This is an archived page from 2011.


Orbitr is my custom VJ app written in Quartz Composer/Cocoa. It was created to solve some of the frustrations I had with the other software and hardware I use in anticipation of touring with Anamanaguchi during the summer of 2009. I wanted something reliable and efficient to take with me on the road, and the first version of Orbitr held up very well during two weeks of agressive stress-testing.

The goal was to directly map the functionality of the app to the buttons of a gamepad controller to create a system that can be intuitively played once the layout is committed to muscle memory. Version 1.0 used a Gravis GamepadPro, the current version uses a wired Microsoft Xbox 360 controller. The addition of the two thumbsticks allowed for more varied input combos.
Anamanaguchi, Portland photo by Ethan Saks at Ground Kontrol, Portland.

oribitr xbox 360 controls

If the combinations seem illogical to you, it's because they were only intended to feel natural to my brain. :) After playing twelve shows and never quite feeling right with mappings for the GamepadPro, I started over completely when planning how I would use the 360 controller. The first night I played with it, it felt completely intuitive.

Clips are QuickTime movie files, mostly renders of procedural animations generarted in Processing. The video effects pipeline and controller mapping were built in Quartz Composer. The GUI was built with Cocoa/Interface Builder/BGHudAppKit with massive help from Anton Marini/vade and fullscreen video out borrows from the QC Advanced Player.

Starpause at Pulsewave, 09/09 Starpause at Pulsewave (The Tank, New York City). photo by Henry Baum 

orbitr interface

The GUI is not meant to be used as an interface, but rather to show what effects are currently active and preview of each channel and the final output. One of my primary complaints about using game systems for performing has been the reliance on the main preview monitor to see output and the lack of visual indicators with the software. The goal is to keep displayed information to a minimum so that it can be easily read in a glance. The layout of the effect buttons correlates to the of the placement of the gamepad buttons that trigger them, which reinforces memorization of the controls.

contrl screenshot
In September, vade performed with a branch of Orbitr, and wrote up some interesting thoughts about it (with my additions in the comments).