Otto is the name for my live visuals system. Because it listens and responds as I play, it feels more like playing with another person than following along to a machine; hence giving Otto a name. Otto’s listening system is built in Max/MSP using modules from IRCAM’s Antescofo project.
Physically speaking, if you’re into specs, Otto is built with an AMD Ryzen 9 5900X 12-core 4.8GHz CPU and Nvidia 3060 GPU, on an Asus X570-Plus motherboard. He’s got Noctua fans so he’s nice and quiet during performances.
Otto and I create the visuals during my performances in Touchdesigner, which is a programming system built specifically for this purpose.
Alongside performances, I frequently run “intro to creative coding” workshops where young people and adults can have a first taste of using free software to create live reactive visuals, without having to write a line of code.
These workshops take a hands-on, dive-right-in approach to creative coding. From the very beginning, participants learn by doing, making simple, visual, interactive scenes right away. Using the same software I use for my own live visuals, you’ll make things spin, glow, warp, and sparkle as you learn about rendering, lighting, textures and more.
The workshop is suitable for anyone comfortable with basic computer skills, i.e. opening and saving files, typing, and using a mouse/trackpad.
PEDALS & EFFECTS
In recordings and live performances I use some effects pedals on the piano.
First we have a tape delay simulator: Strymon’s El Capistan, which gives a lovely warm analogue-sounding trail or echo on the piano sound.
From there we go into the Microcosm by Hologram Electronics. This brilliant pedal chops up the sound into thousands of small fragments each second, and uses those to make a granular cloud around the piano’s sound. It intelligently adapts based on what I’m playing. If you hear the sound of a distant orchestra accompanying me while I play, it’s probably this pedal.
Finally I use Strymon’s Big Sky, which is one of the most powerful and flexible reverbs I’ve ever heard. It has shimmer and cloud effects that give an otherworldly, spacious sound to the piano.