The wireless, Bluetooth-based Wii controller is fast becoming the music control hardware of choice. The latest addition: Yann Seznec’s Wii Loop Machine, a free, Wii-controller looper for Macs. The software is built in Max/MSP using my current favorite way to interface with the Wii controllers, the free aka.wiiremote external for Max. Load in any samples you want, boot up any Mac with Bluetooth, grab your Wii controller, and you can sync, control, manipulate, and muck with loops.

Wii Loop Machine

Here’s Yan in action:

Thanks to adcbicycle, who finds this over on the em411 community where Yann has been able to get some feedback.

Nifty ideas here, and as always, you can use tools like Max to come up with something entirely different. Game developers themselves seem undecided how to use the wealth of sensors on the Wii hardware — tilt and acceleration on multiple axes on two connected pieces of hardware (nunchuck and remote), plus lots of buttons = nearly unlimited possibilities. So, at this point, I’ll repeat my plea. I love these experiments, but I’d also like to see more interactive instruments and not just more looper/DJ tools. I’m not surprised; building an expressive instrument (just like building game depth) is a bigger challenge. But the payoff should be greater variety.

Speaking of alternative applications of the Wii controller, Jaymis has been experimenting with the Wiimote and the Windows-based VJ app Resolume. Sure enough, he’s come across some great resources (and hopefully will share his own approach soon):

Wii Midi Control in Resolume with glovePIE: Full Instructions, Pictures and Settings Files

Lots of additional Wii goodness has been coming our way; here are still more resources (especially if you’re on the Mac and have felt left out by all the focus on the excellent but Windows-only gaming interface GlovePIE):

WiiToMIDI lets you translate from Wii input to MIDI messages without requiring Max/MSP/Jitter, so you can input to any MIDI-compatible Mac app.

Alternatively, for PC users, the French site has recently translated into English its comprehensive Wii-to-MIDI VJing tutorial. It’s worth a read even if you’re on Mac and/or not a VJ. Naturally, this is on our visualist sister site, Create Digital Motion:

Wii VJ @ antivj: Wiimote to MIDI on Windows Tutorial, Video

I’ve been working with Max and VDMX on Mac and will someday write a tutorial — well, once I feel satisfied I’ve got it working as well as possible!

In case you want to leave your sensor bar atop your home TV, Nyko now makes a third-party sensor bar, as reviewed by Gizmodo. I have yet to see one in a store, but I believe them.

Of course, a sensor bar isn’t nearly as cool as two candles. IGN has a good explanation of what the sensor bar does and how.

WiiDi is full of videos working with Wii and MIDI, and promises an upcoming “Wii gestures” project. All Mac-based.

No need for Max-ers to have all the fun. Tommitytom has a Reaktor-based beat chopper-upper-synth; here’s a demo via Matrixsynth.

Lastly, if you want to get really deep into using this hardware, your first and last stop is likely to be the wiki Wiili.org. They’ve massively beefed up the technical documentation of the sensors, data, and how the whole thing works. See:

Wiimote section, Wiili.org

You could probably write your own drivers based on the material there.

More Wii madness soon. Got any requests for tutorials / demos / examples, now that we have to compete with the rest of the Interwebs working on these things? Any questions from your own Wii experiments? Or are you too busy playing Zelda?

  • http://sidechainmusic.com Dri

    Times are getting exciting for audio manipulation even at the base level of other programming taking over where midi based quirky setups used to get the geeks ooooing and aaaaahing :) Nice find thanks for sharing!

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  • http://www.nicolasfournel.com Nico

    I have to agree with Peter on this one. It's all very nice but it's just barely scratching what could be done if one were to look beyond the obvious looping / DJing stuff. I really would like to see a demo that uses the Wiimote as an expressive instrument where the timbral quality is controlled by hand gestures, etc…

    By the way, now that I'm in rant mode :-) , still on the alternative input topic, please enough with touchscreens! It seems every musician out there nowdays wants to have some kind of touchscreen-based control surface. Well, it's not really the best thing ever as there are a lot of practical issues with these things. And the most important downside is that there is no real feedback, you are not turning a knob or hiting a key, pressing on a tablet pencil or anything.

    So it's all futuristic and nice looking but that's not the definitive controller at all. After working with touchscreens some 17 years ago, I'm currently using a … Wacom tablet! When you add the position, the tilt / azimuth angle, the pressure of the stylet etc…, you get something very expressive.

    I think what I'm trying to say is, technology allows us to do wonderful things but it seems we are more interested in jumping from one cool gadget to the next one, instead of really using their potential as expressive instruments…

    Ok, I feel better, I'm now going back into geek mode too :-) .

    Nico

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  • http://www.charlie.la djsynergy

    oh man, see, i should be sleeping right now at 3:30am before my final exams, but this shit has such exciting potential and i've been hooked on it ever since i bought a pair of these suckers in december. What i'm excited about is having these wiimotes control ArkaosVJ while arduino bluettoth does aurally-interesting things with abletonlive. I've been planning a piezo-sensor for my shoe so maybe i could beatmatch vsts while spinning vinyl records and exploding projected visuals with the wiimotes :-D haha all i can say is I'm gonna love a week of spring break to delve into these things more focused…I greatly appreciate every post on this damn blog, let alone the new info on resolume+Wii so thanks and keep it coming! Dabble some more into arkaos wouldja? and whatever happened to that air-guitar t-shirt midi controller?

    In response to Nico, I feel that for most of the people developing for wiimotes, the actual "feedback" IS the music/audio/effect itself. Personally, if i've designed something and it matures past infancy, I will HEAR my feedback and thats all I need. No disrepect to anybody, but its a restatement of what most people understand, more coding work has to go into these tools before you can get them to feel expressive. I think we can all agree banging on an "airdrum" in early january "felt" alot different than some of the current developing glovepie scripts we have now :) We'll get there :-)

    Take care,

    Charlie

    DJ Synergy
    http://www.uclaradio.com

  • http://www.theamazingrolo.net Yann Seznec

    Thanks a lot for the link to my project, and all of the other interesting stuff! I love your site and it's a treat to see myself on here.

    I agree that most independant software (including mine) that has come out that uses the Wiimote as a controller is not truly musical and expressive. On the other hand, I find it to be a rather blunt instrument, although I admittedly know very little about how to manipulate accelerometer data.

    It's an interesting question, though, which I suppose overlaps with the difference between composing and performing. My Loop Machine is clearly a performance tool (or toy), but I would be surprised if anyone actually wrote music in it. Using the wii in a musically expressive sense to me essentially means using it compose music (as in create original sound rather than manipulate other sounds), which strikes me as rather pointless, but maybe with others it would really resonate.

    I found that the most useful aspects of the wiimote were the buttons and the easy wireless connectivity, and I decided to make something user friendly that took advantage of those (of course, using infrared would add a lot, as others have shown). The real problem that everyone has run into is figuring out how to smooth and clean up the accelerometer data.

    What I would eventually like to see is a multiplayer musicmaking environment/game that takes advantage of all of the motion tracking, infrared, nunchuk, etc…or just to see someone make a game like Frequency or Amplitude for the Wii console.

    I'm rambling so I'll stop, but thanks again for the exposure, I really appreciate it.

  • http://www.jonbro.tk/blog Jonathan Brodsky

    Developers that work with nintendo actually get a really nice tool for not only cleaning up that data, but for classifying the different types of motions that the users are making.

    I don't truly understand the specifics of the way that the software works, but it is pretty darn complex, at least from the backend side of it.

    here is a write up of the software.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Hi Yann, thanks for stopping by! I'm not saying that using the Wii as an instrument is better — or even that it will work terribly well — just that I hope we'll explore these areas more, as well. Beginning with the controller as a "blunt" instrument is a good way to go!

    Jonathan, thanks for the tip on the developer tool. Of course, the issue with gesture recognition can be that, if you have a one-to-one gesture trigger-to-response relationship, you're kind of back to the equivalent of buttons. It's a question of how to integrate all this data.

    I'm sure it would be possible to build an open library that would not only work with Wii controllers, but homebrew electronics, as well. (There were already people doing physical computing projects with the same sensors.) Perhaps it could couple gesture recognition with cleaned-up acceleration and tilt data. It would be a far more extensive project, of course.

  • BirdFLU

    I don't have a Wii so this might seem like a dumb question, but if I have a bluetooth Mac, I just need to get the Wii remote and not the whole Wii console right?

  • BirdFLU

    Nevermind. Answered my own question here:

    http://max.iamas.ac.jp/2061/articles/108.html

  • thesimplicity

    If you have the means and interest, I highly recommend checking out Nintendo's AiLive utility (mentioned above). It's an amazing time saver that should have come with the SDK right off the bat. I'm sure some sort of open-source equivalent will come from the WiiLi project eventually, but for now it's the most intuitive method of interpreting Wiimote data (obviously).

    As for a game like Frequency or Amplitude for the Wii console like Yann Seznec mentioned above… I'm pretty sure we'll see something announced in May that'll fill that niche. ;) But the real problem is how do you come up with a music app/game that's really tailored to the notion of the Wiimote itself rather than just acting as a faux-guitar or other type of control scheme? We're used to 'when the screen shows an X, hit button X'… and I think the type of things we'll see on the Wii Download Service will be much, much different.

  • http://www.appletvconverter.net Will

    I wonder if use of the term "standard" might be a term lost in translation, where maybe they see the term

    "standard" as meaning "THE standard", perceived as the best in it's class or something like that. Just a

    guess.

    http://www.appletvconverter.net

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    thesimplicity, you're right, and unfortunately you look at the commercial explosion of Guitar Hero versus the relatively lackluster performance of Frequency and Amplitude, as well. Then again, I think that over time the market may accept more wild concepts.

    That's why I hold out some hope for the DIY development community — that we'll see things with simplified graphics, but unusual interactions and controls. Of course, you have to figure out how to pay the bills, even if it just means finding time to support these explorations. (One way could be indie distribution … Microsoft is supposed to have something there with XNA, but they're still largely mum on their plans, and I don't know about Nintendo … though Wiimote + Windows/Mac games aren't at all out of the question.)

  • http://hackedgadgets.com Alan

    Fantastic idea! Love the video.

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  • http://sonsofjob.blogspot.com Augmentalist

    I'm working on some mappings with Modul8, i really like

    the roundup section in the article props Pete and Yann

  • Candace

    Wow.

    That stuff is crazy.

    I wish I could do stuff like that.

    I'll just stick to sequences on my Korg, thank you. :)

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  • kareem

    cool

  • george

    I'm trying to use IR data with the aka.wiiremote object. I built a USB sensor bar with 2 IR LEDs but the range of motion has been more limited than the real nintendo sensor bar.

    The vertical axis is very limited, but I don't know how to improve that range. Anybody know how the Nintendo bar has such good vertical range with only one row of lights?

    And does anyone know what the optimal number of LEDs to use is, and their distances, etc?

  • emmett

    not to rush you along pete, but if you've got some time just to do a simple tutorial on using the aka.wiiremote.mxo for Max/MSP, that would be great. i'm pretty new to max (i really only started using it after i saw http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=As-jKn1Mm0w), and this is definitely a bit more complicated than an additive synth.

    also, it will probably take some calculus to make use of all the wiimote has to offer but i'm digging out my old class notes. just think, four continuous parameters (x,y,z, and rotation) in one hand! then, on top of that, 12 buttons. add a nunchuck and you've got xyz and the joystick for another two continuous parameters. the applications for live signal processing are just ridiculous!!!

    (so much for my being able to sleep tonight)

    -emmett

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  • Tia

    HELP it's doesn't work…is it because i have leopard

  • http://www.pixelsync.nl Lwin

    Ive been trying too manipulate arkaos vj with my wii controler , just for triggering effects its awesome and there is no lag , the thing is when i start using xyz controls it becomes very very laggy.If anyone could shed some light on this i would be very happy.

    My own thought is that the wii sends so much data that my midi data is gettin corupted somehow, software used wii2midi and darwinremote.

  • http://www.brandmaier.de/miidii Andreas Brandmaier

    very nice article! A recent addendum:

    The miidii-Project allows Windows-PC-users to map wiimote and the wii Balance Board to MIDI signals.

    The Balance Board enables you to map your body movements to fader and controller movements which is really fun!

    I imagine playing a live gig as a guitarist and controlling the stereo position of your guitar with left/right movements of your body. Moving your body back and forth could control a wah-wah-effect :)

  • http://www.supercumbiafuturista.com/principal/?cat=9 Diego IbÃ&iex

    F A N T A S G E E K ! ! !

    I´ve been trying to incorporate this thing to my electrocumbia project: "Sonido Desconocido II" (Unknown Sound System II) for a while now…, maybe your application will flow, i´m already working with supercollider, maybe both…

    Thanx 1000

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  • http://www.winko-erades.nl/ Winko

    Combining the WiiMote with GlovePie to make MIDI music