[sdiy] Silhouette Eins optical synthesizer

Mike Bryant mbryant at futurehorizons.com
Thu Sep 2 21:46:00 CEST 2021

In the late 90s, Studer used to drill holes through LCD panels just large enough for a rotary encoder shaft to go through.   With the correct orientation it goes black (or white with some panels) to the right and down from each encoder, but by aligning all the encoders you can keep most of the LCD useable.

-----Original Message-----
From: Synth-diy [mailto:synth-diy-bounces at synth-diy.org] On Behalf Of cheater cheater via Synth-diy
Sent: 02 September 2021 18:47
To: synth-diy
Subject: [sdiy] Silhouette Eins optical synthesizer

Very interesting new synthesizer. Several novel ideas that we could look at for synth DIY.

The immediately coolest thing is using a screen as a front panel.
Essentially the inventor stuck potentiometers to the front of a PC monitor. I considered doing something similar maybe 15 years ago but somehow I thought it wouldn't be "perfect enough". I guess Johannes Pit Przygodda is less held back by stupidity like that. The end result is very cool. I wonder if anyone else has tried that. The front panel can show the current setting of a knob (think LED rings) and you can reconfigure what knob does what parameter. Real cool. Perfect fusion of analog knobs, patch memory, and in-depth configurability.

The second cool thing is the synthesis method. A camera scans the silhouette (hence name) of an item placed on a light table like you'd use for drawing (essentially it's an LCD screen always showing a full-white picture). I understand this then is used as an input to a wavetable synthesizer, but I'm not sure. The Synthtopia article mentions it might be like the Oramics Machine, but from looking at the video I believe it might be more like an Optigan.


The third cool thing is the haptic element of the video based synthesis method. The light table and objects placed upon it become a control surface, and that's very valuable.

I feel like this will be returning in the future. Being able to place arbitrary objects on a control surface and to use them as a control interface and even element of the synthesis engine is a huge step forward from just having knobs, sliders, strings-with-rings, keys, buttons, and the like.
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