A few weeks ago I got an email from a composer friend here in Minneapolis. She wanted to introduce me to some folks she knows that had expressed an interest in what we do at Ion. I invited them to a local show we were doing and asked them to come up to the stage after the performance.
As I packed up equipment and the stage was being struck we began a conversation that veered off in directions I never expected. The early conversation was so intriguing that we moved our chat from the concert hall to a local tavern and talked late into the evening.
The two guys I met that night were Todd Boss, a Minneapolis-based poet and founding executive director of the non-profit Motionpoems and composer Jake Runestad, who has an equally impressive bio.
THE STORY, AS I HEARD IT
Todd is a poet with a wall full of awards and accolades. In 2008 he met animator Angela Kassube after a poetry reading at a St Paul coffee shop. Angela set one of Todd’s poems to animation and the idea for Motionpoems was born: to make poetry accessible to a media-savvy generation by animating the work of some of the best poets. Lets let Todd and Angela tell that story in their own words:
But the story does not end there. After founding the non-profit Motionpoems, Todd met Jake Runestad, a very busy young composer whose star was rising, especially in the choral music world. Todd’s experience as a librettist and Jake’s work as a choral composer gave them opportunities to work together and slowly a new idea was born.
Today Todd and Jake are working through Motionpoems to bring poets, composers and film makers together to create new choral works based on poetry and brought to life in a very modern way through animation. They are keenly interested in producing these new works (yes, plural) in live concert settings, but have struggled with the technology to make that happen.
And so it came to pass that my friend introduced us through email and Jake and Todd attended one of our recent shows. The three of us sat at that pub table until late in the evening talking about the promise and the power of an evolving art form; one which really isn’t new, but is undergoing an exciting transformation in real time.
Some call it visual music, others call it art film, still others consider it immersive interactive stage design. Its all three, really: the powerful synthesis of language, music, the digital arts, and stagecraft. I’m not sure what Todd would call it, but I was impressed with his vision and understanding of how these art forms can work together.
Certainly there are many others doing important work in this field (Michale Patterson, Candace Reckinger and Theodore Ushev come to mind), but I am struck by the novelty of Todd and Motionpoems coming at it from a literary standpoint – and I am thrilled that they are right here in Minneapolis. And I look forward to many more conversations with Todd and Jake over a microbrew.
“My Love for you is So Embarassingly” Poem by Todd Boss, animation by Deb Kirkeeide
On Saturday, November 25 the Minnesota Gophers football team will face off against the Wisconsin Badgers at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. The game promises to be an exciting border battle, but we think the halftime show with the Gophers Marching Band will be equally interesting. That’s because Ion Concert Media has been asked to create video content for the halftime show and project it on the stadium jumbotrons using our Muséik software.
The show, which will be a celebration of the good work being done by several student organizations on campus, will be accompanied by short video clips set to the music and projected in sync with the band’s performance.
We are extremely excited at the opportunity to drive video in a large stadium environment. The software has successfully projected 4k video and delivered extremely sophisticated syncs in the past, but it has never been deployed in such a large venue. This experience will bring us just one step closer to our goal of driving all the digital media in the biggest arena shows.
If you are in town and looking for some great entertainment Saturday afternoon you can still find tickets online at this site.
Telling our story is hard. Of course there is a story about our revolutionary software and the change it is bringing to live event production. But then there is also a story about how we have set out to develop the world’s first Netflix® style content library for producers of live shows. And there is also a story about opportunities to create profitable new content for that library.
Smashing all of that into a five-minute pitch sounded like a great challenge, and we are always up for a challenge!
So when we heard about a new Shark-Tank like business competition in the Twin Cities that required us to pitch our company in front of a panel of five judges we said, “why not?”
On 11 October company CEO Scott Winters and CTO Dr. J. Allen went head-to-head with three other finalist companies. We delivered our new pitch and answered questions from the judges. In the end, we were awarded first place, which came with a cash prize and a bundle of professional services.
We are grateful to the folks who organized the Fast Track Challenge and to the judges for this honor. We got involved just to see if we could tell our story in a meaningful way in under five minutes; being awarded first prize is a welcome bonus.
After the competition Charles Shannon, VP at the private equity firm Equus Holdings and a Fast Track Challenge judge said it best.
“You have proven you have a viable business in an attractive market. Now you just need to grow.”
We couldn’t agree more.
Muséik was created as a tool to drive video playback in sync with live performances by bands and orchestras in an artistic way. It has been in the market for over a year now and has generated strong praise.
Behind the scenes we have been quietly testing the software as a tool for driving audio files: piano accompaniments for choirs, full band accompaniments for show choirs, and backing tracks for rock bands. The testing has gone very well and we are pleased to report that Muséik has performed beyond our expectations as a Digital Accompaniment Tool.
This spring we installed Muséik in several choir programs for some real world testing. Based on that positive feedback Ion recently announced a full public Choral Accompaniment Beta program that will run now through December 2017. All types of choral ensembles are welcome to participate, including traditional choirs from elementary grades through college, church choirs, community choirs, show choirs, and even musical theater productions.
To see the software being used as a Digital Accompaniment Tool and for more information on the Choral Accompaniment Beta program visit the Ion Concert Media Website.