Behind The Magic

The Lemur came to life through Guillaume Largillier (CEO), Pascal Joguet (CTO) and Julien Olivier (Lead Software and Hardware Architecture). The two formers are longtime friends – they actually met in kindergarten in the late 70’s. Their common passion for music and technology experimentation started growing in the mid-90’s, when the two were studying electronic music composition at the Bordeaux National Music Conservatory. “At this time, although we had access to digital samplers and synthesizers, the tape recorder was still the corner stone of the Studio – making electronic music was still about cutting, gluing and looping analog tapes. There was a couple of Macintosh computers available in the classroom, but neither was powerful enough to make music in real-time“, they both recall.

Joguet moved to Paris to continue studies in Audio Engineering in 1997. He then served two years as an Audio Engineer at IRCAM, one of the most prestigious research centers devoted to Computer Science and Music in Europe. “IRCAM has stood at the foreground of research in the field of Real-time Audio processing for decades. Before I joined IRCAM, I had already had the opportunity to work with a powerful DSP-based audio workstation, but this is where I realized the true potential of computer-based music. He also points out: “With software such as Max/MSP, the possibilities became endless in theory, but the lack of dedicated hardware solutions to capture a musician’s gestures was a great frustration.

During this period, Joguet kept in touch with Largillier who shared his time between completing a Master Degree in Audio-Visual studies at the Bordeaux University, making short movies and practicing experimental music. In 2000, Largillier was hired as technical coordinator at SCRIME, a computer music research lab located at the heart of Bordeaux University of Science. Like his fellow colleague Joguet, Largillier quickly came to the conclusion that Human-Machine Interface was the Achille’s heel of computer music and that it was likely to become a crucial domain of research in the near future: “During the two years I spent at SCRIME, I experimented making music with a wide panel of Input Devices: keyboards, joysticks, magnetic sensors and graphic tablets to mention a few“, Largillier recalls. “Eventually it was possible to obtain interesting effects but most often the result was disappointing, mainly because dedicated MIDI controllers were not generic enough whereas general purpose input devices were not dedicated enough. “ As a result of this experimentation, a new concept of hardware controllers was starting to emerge.

The third co-founder, Julien Olivier, is a serial inventor with a broad array of skills, ranging from electronic system design to software architecture. Julien had worked as contractor in the video game industry for several years. As a result, he developed and designed games for various platforms and became expert in various fields including AI, game engines, graphic engines, sound engines and physic engines. After his experience at Cryo Interactive, a leading game studio in France, he started up his own company in 1999 and developed cross-platform Game Engines for the Nintendo Gameboy Advance / Sony Playstation / Windows PC.

Olivier met Joguet when they both joined Shooting Star, a sound design studio that produces soundtracks for the Gaming and Entertainment industry. Together, they initiated and developed an innovative post-production synchronization system called “Star-Sync”.

In 2001, the desire to move forward and to start up a company dedicated to developing a new generation of controllers for music applications lead Largillier and Joguet to the next step. By the end of 2001, Pascal introduced Olivier to Largillier. This introductory meeting was soon followed by a few brainstorming sessions. In December, the concept of a Multi-touch controller took shape and the JazzMutant project was in the starting blocks. Julien Olivier remembers: “I had never been involved in music technology and I have to confess that I don’t care about music at all, but this project was a unique opportunity to make an old dream of mine come true : developing an entire hardware product from scratch.

The irony was that the original concept of what should become the Lemur relied on a great oversight. Indeed, the founders unanimously believed that amongst the plethora of touch screen technologies available on the marketplace, there must be at least one capable of tracking an unlimited number of fingers at once – which was a major necessity for the product.

After a few months of surveying the touch screen landscape, the three had to bow to the evidence that such a multi-touch technology did not exist and needed inventing. The team then developed the first ever prototype of a Multi-touch capable screen in October 2003. One year later, the first fully functional “Lemur” came to life and was unveiled to the public at Ircam on October 10th 2004.

In 2005 the final version of the Lemur was available on a worldwide level. Since then, the Lemur has been adopted by a wide range of dedicated musicians, composers, DJs, media artists, researchers and developers.

Since mid 2007 JazzMutant has become the Music & Media product division of Stantum Technologies.


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