Angry Birds in Christmas Lights, and a Green Message for Lighting

There is a time of year when the short days, hours of travel (this time over some 8000 km in the air), and holiday season make me want to post silly, insubstantial things. This is one of those posts. But, let me make some attempt at profundity: 1. Microcontrollers have put interactive lighting in the hands of even the festive home decorator. It’s true. (the rig here is “two computers and 10 Light-o-rama 16 channel controllers”) 2. Consider, ye who make mobile designs, the profound cultural impact these things have. Once reserved for blockbuster movies, and before that the spoken …


Random Fun: Novation Launchpad as Live EQ Display, Built in Processing

If you’ve got a whole bunch of colored lights, it seems only right to do something with them. Cacheflow sends a fun little hack with a Novation Launchpad. Of course, turning a Launchpad into a live EQ display means you can’t simultaneously use its lights to, like, play the Launchpad, but provided you have another controller, this could be a fun way to liven up your stage setup. We looked at a free e-book on Processing last week; if you’re playing with Processing, you can now use a handy, free library to integrate this simple and elegant coding tool with …


It Comes in Colors: An RGB Grid Controller from Livid, RGB Grid Roundup

Lovers of the grid for music control now get to reenact the scene in MGM’s The Wizard of Oz, stepping out of the world of black and white into one of color. The OhmRGB, the latest controller from Austin, Texas-based controller and custom hardware shop Livid Instruments, adds multicolor LEDs behind its array of controls. We’ve already seen red, green, and yellow add color feedback on Novation’s Launchpad (and of course the APC line from Akai). The Livid piece bests Novation’s three colors with seven possibilities. For those who prefer their grids to come with knobs, faders, and crossfader, the …


Hands-on Installation Making: A Tower of LED Touch Panels

Once upon a time in media art, keeping your “secret sauce” of techniques confidential and proprietary was more or less given. Nowadays, though, collective knowledge about how to make stuff helps everyone improve their craft, and push the media forward – perhaps more in line with mature, traditional art technique. So, I hope we’ll more regularly feature the process behind new work, and some of the lessons learned behind the scenes. It gives us the chance to better appreciate the work as viewers, and helps all of us better our own technique. In that spirit, I recently spoke to Andrew …


Wearables: CuteCircuit Turns Katy Perry into Interactive Digital Scenography; Fashion Visualists

Making Katy Perry extraterrestrial, the work of CuteCircuit. Photo by Digital visual effects need not be limited to projection. CuteCircuit have been one of a select handful of designers pushing the envelope with wearables. Here, Katy Perry becomes their celebrity canvas, in what I expect will be one of the only-ever appearances of American Idol on CDM. The actual costume design, though, is fantastic. Thousands of interactive LEDs are a digital mirror to the countless sparkling Swarovski crystals that festoon the garment, with UK-based sculptor Yasemen Hussein adding her striking Baroque extraterrestrial forms. (She’s not a digital artist, but …


DOTKLOK: An Open-Source, Arduino-Based Clock

In the realm of digital motion and pixel animation – albeit extremely low-resolution – here’s the clock for the open source lover, a hackable bedside clock that can be programmed to display custom animations. From random dots to Pac-Man cameos, it’s a clock that breaks from stock, coded by you instead of Sony. And there is a special charm to low-density matrices of lights in visuals, I find. (It’s not an alarm clock — yet — so a good place to begin hacking might be there.) Creator and CDM reader Andrew O’Malley writes us:


Arc, A New Design from monome Creator: After Grids, Encoders

You’ve just created the design that, more than any other, was the signature of electronic music making in the first decade of the 21st Century. What’s your second act? Having made the monome grid controllers the biggest design hit in music creation in the last few years, then moved to a farm in upstate New York to do some … farming (really), monome’s Brian Crabtree now and Kelli Cain have made public what’s next. Think really big knobs. The design makes some sense to me, intuitively, already. Livid tried the obvious solution of combining encoders with arrays in its Code, …


DJ Sasha's Live Visuals, Full of LEDs

The shift may be gradual, but big-name musical acts are beginning to be more mindful about the involvement of visualists, closer in their collaboration, and quicker to credit the visual artists. And well they should: adding powerful visuals to a set and promoting the visual artists involved is now a terrific way to promote the musical act, too. One example: DJ Sasha, the Ableton-based DJ and electronic artist, has a terrific-looking LED-based show that accompanies him, the work of Picnic Electronic (the visualist, not the Montreal outdoor party) and Immersive. Details from Sasha: The V_rtek show has been meticulously produced …


Protodeck: The Best Ableton Live Controller You Can’t Buy

protodeck first demo from Julien Bayle on Vimeo. Speaking of special Abletronic miracles out of reach of most mortals, meet the Protodeck. Inspired by Robert Henke’s legendary Monodeck, it’s an all-stops-pulled bundle of delicious overkill. The specs are — insane, really. 87 potentiometers 90 buttons 81 rgb leds 2×20 LCD 2 PIC 18F4620 (20MHz RISC processors) fully custom rgb led drivers fully custom firmware 2 MIDI IN/OUT interface The ingenious design of Julien Bayle, the Protodeck isn’t available for sale. You can’t buy one, but you can build one – or treat the copious documentation on his site, from control …


Preview: Interactive LED Balls, from the Olympics

Our Zygote Interactive Balls at the Olympics from Alex Beim on Vimeo. I’m such a terrible blogger. Here are giant, glowing balls, and I can’t think of a cheeky, snarky, tasteless way to describe them. (Heck, I don’t even know of anything to do with those inflatable beavers at the Olympics.) Happily, the balls themselves are quite magical. (Wait, maybe I don’t have to do anything to make this post sound funny.) No, seriously — they are. The Arduino-powered devices go beyond just being raver toys to being something quite lovely. I look forward to hearing more about them. And …