deadmau5 is releasing the app he’s torture-tested in his live shows, OSC/PILOT. It’s like a Windows successor to Lemur, with some powerful features, developed by one of the developers behind TouchDesigner.
The time seems ripe for a new controller – well, once live shows start again. Lemur, the app based on the hardware that started the whole genre, hasn’t seen active development in a long time. TouchOSC is still plodding along but hasn’t changed much since its debut. Most apps focus on individual apps (like Ableton Live or Apple Logic), and most are still iOS-only.
So forget the deadmau5 connection for a moment – it seems about time Windows got its own mature touch app for general purpose applications. That’s especially true on the visual side, which lately has dominated with the PC’s more inexpensive, GPU-friendly hardware options.
Since it uses OSC and MIDI, even though it’s for Windows, it could still be a touch app for a Mac user – running on a Windows tablet in place of the iPad. It certainly looks appealing for anyone in the Windows ecosystem already.
And speaking of visuals – the person behind this app apart from deadmau5 is Malcom Bechard, one of the developers behind TouchDesigner. The reason deadmau5 is relevant is that he’s used this on all his live shows, and the app evolved to support those rigorous demands over the past few years. (That doesn’t mean nothing – basically, even if you’re playing an underground gig or at home/in the studio, reliability is always welcome.)
In its first iteration, this is mostly “what would Lemur be like it if ran on Windows,” with some modernizations. But that’s not a bad thing – especially with large multi-touch displays for Windows, as well as stuff like the Surface tablet family. So you get all the basics:
- Drag-and-drop UI designing right in the app (no separate editor needed)
- Multiple workspaces for switching between apps
- Use as many finger touches as your display hardware supports (some are even more than ten on PC, actually)
- Send and receive OSC data (primarily for visual apps – TouchDesigner, vvvv, Notch, Resolume, VDMX)
- Send MIDI (music apps, and everything that doesn’t have OSC)
You need to connect to the software you want to control over a network – or with some multitouch displays and devices, locally. On OSC, that’s no problem; for MIDI, you’ll want something like rtpMIDI. They didn’t do a “proxy” app, but at this point I’m actually just as glad they didn’t.
The UI even looks like Lemur – though, to be fair, a lot of those widgets in turn looked like related widgets in Max. I’m a bit sad that the physics on the Lemur are missing, though – that was one of its most interesting features, and seems like it was never fully explored. (You do get movement speed and return-to controls on sliders, though, which are the most important.)
There’s no support for 14-bit MIDI or MPE (polyphonic MIDI expression), either. Those seem essential in a 2020 MIDI controller app – and in fact this lull seems the perfect time for someone to go out and make a MIDI 2.0 controller app. But the developers did tell me they added 14-bit control to the list, which would be great for software modulars, for example.
I might have skipped this news altogether but – I buried the lede. The coolest feature in there to me is a custom GLSL shader object. For now, that just means some eye candy on an XY pad. But in future, the developers says we can expect NDI support. Translation: you could have a display in your interface that can be used for live previews and the like. And that would make this tool indispensible.
Oh yeah, in other touch-app news, touchAble got a major update, and remains the Ableton Live controller app to beat. It also runs on Windows – and Android, and iOS, so anything you have with multi-touch support probably works. Our friends at discchord wrote up the release last week.