Pro-Style MIDI Camera Control

Photography & Video
Pro-Style MIDI Camera Control

MIDI Camera Control from MAKE Volume 19

Back in MAKE Volume 19, digital artist Josh Cardenas shared build instructions for a unique, custom setup he was enlisted to create for renowned turntablists DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist. We just shared the full DIY on Make: Projects. From the intro:

I had the chance to run visuals for a unique DJ act called The Hard Sell, a collaboration of turntablists DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist. The art of spinning and cutting records is usually not visible to dance club audiences. Cut and Shadow wanted to let everyone see, up close and personal, all the action on their 8 simultaneously spinning turntables playing old 45s. But they needed a way to do it unobtrusively. Given the often cramped spaces of the venues they perform in, they couldn’t have a crew of sweaty dudes in black clothes wielding cameras in their faces. Also, Cut and Shadow wanted to mix in additional visuals from DVDs, to change and match the moods of the different tracks.

I got involved when Ben Stokes, the show’s lead visualist, said to me: “I like robots. I like cameras. I love robot-cameras! You build all kinds of crazy stuff; what can you come up with for this?” I suggested I could probably make some small robotic mounts for the cameras, each with their own pan-and-tilt mechanism driven by hobby servos. They’d be small, light, cheap and effective — my favorite combo!

Here’s the multi-camera live setup I devised for the show, and a lower-budget version that you can put together without all the professional equipment.

Here’s a visual breakdown of the setup Josh made for the tour:

MIDI Camera Control Hard Sell Rig Setup

And here’s a video of DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist in action. You can see the rig in the wide shots, and footage from the rig on the screens behind them.

Check out Josh’s build on Make: Projects, and start capturing footage like the pros.

MIDI Camera Control Setup

2 thoughts on “Pro-Style MIDI Camera Control

  1. Wedding Dresses says:

    You are so right!

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I'm a word nerd who loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon. I was an editor on the first 40 volumes of MAKE, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. In particular, covering art is my passion — after all, art is the first thing most of us ever made. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for untouched powder fields and ideal alpine lakes.

Contact me at or via @snowgoli.

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