Virtual Audience 2.0

Photo by Nighthawk7

I’m creating a new version…

I’ve been receiving a LOT of emails recently, from teachers, students, musicians, Toastmaster members and even a few psychologists asking for the link to be able to download the Virtual Audience.

Unfortunately, the existing version of the Virtual Audience has been removed from he server and is no longer available for download. BUT, I’m creating a new, better version, using HD Video with more features. The new product will meet different kinds of user’s needs rather than just being a generic audience. During the creation process I’ll be inviting users in to help me test, and to provide feedback. If you are interested please email me:
britt_carr (at) advancedauthoring (dot) com

Demo of Virtual Audience at Adobe’s HQ in San Jose, CA

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Demonstration of Virtual Audience“, posted with vodpod

Here’s a bite-size bit of video of me presenting our Vitrual Audience software at the Adobe Education Leaders’ Summer Institute at Adobe HQ in San Jose.

Here I demonstrate how the computer’s camera watches you “perform”. When the computer senses you’re finished, the audience claps. Sometimes more than others!

Thanks to Ian Usher for capturing this video!

**11/12/12 update- If you are interested in the V.A. download, please see this post.**



Virtual Audience Using Adobe AIR

A pre-recorded audience listens AND responds to your performance

A pre-recorded audience listens AND responds to your performance


The Virtual Audience allows the user to practice in a virtual reality performing in front of a living, breathing  virtual audience.

11/12/12 update- If you are interested in the V.A. download, please see this post.

The initial faculty request was to create a DVD with loopable video that would allow a music student to practice in front of an audience that did the distracting things that audiences do, cough, sneeze, whisper, etc.  In theory this would allow the student to be desensitized to audience distractions. We satisfied the faculty’s initial request by making a DVD. But, I asked to go a step further,  and make a more interactive version by using Flash’s ability to sense user’s movement and sound using a web camera’s lens (as the audience’s eyes) and mic (as their ears).

When Flash senses movement from the camera, it tells the audience when the student has “taken the stage” and Flash prompts the audience to act accordingly: welcome clap.  We shot fourteen segments of distractions. Audience members coughing, sleeping, answering cell calls, etc. During the performance, random clips of video load that represent audience behavior. Or, distractions. When Flash hears that the music has stopped for a few seconds, it tells the audience to clap in response to a performance ending. And, like a real audience, you don’t know how they will react. Sometimes the performer receives a polite clap, sometimes a more enthusiastic applause, sometimes a full standing ovation.

We are using Adobe AIR as the deployment method for a few of reasons:

  • Though streaming the video from Flash Media Server is an option, for quality and processing consistency, this needs to be a desktop application
  • we wanted to avoid creating two different versions
  • Air has a seamless update framework. This allows us to easily push updates to the user without them have to do much more than allow the update to occur

We actually tested the VA in various settings (from HUGE screens, to life size projectors to video goggles). It had a chilling (but good) effect when I “took the stage”.

During the development, we realized that the VA could be used by other areas of the university that “perform” in front of an audience. Namely speech communication and theater. Both programs require students to think on their toes and concentrate on performing a piece that they may be very familiar with performing in a quiet setting, with no distractions.

Future versions will be available using Flash Media Server and will feature video shot in HD format. The HD format will provide finer quality video when the audiences is projected on to large format screens or viewed on larger monitors.

See a 5 minute demo of the Virtual Audience

Virtual Audience Update


**11/12/12 update- If you are interested in the V.A. download, please see this post.**

It’s been a busy day, we shot the ‘audience’ video for the Virtual Audience (see initial post) about a half hour after I finished delivering a keynote speech for the Ohio Learning Network.

After Michele’s initial request, I started thinking about what the possibilities of using Flash and Flash Video could do versus deploying the video on DVD. In doing research for the COM135 Impromptu Widget, I read that Flash can sense movement in front of a web cam by comparing the data from two individual video frames. If there is a difference, there must be movement- or at the very least, changes in light levels. Likewise, Flash can sense changes in incoming audio from a Web cam’s mic. This meant that a web cam could be the eyes and ears of Flash – which could be programmed with some logic, to act like an audience, i.e., see the musician enter, hear him/her play, and tell the audience how to respond when the music stops.

I spent a week or two watching performances and paying particular attention to how audiences act. It usually goes something like this: They wait for the performer to enter the stage. They talk amongst themselves while waiting. When the performer comes on stage, they clap for about eight seconds (unless it’s the Stones or the Beatles or someone like that) then settle into their seats and watch. This is usually where the distractions happen. During music recitals, it’s common for at least one person to clap before the performance has concluded. Anyway, at the conclusion of the performance, everyone claps. A polite audience claps just to be nice. Sometimes a portion of the audience will offer a standing ovation. And sometimes, the whole audience stands.

So, if these audience scenes were shot individually, logic could be programmed into a Flash movie to listen to parts of a performance (which always go in the same order) through the web cam, and load the appropriate video for each audience response. And during the performance, where the distractions take place, a random distraction could load in and play for a random amount of time. All this randomness would prevent a student ‘watching’ the recorded audience for memorizing the pattern of distractions- thus fine tuning the desensitizing nature of the video. In theory that is.

To shoot the Virtual Audience video, Michele managed to coral 125 students into an empty recital hall. I convinced them to sit still for about thirty-five minutes. Long enough to get our distractions and basic video foundations.

Here’s a list of the scenes we shot:

  • talking amongst themselves waiting for the performer
  • welcome clapping- to welcome the performer to the stage
  • sitting and being polite/still (this was difficult- no thanks to Starbucks or Red Bull)
  • gratuitous clapping
  • half ovation clapping
  • full ovation clapping

Then there are the distraction shots. I picked random students out of the audience to perform on cue. There were twelve in all:

  • sneezing
  • coughing
  • yawning
  • falling asleep
  • laughing/giggling
  • crossing legs
  • cell phone ringing
  • entering late
  • leaving early
  • whispering to neighbor
  • clapping early

Stay tuned. There’s more to come as we edit the video scenes and program the logic for the Flash Movie.

Virtual Audience

The idea of the virtual audience was brought to me by Michele Gingras, Clarinet faculty at Miami University. Michele has published a few articles in trade journals and magazines about stage fright from the point of view of the musician.

The original idea was to help musicians get used to the distracting things audiences can do (coughing, cell phones, rattling candy wrappers, etc.) during a performance that might keep a musician from focusing on their playing. Through Michele’s observations, students can easily focus on breathing, posture, fingering and the notes when they are in the security of their own comfort bubble (their room or a practice area). The problem begins during a performance. As the musician plays, inevitably an audience member will cause a distraction. That distraction has potential to throw the students focus off of the music and brings awareness back to things that may be insignificant to the actual playing (hair, clothing were examples) which could lead to mistakes.

The original medium was to be DVD. The students could play a loopable DVD with audience footage while they practiced. The audience would do distracting things, and the video would loop until turned off.

Stay tuned for an update as production begins.

11/12/12 update- If you are interested in the V.A. download, please see this post.