Using Video Game Controllers With VDMX

Using a PS3 based HID Controller with VDMX

While many VJs and musicians use equipment designed to look like a traditional instruments for running their visuals, another great way to trigger video clips and FX during a performance is with gaming controllers.

In this tutorial we'll look at three different examples of using such setups in VDMX, but as always the real fun is adding them into your own projects and templates.

1. HID (Human Input Device) Game Controllers

Using the “HID Input” plugin you can receive button and joystick data from many generic USB or Bluetooth based game pads. Once selected in the device menu any detected elements from the controller will be available for hardware learn and assignment as standard data-sources.

To get started quickly with using the standard bluetooth PS3 HID Controller with VDMX try using the example template which includes a pre-mapped Control Surface plugin for each element on the device. This technique can be useful for visualizing the current state of a controller or for testing behaviors when a device isn't available to play with.

Note that the HID specification also includes lots of other types of devices that can be mapped in interesting ways for VJing.


2. Keyboard Input Based Game Controllers

Some game pad controllers such as the X-Arcade consoles show up as a USB keyboard and send standard key commands when buttons are pressed or joysticks are moved. When using these controllers no extra plugin is needed in VDMX, each assignment can be made using hardware learn mode or manually entering the data-source paths in the UI Inspector pane.

It is important to remember that since these are registered as keyboard presses, they will only be picked up by VDMX when it is the frontmost application. You may also want to consider this if you need to live type text during your performance.


3. WiiMotes

Similar to using HID based inputs, the “WiiMote” plugin in VDMX will make the buttons, joysticks and accelerometers of a bluetooth based WiiMote available as standard data-sources. For more information also see the in depth WiiMote tutorial page.

For this video tutorial we'll start by enabling Bluetooth communication and detecting the controller with the WiiMote plugin in VDMX. Once the basic configuration is working we can begin to put together a sample project that is designed to get the most out of the possibilities of the combining accelerometers with game style buttons for performing live visuals.

Tips and Notes:

Assign buttons from the right-click detect, UI Inspector, or Hardware Learn.

Pair Bluetooth HID and WiiMote controllers in the System Preferences.

We used the X-Arcade Tankstick + Trackball model in this tutorial.

We used the X-Arcade Tankstick + Trackball model in this tutorial.