Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Ellatron via MIDI

A small group of people will remember our first MIDI video about 10 months ago that needed a jailbroken iPhone. Well here is the real thing. Excuse the totally amateurish nature of this footage, but dammit it's exciting. Cinéma vérité and all that.

Filmed with an iPod Touch in one hand, our intrepid cameraman's free hand attempts to show some of the features of the Ella MIDI implementation. We have 3 voices at once (upper, lower and pads), and all can be played concurrently if you have enough hands or somebody else around/on stage who can hit the pads. Programmable keyboard split for upper and lower, programmable chord pads if your keyboard supports it (and the Axiom 49 has 8 of them - mighty useful). Ella can be seen responding to controllers on the keyboard with on-screen information keeping you up to date, and controllers are used to change voices, volume, pitch, tone, reverb parameters, and level/pan for each of the upper, lower and pad instruments. Ellatron and the Lite Trons now all feature the same rich reverb unit first seen in M3000, and the MIDI Ellatron is going to hit the shops with a handful of the real Tron voices from M3000, albeit with the usual limitations - shorter loop times, major third sampling intervals etc. Mellotron purists will want M3000, people who just want a handful of Tron sounds for occasionally spicing up a song will love the new Ella.

Plus the MIDI implementation is ultra-responsive, despite this being a debug build and having a dozen printfs per played note - printfs going over WiFi to the Mac, because you can't really printf with an attached dock accessory...

A bit more work to do on the user interface to de-stupid it - for example, I still am amused by 'What's this for?' at the left of the screen - cannot for the life of me remember what those user interface elements were supposed to do ... and it needs an upgrade to the saved/restored preferences file, and we will be ready to roll out for testing. If all goes well we should be good to go by early December.

And a final word - all apps universal. So M3000 for the iPhone for the first time. Jordantron universal on launch date. And having pretty much all your controls exposed to the MIDI keyboard makes the iPhone / iPod Touch so usable as a performance instrument - no squinting in the dark and carefully positioning fingers to make changes, just move a slider or change a rotary control and you can select different voices, tweak reverb, change chordbanks - suddenly makes the iPhone a genuinely amazing performance or practice instrument.

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