Severe Tire Damage Played the First Live Music Performance on the Internet
On June 24, 1993, Severe Tire Damage becomes the first band to perform live on the internet. Performing from the patios of Xerox PARC, they broadcast onto the Internet Multicast Backbone (the "MBone"). They were seen and heard live as far away as Australia. MBone engineering was by Ron Frederick and Steve Deering of the Computer Science Lab at Xerox PARC.
Report of the Performance
Subject: Re: Stones MCast query....
"However, I can claim to have seen most of the first appearance of Severe Tire Damage on the MBone!"
Do you remember anything? Want to say a few words for quotation on the Severe Tire Damage home page?
Subject: Re: Stones MCast query....
I don't remember much about it. It looked like everyone was having a good time out on the patio. I recall that there were dancers, except that slow video does less justice to dance than lo-fi audio does to music.
I guess all I could say would be to quote all the people who said of Woodstock, "I was there" (remotely).
After our historic broadcast, Severe Tire Damage returned to the Internet to warm up for the Rolling Stones. Then, flush with a false sense of success, we made a series of broadcasts on the MBone every week for 15 to 30 minutes. Viewers could tune in to the Severe Tire Damage channel on the MBone every Wednesday night.
These are the dates of the MCasts that we made.
How it Worked
These days, anyone can broadcast on the Internet. Just pick up a phone or laptop and start singing. But back then, it wasn't nearly as simple.
You (1) were wasting time on the Internet (2). This is an accurate graphical map of the Internet.
You came to the Severe Tire Damage website (3). A DEC Alpha running an Apache webserver, connected via OC16 to the Internet.
The Severe Tire Damage website informed you there was cool stuff to play with when the band was rehearsing. When this was the case, you were able to get to "severe" (4). "severe.std.org" was an SGI Indy.
When you clicked on any of the "controllable goodies" buttons, a command was issued at "severe" to be sent to either the camera (7) or the MIDI Translator Thingy (5). The camera was a Canon VC-C1, a remotely controllable camera with a motorized pan and tilt head. The camera may also have been a three-chip broadcast camera or a USB cheapie duct-taped to the guitar neck.
The camera fed not only the Severe Tire Damage Encoder (10) but also "severe" so you got immediate feedback. "severe" received the camera's y/c input, the encoder usually got the NTSC composite.
The MIDI Translator Thingy (5) sent a command to the audio mixer (6). The MIDI Translator Thingy was an Opcode "MIDI Translator II" designed for a Macintosh.
The audio mixer (6) had motorized faders to move appropriately, changing the volume or other parameter of the sound, affecting the output sent to the Severe Tire Damage Encoder (10). The audio mixer was a Yamaha DMP-7.
The green boxes were things that could be controlled by the MIDI Translator Thingy (5). Everyone in the band had something MIDIable, potentially controllable via the web.
One of the things the MIDI translator thingy (5) could operate was the MIDI Relay Trigger (8). The MIDI Relay Trigger was provided by MIDI Solutions Inc. of Vancouver, BC Canada in return for this sentence.
The MIDI Relay Trigger (8) was usually attached to Severe Tire Damage's Industrial Strength Fog Machine (9). The Fog Machine was a fifteen-thousand cubic foot per minute theatrical fog machine. It used non-toxic fog. At least it said so right on the gallon jug of pina-colada scented fog juice.
While you were asphyxiating the band with Severe Tire Damage's Industrial Strength Fog Machine (9) you watched the results via the Remote Cam (7) as encoded by Severe Tire Damage's Encoder (10). The Encoder could be almost anything. Usually a laptop. Maybe even "severe".
The encoded audio and video stream was sent via the Internet (2) to live.std.org (11). live.std.org was a massively well-connected machine in Palo Alto. Made by Compaq and running a RealServer. Two different RealServers, actually.
The server at live.std.org (11) sent the buffered packetized multicast stuff into the Internet (2) where it was eventually seen and heard by you (1). Back then, your Internet connection was the limiting factor. Don't blame Severe Tire Damage.
You (1) were so impressed by all this you clicked the applause button, which was actually an image map living at www.std.org (3), which sent a command via the Internet (2) to severe.std.org (4) to play an audio file of people clapping into the public address system, to which the band responded politely, all of which you saw and heard eventually (6)(7)(10)(4)(2)(11)(2)(1). It was an awful lot of technology just to see a garage band, don't you think?