Small form factor, multi-dimensional, foot controller.

  • Dates: 2010
  • Location: Berkeley, CA
  • Role: Software Director
  • Collaborators:
    • Keith McMillen – Founder / President Keith McMillen Instruments, Hardware and Creative Director
    • Ashley Adams – Creative Advisor
    • Nick Bonardi – User Interface Design, Programmer
    • Don Buchla – Hardware Advisor
    • Chuck Carlson – Programmer
    • Justin Catalana – Electronics
    • Joel Davel – Electronics
    • David Hishinuma – Electronics
    • Sarah Howe – Tester, Documentation
    • Marielle Jakobsons – Creative Advisor
    • Conner Lacy – Programmer
    • Dan Maloney – Assembly, Electronics
    • Danishta Rivero – Tester, Documentation
    • Denis Saputelli – Electronics
    • Mike Zawitkowski – Business
SoftStep 1
SoftStep 2
SoftStep 3
SoftStep 4
SoftStep 5
SoftStep 6
SoftStep 7

The SoftStep is a 10 pad multidimensional foot controller with an integrated software routing suite.

The controller is USB-powered and measures 4-inches x 18-inches, and weights slightly over 1 lb. It features ten 2.5-inch square foot pads and four 7/8-inch navigational pads. An 1/8-inch port for a volume or expression pedal is on the front, and there is also a USB expansion port for a SoftStep MIDI Expander that enables use of SoftStep to control external MIDI devices with or without a computer. It is very brightly lit, so easily visible on a dark stage, and has red/green programmable LEDs by every pad for feedback.

If the whole controller only consisted of 10 foot triggers it would still be an impressive device. However, each one of the ten main pads is a continuous controller in 3 dimensions. This allows you to control multiple dimensions of effects in real time with each pad, think reverb time on the x-axis and room size on the y-axis. With this kind of multi-dimension parameter space accessible right under foot, the possibilities for realtime performance expand geometrically.

These controllers are not static, but are completely assignable from the integrated software package. An extensive modulation matrix allows routing of each pad’s axes to multiple destinations. Each modulation line begins at left with an on/off switch, and includes an area to choose which type of modulation parameter to use. A gain and offset control allow you to scale your parameter within a useful range. The destination section lets you choose whether you are outputting Note, CC, Bank, Program, OSC, Pitch Bend, MMC, Aftertouch, or Poly Aftertouch information.

All settings in the program are recallable via a preset system. The hierarchy of presets makes sub-libraries of functions accessible and enables rich sets of scene changes during live performance. The idea behind all of our software products is to make intensive configurability possible while maintaining manageability in live performance. The SoftStep fits this bill perfectly, letting you define myriad possibilities, but then have the intuitive control you need during performance.


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