This is now my third controller related post on this blog in past few months. Our recent announcement of the MicroModul8 with FaderFox followed by SPACEBASS and now another strong contender for your controlling needs, the Bhoreal. Considering we recently lost the highly VJ centric Codanova, it’s inspiring to see how this vacuum is being re-filled so quickly.
In this instance I need to acknowledge the immense efforts of Alex Posada. He has been a major force behind the Bhoreal project, this amongst many of his other projects, past and present that deserve their own blog post, mostly beyond the scope of what is usually covered here. In brief, Alex has been one of the key figures at Hangar in Barcelona where countless arts and technology related projects become a reality, one of them being the Super Suites project the GarageCUBE team worked on with Chicks On Speed back in 2008. His artwork has also garnered praise, THE PARTICLE being featured at the Mapping Festival in 2010. More recently he took time from his vacation to work on a puppet theater project that I partook in called The Old Man and The Mountain for Le Antliaclastes (more on that in another, long overdue post).
The Bhoreal is a project that Alex started with his associated company MID.
Given this profile, it is fitting to see from recent similar postings, inevitable comparisons between the Bhoreal and devices that are similar to it. It not only deserves this association, the Bhoreal has the potential to improve upon what currently exists in ways that set it far apart from these other mentioned devices.
My own personal experience with one of these devices was quite interesting in relation to Modul8.
I was highly skeptical of all these buttons, being a bit too small. I like sliders and knobs, and this thing had none. Then someone wrote a highly tailored module for it, and I finally succumbed to temptation and bought one second hand to test it out. After some initial trepidation I finally took the time to learn how it worked and suddenly controlling Modul8 became a whole new experience.
The first and foremost thing I noted about this experience was how I almost never touched my laptop. I could hold the device in my two hands, sway about and switch clips, change colors, speed, almost getting to the point where I was not even looking at my screen. There was a fun to learning all the different modes and figure out how to do it all smoothy. From my recollection, the module made this device the most highly integrated experience between Modul8 and a piece of hardware.
Despite my joy over this, and the module being a free download via our online library, the device I am referring to was quite inaccessible for most people on a tight budget. Additionally you had the option of being lucky enough to order one of a limited edition, building one yourself (as it was open hardware) or doing what I did. In short I could not extoll its virtues with any hope in seeing it widely adopted.
This limited access lead to a variated array of these button grid controllers, at more reasonable price points or simply large enough and with extra controls, to justify the asking price. Different color lights were added along with combining knobs and sliders. But none of these offerings came close to the original in terms of simplicity and elegance, something that the completed product of the Bhoreal delivers, and at lower price than the device I am not naming.
So how does the Bhoreal differ? Besides the RGB light buttons, and the community like atmosphere around it, one of the main selling points for me is the wireless capability. As I mentioned before, once I mastered the controls of the un-named the device, I would simply hold it in both hands. How nice that will be to do so without worrying about yanking my laptop off a table due to the device being connected to it via a cable?
I will forego the technical specifications here because it is all fully outlined on the Bhoreal project page. Yes, the technology is in place. The product is functioning. But if you want one you have got to get involved, and there are so many ways on offer to do so by chipping in, buying a kit or a finished unit, or if you have a specific skill, to apply it as part of the collective effort to bring the Bhoreal to a larger group of people.
In connection with Modul8 specifically, if you get your Bhoreal you will be able to use it immediately as it is both MIDI and OSC. For a more integrated experience, at the behest of Alex I spent the better part of a month sketching out my own version of a module for the Bhoreal. While much of is based on the module mentioned earlier, it also contains additional functions of Modul8 that were not included.