Theo Howard > Orientation + first project ‘Wii faders’

I participated in a 1 week orientation workshop recently at Steim. We learned the concepts behind software such as Lisa, Junxion, how they can be used in a performance, and were shown the basics about how to use the software. On the hardware side of things, we learned about things like sensors, custom hardware, instrument building etc.

I’m a producer, slowly moving from the studio to stage. I write electronic music, mostly beat-oriented. My most successful project goes under the name ‘Thesis’, which is known for deep percussive dubstep.

Quite soon after starting the workshop, I realised the vast possibilities made available by Steim’s relatively easy to use tools. Currently I use Ableton Live and a Novation Zero SL controller for performances, so I begun thinking about ways to compliment this system with sensors, with the idea of allowing more physical control. The Wii remote stood out as the best way for me to begin this journey, as the device is small, affordable, already has a lot of goodies built in, and communicates easily with Junxion. This communication can easily be routed to Ableton Live, as I tested during my time at the workshop.

I went through a few different concepts about how I could control my liveset with Wii remotes. The possibilities are endless, but I wanted something practical and straightforward, that I can use naturally. Here are some of my sketches/notes:

wii_notes.jpg

In my liveset, I use 4-5 channels of audio, each with FX sends, volume control etc. This gives me endless possibilities for remote sensor control, but I decided that the main function of the Wii remotes will be as faders, seeing as though my liveset is already based around faders. Using 2 Wii remotes, I could control 4 audio channels by using a variable (button on = CH1, button off = CH2)Because I usually run the same FX/controls on every audio channel, it makes sense to use the same hardware controls for each, to make the system as intuitive as possible. So I scrapped the idea of the ‘nunchuck’ and went for 2 remotes instead. This diagram illustrates the basic concept I went with:

System diagram

So, this week I got myself 2 Wii remotes. The next step is to try it! Will post back when I have it up and running. Heres a pic of the remotes alongside my midi controller:

hardware

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