Music, lasers, lights and a couple of C64s

Jean-Michel Jarre in 1990 in Paris, Vangelis in Rotterdam in 1991, Mike Oldfield in 1999 in Berlin, … all of these were amazing concerts, the height of synthesizer music and the ultimate fusion of electronic music with a tremendous laser and light spectacle.

Surely something like this requires a lot of computers with a lot of processing power to synchronize the music with the show, right? Well yes, but the same, albeit on a smaller scale, was done with nothing more than a Commodore C64.

The year is 1987 and in Munich Airport a show called “Laserland” is in progress. A spectacle, along the lines of Jarre’s cities in concert, is being performed on synthesizers, electronic drums and samplers and controlled by… a C64!

The C64 in question with its MIDI-interface and equipped with the “PRO 16” application from Steinberg Research is capable of handling up to 16 simultaneous synths and sends all the samples to a recorder on 15 tracks. The C64 also creates the drum effects, which once completed and burned on an EPROM get transferred into the electronic drums, which in turn reproduce the effects with every beat.

The synchronization track of the recorder communicates with another computer (yet another C64), responsible for the light show. This computer works with the custom built application “Switch Master” and can handle up to 32 light systems, fog machines and stroboscopes.

My kind of recording studio, powered by a C64

A third C64 is used to create the Laser effects by means of the application “Laser Editor II”. All the required laser images are drawn up, burned on an EPROM and then plugged into the Laser generator itself, which is in essence a heavily modified… C64.

With the combination of these breadboxes, the synths, the lights and lasers a truly amazing, Jarre-style show was performed… and all this with just 64K of RAM and a couple of MHz of CPU power.
It just goes to show once again, how versatile the breadbox was and how much power you actually got for small amount of money.

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One Response to Music, lasers, lights and a couple of C64s

  1. Pingback: Commodore Inside! | A Commodore Geek's Blog

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