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Video of the week - Telejamming over the net

Video of the week - Telejamming over the net

Head down, brow furrowed in concentration, Scott Deal plies his trade in the Supercomputing 2009 exhibition hall. As Deal rattles, rumbles, brushes, and bangs an arc of percussion instruments, band member Jordan Munson creates the tonal elements of the music Â- from 2200 miles away.

Deal is a professor of music at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis (IUPUI), and Director of the Donald Tavel Arts and Technology Research Center. He is also a member of the band called "Big Robot." (Michael Drews, the third member of the trio, was only present for the first half of the performance, and does not appear in the video of the week).

Despite the distance Â- Deal is in Portland, Oregon, while his bandmates are in Indianapolis, Indiana Â- the performance has a certain immediacy. The Portland audience can watch Munson on a large video screen behind Deal, thanks to ConferenceXP, a product developed at the University of WashingtonÂ's Center for Collaborative Technologies. ConferenceXP integrates high-performance audio, video, and network technologies. The bits and bytes of the performance travel back and forth via Internet2, a research and education network. (IUPUI is a member of the Internet2 consortium).

"Big Robot Â- the name of ScottÂ's band Â- has a camera and a mixing board at each end," says Richard Knepper, a researcher at the Indiana University Pervasive Technology Institute. "The video and audio send separate data streams. The video is more bandwidth-intensive, and requires low latency," he adds, referring to the need for unnoticeable delays in the video output. "Scott reacts to the visuals and audio during the performance."

Boy, does he.

"My job is to hit a bunch of things," says Deal. Although he and his remote partners have a well-planned, rehearsed concept of each piece, he likes to "keep it a little slippery."

"We mix, transform, and morph. WeÂ're good at living with the unpredictable."

-Anne Heavey, Fermilab

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