NAMM 2011 Digest for the Amoeblog by Shing02 with Yamato Kaneko
Special to the Amoeblog by Shing02: Last week's four day NAMM 2011 Show at the Anaheim Convention Center in SoCal provided yet another fresh experience for attendees. Most of the new equipment from DJ-related brands had improvements based on last year's trend, compact digital control surfaces via MIDI for laptop software. It seems most of the software glitches are smoothed out, while more brands are gearing to encourage visual performances, such as innovative interfaces and video / mp4 mixers. There was a dazzling number of iPad apps / controllers on display, which I spared the viewer in the above video.
Personally, the most exciting surprise this year came from first-time participants downstairs in the sprawling convention center's Hall H. One was Reactable, a Barcelona -based company who has made significant upgrades to the interactive instrument, also popularized by Björk. The sophisticated design and intuitive interface welcomes users of all ages to be captivated for hours. (See video demo below from NAMM of this new technology that is billed as "the instrument that has changed the way we create and perform electronic music").
Another company was Emulator, who introduced a semi-translucent control surface for its Reaktor-based DJ software. The two companies both use a projector and smart capture techniques to detect movement. The Reactable projects the information from a laptop from underneath the table on to a plastic board,
then interprets the commands from fingers and blocks. The Emulator uses a digital screen that senses the projection and touches on a grid, much like a tablet. In the video below you'll see the demonstrator switch to a writing board while DJing, thus rendering shouting, "last call for alcohol!" into the mic obsolete in 2011.
In the near future, we can expect more infrared 3D movement capture and projection, for an experience like Minority Report.
Another significant change was the integration of high-end recording software. AVID (formerly Digidesign) ProTools 9 opened up compatibility to other interfaces, an overdue feature but nonetheless welcomed with great enthusiasm. Depending on the type of recording projects, you can now use interfaces with simplicity and design (ProTools 10 should be out next year).
While software companies dish out upgrades annually, plug-ins seem to improve every year, as evidenced by McDSP. The key is that good plug-ins have great emulation of analog instruments and amplifiers, thus offering the digital control and unprecedented warmth to a waveform.
Overall, for the DJ and recording industry, it's likely that the only way to engage users and the audience, while pushing the technology forward, is to take a comprehensive approach to the full analog experience,
backed with the quality and convenience of digital tools. We can hope for an even greater leap next year in the interactive category.
Reactable demo @ NAMM 2011 by Shing02
------------------Special thanks to LA based Japanese hip-hop artist and good friend to Amoeba Shing02 for this second exclusive Amoeblog report from the annual NAMM convention in Anaheim, CA. Read Shing02's NAMM 2010 "Disneyland for Geeks" report here. Read Shing02's 2008 Amoeblog interview here. View Shing02's Amoeba Hollywood video interview at last summer's KRS-One instore. You can also look for the artist's music in the hip-hop vinyl and CD sections at Amoeba, and be sure to visit Shing02's official website.