April 11th, 2010
Tools: Arduino, Processing, Ableton Live
As part of my Building Virtual Worlds class at the Entertainment Technology Center I built a laser harp using an Arduino and some Sharp range sensors. Initially, the laser harp was intended to be run through a MIDI interface and control Ableton Live. I did get this working, but due to complications with the sensors, I needed more processing power than the Arduino readily provided.
The second round of the harp yielded software written in Processing that pulled data from the sensors and hosted the cleaned up information to a network viaOpen Sound Control. This was then picked up by a program build in Panda 3D and Python by Danielle Holstine made specifically for a performance piece, which, unfortunately never made it into the BVW show. Instead, the harp, and a third program was presented at the BVW after-party. This program was also written in Processing by myself. It allowed users to control the height of fountains of color, the gravity that affects them, and the volume of music notes (this is seen in the images presented above as well as the video below, sound was removed).
The video to the right demonstrates the use of OSC to control a separate program (in this case, the same program used at the BVW after party). The window on the left gets information from the laser harp, interprets it, and then hosts it to the network using the OSC protocol (indicated by green “laser” lines). When the laser harp is unavailable, the lasers appear red, indicating that the program is in its laser harp simulation mode. In this mode, the software generates messages as if it were hooked to the harp, where these messages are controlled by the sliders below lasers.