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Secrets Revealed: Using MIDI controls to animate


Impossible 3D writes:

Hey everyone!

Although this year's Suzanne festival is over, you can head over to for a featured article on our work using a MIDI keyboard as a multi-touch controller for Blender. And, if there is enough interest, we'll release the script we created for everyone to use!


  1. Would it be possible to extract the controls from a MIDI file? The only controller other than the keys themselves is the pitch wheel on my keyboard. If you could insert MIDI control signals in a DAW then load the file into Blender and associate them with various F-curves it seems like it would offer more flexibility than baking audio to curves, which seems to ignore frequency completely.

    • Unsure what you mean, we're not baking audio to curves. To answer, a MIDI file could be playing and directing it's midi out to the keyboard, but it doesn't look like any use in our case because what you want is tweak in realtime an animation. As is explained in the video, as long as the device can understand velocity, it'll work.

  2. heh, this doesn't seem to be far away from animusic-like vids. :D
    How kinda ironic that your voice recording only fills one channel. It's kinda disturbing to listen to the vid with headphones when you have music on both but voice only on one ear...
    Though really nice work!

    • It's possible that you were listening to the video with a bad resolution. I've just checked my source, and the youtube file, and I can hear it fine with each ear :)

      • Oh, yeah, apparently you're right. Though one ear has the voice a lot less than the other one...
        It's a little too offset, so to speak...

  3. Really clever! Looking at different input methods is pretty genius. Perhaps a custom controller with just the sliders would be better since it's not using the majority of the keyboard.

    Actually, I wonder if there's a way I could use my graphics tablet to do a similar thing. Have a blender window with virtual sliding controls open and then just drag them with the pen. That way you could have x and y sliding too... Coming up with a new interface is something I'd never thought of. I'll have to look into it further.

    I also love the quote from the linked article;
    "animating with a mouse is like trying to breathe life into a character through a straw"

    • Hehehe thanks! For the graphic tablet, it may be possible, but not with this script in its current form. We're mapping a MIDI device, but I guess it's always possible to adapt the code! :)

  4. really cool , i´d love to try this as i also do electronic music,..

    only thing i dont like is the video, is boring and uninteresting in my opinion. im just trying to do some constructive criticism.

    great job anyway !

    • Hey,

      Thanks for your honest opinion. You should know the video was done to show it actually works; it was done quite fast since we are in the midst of production and couldn't spend too much time on it.

    • Actually, we've been looking all over the web to find a device with ONLY MIDI sliders, but couldn't find anything better at the same price range. Let us know if you have anything in mind... cause we're still looking :)

      • Sounds like what you want is something like an audio mixing board; lots of sliders, some buttons, some knobs. I'm not sure if such a device would be MIDI compatable, and I'm sure they would get real pricy real fast.

      • There is a series of portable usb midi devices from Korg. The Korg NanoKONTROL has 9 sliders plus knobs and switches (recently updated to the NanoKontrol2). Amazon has the older one for $40 and the newer one for $60. The full set also includes a keyboard  (nanoKEY) and a set of 16 pads with an xy area (nanoPAD). Lots of youtube videos on these little guys. 

  5. @TWS Admin @Tadd Mener @Josef @*
    Thanks! We've added a CODE section on our web site, and if we release the
    script it will be there...

  6. @martinlevasseurIf you're a little into electronics you can probably build something simple for about $100 - $150. Search for DIY Midi Mixer or DIY Midi Controller. PCBs with components are available for about $50 - $100, then you need a case, some knobs and wiring.

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