Making Football Hero

Arduino Fun & Games Music

Phil Clandillon and Steve Milbourne have another maker-friendly music project.

Football Hero is basically an experiment to create a Guitar Hero type game played by footballers. The game was constructed in a warehouse in West London, and a talented young team of freestyle footballers were drafted in to participate. We created the game to promote the Kasabian single Underdog.

The game was powered by the open source GH clone Frets On Fire, and we used two enormous projectors to create a three story high image on the side of the warehouse wall. The coloured buttons on the typical guitar controller were replaced by five huge pressure sensitive pads which were carefully positioned on the wall in order to line up with the game’s descending notes. The idea being that the footballers would try to hit the pads in time with the music in order to play the Kasabian track Underdog. Each of the pads contained a piezoelectric vibration sensor, and these were wired back to an Arduino, which in turn was connected to the MacBook Pro we used to run the software.

Phil’s projects have a habit of bringing together some very talented people, and these footballers are no exception.

Paul Wood (Woody – the guy in red) was one of five guys that in 2006/7 travelled to New York with the aim of making it all the way to Buenos Aires to meet their hero, Diego Maradona. The five lads bought their flights to NY by busking around the UK. They arrived penniless in the states and raised all the money they needed by performing street football & freestyle all over the USA, Central and South America. Their trip was filmed and released as the documentary In The Hands Of Gods. Paul has since set up a freestyle academy and a junior soccer school here in the UK.

The players found the game pretty tough at first, but they gradually got into the rhythm of things, and by the end of the day were racking up some respectable scores. The game itself proved to be really addictive, and in between practice sessions and takes the entire crew was playing it.

Kasabian are synonymous with football in the UK, and Underdog has also been used on the Sony Bravia ad featuring Brazil and AC Milan superstar Kaka. The project was a result of a collaboration between Steve and I and the band’s label Columbia Records.

Phil told me a bit about their process for creating these music and technology projects, which are all so varied:

  1. Have an idea
  2. Try to get approval from the label / artist / management
  3. Plan and resource the project (we tend to collaborate with experts in whatever field of technology the project is related to)
  4. Execute it
  5. Tell people about it

We never do the same thing twice, and the projects can be pretty stressful as we’re always taking a risk and sticking our necks out, often doing things that have never been done before. We also work with relatively small budgets. Luckily it’s almost always worth the hard work though.

The Maker scene and the general explosion in low cost high technology have been a huge inspiration to us. Many of the things we do would have been pretty much inconceivable ten years ago. It’s also important that we try to work with technologies that the world and his dog aren’t all trying to innovate with. So for example we’ve stayed away from augmented reality as pretty much everyone is trying to create something with those tools.

Take a look at Phil’s portfolio, and you can see some of the other projects he’s had a hand in, and wander through his blog to get a sense of some of his other thoughts.

In the Maker Shed:


Arduino Family

Make: Arduino

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