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Loop-R VJ Touchscreen System

Interview with visual_basiq about the Loop-R

Why did you decide to make your own interface?

This all started as a research paper conducted by me and Joao Pitte for a final project for our post-graduate studies, we were supposed to do research on interface design and decided to explore realtime video controllers. I had been vjing for some time and was one of the many who had always felt unhappy with the standard interfaces in live visuals performances. Except for kicking and triggering some clips i never liked much the keyboard and controlling effects with a mouse seemed always too limiting. Midi controllers allowed an infinite number of possibilities nevertheless their format was standardized by/for audio applications.

Another strong point of the project was its resources limits, the technology used had to be available, cheap, durable and responsive to our actions. After researching technology and the vj’ing activity, specifically in controlling video loops, there was a proposed design and a bunch of sketches. I couldn’t keep on going without testing the physical tool, so a prototype had to be made and loop-R was born.

How long have you been working on this project?

The project started in May 2004, the first fully functional prototype was built during the summer of 2004 and presented in december at ShowSkills Festival (uk). Then the project went through some minor hardware revisions, new paintings, some software tweaks and a lot of performances! Though the prototype was finished there was still a lot of tweaks going on and new ideas, too. After moving to New York I started studying again and some other projects took hold of my focus, but in one way or the other Loop-R was always present and I’m now finishing a new model.

Where did you get the parts?

I got most of the parts second-hand, through online sources like eBay. The first version was built from an industrial 3m touchscreen and its metal enclosure and a Doepfer Pocket Dial midi controller. The software system was made using Isadora.

Did the hardware lead the software design, or the other way around?

I guess none did.. from the beginning i saw them as pretty much the same thing. One of my concerns was the barrier between our main point of focus (the screen) and what we’re doing with our hands, there’s a lot of focus-shifting going on and there was a need to end that. Also, natural mappings between the user actions, the controllers and the system were studied according to the media we wanted to control. The elements had to be blended as one, controllers melting over the GUI, no distinction between software and hardware.
All of this contributed to the conceptual model and from that it was just a matter of picking the right hardware and software. Of course, all of this was constrained by not having much knowledge of electronics, little money and even less time.

Are you interested in mass-producing this or selling the idea?

I don’t think i’d say “no” to mass production if i have the chance, nevertheless there’s much involved to do that. Maybe producing it in a small scale… we’ll see. The heart of the project has always been a DIY approach so i’d be really happy if it showed the people that they don’t need one just like this, but they can build their own controllers, their own tools customized precisely for their needs and ideas. There’s a lot of people doing this and there has never been a better time to do it than now. the amount of tools and information we have available to us is amazing, easily accessible and contains huge creative power. The possibilities are infinite!

How easy is it to travel with the loop-r?

Well, lets just say it’s not a laptop…6kg (13 lbs) in an aluminum tool case with all cables, power adapter. plus computer (says my roadie). I’ve travelled over Europe with few problems besides some strange looks from the customs officers.

Who or what inspires you?

This is going to sound geeky but in this project i couldn’t forget Bill Buxton, Fitzmaurice and D.Norman’s researches and writings and give thanks for sharing them. They were extremely influential in my interface design approach. Zachary Lieberman and Golan Levin are amazing creators of expressive interfaces.

Maybe the whole history of artists and creators throughout the visual performance history and synaesthesia pursuit who always looked for more. Currently David Dessens (SanchTV) and his VVVV custom high-resolution multi-projection systems is one of the shows I most want to see. And, of course, a lot of inspiration comes from music!

What do you do for a living?

Interaction-media-creative-researcher-artist-vj-student-boy, currently enrolled in the Interactive Telecommunications Program at Tisch-NYU.

How did you get started with Video Mixing?

I always had a strong passion for music and performance. Though I could never play any musical instrument, I was always making video clips in my mind. By ’97 I got a hold of the VJamm and X-Pose demos and, naturally, got crazy and thought i just had found my tool. By 2000 I had moved to VJing outside my bedroom and never stopped.

Where are you from? What is ‘the scene’ for video mixing like where you are?

I’m from Portugal but i have been living in NYC for almost one year now. In Portugal the scene is growing and becoming more mature. There are lots of new VJs every year with really nice ideas and work going on. Also Music, Cinema and other Arts festivals are acknowledging live visual performance and investing in it, promoting workshops, competitions and performances.

Where do you see video performance heading?

Vjs are building their own software and controllers bringing a lot of innovation to the arena and multi-projection has been the buzzword for the past years. Also, generative graphics and coded visuals are becoming more popular than ever.The interaction with sound has been directing live visuals, not disregarding it, more collaborative interactions with the audience and space are being explored and enriching the experience.

4 Responses to “Loop-R VJ Touchscreen System”

  1. boysandmurderers Says:

    Awesome.

  2. dr.xnlb Says:

    i want one.

  3. datagrama Says:

    Grettings to this project…one of the most interessant so far. Seen a performance with it by the author, and was really exited with it. ( AV performance with samples from NY streets ).

  4. Handmade Music » Brooklyn, July 16: Suitcase Sequencers, Handmade Loopers, APC Hacking, Shake That Egg Says:

    [...] website and demo Loop-R’s website and demo @rux-werx Loop-R interview and demo on VJKungFu dual_blur’s performance at Eyewash – 11-2007 rux+looop-r interview on [...]

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