This show is all about the music and the story, but a good story can be enhanced beautifully with technical effects that work seamlessly with the experience.
For the premiere of Miss Rainsong, Ross enlisted the help of two friends, Jay and Terry Paul, to run sound and lighting. Both were pros with years of experience. They helped out on the next few shows, but it was clear that, in order to make the show portable, Ross needed to figure out how to run the show himself -- from the stage -- without the help of a crew. But how?
Enter Arduino -- a set of hardware and software tools for creating just about anything. I had heard about these inexpensive microprocessors and how people were programming them to automate their homes, create robots, and operate machinery of all sorts. Seemed like the perfect solution!
I saw Arduinos in action when I helped build sets for my son's high school theatre program. One of the long-time volunteers, Brian Donnelly, used his engineering chops to build controllers for particularly complex sets -- including a fully automated yellow brick road for The Wizard of Oz that dazzled the audience. I asked him if I could build an Arduino-based solution inside my guitar to run the lights and sound for my show from the stage. He said, "Sure!"
It took me six months of trial and error (mostly error) to get a working prototype. The build has gone through several iterations, but has now been the backbone of the show for the last several performances. It's also failed at critical moments, so I imagine I'll be tweaking it for many more performances -- probably endlessly. As frustrating as the failures have been, It's been incredibly satisfying to see this part of an already complex project come to life.
Up top is a video of an early prototype. Like the show itself, the tech has evolved to include controllers for guitar effects and even LED lights inside the guitar!