Touchless – A Colour Tracking Synthesiser

A project for the Creative Coding Module of my MA at Goldsmiths.

The most common complaint or criticism I have heard of live electronic music performances is the lack tangible performance element to tie to the sound the audience hears.

“He could be checking his email”

“How do we know this is live?!”

These are often cries of  those unfamiliar with such music in a live setting,  sometimes even from the most enthusiastic electronic music aficionados. To counteract this I am developing a performance interface designed to provide a clearly defined correlation between what the audience sees in movement of the performer and what the sound they hear, as well as, providing an intuitive framework for the the user to generate and manipulate sound.

The video below is the first demonstration of the software.

How it works
Using the openCV addon the colour green is tracked via the isight webcam, if the colour is present the y axis values of the tracked object are sent to a granular synthesiser which manipulates the drum loop and to the LFO rate for the low pass filter on the bass synthesiser. To accomplish this the ofxMaxim addon was used.

To begin with I started experimenting with the ofxOpenCV examples that are provided with the add-on. After experimenting with code gathered from Kunal Gupta and Davidall I settled with tracking the colour green as was much more stable (the red from skin tones and within the brown of my hair were cause the tracker to fluctuate too much). Utilising and interpreting the methodology provided in the examples of Maximilian (a component of ofxMaxim) I constructed a synth, this coupled with reading and and working through the tutorials of ‘Programming Interactivity’ (Chapter 10) by Joshua Noble (Published by O’Reilly Media CA) I was able to construct an accompanying granular synthesiser to manipulate an audio loop. I then connected OpenCV to parameters on these, providing the results shown on the video.

The Next Step
The next step I plan on taking is introducing four quadrants to the screen to differentiate between different manipulation techniques or possibly audio components, and to introduce the track of an additional colour.