clear what I wanted to say, I’m not used to speak English. If you think that posting this, all or in part, on your Facebook or Instagram pages could have any interest you can do so, I don’t have an account there.

Re: Aerodrums outdoors in daylight

Posted: Fri Jul 06, 2018 7:16 am
by Frolic
Wolfgang, thanks a lot for sharing this experience! This is really valuable for me and for sure also for others. I've been asking myself so many times if I could use aerodrums outside int he daylight and what should I do to tackle the issues with the daylight. Thank you so much!

Re: Aerodrums outdoors in daylight

Posted: Sat Jul 07, 2018 12:30 pm
by Wolfgang
Thanks for your kind comment. I hope some other people will jump in to share their experiences.

2015 Ringowig (an user on this forum) had posted a fantastic video were he was playing outside in the evening to a playback track from the method “The Art of Bop Drumming” from John Riley.
Ringowig plays John Riley's Last Week.jpg
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Hey Ringowig, why did you take off your video, just watched it again (luckily I had made me a copy). If I had to do a list of videos about Aerodrums on YouTube yours would even have a special place. It’s the only one I’m aware of someone trying to play Jazz on Aerodrums. I hope you don’t mind that I’ve posted your photo.

Re: Aerodrums outdoors in daylight

Posted: Mon Jul 09, 2018 11:20 am
by Richard
Thanks for sharing this Wolfgang! When setting up Aerodrums outdoors in the past we have usually had the camera face a building wall to prevent the camera seeing street lights, cars, etc. But this makes finding a suitable location harder and can still cause problems if there's a reasonable amount of sunlight. Having a portable black curtain is a much better solution and means you don't have to be as conscious about your surroundings.

Definitely, the light compensation feature that was added to Aerodrums a while back could be improved. There are regions of the camera image that can never be reached with your markers and these should obviously be permanently masked out. Adding the ability to define custom masks is interesting and something we'll think about. Certainly, as you suggest, it would make sense in cases to be able to use (possibly auto-generated) masks that conform to the shape of your drumkit. For example, if you only have a snare drum and nothing else it makes sense to have a very tight mask that ignores everything outside the region of interest. This would clearly make it easier to set up Aerodrums in challenging environments.

Changing the sensivity of Aerodrums to light is possible but it can't really help us with these problems. The issue is that we need the stick/foot markers to be the brightest objects visible to the camera. If there are objects, including your face reflecting sunlight, that are brighter than the markers then it becomes very difficult to segment the markers from the rest of the image. The only way to solve this is to reduce the amount of ambient light. For example, at the NAMM trade show where the exhibition floor is intensely lit by overhead floodlights, we need to build a makeshift roof on our booth using a large black sheet of cloth. Without this we also have problems with skin reflecting too much light. I do agree with you on point 3(b) - it is frustrating when clouds move and the position of the sun changes, requiring you to redo the light compensation steps. Again, we could definitely improve this. We have given some thought to solving it before but haven't implemented a solution yet.

Re: Aerodrums outdoors in daylight

Posted: Wed Jul 11, 2018 2:55 pm
by Wolfgang
Hi Richard. Thanks for your comment and your detailed response. I’m feeling honoured that you take your time discussing this non-trivial subjects with me and I really appreciate. Like I said, this was meant to be brainstorming and not feature requests, but some might find it’s place in a future feature.

It was a hazardous venture. Even the day before we hadn’t any idea how to fix the curtain. The extensible curtain rod and the 3m x 3m blackout curtain we already had used several times in a restaurant here in Paris were we placed the curtain rod inside the alcove of a big window. Finally the saxophonist’s wife had the idea for using this affordable wardrobe stands (less than 15€ a piece) and we bought them just before starting to mount all. Very hazardous, but we had as replacement a Roland TD-30 in our rehearsal studio about 300 meters from the place we played, and in last resort we could have gotten it (and would have started an hour later). This is why I thought it’s the right moment to try Aerodrums outdoors. And I have to be thankful to the other musicians who supported all this hassle and helped me to mount this following my instructions, even if they had been more than sceptical, until the moment we started to play.
Adding the ability to define custom masks is interesting and something we'll think about.

Before deciding to perform this gig with Aerodrums, I had made sure at home if first it was possible to create masks just in holding thumb and index in front of the camera and to use the reflections to create masking areas, and second if in part covered elements will still be playable. If this would help anything in real I had no idea but it worked like expected. So it’s for sure not the most important thing for your to-do list, especially if it would take much time for coding it. For instant someone can still try using his fingers or a carton/paper mask.
There are regions of the camera image that can never be reached with your markers and these should obviously be permanently masked out.
This is also what I think.
Certainly, it would make sense in cases to be able to use (possibly auto-generated) masks that conform to the shape of your drumkit.
Auto-generated masks might be a good thing and even be useful for eliminating unintended hits between/beside elements, but there have to be room for customizing it. When you look at my (simulated) setup-screen photo you will see that I had to overlap in part all the cymbals
If there are objects, including your face reflecting sunlight, that are brighter than the markers then it becomes very difficult to segment the markers from the rest of the image.

Sure, my fault was that I thought the markers would reflect the (sun) light more than the skin. It’s impossible for me to see which one is more bright, it’s the same red colour.

So if it’s the contrary, is it because the more directional working markers are reflecting following optical laws depending the angle of the incoming light and not towards the camera, but the skin is reflecting more diffuse and has so a bigger impact?

But in indirect light, were the light is coming from -, and is being reflected to everywhere, I thought it’s like an over-saturation and a reflecting marker would still give a stronger light source than a diffuse reflecting skin, and if you could take down the sensibility in very little steps, you could find the sweet-spot were the camera would stop seeing arms and faces.

Anyway, I’m sure you’ve already thought about most of that all, or this had even been part of your research. I’m far from saying that your aren’t doing a good job, I’m just trying to understand the technical backgrounds and maybe giving some ideas from the point of view of someone who uses Aerodrums not only at home.

Thanks for trying to make even better the best tool for drummers I’ve seen in the last 30 years.


Re: Aerodrums outdoors in daylight

Posted: Wed Jul 11, 2018 5:02 pm
by Richard
Sure, my fault was that I thought the markers would reflect the (sun) light more than the skin.
This will only sometimes be true and it is correct that we could probably solve some of these cases by changing the light sensitivity of Aerodrums.

It isn't a general solution however since it largely depends on where the light is coming from. If sunlight was coming from behind the drummer for instance then a lot of the light could reflect directly from your skin into the cases like this your skin would appear brighter than the markers. If your skin is sweaty then the reflected light will diffuse less and you'll get glossy/specular reflections which will appear even brighter to Aerodrums.

The retro-reflective material on the Aerodrums markers is designed to send light back in the direction it came from. This is why the Aerodrums lamp needs to be placed as close to the camera as possible. Ambient light can contribute to the brightness of the markers but the contribution is usually very small compared to the Aerodrums lamp. The exception of course is when you're outdoors or there is too much sunlight. Then other objects can easily reflect more light towards the camera than the markers. Of course, the worst possible case is when the camera can directly see bright sky or the sun itself. It's not possible to solve these cases by making Aerodrums more or less sensitive to light.

Re: Aerodrums outdoors in daylight

Posted: Thu Jul 12, 2018 3:00 pm
by Wolfgang
Thanks for responding Richard. I have already made several tests outside and I know that just blue sky, even with a hidden sun is a very bright light-source. Being someone who loves to take his Aerodrums wherever it’s possible, and because of having another light situation at each place and doing this for more than 3 years now I’m becoming really good in overcoming light-problems.

Believe me, I never wanted to push this sensibility setting to the point were it would be possible to play in direct daylight, but I understand that you have to make this clear for everyone who might read this later.

The day before the concert I was trying in the shadow at 300 m from there at what moment in the evening the overall light would permitting us to play and found out that we could try to start about 60 minutes before sunset. My only wish was to scratch around to find some more minutes.