Camera Theremin

Last year while searching the web for accessible music software I came across a site hosted on code.google.com called Tukespirnt. The site contains about ten applications of varying quality that were the results of a weeklong workshop supported by Sound and Music to create a series of Interactive Experience for the Tuke School . As I revisit it a year later I see that some of these applications have only been downloaded a handful of times, others not at all. It’s a real shame that they are hidden away here because as you will see although some are a little rough around the edges there are also some real gems here.  Over the next few posts I’m going to pick out the best of them, test them out, put up a short demo video and provide installation instructions (if needed). As the name of this post suggests first up is the Camera Theremin.

Installation instructions

(tested on Windows 7 32bit, Service Pack 1)

  • Download the Camera Theremin software here. (zip file)
  • Extract the zip file to your desktop (or wherever you can easily find it). You can  use Winzip or 7Zip.
  • It will extract as a folder called Sampler. Within this folder there are 7 files and two folders. One of the files (application file) is also called Sampler. This is the one you want. Double click Sampler to run the Camera Theremin.
  • That’s it! No installation necessary. This means is that you can run this nice little program straight from a USB key (or a Dropbox folder) if you so wish.
  • NB. As this program starts up it will open and close a command prompt window (black window). This freaks some people out but it’s nothing to worry about.

Controls and Settings

As the video above explains once the Camera Theremin application is running if you press the space bar the settings dialogue will open. You will then be presented with a number of sliders and drop-downs  The best thing to do here is just dive right in and start messing around. There is a restore button on the top left that will bring the settings back to the default harp if things don’t work out. Two settings that might prove particularly useful are the movement sensitivity and threshold sliders. Adjusting these will allow someone capable of only very subtle movements to get results.

Two things I discovered while playing around with this software.

  1. If you hold down certain keys (function keys, tab) it puts an effect of sorts on the sound. To get the original sound back just select another sample and then revert back to the original sample and it will be reset (the restore button doesn’t work in this instance).
  2. You can load your own samples into the Theremine. If you have sounds you want to use just cut them down to about 2 or 3 seconds, save them as a .wav file and put them in the Sounds folder (for editing sound files and exporting them as wavs you might find Audacity useful). Next time you run the application the new sample is in the sounds drop-down.