In order to have a versatile custom controller, back in 2011 I built a reacTIVision
It works like a Reactable
, a surface you can play by positioning and moving physical blocks,
but, instead of being an independent electronic instrument, it is useful just to send OSC or MIDI data to control any software capable of
receiving such messages.
How it works?
A hidden USB or FW camera (inside the table) is monitoring the surface, and the reacTIVision software recognizes presence, position and
rotation of some defined shapes.
These shapes, called "fiducials
" work like barcodes.
There are hundreds of shapes, so that each one can be used whenever I needed for separate controls (for example: fid.1 controls volume,
fid.2 reverb, fid.3 triggers drumloop...)
All I needed was: a table (or box) with a glossy-transparent top, lights, a camera, and some fiducials printed on paper.
The first prototype was built out of a table and a DV firewire camera. I used it to play music, but also as a funny installation
as a sonified cooking table: a pot and a bowl (with fiducials sticked underneath). The pot, with a contact mic applied, was capable to record
rhythms (tapping it with a spoon). The bowl had a mic and an accelerometer inside: when opened triggered recording, shaking it scrambled the
recorded audio. Then, all these sounds were "cooked" with two fire knobs, which were adding ulterior control over the signal processing.
Then, I continued improving it by using a PS3 USB Camera (low-latency, cheap, good, hackable) with various lenses. This led me to build a more
practical structure (from a table to a box).
I used this controller for my thesis performance and many concerts.