Overlay Designer feedback + gapless Morph and e-ink overlay dreams


#1

Hi Sensel team,

the overlay designer is a great addition! Having the option to directly upload own creations to the Morph and use them without any in-between software is really awesome!
Have been playing around with the current version and created a number of MPE compatible overlays for musical use.

Some observations and suggestions from these first experiments:

Overlay Designer+Morph FW

Convenience:

  • I have four Morphs side by side. In most cases I use them to get a bigger surface than one Morph can currently offer. So optimally I want to use the same overlay on all Morphs, just with different transpose factors (e.g. the first one from C0-B1, the next one from C2 to B3 etc.)
    Currently I have to copy and modify each overlay four times (adaption can take quite some time - some overlays have 70+ areas).
    It would be great to have a “transpose value” in the global Morph settings (e.g. +/- n cent) that are added to the pitch that is configured in the overlay-side MPE/MIDI areas. That way one could upload the same overlay to all Morphs and would naturally have e.g. the rightmost Morph higher pitched than the ones to the left.
  • It would be great if we could select several areas (e.g. with selection box and/or shift, ctrl+a etc.) and set some options for all selected elements (e.g. absolute x/y toggle, threshold, color etc.)
  • It is nice that duplicated elements are automatically placed adjacent to each other - almost. Currently the overlay designer adds a gap of 1 mm between areas, so I always had to correct the position. It would be nice if one could e.g. select two areas and the duplicate function would make a copy of the second selected area - with the relative offset that the first selected area has from the second. Then the new area would become the new second selected area and the old second selected the first selected etc. So one can just hit the duplicate button to create areas with the same offset pattern.
  • copy and paste of groups of areas would be very helpful (e.g. to copy rows of “keys” for grid-like layouts)
  • grouping of areas could be helpful. That way one could fix the spacial relationship between some areas and move them around together
  • copy’n’paste between overlays could be helpful for cases where one wants to create a “mix” from several existing overlays
  • for more complicated layouts it would be easier to have a human readable/editable layout specification file format (as others have already written on these forums).

Functionality:

  • Currently some parameters like pitch bend width for MPE areas etc. are limited to a predefined selection from a dropdown menu. For some overlays I would need different numbers, so having the option to manually type in custom values in (best all) cases where we currently have pre-selected ones would imho be crucial. (Optimally there could still be a drop-down with the most common choices - just when people start to type it would act as an edit field)
  • It would be nice if we could set the pitch rounding approach per area/group of areas. E.g. I have one layout that has a piano-like key layout at the lower 2/3rd and a continuous area at the upper 1/3rd. Currently I use it with pitch rounding disabled. (And relative x/y for the lower as well as absolute x/y for the upper part). Optimally the lower part would have pitch rounding that slowly rounds to the target pitch while the upper one allows precise in-between-tunings. It would be perfect if I could e.g. start from an area with relative pitch, move the finger up to the “pitch-correction free” area to go wild and then optionally move the finger down to an area with pitch rounding again to settle on a final target pitch. So the pitch rounding could change for the same note depending on area one is at (without retriggering the note on area-transition, as it is already possible with the “out of area” feature).
  • To get a bigger playing area also into vertical direction it would be nice if one could put the lower Morphs upside down, so the thick part of the Morph is always outwards. For that to work we would need an option to mirror the x/y to pitch/CC mapping
  • Usually I test overlays with some synths that are controlled via MPE. Currently I have to exit the SenselApp to stop the integrated piano sound from playing together with my intended sounds. It would be good if we could mute the internal midi sound sources of the SenselApp.
  • Transposition buttons currently don’t work with MPE, would be nice if they would.
  • It would be nice if we could create alternative layouts (not only mappings) for all overlays. E.g. I would like to subdivide the areas for the piano overlay differently to have “absolute pitch” and “relative pitch” areas as described above.

Bugs:

  • I have a layout with a big area with absolute x/y coordinates and MPE note C4 and another smaller area with relative x/y coordinates and also MPE note C4 on the same overlay. When I press the big area anywhere then I hear both the note that corresponds to the absolute finger position on that area as well as the note C4 from the small area that seems also to be triggered - even when the finger isn’t even close to it. (The both areas are adjacent but not overlapping)

Morph/Overlays

  • The width of the Morphs is currently a handycap for musical applications. When putting two octaves on one Morph the spacing is slightly too narrow. Also having more than two octaves without gaps would be awesome! (In order to have 3 octaves per two gapless Morphs I have experimented with various “gap interpolation” approaches with the C++ API. Sliding over gaps works reasonably well but even when using thicker overlay mats that press on both morphs at the same time on the edges it is unreliable to start/stop on the gap with a consistent pressure level. So currently I went back to the (too) narrow two octaves that fit on one Morph). A 4-5 times wider Morph would be a relevation! :slight_smile:
    Alternatively smaller truely gapless Morphs that support large Morph-spanning overlays would be welcome (also without the round edges at the lower side - this is imho form over function)
  • Not sure how practical 3d-printing overlays will be (most people don’t have the equipment). Ordered some prints on neoprene. Works really well - but it doesn’t stick to the Morph and slides around - only thing I could find was to make them bigger and put some weights on left and right.
    Could e.g. a Sensel-offered e-ink overlay be an idea where we can upload an image via usb and then it stays as is without electricity? (Are there flexible e-ink papers available where black areas have a different “stiffness” than white ones to even get haptic feedback? Probably wouldn’t need a high resolution. Something along these lines would be awesome!)

All in all a really promising (and stable!) first release of the overlay designer - thumbs up!


#2

Thank you for the great feedback! We are currently reviewing all of your feedback to see what should be added to our future roadmap. If we have any follow ups to your feedback, we will make sure to post them here.