This is a controller that I have put together for the purpose of controlling visuals software, and probably sequencers and synthesizer software as well. I hacked together a bunch of different controllers as a way to test out what works and what I would really use.
Here is a track I put together using just Apple’s Logic and my Minime as a basic midi controller.
I have tended to perform my visuals using the screen on my laptop to choose video clips, and then doing most of the rest using just a 16 dial controller. I’ve been looking a long time at a lot of different types, sizes, and shapes of controllers and decided to put together a bunch of components to see if I could come up with a controller that would be more helpful for my purposes.
1x Monome 40h kit (64 LEDs and 64 buttons, you can add a tilt sensor)
1x Evolution UC-16 MIDI dial controller (without the settings buttons)
1x Intec XBox controller joystick and controller board
2x BBC Microcomputer joysticks wired into aforementioned XBox controller
1x cheesy purple case from the thrift store
1x USB hub
1x USB A port, external
1x USB B port, external
Some of the component parts could just be partially disassembled and then attached to the case. The USB hub, and the UC-16 controller, that’s all I had to do. The rest were more work.
XBox controllers are really USB devices with strange connectors. To use them on the Mac, all you have to do is cut off the original connector and wire up a USB connector. With the Mac, you also need drivers. I’m currently using Carvware GamePad Companion for most programs, but I think with Max/MSP I can support it without the driver.
The most important modification you can do with a game controller when using it for musical purposes is to take apart the joysticks and take their springs out. Once you do this, they will stay where you leave them instead of jumping back to the center. This allows you to use that stick as an X and a Y setting that won’t move once you let go. Very useful for audio filters, color filters, and the intensity of various audio and video effect plugins. I lucked out and found joysticks that came from an old BBC Microcomputer.