Webcam music and effect controllers. Do you see?

Most new laptops have webcams (or as Apple calls them iSights) built in. So it’s great to see music applications starting to use these cameras. The above tech demo from the Deep Listening Institute is designed for people with disabilities but there’s no reason anyone can’t benefit from this technology. I can imagine some guitar samples hooked into the interface and a long haired metal guy moshing away!

Metal Fan - cartoon

A commercial ready music webcam application is Cycling 74’s VTheremin:Vtheremin

Another example of our unique approach to instruments is the VTheremin plugin. Using your webcam, you can control a pair of oscillators by moving colored balls in the air. –

Vtheremin is part of Cycling 74’s Hipno plug-in package. Audio Unit, RTAS, and VST. $199. Available as download or CD-Rom package.

There is also an open source webcam controller called Peripheral MIDI Controller from Ben Tan (Windows only so far):

Peripheral MIDI Controller (pmidic) is a software program that intends to act as a MIDI controller by using various peripheral devices. The initial release(s) will be focused on using a webcam as a MIDI controller with 3 dimensions (XYZ). –


When I perform live I have a video that plays in sync with my music dual screening from Ableton Live (remember this post?) to a video wall behind me. I just realized that I can open iChat, click the video preview window and drag that over to the video window too. This way the audience can see my face as I control Ableton. More reasons to go to the gym everyday!


Want to see a futuristic use of webcams? Check out On this site people have public video conversations using recorded video messages. Anyone can read the conversations then post a video and jump in. There are already several music threads with people playing live music to each other. It’s sort of a video version of Twitter. You have to sign up for a beta invite but they send it to you within a day. If you sign up send me a video message, my screen name is: thingstocome

Lastly, on the webcam video note I have been considering doing some video posts to Wire to the Ear. I’m not sure if it’s something I want to do yet. What do you think?

p.s. “Metal Fan” T-shirt: available here