I’ve been captivated by the possibilities of the LEAP Motion as an input device ever since it was announced. It’s still finding its niche, but I feel an area of huge potential is for interactive electronic music.
So, how to turn your gestures into MIDI data with the LEAP? I’m especially interested in using it with my DAW of choice, FL Studio in Windows. Guess what, there’s an app for that (actually several).
The main ingredients for the configuration I went with are as follows:
- A LEAP Motion controller – you can get them at Best Buy or Future Shop! It’s $79.99 US.
- (For Windows) The “loopMIDI” virtual MIDI loopback cable application.
- The GECO App by UWYN, available from LEAP’s Airspace store (part of the LEAP install). It’s $9.99 US.
Read on for details.
Part 1: LEAP Motion
Nothing to it really, just go buy one, either online or a brick-n-mortar store, and install the software, which includes some amazing example apps and the Airspace store.
Part 2: loopMIDI (Windows Only)
- Download and install the free “loopMIDI” virtual MIDI loopback cable application.
- Run it, and create a new virtual port called “LEAP Motion”.
- This creates a virtual MIDI port that can be accessed by name from your music software.
Part 3: GECO
There is a variety of apps in the Airspace Store that generate sound, and a few of them do MIDI. GECO caught my attention because it was cheap ($9.99) and they implemented pretty much what I had in mind for coding up myself when I first heard bout the LEAP. There are a few alternatives that are more expensive – please leave a comment with your experiences if you’ve tried the other apps!
1. Purchase and install GECO from the Airspace Store.
2. Go to File->Document Settings and set the Output Port to the LEAP Motion.
3. Experiment and set up the CCs to suit your preference! To avoid to relearn the CCs every time, I adopted the convention shown below and use it in all my songs. I also found the hand open/closed detection was a bit troublesome (you can tweak it, but I found I just wasn’t using it anyway) so I disabled it.
Here is a link to my presets if you want to use it as a starting point. Also note that I have the “Rest Value” set to LAST for all of them, so they keep their old values when you remove your hands. You may or may not want this (set to “0” or some other value if not).
Load up your music software and activate the “LEAP Motion” port as a MIDI input. You should see data appearing the Continuous Controllers as you defined above.
Here’s a video of my setup in action in live performance, enjoy! I also ran the LEAP Visualizer in parallel with GECO to provide some eye candy.