The Independent Bar Audio Installation

The Idea

Glenfiddich has inspired the freedom to create and innovate. Glenfiddich has produced a collection of rare and prestigious single malts over the years, and the launch of the Independent Bar is a testament to the brand's capacity for delivering the unexpected. The idea was to present a innovative tasting experience by combining an audio installation mechanic which nicely lead to an amazing bar where you would be treated to a whisky cocktail unique to your own voice print.


Having 4 weeks to build this I took the approach of keeping things pretty simple and rather build extra tools (real-time GUI manipulation) to help me tweak values and variations. This worked really well as I ended up with 5 versions all progressing closer to feedback from the client. Rinse repeat really and the values are saved. I still think 4 weeks wasn't enough but as any developer will tell you there is never enough time.

I have covered some ground in audio visualisations before (see here), tinkered and built some robust systems to react to digital audio. What I needed to incorporate here was some way to analyse the incoming audio as it was realtime and not pre-recorded audio like a music track. I did some searches and found the Essentia library. Which is too be honest quite incredible. My time constraint did make me search for an add-on which I found called ofxAudioAnalyzer. This saved loads of learning time and meant I had to simple get the add-on to work and then play around with the incoming values.

First was to build the visual feel and I did this using GPU shaders with OpenFrameworks as a vessel. I had to keep performance in mind as the plinth didn't allow for a full tower to run this and we ran it from a Intel NUC which has no dedicated GPU. So working with a max memory of 1GB shared it meant I had to make sure any visual element was adjustable, e.g. number of particles and geometry.

Second I built a tool to visualise the actual data and record this data so I can play it back and see what kind of impact environment sounds had.

The input

The input was a bedroom mic from Samson which really worked extremely well with the software and there were no issues.

End result

In the end this project came together really well and guests were treated to an innovative and interesting way of experiencing Glenfiddich. The popup bar ran for 4 months and in that time we racked up 7K+ unique voice prints. Not bad for a bar that was only open from Thursday to Sunday.

Technical Specs

  • Intel i7 + 16 GB Ram
  • Ubuntu 16.04
  • OpenFrameworks 0.9.0
  • Samson desktop mic


Platinum Seed + Saatchi & Saatchi