Also-does the fact I have a lot of co-ordination make it any easier to control the puppets?
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Good questions -- I'll try some answers
1. The advantage of using a midi keyboard is that you can generate behavior triggers, and also tones (music) if desired.
2. Each key on a midi keyboard sends a trigger signal, so when a triggered item is selected in the trigger panel, and a midi value is added at the bottom, whenever that midi value is generated by the midi keyboard, or by recorded audio/midi file, that triggered behavior is activated. Also midi controllers have dials and sliders which can control behavior parameters.
3. There are small midi controllers with only two sets of keys, and options to choose where those sets are on a full keyboard. These also have the sliders and dials.
4. If you want to use the midi controls while live recording, good coordination is certainly a plus. Midi signals can also be pre-recorded in music apps, to sync with the music.
I had always thought it was just in case you ran out of keys on your keyboard - but hooking up a sound effect to a puppet cycle layer as well sounds useful, especially for live performances. I had not thought of sliders - are there midi joysticks? So can use a joystick or trackpad to adjust X and Y at the same time? That would be nice!
There are midi controllers with no piano keys, just knobs, buttons, sliders and joysticks. DJs use them for controlling what's playing and how loud. Stage set directors use them to control lighting. It's also possible to connect gaming devices through a midi translator, if it doesn't transmit directly to midi. Here's one way -- https://ask.audio/articles/watch-how-to-transform-xbox-360-controller-into-incredible-midi -controller