Nicholas Joseph Porcaro (Nick) was born in New York City during a blizzard, and yes his father had to walk 10 miles in the snow to get to the hospital. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from Texas A&M University.
After that, he spent 7 years working for Tegas/Calma and Aida/Teradyne, startup companies in the electronic design automation industry, where he participated in the development of software for schematic editors, logic simulators, and design language translators.
Then he spent 2 years at a Stanford-incubated geophysical software startup, working on signal processing software related to seismic data analysis. Also during this time, he played keyboards in various rock and jazz groups.
In 1990, he became a visiting scholar at the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) at Stanford University where he studied digital signal processing as applied to physical modeling of musical instruments. During this time, he started experimenting with object oriented programming on the NeXT computer, which soon lead to an early prototype of what would later become SynthBuilder.
From 1993 to 1996, he worked as a consultant on the Sondius project, developing SynthBuilder into a rapid prototyping tool which was used by CCRMA/Sondius researchers to develop physical models and by composers in performances at CCRMA concerts.
From 1996 to 2000 Nick was a founder of Staccato Systems, which became a subsidiary of ADI) where he continued to develop SynthBuilder and use it as an internal tool for developing sound effects algorithms for games. In June 1997 SynthBuilder won the grand prize “Golden Max” award at the second annual International Bourges Music Software Competition.
From 2000 to the present Nick has worked as an independent software consultant and jazz musician. He studied piano with Dick Hindman, and had a regular gig playing at Caffe Proust in San Francisco. He served on the board of directors of the Haight-Ashbury Neighborhood Council and worked on a prototype for an extensible online dictionary called the Open Dictionary.
In 2002 Nick started spending time in New York City to concentrate more on piano. He studied jazz piano with Eric Lewis, Connie Crothers and also Latin jazz at Harbor Conservatory for the Performing Arts with Pablo Mayor.
Also in 2005 he started playing a regular jazz gig at the High Road Cafe in New York City with percussionist and composer Lukas Ligeti. Nick was also a visiting composer at the Computer Music Center at Columbia University by invitation of Brad Garton at this time.
Also starting in 2005 Nick began a painting/free improvisation collaboration with New York artist Ellen Levy, where abstract movies were created using After Effects and Max/MSP. This led to the development of a live 3D graphics/sound system using Pure Data and Blender called “Blendnik”. As a result of this work he started the New York City Blender User’s group which organized conference at NYU Polytechnic University.
Nick is currently a partner in UndAground, LLC, developer of UndAground—New York, now in the iTunes store.
Software Engineering Work Experience
2000-present Independent Software Engineer/Musician, San Francisco, CA/New York, NY
- Developed prototype audio recording app utilzing CoreAudio and internet protocols for Soniq Labs, a San Francisco startup. Named on a pending patent for this work.
- Software architect and developer of “UndAground—New York”, an iPhone app, which is a part cultural tour guide and part comedy piece, centered around subway stops and points of interest in New York City. Released to the iTunes store in December 2011.
- Developer of an e-commerce system, WordPress based subscriber area, and video publishing system for the Trends Research Institute.Extensive scripting in PHP and Python.
- Development of Blendnik 3D animation/music system using Python, Blender Game Engine, and Pure Data
- Wrote Perl scripts to maintain the OpenDictionary website
- Wrote Perl scripts to maintain the banner ads on the Interactive TV Today website
- Wrote Perl scripts and designed the Haight-Ashbury Neighborhood Council and Haight-Ashbury Free Band web sites
- Assisted in the design and maintenance of the Heather Woodbury and Gerald Celente web sites
- Assisted in the development of Max patches for Sarah Rosenbaum’s “Dis/siM,” MFA Design Thesis Show.
1996-2000 Distinguished Engineer/Founder Staccato Systems, Mountain View, CA
Staccato Systems, which was acquired by Analog Devices was a spin-off from the Sondius Project. The primary product is an audio synthesis engine called SynthCore. SynthBuilder is the primary internal tool used to create content for SynthCore, which is primarily oriented towards game sound effects. Nick was one of 7 founders of Staccato Systems.
- Implemented synthesis algorithms for event modeling and a virtual analog synthesizer using SynthBuilder/SynthCore
- Ported/improved SynthBuilder from NeXTSTEP (Objective-C) to YellowBox for windows
- Created a data-file driven generic user interface for unit generators
- Crated a data-file driven control surface editor for patches
- Designed and implemented new internal graphical data structures
- Improved drawing/memory performance
- Designed and implemented a code generator that converted internal graphical patch representation to the SynthCore language.
- Designed and implemented a graphical synthesis data browser, including an envelope and partials editor
- Developed automated testing scripts
- Assisted in initial development of synthesis engine
- Debugged unit generators that were converted from DSP56000 code to C
- Assisted in development of SynthCore language
1993-1996 Software Engineering Consultant, Sondius Project, Stanford University
The Sondius Project started at Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA), and was sponsored by the Stanford University Office Of Technology Licensing. The Sondius project was primarily focused on the development of physical modeling based synthesis algorithms and a prototyping tool called SynthBuilder, which was primarily developed by Nick. Many live demonstrations were given at places such as UC Berkeley, the CCRMA Affiliates meetings, Xerox Parc, and the International Computer Music Conferences in 1994-1996 were given. In addition, many patents were associated with the Sondius Project.
- Implemented SynthBuilder (NeXTSTEP Objective-C)
- Started from the Grasp prototype and the NeXT Draw example
- Extended Draw classes to handle connections between unit generators
- Implemented sub patch mechanism.
- Designed/implemented unit generator inspector architecture
- Designed/implemented interface to MusicKit API
- Fixed many bugs in the MusicKit
- Assisted in debugging of DSP56000 code
- Assisted in the development of physical model algorithms for bowed strings, piano, flute, saxophone, electric guitar, harpsichord, culminating in a demo CDwhich was instrumental in securing funding for Staccato Systems.
- Assisted development of the Frankenstein Box, a home-brew DSP56000-based special purpose hardware synthesis engine
1991-1993 Consultant/Software Engineer/Release Manager, PetroVision, Los Altos, CA
PetroVision produced geophysical interpretation software and was funded by the Gas Research institute. Pierre Samec, a Stanford Geophysicist was the founder of this company.
- Assisted in C++ design of a ray tracer, and many other aspects of the system, which included sophisticated interprocess communication based on ISIS and a database based on Informix and Oracle.
- Developed seismic data signal processing modules in C/C++ based on integration of custom and public domain algorithms into a generic graphical framework.
- In charge of implementing all configuration management, release engineering, porting, and tape generation systems. Used Imake, RCS, awk, sed, ed, csh, sh and other UNIX tools.
- Developed a SEG-Y format seismic data binary tape reader in C.
- Assisted with SUN and SGI system tasks, such as maintenance of NIS databases, backups, window system configuration, installation of operating systems, Informix database, ObjectCenter compiler and Purify.
1986-1991 Software Engineer/System Administrator, Teradyne EDA/AIDA, Santa Clara, CA
Teradyne produced electronic design automation/test software. Teradyne acquired AIDA and Case Technology in 1988, resulting in Teradyne EDA.
- Designed and implemented a configuration management system based on Apollo’s Domain Software Engineering Environment (DSEE). This was written in C and used the DSEE API for building and releasing software using a sophisticated versioning scheme on the SUN and Apollo platforms.
- Developed an EDIF (Electronic Design Interface Format) reader/writer in C, using LEX, YACC and an advanced internal database API called netgen.
- Developed a Sunview window interface in C for simulation applications.
- Assisted in the development of C program for assembly code generation for a proprietary RISC machine used for large scale digital circuit simulation
- Development of a network server for queuing simulation jobs.
- Converted electronic database translator applications in C to use an improved database format.
- Planned network for a new building, wrote an email system, OS installation system, backup system, and assisted users with questions. SUN administration was also part of the job.
1984-1986 Software Engineer, Calma Company, Austin, Texas
Calma produced electronic design automationsoftware based on the Tegas simulator
- Assisted in development of TaskMaster, which integrated the Tegas simulator into a consistent framework
- Wrote an email system for the Apollo network.
- Wrote a bug tracking system.
- Evaluated DSEE and made presentations to management.
- Wrote 150 page user manual for TaskMaster.
1983 Intern, ETA Systems, Minneapolis, Minnesota
ETA Systems was a spin-off of the Control DataAdvanced Design Lab
- Wrote translators to integrate the in-house simulator with the Mentor Workstation
1990 to 1996: Visiting scholar at the Stanford Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA)
- Developed initial prototype for SynthBuilder.
- Developed a NeXTSTEP application for digital phasing and flanging based on understanding of first principles.
- Took all the digital signal processing courses, using Mathematica for class projects, and compiled formal transcriptions into an annotated 500 page volume.
- Took a digital effects seminar, learned the architecture of the DSP56000 chip and experimented with some example effects programs.
1979 to 1984: Bachelor of Science in
Electrical Engineering Texas A&M University
- Specialized in computer aided digital system design and power systems.
- N. Porcaro, E. Levy, “Blendnik: A Real-Time Performance System Using Blender and Pure Data”, presented at the 2009 Pure Data Conference in Sao Paulo Brazil, and the 2009 Blender Conference in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
- Porcaro et. al. “SynthBuilder: A Graphical Rapid-Prototyping Tool for the Development of Music Synthesis and Effects Patches on Multiple Platforms“, Computer Music Journal Summer 1998
- Grand prize “Golden Max” award 1997 Bourges International Music Software Competition
- N. Porcaro, P. Scandalis, D. Jaffe, and J. O. Smith, “Using SynthBuilder for the creation of physical models”, in Proceedings of the 1996 International Computer Music Conference, Hong Kong. 1996, Computer Music Association.
- N. Porcaro, W. Putnam, P. Scandalis, D. Jaffe, J. O. Smith, T. Stilson, and S. V. Duyne, “SynthBuilder and Frankenstein, tools for the creation of musical physical models”, in International Conference on Auditory Display, Palo Alto, G. Kramer, Ed. 1996, Santa Fe Institute and Xerox Parc.
- N. Porcaro, P. Scandalis, J. O. Smith, D. A. Jaffe, and T. Stilson, “SynthBuilder–a graphical real-time synthesis, processing and performance system”, in Proceedings of the 1995 International Computer Music Conference, Banff. 1995, pp. 61-62, Computer Music Association,
- D. A. Jaffe, J. O. Smith, and N. Porcaro, “The Music Kit on a PC”, in Proceedings of the First Brazilian Symposium on Computer Music, XIV Congress of the Brazilian Society of Computation, Caxambu, Canela, Brazil, Aug. 1994, pp. 63-69, Inform¬∑tica UFRGS.
- Co-authored paper on an EDIF reader, 1990 Teradyne User’s Group
- AIDA Corporation employee of the month, January 1987, January 1988.
- Coordinator Apollo User’s Society CAE special interest group, 1986
- Authored paper on Apollo Display Manager, 1986 Apollo User’s Group conference
- Donated display management software package to Apollo User’s Group in 1986.