New Toys

Aerodrums Motion Capture Drum Kit

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-- Aerodrums Drum Kit--  Mouse Over To Pause--iPad/Smart Phone Refresh-- 
I got a set of Aerodrums sent to me for review--it came in a box the size of a QWERTY keyboard! Created by a UK tech firm, Aerodrums uses 3-D motion-capture technology to create a virtual space that contains a drum set. Aerodrums works by watching your drumming gestures and tracking highly reflective markers (reflectors) attached to the ends of drumsticks and there are two more markers that strapped onto the top of each foot.

The kit includes the sticks with an extra set of reflectors, the foot reflectors, and a pair of protective eyewear to wear while "bathed" in the light from the included super bright LED lamp. The lamp snaps on around the lens of a (not included) Sony™ PlayStation 3 Eye camera. It sells for $7.95 at Amazon.com.

Depending on the drum kit selected in the software, there are: kick drum pedal, hi-hat pedal, snare, side snare, up to three toms, plus crashes and ride cymbals all placed in precise, defined locations within a virtual space in front of you. Setting up, practicing and getting use to it all takes some time but the technology works. Latency is very low--as instant as hitting drum pads or programming drums on a keyboard or drum machine--but this is, obviously a lot more fun.

Features and settings include direct MIDI output so you may play any of the six included sampled kits and also send CoreMIDI signals to trigger your own. You can create hybrid kits by selecting elements of the six kits and use them in a customized kit. Lastly, you can record you own performances--especially great for reviewing drum practice sessions.

Internal adjustments are: select between three different hit detection sensitivities, adjust audio latency--i.e. buffer size--although super low latency can introduce some audio glitches, and you may select left or right handed playing.

Playing an Aerodrum kit is different from playing than a real kit. You're striking drums in mid-air with sticks that have a different balance due to their reflective tips and there is no tactile rebound as with real drumheads. I found the preset kit's drums set up a little close together so I "cloned" a preset and, while drumming, hit the "Menu" button and the "Adjust drums" button. Then I could: "Place one drum" or "Place all drums" in new locations.

For the tracking to work well you have to set up at a measured (focal) distance from the camera/light rig and wear sunglasses or the included cardboard glasses or just shut your eyes. You have to sit in a dimly lit room so that the reflective markers provide high contrast for the camera.

The software guides you through the setup and indicates possible problems to solve for obtaining the best tracking performance. The software interface pages are large (intentionally) to see them from your position in front of the camera--I used my 40-inch flat screen monitor and my Mac's wireless mouse to control the proceedings from some distance away.

I'm not a drummer but I found Aerodrums useful for programming drums or overdub drum fills, percussion bits or just firing sound effects. I would use "Input Quantizing" in Pro Tools and I sounded like a million bucks.

This is only the start of this wonderful nascent product. I look forward to new versions and improvements as they become available. Aerodrums retails for $199 and available at: Amazon.com.

It has software that runs on MACs 10.6 and above and PCs and, as far as I know only works with the PlayStation 3 camera. Learn much more and check the demos at: aerodrums.com/aerodrums-product-page/ and here is an interesting video at: youtu.be/I6MPatEZZfI?t=20m50s



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