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FinalProject CompArts2019 (kickSynthFFT, DesdemonaVA)

A binary project consisting of an openFrameworks kick synth application with a unique Fast Fourier Transform design for its sound graphic representation & a dryly humorous iOS application designed specifically for Apple's signature iPhone.

produced by: Theo Vlagkas

Concept and background research

My project background started early in summer where I was experimenting with software synthesisers and visual art. Inspired by Julien Bayle a Sound & Visual Artist (see work here & bio here), I started developing synths in openFrameworks with visual representation. However, in the process of doing so I ended up enjoying more creating tools rather than using them thus self-evolving to a more creative technologist pathway. At this point I had already finished my kickSynthFFT where I decided to undertake another project moving forward to the 21st century's trend: smart phones where an app exists for everything! Therefore, Desdemona Virtual Abuser an iPhone app has been developed, inspired by the evolution of artificial intelligence.


DesdemonaVA exists in a speculative futuristic environment where man and machine live together in peace; contradictory to most of AI movies and speculations we currently have. Hence, this way an AI can interact with a human being the same way that a human reacts to another human. Desdemona is funny, sarcastic, ironic, and finds joy in abusing people. The DesdemonaVA app is fun to play and keeps the user concentrated; a narrative audio and visual experience that requires user interaction as well – let’s see what the users have to say:


All the material for my project can be found on here.


For my KickSynthFFT I have used C++ and openFramewroks where the Maximilian & GUI addons have been utilised. I enjoyed working with sound where I used the appropriate techniques to generate different kick sounds according the user’s preferences. The kick outcomes vary from traditional 606 kicks to more futuristic space/laser ones that convey a flanger style. The visual representation uses a Fast Fourier Transform visualisation technique that is different to the normal x, y axis FFT representation as it is being drawn from y to x with a constant drawn line splitting the screen rather than the usual x to y visual. That has been done on purpose to achieve a more interesting visual outcome when different frequencies are deployed. 




Continuing to my iPhone application I had to come out of my comfort zone and learn a new coding language: Swift. Apple has been using mainly Objective C in the past 20 years, which is close to C but with object-oriented features implemented as a thin layer on top of C. While many other programming languages were used as well by Apple, Objective-C was by far its main language, dating back to 1996. However, Swift represents the quickly developing future of Apple software, which is a brand-new 5-year-old language that’s still undergoing significant changes. I felt very inspired learning a new coding language which I found very intuitive and so much more user friendly than other languages I have used in the past. The results were phenomenal from a learning point of view, where I had to dive deep into Swift using various techniques in developing DesdemonaVA such as swipes, screen pressures, map views, changing in between screens with appropriate segues, and my personal favourite audio and visual frameworks. I have also acquired solid & crucial skills in using the XCode environment and other capabilities of Apple’s famous IDE; furthermore, I managed to obtain Swift level 1 & 2 syntax certificates of achievement from the Cambridge Certification Authority (CCA).



User Testing:

Moreover, I was very interested on developing DesdemonaVA as it gave me a great insight in UI & UX. I spent time in trying different approaches and with solid user testing I believe that I managed to provide a user-friendly app from a design point of view; skills like wireframing have been cultivated which could be deployed for my future aspirations. The outcome seemed to be enjoyable by the various many people that played DesdemonaVA and few of them can be seen on my video documentation playing DesdemonaVA for the first time.


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Future development

The future development of my coding skills and my creative coding practise requires more integration between coding languages and aptitudes. I want to be able to use effectively and efficiently APIs and get more sophisticated when it comes to software application design. I also wish to get more experienced with Apple frameworks and audio-unit plugins. Lastly, I want to combine all the skills acquired such as solid C++ & Swift coding and combining in turn developing audio software applications and possibly get more experienced in Juce framework environment and blend audio coding with advanced user interface.

Self evaluation

I have been asked by my viva examiners if I believed that my project was successful, and my answer was the below:

“From a personal perspective & point of view it was successful as my final project was a clear win in turn returning expertise in the areas I wished to concentrate and moreover, it was exactly what I was trying to achieve meeting my expectations.”

To explain:

For my future growth I wish to get more involved in software application development. Having a bachelors in Sound Design and Music Technology I would like to combine it with creative coding and design music software applications. That could be achieved by acquiring a tech career in the industry where I believe it could be accomplished by applying all the proficiency gained from my studies. As I have been replacing all my old-retro audio analogue equipment with digital software tools in the last five years, I wish to explore the prospect of contributing to the industry by getting a relevant role.

Hence, developing a C++ audio application and an iOS software application was what exactly wanted to accomplish so as to evolve my coding skills and pave towards the career path I aspire to secure in my future.


1. - Julien Bayle Bio

2. - Julien Bayle Work

3. - Queen - We Are The Champions (Official Live Video)

4. - Carl Orff - O Fortuna ~ Carmina Burana

5. Mick Grierson lectures on FFT 

6. Udemy various courses on Swift Coding

7. - All the times Samuel L Jackson has said Motherfucker

8. - OpenFrameworks Book