[BTS Video] What Do 50 Programmed Moblie Phones Sound Like?

This awesome installation made by James Theophane uses 50 programmed mobile phones, each with their assigned tone. So how'd they get all those phones to play the right tune at the right time? The program on the phone consisted of two parts: one registering with a web service - logging the fact that it was still alive and its current IP address, and two a User Datagram Protocol listener - listening for commands from the controller over the network. The controller was written to read the midi file of the Carol and send the individual notes to individual phones at the right time.

Behind The Scenes

Final Video
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Darren Forde's picture

Would this not have looked way cooler with the lights off?

Seshan's picture

No, because then you would only see blinking lights and not of gotten the same effect.

It seems a shame to see that much work go into the creation of the mobile mobile, but then use such an odd approach to recording it. An array of half a dozen or more microphones spread around the piece to capture the sound more evenly would have been more pleasant for viewers of the video, as the way it was done makes the nearest phones substantially louder than the others. Otherwise use a single mic as they did (presumably the one attached to whatever they used to record this video) but pan it around the array of phones while it plays so that you can sense the depth of sound that those in person much surely experience. That would also improve the presentation for those of us watching online. But the straight cuts from one angle to another leave a lot to be desired. 

I know this isn't the London Symphony Orchestra, but it is very impressive and deserves a little more work to properly share the experience with the world. IMHO. :) 

Dan Bargen's picture

Here here, Jon. It might help to isolate and remove the ambient noise... But then again, they didn't even play the whole song, or play the parts that were included correctly. Obviously, they've got a recording of Carol of the Bells (note the setup video). MIDI is EASY to do. Maybe it's the fancy networking that messed it up...


This is a christmas TV commercial from moblie company in Iceland. Same song and similar idea...

Ugo Dufour's picture

MaxMSP was probably used to run the hole thing.

What do they sound like?   turns out, no better than on a 20 year old computer...   cool idea though...