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The Tech Behind a Nine Inch Nails Show 73

Posted by kdawson
from the seeing-right-through-yourself dept.
inetstorm, who has "been a NIN fan for ages," sends along a Wired profile giving a look behind the scenes at the tech underlying the current NIN concert tour. "... this time around, NIN has pulled out all the stops, creating a groundbreaking, fully interactive visual display that is as much a part of the show as the band's instruments ... The core of the show is a sophisticated trio of transparent 'stealth' screens, which are raised and lowered during the performance... For the interactive portions of the show, all the onscreen video is rendered by Moment Factory's custom rig, a trio of Linux-based devices collectively known as 'the brain.'"
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The Tech Behind a Nine Inch Nails Show

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  • by Nuclear Elephant (700938) on Sunday September 14, 2008 @04:19AM (#24996837) Homepage
    "a trio of Linux-based devices collectively known as 'the brain.'"

    What are we going to do today brain?

    The same thing we do every day, pinky. Plan to take over the world.
  • by Swampash (1131503) on Sunday September 14, 2008 @04:23AM (#24996853)

    ...kicking 'em when they're down! []

    • by no reason to be here (218628) on Sunday September 14, 2008 @04:35AM (#24996909) Homepage

      The original unaltered picture: []

      Taken by amy Randazzo, sister of one of the guys responsible for []

      Just want to give attribution where it's due.

      Also, I'm so pissed off I wasn't able to see them this time around, and everytime I hear about how amazing and groundbreaking the show is, it makes me that much more upset. I really hope I can make it to one of the shows when they come back through the US again.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        thats really too bad. in my world, there is no "wasn't" or "can't" for i make my way to see nin.

        as for the show, it was the best nin visual show i have seen in the 14 years i have been attending nin concerts. there are things done with with trent and the screens that simply took my breath away. things i never would have thought possible at a "music" concert. this recent show i saw in inglewood, ca was far from being a simple "concert" or "music show." it's something else. something bigger. something that pu

      • Is there a video clip of this in action? :)

      • they are coming back through the US again, check
      • I actually rode my motorcycle from Chicago to Connecticut to see them with a friend at the beginning of August. I wasn't able to get in on the pre-order because those fantastic tickets sold out in minutes (only 100-200 rockstar tickets). I ended up getting tickets that were on the very side of stage, so we could see the band play, but none of the visuals of the show. Very disappointed.
      • There's a tour scheduled for Oct/Nov/Dec. It's going to be good, from what I heard, and I'm not going to be able to go, as I'll be a mom by then -.-
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by RealGrouchy (943109)


      But Reznor, who is an unabashed Mac fan, is also playful about having to partially rely on Windows boxes for some of the show's visuals.

      "We purposefully put one frame of the Blue Screen of Death in this collage of static that comes up at the end of 'Great Destroyer,' and right away people caught it," he says.

      That is not a fail; it's win all the way.

      - RG>

    • by azrael29a (1349629) on Sunday September 14, 2008 @06:47AM (#24997193)
      This BSOD was set up on purpose - it was a part of the decoration. See []
    • by SolusSD (680489)
      they display the blue screen of death during the song 'great destroyer' as an effect, not as a mistake.
  • by MrSteve007 (1000823) on Sunday September 14, 2008 @04:41AM (#24996929)
    I like NIN as much as anyone, and that concert, along with those FX looks awesome, but there isn't much here that I see that looks much different than what Daft Punk have been doing with their concerts for quite sometime.

    Yes, Daft Punk has a scripted show vs. playing instruments that interact with the AV, but the overall display, lighting and controller tech running the show behind the scenes seem much the same.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yeah. That 40-foot neon pyramid looks *just* like the floating screens that NIN are using. Same thing. Exactly. No difference whatsoever...

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by fraktus (632342) *
      The difference is that for Daft Punk it's much more video technicians creating the vision of the Band.

      For NIN the band is much more involved in the audio - visual synchronization.

      I am from the company ArKaos that helped them to fix their show and made the interaction more easy.
    • It reminds me of Blue Man Group []'s visual performance, with better music IMO. They use a lot of LEDs, lights, colors, special effects, etc.

      • by tf23 (27474) *

        We saw the Blue men in Boston, and then Columbus OH. Boston's a much better venue for a show. We had a great time, the show is amazing. Some of the music's not that bad too.

        • by antdude (79039)

          Wasn't Columbus OH a tour show? If so, then tour shows aren't good as the home shows. I saw the one in Vegas in its old Luxor. Big and awesome!

    • Er, I've seen both of them, and aside from having lots of lights and big video screens, the visuals are not very much alike at all.

  • I was just thinking about interactive audio visualizations for a kick ass guitar appliance. I ran across fluxus which I'd never heard of before, but looks to be a killer app. Check out the movies here. [] []

    • by X0563511 (793323)

      Are there videos of it actually working, rather than tutorials?

      • by jdogalt (961241)

        if you fast forward to the end of the tutorial videos, IMO you see sufficient video of 'it working'. I haven't yet downloaded it and tried the examples, but honestly even if the 3 tutorial examples were all there is, I'd still be impressed.

        • by X0563511 (793323)

          Ah. You can't skip past what's buffered yet, so I didn't get to see the end. Scanned through the first quarter of each and thought "well, this is delightfully informative."

  • ouch (Score:3, Funny)

    by jacquesm (154384) <j@w w . com> on Sunday September 14, 2008 @05:40AM (#24997075) Homepage

    NIN makes me wish for the Pink Floyd of long ago. But then again, so does Roger Waters ;)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    and they might of caught up to the tech available in a 90's rave
    still rock music allways was behind

  • Trent kicks ass (Score:4, Informative)

    by runlevelfour (1329235) on Sunday September 14, 2008 @07:23AM (#24997297)
    Trent is a pretty cool dude. He tries to embrace technology and make it work for him and he is a big opponent of the current entrenched system (RIAA etc). Trent sees them as crooks who prey upon the fans and artists alike and did everything in his power to get independent. As soon as he did he started to release albums free with options to donate and ability to purchase physical and/or high rez formats. Needless to say it was a success and now other artists are using his inspiration and trying to change things as well. Normally I detest Mac and all their little fanboys but not Trent because he is not just an empty headed user who is being a partisan simply because of Apple's slick marketing. Trent loves technology and if a tool is good for a job he embraces it. If it works great, if it sucks he denounces it. You have to respect someone like that. We need more of that attitude in every aspect of life.
    • Normally I detest Mac and all their little fanboys.... If it works great, if it sucks he denounces it. You have to respect someone like that. We need more of that attitude in every aspect of life.

      Maybe you could use more of that attitude, and not detest Mac offhand?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by X0563511 (793323)

        We don't know if it's offhand. Support of his opinion would be offtopic, probably long-winded, and probably earn him a few flamebait/troll mods just because.

  • by Kesh (65890) on Sunday September 14, 2008 @08:21AM (#24997477)

    I saw this show in Lexington, KY. Trust me, the stills on the article don't do it justice. You really have to see the show to appreciate how dynamic and fluid the effects are. Unfortunately, the videos on YouTube are pretty washed out because any camera small enough to sneak in has poor quality, and can't handle the bright lights well.

    I've also seen the Blue Man Group concert tour (three times!) and there's no comparison. The FX in BMG's "How to be a Megastar" tour are good, but this blows them away.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I believe if they follow their previous concerts, they will also release a blu-ray of the concert as well (taking the best performances). I wasn't aware of these Nin concerts until I picked up their latest concert blu-ray from amazon. It's literally mind blowing how well their technology synchronizes with their performance. I don't get out much (usually I stay in my moms basement hacking linux on the weekends), but if they come to New York I might get tickets. Concerts like those are worth leaving the h

    • by meyekul (1204876)
      I was also at the Lexington show. Small world isn't it?
  • That or a really big nail file!

  • And as some comments have stated, the article doesn't do justice to actually watching the show.

    They are my favorite band and it was an amazing thing to watch them perform... I'll go again if I get a chance to :)

  • They're smart to design a concert that provides a non-downloadable experience.
  • I've caught every NIN show in Toronto in the last 5 years, and this stage show was,no contest, the best I've seen. For Trent or anyone I've seen live. The way Trent interacted with it was not only amazing, but (just like the article pointed out) the way he could set moods for different types of his tracks was nothing short of genius. It blew me away the way he was able to set up the environment to play some of their tracks from the Ghosts release (slower, ambient instrumentals for those who haven't hear
  • ... go up to 11?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The "stealth" screens they talk about are really just Stealth(TM) branded LED screens, which have a fairly wide dot pitch to allow gaps to see through. They are being used right now on such cutting edge projects as Broadway musicals, trade shows, etc. etc. They neither are invisible to radar nor move like ninjas.

  • Why is this being reported as new? Stealth screens have been in wide use for some time now. Last years matchbox twenty's tour used movable stealth screens. Rascal Flatt's current tour has stealth screens and massive pc controlled set movements. Toby Keith's current tour has stealth screens too. Computer controlled truss, video walls and staging is old hat. This OP was written by a clueless NIN fan Signed your local concert rigger.
    • When does technology stop being marketroid buzzwords and become art?

      This is new because Trent Reznor does things himself, and does them right. It's possible to throw as many screens and lights as you can afford on a stage, but for a concert experience all that matters is how the tech is used. In this case, the artist's vision is directly responsible for the design, programming, and implementation of the effects... and that makes all the difference.

      I can't imagine Toby Keith or Rascal Flatts disappearing i

  • I friend of mine went to see NIN. He told me that during quiet part of âSomething I can never haveâ(TM) someone shouted âoeTIMMY!!â in the style of South Park, a large part of the audience burst in to laughter. I just like to tell that story on NIN fans before I play them some Sun O))).
  • I was absolutely blown away by the visuals in this show (I'm embarrassed to admit, my first NiN concert in 15 years of being a fan). Awesome to see something talking about how they set up all the multimedia.

What this country needs is a dime that will buy a good five-cent bagel.