|The First Annual Interactive
PROJECT BAR-B-Q 1996
Project Bar-B-Q 1996
PROJECT BAR-B-Q, 1996
(The 1st Texas Interactive Music Conference and Bar-B-Q)
Report of Results
Project Bar-B-Q is an intense Texas-style think tank held on a 360-acre ranch in Boerne, Texas for three days in late October, 1996. In attendance were 35 experts from the computer/music community. The goal of "BBQ" was to answer the question "What do we want to see in hardware and software for music on computers in the next 5 years?" The group's answers were quite complex, but could be summarized in eight points. In addition, there were three clear observations that came from the conference, and two "rogue groups" were formed. This report contains the results of Project Bar-B-Q, which are summarized below .
Say, Fat Man, what do you want to see in hardware and software for music on computers in the next five years?"
It's a crucial question, and one that gets asked a lot. The answer could solve a lot of the problems that we composers for computers have. It could solve problems for marketing people, software and hardware designers, programmers, engineers, too . . . and most importantly, for consumers. People want to know what to do, buy, get, design, write for, etc. to get good sound to come out of a computer -- not just for now, but for a little ways down the road, too.
Well, like a lot of my friends in the industry, I sure would like to pop up with a correct, insightful, concise answer, but I don't rightly know. The question is too big for my brain. Too big for any one brain, maybe, the more I think about it. Because to answer, somebody would have to have expertise and intuition in music, marketing, hardware, software, and public speaking. I've never met the individual who has that particular combination of gifts. It seems the answer would have to come from a body of people, such as the MMA or IA-SIG, each bringing his own gifts to the table.
At the 1996 NAMM conference, I started to think about the best way to use my special gifts to benefit those organizations. Taking inventory, I thought that perhaps my strongest gift has something to do with the fact that people think of me as an expert -- I attract attention. Perhaps it would do some good if I could direct that attention in a way that would work constructively for the community. Still I knew that it would require some imagination to maximize the good of such a gift in this context.
I thought that I might use my visibility to attract attention to one issue or another. I also felt that my organization, Fat Labs, would be capable of going about this in more informal, unorthodox, and risky ways than are usually undertaken. I felt that when we obtained results, we could take them to membership organizations such as the MMA and the IASIG. They might then take over the tasks of gathering consensus of the entire industry, creating standards, and minding the interests of the involved participants in a more broadly representative manner.
It seemed that the pieces were falling into place. That evening, my publicist Teresa Avallone and I laid plans for Project Bar-B-Q.
Bar-B-Q was a great success. It could only have been such a success under certain unusual conditions. Therefore it's important to list some of those conditions:
Project Bar-B-Q was held from October 24th through 27th, 1996, at Guadalupe River Ranch near Boerne, Texas, on 380 acres of beautiful rolling hills, the likes of which are often referred to in Texas as "God's Country." There were 3 gourmet chefs on staff, and the cabins were named after philosophers. There was always access to refreshments of all kinds, cigars, musical instruments and toys. All meals were taken together on the premises, and all meals and drinks were paid for as a part of the attendance package. Special break events included the Cowboy Theater, jam sessions, campfires, and horseback rides.
Most important was the very high willingness, diversity, brilliance and enthusiasm of the people who attended. Literature that was sent out before the event was unorthodox, and required a great deal of determination on the part of the attendee to get approval of funding to attend. Only a special kind of person would make it through that process. Everyone who attended made some sacrifice in order to go. An interesting illustration of the nature of the meeting -- at the end of the conference, when discussing future conferences, it was found that many people had suggestions for increasing attendance, yet when it was asked if anybody would want more people at a future event, nobody did.
All of the above had a positive effect on the sense of closeness, equality, and of being part of something special, something bigger than the individual.
It was hoped that this very unusual atmosphere would help encourage results that would transcend and complement what comes from the usual crowded, suit-and-tie, florescent lights meetings. We were not disappointed.
The main body of our efforts, answering "What do you want to see in hardware and software for music on computers in the next five years?" is answered to some extent in this report, and discussion will be continued through an additional '97 Bar-B-Q on the same topic, and hopefully a special five-year plan working group.
So . . . here's the wrap-up all neat and tidy. And to the BBQ attendees I say "Damn, y'all did a great job, and there's a lot of good feeling going around about it through the community. Every last one of you should feel proud that you took the leap of faith/jumped through the hoops to get out to Texas. Bless you."
"Project Bar-B-Q" was an intense Texas-style think tank at which a group of experts answered the question, "What do we want to see in hardware and software for music on computers in five years?
In answering the question, it was hoped that a sense of commonality of direction would be encouraged among the audio/computer community. Their having access to the compiled results (this document) would increase efficiency for providers of hardware, software, and content. Most importantly, the changes brought about by having this information available could, in the long run, increase the quality of sound and decrease the number of disappointing purchases for the consumer.
Perhaps the most important and clear observations that came from Project Bar-B-Q were the following:
--There was a clear consensus that it would be helpful to educate consumers, marketing people, manufacturers, game developers and even musicians about the benefits of quality sound playback in multimedia applications.
--It was generally agreed that a platform with the features found by the Special Roundtable would be able to run any "killer app" for sound that the BBQ Group could come up with.
--It was observed that Apple's QuickTime contains a great deal of the functionality that would be required of a standardized language for creating and playing back interactive music.
The following features figured prominently in "What we want to see in hardware and software for music on computers in the next five years." For more detailed information, contact Teresa at (512) 689-5486.
* Compatible and easy-to-use:
--applications (fun and compelling, as well. "Killer Apps")
--household entertainment products
* Interactive composition and playback standards
* Universal open APIs (Application Programming Interfaces)
* 3-D and surround-sound capabilities
* High-speed, wide-bandwidth connections
* 6 channels of audio output at high (44-88kHz) sampling rates and high (16 to 24-bit) resolution
* Per-channel effects capabilities
* Programmatically controlled, fully extensible synthesis and voice processing
Steve Purves formed a "rogue group" to establish a computer platform using today's technology that would fully support all great music applications.
Mark Miller formed a "rogue group" to explore interactive composition issues.
More details can be obtained from Section VII of this paper, "Group Results." Audio tapes of speakers presentations can be obtained from the authors of this report.
Results of Special Roundtable Session
The "Rouge Group" for platform development encouraged the BBQ staff to hold a special final roundtable session. Roughly half the attendees of the special roundtable were in the business of creating music or software, the other half were involved in creating hardware. Discussion was focused on determining, for the sake of the hardware developers, what software developers would need to see on playback platforms in order to create a "Killer App," and whether that hardware would be available today.
It was decided that anyone in the room who had an idea for a "Killer App" for sound on computers could run that program on a platform with the following features:
* 44.1 kHz, 16-bit PCM digital audio recording and playback
* 32-Stream digital audio playback (Mixed to 6 channels)
* 6 speaker outputs
* 3-D (spherical) audio positioning
* 44.1kHz, 24-voice DLS (Downloadable Sample Standard support)
* Hardware-based DSP audio acceleration
* Full-duplex I/O
* Multi-user interactivity
* 1 6X CD-ROM drive and 4-gig hard drive
Bar-B-Q Wrap-up, Four Months Later
The Fat Man's message to the BAR-B-Q Group, March, 1997
There were four main things that came of BAR-B-Q, and 3 of the 4 have found good, loving homes from which the good effects of our BAR-B-Q efforts will be able to continue and be felt throughout the world.
1. Steve Purves' Rogue Group. It now has its proper home as the PDWG (platform development working group) of the IA-SIG of the MMA. I see some very powerful work coming from them already in that incarnation.
2. The work of Mark Miller's Rogue Group is, of course, being continued under the proper aegis, which is the ICWG of the IA-SIG, of which Mark is leader. So that's that.
3. The main body of our efforts, answering "What do you want to see in hardware and software for music on computers in the next 5 years?" The report's done, which spreads the word of what we came up with. And I'm working with Mr. Miller to set up a WG to continue this discussion as sort of a 5-year plan working group. And if that weren't enough, we are planning a '97's October BAR-B-Q on the same topic.
4. Fourth, and without a home: "Exposing People to Great Sounding Multimedia" Tom White's comments about the need to expose people (marketing people, consumers, developers, everybody) to great sounding multimedia resonated significantly with the group. Teresa and I went on a 10-day tour including CES and NAMM to explore what people thought of this issue in general, and what they thought of some of the ideas we had, and what ideas they had.
The program worked like a pressure cooker. The first full day started with speakers' presentations: the attendees' brains would be filled with huge ideas put forward by one speaker, they would go into a Q&A, then just at the point where it was getting really exciting . . . boom! The next speaker would come out. So heads were filling up with both ideas and a dire urge to investigate and contribute.
Next, the attendees were introduced to the groups they would be working with, and just as they got to know them, we broke and went to the cowboy theater to watch the dancing longhorn. Very few went to sleep before 2:00 a.m., standing up long and hard for what they believed in, and keeping the discussion fiery and interesting, all while jamming out surf tunes.
Early the second day, it became clear that it was very important that the consciousness of the public be raised as to how great a computer experience can be with excellent sound. Some suggested a "killer app" was needed, but a chicken-and-egg hardware/software question arose. To the end of solving that, one of two rogue groups spun off. (The encouragement of "rogue groups" was built into the agenda to allow inspired attendees to follow their muse while the rest of the attendees remained focused on "The Question") In one of the most dramatic moments of the conference, Steve Purves of Aura Systems stood up and said, "You know, we've got the hardware guys here; we've got the software guys here; we've got the artists -- why don't we just build this thing?"
It was like being in a Mickey Rooney film, when they stand up and say, "Hey! There's an old barn out back. Let's clean it up and put on a show!" But it was real. And it involved significant players in the field.
So that was the "platform" rogue group. The other group that spun off was the interactive composition group -- Monty Schmidt of Sonic Foundry, Mark Miller, who runs the Interactive Audio Special Interest Group, Michael Land of LucasArts, whose games lead the field in interactive digital soundtracks, and Todor Fay, who is leading the movement to innovate and evangelize interactive MIDI composing for (is this Johnson enough for you?) Microsoft. The rest of the day was spent with the two "Rogue groups" working on their missions, and the four regular groups working on "The Question."
Near the end of the day, the regular groups did their presentations, "The Question" was answered as best as we could, and essentially, the conference ended. A lot of very exciting information was put out, and Team Fat said everybody could go back to their bunks to rest, but nearly the entire group volunteered to go into an overtime roundtable. What happened next was dynamic.
The interactive composition group made a brief but enthusiastic presentation on "what an interactive composition language should have." They were pleased at how easily the information had come together because of the personnel involved in the discussion. Happily, yet ironically, it was soon discovered that Apples' QuickTime already had all of those features.
Continuing the roundtable, under the pressure to solve the chicken/egg problem inherent in creating a "killer app," the hardware guys and the software guys started to click. The hardware group created a spec list that no software person in that room wouldn't be able to create his killer app on. We ended up with ten features on a big piece of paper that says what we want to see in hardware. Not in the next five years . . . now. And the interactive composing group, together with the Apple folks, defined a huge chunk of what we want to see in software. So you might say that the regular working groups created a great cake, and the rogue groups and overtime roundtable put the cherry on top.
(Excerpted from Music & Computers, Jan/Feb '97, "Designing the Musical Computer"
by The Fat Man, George Alistair Sanger)
Thursday, October 24th:
* A Texas Howdy Fiesta Mixer and Brouhaha 6 p.m. till the saloon closes (or a mighty brawl breaks out)
* Informal Introductions and Agenda Ventilation: 5 minute personal introductions.
Friday, October 25th:
* Reveille and Chuck wagon Breakfast 7:30-9:00 a.m.
* Howdy (introduction and welcome) 9:00-9:10 a.m.
* House Rules (by the Fat Man) 9:10-9:30 a.m.
* Hoyle in a Hand basket (guest speakers Fritz Koenig, Gary Hoffman, Todor Fay, and other industry leaders will be on hand to reveal their vision of "Music on Computers, Where do THEY See it in Five Years?" [30-40 Minute Talks, 10 Minute Q&A]) 9:30-11:30 a.m.
* Meet Your Group 11:30-11:45 a.m.
* Lunch on the Trail: 11:45-12:45 p.m.
* "Hoyle" continued 12:45-2:45 p.m.
* Continuation of Speakers: Past, Present and Future; Tom White and Monty Schmidt
* Brainstorming Sessions: 3:15-4:45 p.m.
* Breakout Brainstorm/Discussion Groups,
* Free Time: 4:45-5:30 p.m.
* Cowboy Dinner and Show at the
* Diamond "W" Ranch 5:30-9:30 p.m.
* Evening Bonfire/Jam Session 10:00 p.m.-???
* Midnight Mass at the Grotto
Saturday, October 26th:
* Morning Grub 7:30-9:00 a.m.
* Deal 'em (instructions for the day by the Fat Man) 9:00-9:30 a.m.
* Draw and Bet: (create rough model of "what you want to see . . . ") 9:30-10:30 a.m.
* Group Roundtable 10:30-11:45 a.m.
* Box Lunch for Working Groups: 11:45-1:00 p.m.
* Down and Dirty (finalize a group vision/consensus of future and create final documentation. Once defined: How do we get there?) 1:00-2:30 p.m.
* Put Your Cards on the Table (groups prepare presentations) 2:30-3:45 p.m.
* The Town Meeting (groups present results) 3:45-4:45 p.m.
* Saturday Wrap-Up 4:45-5:30 p.m.
* Free Time 5:30-6:30 p.m.
* Happy Hour in the Snake Pit 6:30-7:30 p.m.
* Gourmet Dinner 7:30-9:30 p.m.
* Awards Ceremony ("Count Yer Money") 9:30-10:00 p.m.
* Late-Night Jam . . . and ???
Sunday, October 27th:
Sunday Morning Roundtable for Die-Hards: "How best to polish, distribute, and make use of results" (continued discussion groups and documentation available for diehards)
Morning session -- Speakers representing specific interest groups presented their individual visions.
Dan Cox; Intel Corporation
The "Digital Audio Ready" and "100% Digital Audio" PCs
The "Digital Audio Ready" PC is here: high performance CPUs with outstanding integer and floating point performance, megs upon megs of DRAM, gigs of portable storage. High quality built-in analog audio, PCI based hardware media acceleration, DVD-ROM content, and unlimited digital expansion via USB and IEEE 1394.
AC '97 enables the "Digital Audio Ready" PC and takes a big step in the migration towards the "100% Digital Audio" PC. It supports CD and DVD-ROM content, stimulates high-quality PC audio solutions, and solves multi-stream mixed sample rate problems by prescribing digital sample-rate conversion and mixing. There are industry-wide efforts underway to establish accurate audio quality measurement and support AC '97 interoperability, but relax, there is no AC '97 logo program.
BIO: Dan Cox has 13 years experience working with DSP hardware and software for real-time audio and telephony applications. Dan worked as a DSP applications specialist for Texas Instruments in Silicon Valley during the mid-80's, and continued on as a consultant. He moved to Oregon and joined Intel in 1992 to work on PC-based designs and subsequently designed and implemented the Filter Socket and minifilter components for Intel's ring 0 IA-SPOX based native audio software infrastructure. Dan was co-author of Intel's CODEC `96 recommendations, a principal contributor to the Audio CODEC `97 Component Specification, and has published several AC `97 related white papers. His current focus is on assisting the diffusion of the AC `97 architecture and developing Intel's audio road map for the evolution of PC audio in `98 and beyond.
Todor Fay; Microsoft Corporation
"MIDI, DLS, and one person's bent ideas about Interactive Music"
MIDI and DLS enable truly interactive musical behavior and can create a compelling addition to Internet web pages. Displaying an innovative and revolutionary product based on a technology known as Interactive Music Architecture, IMA allows computer users with no musical ability to create high quality, synchronized music tracks for Multimedia and WWW applications. Unlike any other music creation program, MIDI can create streamed music that changes moods based on the types of presentation points you are making. Feelings of success, despair, happiness, prosperity . . . dementia are generated at the exact time that graphics are representing the feeling on the screen. These effects and rhythmic changes can be activated at a certain time in your presentation, with a mouse click or hypertext link. The music keeps rolling, at a normal pace, but the feel of the song changed to represent the emotion you are trying to convey.
BIO: As technology lead and architect of Microsoft's interactive music effort, Todor Fay brings over a dozen years of professional experience in the MIDI and multimedia arenas. His current work involves developing a comprehensive musical delivery and authoring platform entitled the Interactive Music Architecture. Currently, Todor co-chairs the Downloadable Sound working group, and has participated in the authoring of the industry-backed DLS specification. Prior to working at Microsoft, Todor co-founded The Blue Ribbon SoundWorks, Ltd., which was acquired by Microsoft in late 1995. During its seven years, Blue Ribbon published a series of award winning MIDI sequencing and intelligent music products on the Amiga, SGI, and Windows platforms.
Gary A. Hoffman; Skipstone
"Considerations For Including FireWire in 5-year Plans or Being Left Stranded, Alone and Desolate"
IEEE 1394 has widely been adopted as the digital interface for consumer multimedia applications such as HDTV and digital video editing. IEEE 1394 is also considered to be an enabler for new interactive music applications. Mr. Hoffman reviewed why IEEE 1394 is a superior technical solution and specifically how it may be applied to interactive music.
BIO: Mr. Hoffman provides overall leadership to Skipstone as well as direction of the 1394 Trade Association. Mr. Hoffman was an architect for PowerPC computers and computer I/O design in the IBM Personal RISC Systems Division from 1992 to 1994. This was an outgrowth from his development for RISC processors and systems at the IBM Watson Research Laboratory from 1985 to 1992. Prior to IBM Mr. Hoffman was an independent consultant and VLSI designer. His specialties were VLSI design tools, embedded processor applications, and digital control systems for robotics.
Fritz Keonig; Tmh
"AC-3: ubiquitous or not?" or "Control G vs. Gottedamerung"
Fritz presented a segment on multi-channel sound delivery systems, making such points as the following: We are reaching a point of no return on the quality of the audio signal. Human ears can only handle frequencies in the 20K range, even though sample rates can reach into the 60K bracket. However, the human ear can distinguish over a million areas of sound placement. This implies the cost-effectiveness of opportunities for tremendous growth in multi-channel speaker and surround sound systems.
BIO: Fritz first worked with Tomlinson Holman in 1980 as a general manager of Apt Corporation, Cambridge, MA. Tom Holman was responsible for the creation of the THX sound systems. Fritz and Tom were at the ground floor of the Theater Alignment Program at Lucasfilm. Fritz's experience includes production and technology management, with specific expertise in software design and development. His diverse background includes experience with various high-tech companies including: Broderbund, Nantucket Corporation, Ashton-Tate, and Seiko Instruments USA.
Mark Gavini; Apple Computer, Inc.
"Integration of New Technologies Into The Apple Strategy for 2001 -- If There Ever Is A 2001"
Ubiquitous, real-time, built-in generation and playback of digital audio or music related content available to every application space & a standardized method to share data and signals is what we want to see for music on computers in the near future. Or in typical Apple Computer User-friendly fashion: "Enjoying music on a computer should be as easy as using a CD player."
The two areas in which Apple is moving toward that goal are: the QuickTime Media Layer, a unified cross platform container/format for a variety of data types such as: audio, video, musical events, text, graphics etc. and the development of FireWire - our version of the IEEE 1394 standard. Another key component to playback of audio on computers is the Sound Manager which provides the following: 8 or 16 bit sounds, unlimited channels, mixing, sample rate conversion, plug-in audio compression/decompression, hardware independent, OS independent, minimal API, minimal overhead.
BIO: Mark Gavini worked a variety of marketing jobs at Apple Computer before landing his dream job as an Evangelist in 1995. A liberal arts graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, he discovered the Magic of the Macintosh in 1986 when he purchased a Mac Plus to use for MIDI sequencing and digital sample editing. He worked at a number of small Macintosh related start-ups in Austin before moving to the San Francisco Bay area to work for Apple in 1990. As an Evangelist, Mark works with developers who write digital audio. MIDI, and game software to insure that the best products are always available for the Mac OS.
Afternoon Session -- Speakers present the past, present, and possible future of music on computers.
Monty Schmidt; Sonic Foundry
"Why We Should Just All Have Another Drink and Forget About the Future"
Sample file compatibility between musical instrument hardware manufacturers is an important issue. Currently each keyboard manufacturer has independent file formats. This makes the third-party sound developers job very time consuming, therefore cutting down the amount of new sounds that can be created across many platforms. Our industry should embrace a universal format such as DLS.
BIO: Monty Schmidt is the President and Founder of Sonic Foundry, makers of Sound Forge digital audio editing software.
Tom White; MIDI Manufacturers' Association
"Why Everything We're Currently Working on Works Perfectly"
Tom spoke on the back-shelving of audio on consumer software products. For example, he brought up the point that software manufacturers are using up to 90% of hardware and software resources for graphics and game play functions. This leaves only 10% of the resources remaining for audio. He pointed out that consumers buy audio CD's for the quality of the sound found on them. Yet on a typical 73 Minute CD, 100% of the resources are being used for 73 minutes of audio. How can these manufacturers create the same kind of desirable audio on software CD's where 90% is already used. Not only is this related to actual disk storage, but also hardware and processor use.
BIO: Tom White is President & CEO of the MIDI Manufacturers Association (MMA) and a consultant on multimedia technology and marketing, specializing on the convergence of the computer and music industries. Tom also sits on the Steering Committee of the Interactive Audio Special Interest Group, which is developing recommended practices for new technologies in multimedia. He manages the MMA's activities in education, intellectual property, technical development, and outreach to other organizations and related industries. As the manager of the multimedia products group at Roland Corporation from 1990 to 1994, Tom was responsible for the launch of General MIDI and Roland's Sound Canvas products, and worked directly with companies such as Microsoft and Apple to incorporate support for MIDI technology in computer operating systems.
Prior to joining Roland Tom opened one of the first specialty stores for computer-music products, and worked as a professional musician and independent producer. Tom is a frequent speaker on audio issues at trade shows and conferences, and has been quoted in various publications, including Music Inc., Comdex Show Daily, Multimedia World, and Multimedia Producer magazines.
Speaker Contact Information:
The goal of Project Bar-B-Q was for four integrated groups of individuals consisting of computer hardware developers, computer software developers, audio engineers, and composers to answer "The Question": What do you want to see in hardware and software for music on computers in the next five years?
The Fat Man began the conference with his opening remarks on the general state of affairs of the industry and a welcome to all attendees. There were seven speakers chosen to stimulate conversation on the topic. The morning session focused on specific interest groups presenting their individual visions. The afternoon session allowed speakers to present the past, present and possible future of music on computers. Each speaker spoke for 30-40 minutes and was allowed a 10-20 minute Q&A period. After the final speaker spoke, the group divided up into four smaller groups and were sent off to a brainstorming session lead by FAT-appointed facilitators.
At the beginning of the second day, The Fat Man gave a brief recant of the previous day's work and handed out instructions for the rest of the day. The groups were given the charge to work on an answer to "The question." Utilizing the information from the previous day's brainstorming session, the groups moved into facilitated problem-solving mode. They focused on the big picture, not picky details. They were allowed to use graphics to make their individual points and argue their differences. They then created a rough model of what they wanted to see in the next five years.
Everyone then came back together for a morning Roundtable discussion that included all attendees. It allowed anyone who wished, to voice his opinion in front of the entire assembly. It was also at this time that both Mark Miller and Steve Purves's Rogue Groups formed and began meeting. For lunch, the groups again separated and were given box lunches and continued working to finalize their "Group's Vision," reach a consensus of the future and create a document that stated their vision. Once created, the groups worked on a 15-minute presentation that put forth their ideas in a concise format. Presentations were given later that afternoon in front of the entire assembly. At the final wrap-up session it was voted to go into overtime and hold an extended Roundtable at which the "Killer App." was created. (See results of last Roundtable session page 4.)
Sunday Morning's wrap-up included George presenting brief conclusions and opinions. The conclusions lead to a discussion on what to do with the results and how to distribute them. The group also discussed how the conference went and whether it should be done again. An exit evaluation survey was passed out and a general town meeting commenced.
Group Guidelines/Brainstorming Session Notes
Each individual group was asked to visualize what the world of music on computers will look like in 5 years. After visualizing the "world", group members were given five minutes to write down some items for the brainstorming session on their own. Then the ground rules were laid down and the brainstorming session began. All ideas were written down on the flip chart. No criticism or tirades were allowed and attendees were not allowed to mention their company's name.
After the brainstorming session, groups put each item in one or more categories based on who would want the item. The categories were Player (game player), Buyer (a person purchasing hardware and/or software), Applications Designer, Hardware Designer, Platform Designer, and Composer. Groups considered each item from the point of view of each category, in the order listed above. They then clumped items, discussed each one and then prioritized each category.
During the problem solving session each group posted the items from the brainstorming session on the wall. Early on Saturday, each group nominated 2 people to write summaries of their group's results after the conference. The groups also chose would make the presentation of the group's results at the end of the day.
Group members each got one last chance to add to the item list generated from the brainstorming session and discussed the items and the item clumps so that they were fully understood by all.
Based on desirability, they prioritized/ranked the items in each category generated from the brainstorming session. The most desirable item getting a rank of one. Each group member did this individually on a worksheet, listing only his top 5 items in each category (listed by item number). The Groups then looked for areas of consensus. There was open debate about items that did not have a rank consensus. They re-did rank order as was appropriate. They then Wrote (briefly) all pros & cons up on the wall, if appropriate.
Presentation Preparation Notes
Each group's report contained the three highest priority items from each category. The groups chose from one of the three following formats:
1) The three most important points the group wants to convey to the general assembly plus a general overview.
2) The group's top 3 in each category, with very little elaboration on the items.
3) A 15-minute tirade on one item.
Facilitator: Jeff "Boss" Johannigman
We have identified two candidates for the "killer app" that are within the power of this group to influence: real-time voice chat and speech-based user interfaces.
We need to make voice processing a fundamental part of our future sound technology strategies.
To achieve good voice chat systems, we need to encourage low-level support for real-time, full-duplex voice I O with high-quality microphones, hardware compression, voice fonts, echo cancellation and spatialization.
To achieve speech-based user interfaces, we will also need cost-effective voice recognition algorithms and hardware, and advanced natural language parsing.
To achieve anything at all, we must find ways to manage the operating system monopolies that will pronounce and obfuscate in order to maintain control.
These applications are not just qualitative improvements of existing functionality. They are more important than higher sample rates, or AC-3, or trying to make everything play like a Sound Canvas.
These apps will bring sound to the forefront of the user experience. They will magnify the importance of the people in this room and the companies they represent. They will make the computer experience social and transparent. They will change the way people use and think about computers. They can change the world. These are heroic problems.
Submitted By: Brian Moriarty, mPath
1) Algorithmic and implementation independent audio API which expose all relevant information to software plug-ins and hardware drivers.
2) Opportunity for industry wide participation in defining audio API parameters.
3) Audio APIs that are compatible across platforms.
This model is being implemented to address positional 3D API issues in DirectSound by the IA-SIG's 3D working group. What other areas does it need to be applied to? Software synth plug-ins? Is there a global solution to address these issues such as a single industry group dedicated to promoting universal open APIs?
Submitted By: Scott McNeese, VLSI Technology, Inc.
3D Audio and Acoustic Environment Simulation
As we all feel that improving the audio playback quality on a personal computer is our directive, it is important to note that the quality of the experience is enhanced by improving 'quality' factors everywhere along the audio processing link. This includes the original source material, the conversion process and the often forgotten medium of sound projection and propagation, the effect that speakers and environment have on the audio data. To that end, and analogous to the current choices of equalizer presets on home entertainment system that are tailored to fit different types of music, a personal computer playback system ought to allow end receivers as well as content providers to tailor the medium so as to impart to the listener the perception of being in entirely different sound fields.
This obviously includes placing sound sources freely and decidedly in a three dimensional space. A lot can be done using signal processing technology to provide that effect without the need to physically move the speakers in space. In addition, and for example, the same piece of music could be rendered so as to give the perception of being played under water, in a cave, in a large concert hall, in a chapel, in a basement etc. We like to refer to this as acoustic environment simulation.
The above techniques require sophisticated processing engines that are becoming more and more affordable. The current state of research offers achievable implementations. In order for the technology to take root, our group identified the following concerns as essential prerequisites to meet: 1) The need to publish a universal, open, flexible and extensible application programmer interface to ensure that content and applications work across platforms and with different technologies. This can be done through continued cooperation of all players in the field (hardware, software, and algorithms providers) by participating in such forums as the 3D working group of the IMA.
2) Continued research and development of effective techniques to achieve these effects, both cost effective (implementable) and acoustically effective (true 3D audio and simulation of environments).
3) Working together to avoid market fragmentation, misinformation about quality and effect and compromised technology that leads to the least common denominator rather than promoting a better audio experience.
4) Partaking in the definition of new hardware standards that enable better data throughputs, more MIPS and better SNR in the playback chain.
5) Educating developers of content as well as consumers about the value of the technology and what it adds to the experience of listening.
Submitted By: Jibrahn Jahshan, Aureal Semiconductor
The "Lawmen" group of the fabulous Project Bar-B-Q came to an early consensus that the biggest problems with music and computers center around the human interface. For any of us that have worked in creating music on computers, creating music to be performed by computers or just getting computers to play music, with or without accompanying entertainment, it is obvious that the personal computer music experience is still far from prime-time. Although several advancements have been made in transparent installations and basic standards, the user or the musician still feel like they have to conform to the design of the machine, instead of the other way around.
The first issue we addressed was that of the present day "chaos". Our world as we know it floats in a sea of an installed base of arcane technology, newer technology struggling to become standards, and the entire notion of personal computing straddling two or three platforms and development environments. To the end user this is exactly what repels them from buying into our golden digital dream.
We proposed a structure of concepts to build over this ensuing chaos. The first level is one based on a consensus of industry standards, a world of compatible connectivity and certain guarantees to both the user and developer. There would be a standard for both hardware and software modularity ensuring that objects would not only plug into each other, but also play. Software concepts would exist beyond "cross-platform" to the point of true hardware independence. Among this guaranteed interactivity there would be a guaranteed minimum audio capability, allowing every machine to be able to play a musical experience of a standard quality.
The next level to be built upon our well oiled world of industry standards would be the issue of transparency. This concept addresses the total capability of our technology today in being able to make itself invisible and live in the background of it's own functionality. For the musician, the interface model of a musical instrument should be the only interface present when playing or composing music. Interfaces and commands based on natural gesture should become the result of a completely intuitive operating system. Having the system respond to the way we work, the way we are built, and the way we function should be the priority of the technology, mapping these elements to the functions of our job at hand. The final level of our pyramid, and the ultimate goal, is to attain the ultimate in musical interactivity and enhanced expression based on the capabilities of the technology and a well-planned, cooperative industry. This "experience" would generate an entire new generation of "killer apps" for both the user and the computer music developer. Some of the ideas that only touch on this level of integration include: the virtual music tutor, allowing the widespread continuation of music education to spread without the cost of traditional resources; the virtual band, an intelligent engine that intuitively analyzes one's musical style and abilities, improvises with, and enhances the personal musical experience; and finally, sound sculpting, a way of creating truly native art from the vast audio modeling capabilities of next generation technology, mapped to the whimsy of the user, allowing a new form of expression, musical therapy, and perhaps even relaxation.
Submitted By: David Javelosa; David Javelosa Music
A wide variety of opinions and ideas on how this industry should progress kept the discussions lively in the Lawmen group. Interaction and ease of use became the catch phrases. Applications that allow interaction between multiple users on a creative level could bring people together and hence further grow this industry.
Finding a way to take the computer out of the office and into the family room would encourage the growth of the industry in many ways. The Computer could become part of the entire home audio environment. PC's that would control the users stereo, surround sound, VCR, television and telephone could help remove the behind closed door stigma that computers are recognized for. All in one PC systems could be operated by a standard keyboard, or a multi function hand held remote. This may include redesign of the PC to make it more appealing to the surroundings of a family environment.
Everyone was much in agreement that the continued marketing of outdated products is having a negative impact on developers and end users. Hardware such as FM synth sound cards are not allowing the end user to a high quality listening experience. With other parts of the PC hardware system being updated and becoming standards, end users are being convinced that music on the computer will never be superior quality. We should find a way to expose the end user to high quality sound sets and prove that "MIDI does not sound bad"
Bandwidth of on-line networking such as the Internet should progress at a much faster rate than it is. Real time, high quality audio over telephone line connections can never be a reality. Moves must be made to make high speed, wide bandwidth connections such as ISDN both readily available, and economical for the end user.
Interaction fueled the fire within the Lawmen group. The wide variety of thoughts, visions, and opinions tended to make long of some topics. Although some of these discussions did not make it to the drawing table, they will remain in the thoughts and decisions of the members of this group. These thoughts will have an impact on the products and services they will deliver to the end users. We all walked away, a little taller, and a little more enriched.
Submitted By: Jim Cara; Cara Media/Prodigy
All of this is bad and all of this should change over these next five years. Audio will stream over the Internet in digital compressed form and in MIDI control protocol form. Browser will hit web servers, infer the demographics of the consumer, and tune all content types to engage the consumer with an exciting experience. Internet communities will flourish and include audio content to improve upon the community experiences associated with Internet Relay Chat sessions or Multi User Domains. Students will connect to their music instructors for distance learning of music topics. Bands will assemble for impromptu sessions and direct their work over the net to production studios. Concerts over the net will surface as a viable way to experience top-quality music acts. Audio content in gaming and the underlying technology for hardware, drivers, algorithms, effects, and applications will change. Music synthesis techniques will improve and consumers will experience the techniques of wavetable synthesizers in software and hardware form. Driver architectures will develop into cross platform, stable interfaces. Driver performance will improve for lower latency access to audio streams. Fast, inexpensive processing power will permit audio algorithms to randomly load, process streams, and unload under program control. The audio content in applications will match each consumers demographics so that men enjoy it, women enjoy it, and all cultures enjoy it. All of this expands available markets and that is good.
Home audio studios will grow in number, shrink in price and number of components. The computer will evolve into the epicenter of the composition process. Once discrete, external modules will move inside the computer at lower price points. The overlap of the net-connected musical instruction and the home studio will involve families in the experience of music education and production.
Submitted By: David Taylor; S3
By The Fat Man
Anyone who has tried to install a game on a PC will probably agree with me that it's time to offer up a little prayer. I can't speak for everybody, but here is my own prayer for myself. I hope others will follow along and add their own thoughts, referring to specific products by manufacturer and model number so that God will have no trouble recognizing them.
Please forgive us for the state of PC hardware and software. We only wanted to do good things. Perhaps we were misguided.
As consumers, we wanted to be at the cutting edge. We asked for economy, power, and compatibility. We believed this combination of things would lead us to the promised land of the computer user: a "state of efficiency." Efficiency is good. It shows respect for the gifts of time, resources, money, and attention, by putting all to use in support of our lives, and by using each in small amounts to produce the maximum result.
But the results of our desires have not been good. As manufacturers, we put consumers at the cutting edge by creating whatever we could out of whatever technology was available.
We answered the call for economy by cutting corners. We answered the call for power by offering special, unique features. We answered the call for compatibility by creating standards. Lots of 'em.
Now, every PC in the world is a little bit different from the next one. In the HREF of the cutting edge, each PC's full of little state-of-the-art doo-dads and gee-gaws that are incredible, but not useful, forced into the marketplace by a demand that we often created ourselves. In the HREF of economy, each PC is missing some small capability. In the HREF of power, each PC has some special ability that the computer next to it will never have. In the HREF of compatibility, each PC adheres to some random handful of standards.
We are trying really hard to do well, God. But we have found ourselves in this position: no matter how good our intentions, it is no longer possible for us to create a piece of hardware, software, or music that will be sure to operate on every PC that exists. Have Mercy.
Our lovingly crafted and tenderly marketed brainchildren, if they are ever bought, and if they are ever installed, are cursed avidly by the very consumers we hoped to please, whose computers our products have virtually hog-tied for sometimes weeks on end.
Despite our good hearts, we have become hucksters and carpetbaggers of the worst kind.
We have wasted your silicon. Silicon is made of land. It has a spirit that needs to be respected. We have not been able to show that respect, tearing the unwilling minerals from their homes, and shoving them unfeelingly into some miserable gimmick-ridden 8-bit CODEC mask-ROM thingie that we know all along will have a product cycle that's shorter than it's development cycle, for crying out loud.
We have wasted your hours. The hours that you gave us as a gift when we were born. The hours that you gave others, too. It would honestly break our hearts if we counted them all. How many hours? How many Man-hours have we spent in research and development? In manufacturing? In sales? How many poor, clueless consumers have spent how many hours reading how many articles comparing the intricate shortcomings of one crummy sound-related product to another? How many times have we caused the computer user to shout downstairs to his loving family, "I'll be down as soon as I get this thing running"? How many hours of work time have been spent getting those IRQs to work with those DMA's and Plug and Plays? How many phone hours spent on customer support -- just on hold alone? I'm sure the hold music was often the most reassuring thing these people ever got to hear during those calls. What happened to the GNP during all this? And that's just America, which, I assure you, is not the only country in the world with computers. We have wasted money. How many stores have taken how many hits on returned merchandise? And you know that just represents the tip of the unsatisfied customer iceberg.
We have wasted one of the greatest gifts of all, attention. We have squandered attention on our own pocketbooks, pretending to be responding to the customer's demands. We have become lost in a labyrinth of accepted and proposed standards, available technology, installed customer base, magic price points, feature lists, committee politics. . . .
We acknowledge that it is a mess. But we also hope that you see that it was with good intentions that we entered into this. We hope you and we both can remember that we are good people. We all have gifts that we can use to help each other. We ask forgiveness and guidance. We ask that You help us remember what our gifts are, and help us use them now.
Perhaps a good start at remembering our gifts would come if You would help us restore contact with the pure ideas that got us into this business, that maybe started when we were 10 or 14 or 23. Take us back to that moment when we decided we wanted to be rock stars because we'd be good at it, because we had something to say. The moment we knew we could bring an inexpensive keyboard to the market so that all of our broke friends could jam and sound like 10 Keith Emersons. The moment when we knew we could write a program that could write automatic Beethoven sonatas, or would fix any wrong notes in a song. When we felt in our hearts that we could revolutionize, or just contribute to, something larger than ourselves. The moment we swore that we would take the path of the hero.
Let us be heroes. To ourselves, if not the whole world. Let us not be afraid to get off of the conveyor belt a little bit in service of our industry. Let us put our personal agendas aside for a little while in service of our industry. Let us open our hearts to the each other, to the community, to Nature, to You, and listen hard for the little clues that might tell us that we're on a track that will lead us back to our good intentions.
This time, though, maybe it needs to be a different kind of efficiency, brought about not by responding competitively and immediately to every customer's demand and desire for economy, power, compatibly- , and cutting edge features. Perhaps it should be an efficiency that grows from our wisdom as a group, from the hard, emotional lessons we've learned. From this little tinge of humility at having taken part in so brutal an industry.
Help us tap into that community wisdom rather than just our own. Help us listen well. Help us speak well. Help us look beyond our own agendas, ahead to five years from now. Help us to come up with plans that will respect your resources, time, money, and attention. Let us step into this weird headspace together, trust each other, accomplish some good, feel good about it, and live to tell our children that we tried to do something well.
Oh, yes, and help us to get way-high butt-kicking scores at the games we play. Doom eats my lunch, and I want revenge.
On the second night of BBQ, around midnight, there was an acoustic jam session around the campfire. This prayer was read there to about 25 people. I (The Fat Man) was very pleased that not only was I not kicked out of the industry for mixing business and religion, but people seemed to accept the idea of reaching outside or inside in a spiritual way in order to work with strength and pure motivations on issues that were so dauntingly difficult as those we face. After the prayer, we proceeded to a small dome-shaped candle-lit stone shrine on the Ranch, an old religious site still in use today. Each person went inside for a moment of silence.
I am very grateful to have received the guidance. . . .
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