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koolmatt
Posts: 2
Joined: 17 Dec 2021 18:26

Hey guys,

I've only just had a chance to sit down and take note of some impressions when using Echotopia due to not being able to access a Windows machine for a while.

So here are some initial thoughts/observations that I hope can be of some help! I am not a D&D gamer first (though I have tried and it's great!) so I approach this more from a sound/ soundscape designer perspective I would say.

1) I found myself creating this file structure. My Documents > Echotopia >... Then Sounds, Maps & Projects folders. I imagine that a lot of people would have a similar setup, perhaps some sort of structure could be built by default?
2) Maybe theres a good reason why this is not the case but I was thinking of what Echotopia denotes as 'Projects' to more be in the vein of 'Worlds'. I also feel like this is a more enticing word before setting up your maps too.
3) The level of elements that go into the soundscape creation is already impressive, e.g. using stochastic events etc. Perhaps there could be more options in the refinement of random parameters - e.g. Ableton's follow actions have Random, Random once etc. so regarding the pitches of events, they could possibly have this extra degree of delimiting the randomness?
4) I initially thought a visual map builder function might be cool, but after looking online the resources already available is vast. It would maybe be nice to have a nice extra media browser for the maps you have saved.
5) I started seeing people who have made animated maps, possibly support for gifs/ video formats could be a really unique feature?
6) I saw the tags for Style , Genre , Ecology, Settings but couldn't use them. The categories look descriptive!
7) Was initially forgetting which colour denotes the fade zone and the main area, maybe fade zone could have striped diagonal lines/mesh?
8) The area type shapes were a bit delimiting, maybe the user could add in multiple area shapes or better yet by drawing or using a a lasso tool. This is particularly with ambiences in mind for entire cities/areas with specific shapes.
9) If you uncheck the fade zone option you lose the positional parameters that you had set.
10) No label for the bottom bar, I assume it was just for colour but wondered if it affected volumes.
11) Working with multiple audio files not supported in the audio importer. I kind of understand the reasons why, but when I accidently added all my loops to my oneshots folder, it was not easy to move them to the correct folder.
12) Loops/Oneshots folders feel like they should be there by default somehow.
13) Utilising the right click on the map editor could be useful?

The most important things I felt were these audio notes:

1. The pitch shifting algorithm is quite glitchy. I don't know what was used by in my experience Fourier transform based approaches seem to work better than delay lines / tapin & tapout.
2. I wanted everywhere I clicked on to be set in a place and there to be no silent zones. No matter if there were specific buildings around etc. This makes me feel like there is a need for another specific ambience designer tool of some description. The looper tool could possibly already have this function sonically but its as if I wanted a previous step in the process where you define the different zones of the map and set your ambiences.



A fantastic achievement, the program already feels very refined. Looking forward to trying future versions!
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Pan Athen
SoundFellas Crew
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Joined: 04 Dec 2021 20:51
Location: Athens / Greece
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Thanks koolmatt!

I'll answer to your comments one at a time below
koolmatt wrote: 25 Jan 2022 14:59I found myself creating this file structure. My Documents > Echotopia >... Then Sounds, Maps & Projects folders. I imagine that a lot of people would have a similar setup, perhaps some sort of structure could be built by default?
Echotopia projects use an open philosophy to promote creativity between people and community sharing. Just like a project in Unity or Unreal, the Echotopia project is self-contained, portable, and easy to archive and share. If we enforce more structureal rules than the ones we already have, we will have to break this philosophy and we don't want to.

The user can feel free to save things anywhere and Echotopia should provide the facilities to manage that clearly, safely, and effortlessly.
koolmatt wrote: 25 Jan 2022 14:59Maybe theres a good reason why this is not the case but I was thinking of what Echotopia denotes as 'Projects' to more be in the vein of 'Worlds'. I also feel like this is a more enticing word before setting up your maps too.
It's a valid idea. We also thought about it, but one project can contain many "worlds", especially in the way storytellers might define their universe or universes. So we decided to break the fourth wall on this and choose a technical name.
koolmatt wrote: 25 Jan 2022 14:59The level of elements that go into the soundscape creation is already impressive, e.g. using stochastic events etc. Perhaps there could be more options in the refinement of random parameters - e.g. Ableton's follow actions have Random, Random once etc. so regarding the pitches of events, they could possibly have this extra degree of delimiting the randomness?
Yes of course. What you see now is the beta version. The final design features more functionality in the two basic layer instruments (looper, randomizer). And more layer instruments too, coming later!
koolmatt wrote: 25 Jan 2022 14:59I initially thought a visual map builder function might be cool, but after looking online the resources already available is vast. It would maybe be nice to have a nice extra media browser for the maps you have saved.
The Library and Project Assets managers do have a Map folder. In there you can keep your maps well organized in folders and there is a preview/open with default application/etc functionality. What more would you like to see there?
koolmatt wrote: 25 Jan 2022 14:59I started seeing people who have made animated maps, possibly support for gifs/ video formats could be a really unique feature?
You will be happy to learn that we have already designed a full audiovisual update in a later version featuring some pretty cool things. Stay tuned! 8-)
koolmatt wrote: 25 Jan 2022 14:59I saw the tags for Style , Genre , Ecology, Settings but couldn't use them. The categories look descriptive!
Yep, not functional yet. This is what we've been working on the last month and will probably be ready in about two weeks or something. Library, imports and exports or area presets, the works! So you can enjoy sharing your creations with others.

The categories were created using a card sorting experiment we conducted with our community. Here are the details: https://soundfellas.com/blog/rnd-diary/ ... echotopia/
koolmatt wrote: 25 Jan 2022 14:59Was initially forgetting which colour denotes the fade zone and the main area, maybe fade zone could have striped diagonal lines/mesh?
I prefer to make their outlines a little different or something subtle. I don't want to put more detail within the actual areas as a map is below them and the user should be able to see the map's details as easily as possible.
koolmatt wrote: 25 Jan 2022 14:59The area type shapes were a bit delimiting, maybe the user could add in multiple area shapes or better yet by drawing or using a a lasso tool. This is particularly with ambiences in mind for entire cities/areas with specific shapes.
Yes of course. This is also discussed more in this topic: viewtopic.php?t=26
koolmatt wrote: 25 Jan 2022 14:59If you uncheck the fade zone option you lose the positional parameters that you had set.
This bugs me too! It's a data-model thing and will have to turn to Manolis for this. We've already discussed it and he has his plans about it.
koolmatt wrote: 25 Jan 2022 14:59No label for the bottom bar, I assume it was just for colour but wondered if it affected volumes.
Sorry, I didn't understand this one. Can you elaborate or post a screenshot?
koolmatt wrote: 25 Jan 2022 14:59Working with multiple audio files not supported in the audio importer. I kind of understand the reasons why, but when I accidently added all my loops to my oneshots folder, it was not easy to move them to the correct folder.
We will enhance the tooling on the managers in general. For now, we want to see if the basic workflow is intuitive for the biggest part of our user base.

You can also use the operating system's file explorer to manage your assets before linking them with instruments and areas.

Eventually, we will empower our file management with more functionality as we get more feedback and people use Echotopia more and more.

But I agree, for now, some things might feel a little off.
koolmatt wrote: 25 Jan 2022 14:59Loops/Oneshots folders feel like they should be there by default somehow.
It might feel that way but with the future layer instruments we plan to release the borders of those two taxa gets quite blurry. :ugeek:
koolmatt wrote: 25 Jan 2022 14:59Utilising the right click on the map editor could be useful?
Agreed. We already have that in plans. :idea:
koolmatt wrote: 25 Jan 2022 14:59The pitch shifting algorithm is quite glitchy. I don't know what was used by in my experience Fourier transform based approaches seem to work better than delay lines / tapin & tapout.
You are too kind! :) The pitch shift algorithm right now sounds metallic from the first semitone. We are working on a better solution.
koolmatt wrote: 25 Jan 2022 14:59I wanted everywhere I clicked on to be set in a place and there to be no silent zones. No matter if there were specific buildings around etc. This makes me feel like there is a need for another specific ambience designer tool of some description. The looper tool could possibly already have this function sonically but its as if I wanted a previous step in the process where you define the different zones of the map and set your ambiences.
We have this planned for the near future. See my reply here: viewtopic.php?p=77#p77 "The idea is to provide two areas that will not be actual areas on the scene but global scene areas...".
koolmatt wrote: 25 Jan 2022 14:59A fantastic achievement, the program already feels very refined. Looking forward to trying future versions!
Thanks, your feedback, and comments really made us happy today. What will make us happier is to hear your creations!

Soon we will release the Library component update and then we will start working towards the official release. This is very exciting. :D
koolmatt
Posts: 2
Joined: 17 Dec 2021 18:26

Hey,

Seems like you guys are aware of most of the things I found to be small hindrances!

Looking forward to seeing the more layer instruments. Even with the looper and randomizers I've been able to do some really interesting soundscapes.

With regard to the map editor, maybe I was thinking of something along the lines of right clicking on a certain area and being able to open another map associated with that area? Just a thought. But wow, the animated maps will be great! I have been using D&D maps on the internet but there is no reason why more alternative layouts can be used to reference your soundscapes.

Don't have access to our Windows computer just now but with regard to the bar at the bottom I was referring to the slider on the main interface which hides the UI controls on the map (fade zones etc). In hindsight I'm not sure I find it much of a problem that it isn't labelled.

I recorded a video utilising Echotopia to help narrate a story. I was improvising the storyline so it doesn't have a particularly strong plot but here it is nonetheless:




ALL sounds were recorded in the room at the time and I just used a simple XY microphone (Zoom H5) to capture everything! The key was setting up the room itself with multiple speakers because that's essentially what I was doing- designing the soundscape of the space itself.

The vocoder at the end was set up in the room (I hid a mic and it was routed through Ableton and into the speakers). I was changing the soundscape by holding a wireless mouse in my hands and double clicking but I had to keep glancing at the screen which distracted a little from the story. Maybe theres room for an alternate means of control... One way I can think of is having a bank of presets that hold different positions on the map that you could operate via MIDI. Then you could have physical buttons in the room to trigger those positions? Or a wireless MIDI controller for example.



A couple more points I took note of last time I used Echotopia:

- Volume settings are not copied across from presets when importing into project

- Seem to always get multiple file issues because I'm using multiple instances of presets and never feel certain whether to restore override or skip.
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Pan Athen
SoundFellas Crew
Posts: 84
Joined: 04 Dec 2021 20:51
Location: Athens / Greece
Contact:

koolmatt wrote: 27 Feb 2022 17:19Seems like you guys are aware of most of the things I found to be small hindrances!
That might be the case, but we enjoy any feedback and welcome any discussion. We consider talking with our community to be brainstorming and we never know which is the next big idea that will spawn from those interactions!
koolmatt wrote: 27 Feb 2022 17:19Looking forward to seeing the more layer instruments. Even with the looper and randomizers I've been able to do some really interesting soundscapes.
Great. Right now we are finishing with the licensing management, so we will be able to release Echotopia publically soon. Then we will take some time to refine the current instruments more, and on a subsequent update, we plan to start adding some new cool ones.
koolmatt wrote: 27 Feb 2022 17:19With regard to the map editor, maybe I was thinking of something along the lines of right clicking on a certain area and being able to open another map associated with that area? Just a thought. But wow, the animated maps will be great! I have been using D&D maps on the internet but there is no reason why more alternative layouts can be used to reference your soundscapes.
When we started the development that was a build-in feature, in fact, we had an extra map object called "Portal" that was connected with another Portal on another map, and by double-clicking on it you could teleport to another map and location. But that didn't work well with scenarios that had multiple destinations and other story timelines. So we created the switcher on top of the live mode which you can use to quickly jump to another map and then by double-clicking anywhere on that new map, the Explorer gets placed there.

From use tests we got that:

- This was easier to grasp.
- It was faster to choose locations because the visual map always makes it easier to find where to place the Explorer.
- Gave the storyteller the opportunity to apply changes while performing. For example, you could place the Explorer slightly off the new location because your story required it.

So we abandoned the Portal idea and moved on to more intuitive and freeform ways to teleport your Explorer.

Also, the way you jump from point to point in your world will be enhanced a lot from the Location List, a future feature, I explain more below.
koolmatt wrote: 27 Feb 2022 17:19Don't have access to our Windows computer just now but with regard to the bar at the bottom I was referring to the slider on the main interface which hides the UI controls on the map (fade zones etc). In hindsight I'm not sure I find it much of a problem that it isn't labelled.
Oh, I see, it was your number 10 comment. We try to keep different widgets and elements organized or styled depending on which system they belong to. Right now we have Management, Properties, Audio, Specialized. As we develop the visual style of Echotopia more we are going to make those more and more distinctive, so by just looking you will know which system you are affecting.
koolmatt wrote: 27 Feb 2022 17:19I recorded a video utilising Echotopia to help narrate a story. I was improvising the storyline so it doesn't have a particularly strong plot but here it is nonetheless.
THIS IS AWESOME! Please make more :-D We really enjoyed watching this. You posted your reply here at the time we had our online meeting discussing the Echotopia roadmap and we took a break to watch it. Brilliant!
koolmatt wrote: 27 Feb 2022 17:19The key was setting up the room itself with multiple speakers because that's essentially what I was doing- designing the soundscape of the space itself.
That comment comes right on time. We are thinking of allowing for alternative speaker configurations beyond the "normal" ones, to allow those specific cases when one needs freeform configurations and positioning to tell a story. Could you please elaborate some more on what you did and any needs or ideas that were revealed during your process?
koolmatt wrote: 27 Feb 2022 17:19The vocoder at the end was set up in the room (I hid a mic and it was routed through Ableton and into the speakers).
That was ingenious!

I had an idea some years ago, easy to create if you have a wooden floor or something vibrant to step on. I thought of putting some contact mics (those are very cheap) around the floor and amplifying their sound and passing it through some time-altering processes like reverb, reverse-reverb, delay/echo, etc. That way you can hear your footsteps through the system.

If you're into MAX/MSP you could even record the last 3 seconds of anything happening in the room (or a specific location like you did), and playback the buffer only when a signal is received by the contact mics on the floor. So if someone talks in the corner and then tries to move away, will hear the playback of the last sounds distorted. Spooky corners everywhere! :-P
koolmatt wrote: 27 Feb 2022 17:19I was changing the soundscape by holding a wireless mouse in my hands and double clicking but I had to keep glancing at the screen which distracted a little from the story. Maybe theres room for an alternate means of control... One way I can think of is having a bank of presets that hold different positions on the map that you could operate via MIDI. Then you could have physical buttons in the room to trigger those positions? Or a wireless MIDI controller for example.
Remote Control is something we want to implement for sure. MIDI and OSC are under investigation as to how they should integrate with Echotopia's functionality.

But for more storytellers, I think that I have an idea that would allow more freedom and customization.

I was thinking of implementing something like the Web Remote that REAPER has. It's an easy way to create custom interfaces that control an application using an internet browser on the same network as the app. See how REAPER implemented it here:



We could even allow for customization as they already do with this tool:



That extension of Echotopia together with the use of the Location Playlist tool that we are going to release right after our official release will allow you to control the placement of the Explorer using any interface you like even from your smartwatch.

The Location Playlist will be a specialized tool that saves pinned locations around your project in groups you define and then you can choose to jump on them using the tool in Echotopia or from our utility on the system tray. Furthermore, it will also allow for autoplay and shuffle if you like to set it on auto-pilot to enhance the soundscape around a room or public place, providing variation to the visitors without anyone to control it (i.e. a yoga studio or meditation center).
koolmatt wrote: 27 Feb 2022 17:19Volume settings are not copied across from presets when importing into project
This is a technical bug, I'm sure that Manolis will jump on it soon.
koolmatt wrote: 27 Feb 2022 17:19 Seem to always get multiple file issues because I'm using multiple instances of presets and never feel certain whether to restore override or skip.
If you are importing the same preset you should override the files.

Another way to work could be that you import a preset and then you just create another area and use the Copy-Paste actions to duplicate the settings of the first area to the second. So you are sure that nothing gets imported again.

We are looking for more ways to enhance all that asset management keeping Echotopia intuitive and open to a larger audience, and most importantly, keeping the project and presets portable. You should expect to see more features on asset management later this year.
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Manolis Benetos
SoundFellas Crew
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koolmatt wrote: 27 Feb 2022 17:19
ALL sounds were recorded in the room at the time and I just used a simple XY microphone (Zoom H5) to capture everything! The key was setting up the room itself with multiple speakers because that's essentially what I was doing- designing the soundscape of the space itself.

The vocoder at the end was set up in the room (I hid a mic and it was routed through Ableton and into the speakers). I was changing the soundscape by holding a wireless mouse in my hands and double clicking but I had to keep glancing at the screen which distracted a little from the story. Maybe theres room for an alternate means of control... One way I can think of is having a bank of presets that hold different positions on the map that you could operate via MIDI. Then you could have physical buttons in the room to trigger those positions? Or a wireless MIDI controller for example.
Hi koolmatt, the video was awesome. I totally agree with Panos, please make more videos :D . Apart from the thrilling narration, I also enjoyed that you have explained your setup. Thanks for your time and creativity.
koolmatt wrote: 27 Feb 2022 17:19 - Volume settings are not copied across from presets when importing into project
You are correct, there is an issue with copying preset configuration. I have already opened an issue with our management tool, to fix on the next release. Thanks, for finding it!
koolmatt wrote: 27 Feb 2022 17:19 - Seem to always get multiple file issues because I'm using multiple instances of presets and never feel certain whether to restore override or skip.
If you are importing the same preset, multiple times to different areas, you should either skip or override conflict files, it doesn't really matter, since files are basically the same. Override has the advantage that the latest updates will be import, if for example you have previously change a preset's audio file.
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Manolis Benetos
SoundFellas Crew
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Joined: 06 Dec 2021 17:03

Hi, the issue with coping preset settings has been fixed on version 0.19.1.
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