Draw Your Own DAW Controller

Control surfaces used to be very expensive hardware devices that only professional studios could afford; however, progressively cheaper solutions gradually made their way into bedroom studios, and the advent of mainstream touchscreen technology opened up a whole new world of control for everyone…

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JazzMutant were probably the mainstream pioneers of custom touchscreen DAW controllers – if you can call a controller that cost about two grand mainstream. Nevertheless, their Dexter and Lemur controllers offered something new and exciting for the affluent home studio.

The iPad signaled the end for such expensive devices though; a €500 tablet coupled with an app such as TouchOSC could essentially perform the same role as a Lemur, with customisable touchscreen control available in sliders, buttons, knobs and X-Y pads.

A slew of other touchscreen apps are now available for iOS and Android; but there are signs that even the touchscreen may be dispensed with in the future.

SketchSynth – The Paper UI

Billy Keyes’ final project at Carnegie Mellon University is called SketchSynth, and it basically allows you to draw your own UI on a piece of paper.

SketchSynth communicates with Open Sound Control (OSC) signals. A standard webcam scans the page to detect both the UI components drawn on it (momentary buttons, toggle switches and sliders) and the hands that are operating them, then feeds the information back to a program that can interpret it – which for SketchSynth is a synthesizer running in Pure Data.

Although this is obviously an early phase implementation, the implications for control development are significant – a UI could itself be created on-the-fly as part of an electronic music/art performance…


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