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Resolume Avenue 3 Introduction from Bart van der Ploeg on Vimeo.

With a new generation of visual apps, we’ll soon see if software innovation can help live visualism spread through the larger performance scene. One of the tools to watch has been Resolume 3, and it’s a secret no more.

We knew Resolume 3’s release would make a big splash, if for no other reason than its loyal (PC-only) audience. The older Resolume 2 was always a favorite for its streamlined interface and the ease with which it handled live gigs. It had its “legacy” downsides, too, like limited performance capabilities, a lack of 3D hardware support, and support for Windows only. Resolume 3 promised to fix that, but some loyalists wondered if the ground-up redesign – with a new engine and new interface – would live up to the name, or get lost in the avalanche of new VJ tools being developed this year.

Today, Resolume’s creators took the wraps off the new Resolume Avenue 3. The big news: this app could set itself apart with beat-matched, audiovisual mixing, not just video.

In short, think:

  • 3D, multiple screens, OpenGL / FreeFrameGL effects
  • Beat-synced everything, looping
  • Audio in video clips, direct audio file triggering, VST audio effects

We’ve been playing with an early beta, and it’s been a blast — bringing over some of the basic principles we liked in the original Resolume interface, but with lots of fun newness added.

Generational Shift

A number of features in Resolume 3 parallel the trend in live visual apps in general. They’ll be welcome changes. In short, it’ll run on Mac as well as Windows, it’ll run fully native on the GPU for high performance, it’ll fit whatever screen you’re using for the UI, and output will map to any object you want on multiple displays.

Specifically:

  • OpenGL acceleration, with a fully 3D engine
  • 3D compositing, with the ability to map video as a 3D texture
  • A resolution-independent UI that scales to different screen sizes
  • MIDI, OpenSoundControl (meaning we have a number of visual apps ready to receive OSC data, if only one mainstream music app were intelligent enough to send it to them)
  • Video mapping, advanced keystoning, and smart multi-display support
  • OpenGL video effects, applied at the clip, layer, or composition level
  • FreeFrameGL video effects (the new, open format for OpenGL-based effects)
  • Cross-platform Mac/Windows support

Audiovisual Beast?

With just the features above, Resolume could prove a top pick if it nails the UI and workflow and delivers some solid performance. But here’s where things start to get interesting. Resolume also has what may be the most complete, fully-developed set of audiovisual performance tools I’ve seen yet:

  • Audio everywhere: You can play not only video clips with audio in them, but you can directly play audio files, as well, and combine those with video
  • Beat sync everywhere: you can sync “everything” to a global BPM (I’ll be testing this one particularly closely to see just how much “everything” includes)
  • Beat-snap triggering, a la Ableton Live’s clip triggering feature
  • VST audio effects: yes, that’s right, and not only that, but you can sync up video and audio effects for … well, watch the video and drool
  • Cross-fade audio and video
  • Beat-match, loop beats, etc., etc.

Short version: this tool will make it almost obscenely easy to do A/V mixes. I expect some really bad A/V sets as a result, just as with any easy-to-use tool. But I also imagine some people could do something really brilliant with it.

The audio features won’t do everything in the first release. You will be able to open VST plug-in UIs. You won’t be able to forward MIDI, though, which dashes my hopes of playing soft synths inside Resolume – for now. (I’ll naturally be lobbying for this in a future release, because I’m a crazy audiovisualist.)

There is also one catch to all this next-generational transformation, which is that you will need a fairly decent GPU. System requirements, most importantly, don’t support integrated video. That means if you have a non-Pro MacBook, you’ll need to look elsewhere. On the other hand, the CPU requirements aren’t nearly as harsh – that’s the advantage of running on the GPU.

Bottom line, I think Resolume could wind up at the top of the heap as far as this generation of live visual tools. Stay tuned; we’ll have a look at what some of its rivals in this generation have on offer, and we’ll get some hands-on time with Resolume 3.

Resolume Avenue site

Pricing: EUR299 per computer (119 upgrade); limited time EUR229 buys you Resolume 2 plus the free Resolume 3 upgrade

Availability: September

You can be assured of one thing: visual tools and visualism in general are likely to rise in visibility as this improved generation of software starts to hit the scene. And expect some healthy but vigorous competition between rivals as that unfolds.