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ETC video synth is like the love child of Tumblr and MS Paint

We may be at the saturation point for sound synthesis and modular. You know what that means: it’s time for video synthesizers. East Coast American boutique darlings Critter & Guitari are diving into that field headfirst with their ETC video synth. Here’s how it works. Pick a background color. Dial in a mode – from various preset animation styles. Choose to leave accumulation on or not (whether those animations stack atop one another). Add an audio input if you choose for sound reactivity. Then adjust parameters manually, or use MIDI for automation (via scenes and CC automation). That might all …

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This music video generates landscapes from a wild alien duo’s music

If you haven’t seen it already, Meier & Erdmann absolutely nailed it with their video for the tune “Howler Monkey.” First, it doesn’t hurt that this is a crisp, funky, uncluttered earworm gem. Second, the video is dazzling. Here’s the thing: there’s absolutely no reason why sound visualization needs to be so boring and familiar. There’s a lot to learn here. Even just change the colors goes a long way. Here, the familiar spectral view over time is carefully tuned to form fantastical landscapes, the camera panning around lazily. I keep re-watching the video partly because so much was carefully …

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How Dutch archives turned into a Lakker AV show about water

Wade in the water, indeed. Set the Irish duo Lakker loose in a Dutch film archive, and what you get is a dense, heavy experimental techno album and a live show exploring the Netherlands’ ongoing battle with the sea. It’s a 2016 album, but even if you caught it before, now we get some insight into its evolution into a live audiovisual show. Even before you get the sense of the historical narrative behind it, the music itself is evocative, dark, and rich. I actually like that we’re calling all this music “techno” now – this isn’t in the four-in-the-floor …

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This software is like getting a modular inside your computer, for free

Modular synthesizers present some beautiful possibilities for sound design and composition. For constructing certain kinds of sounds, and certain automated rhythmic and melodic structures, they’re beautiful – and endure for a reason. Now, that description could fit both software and hardware modulars. And of course, hardware has some inarguable, irreplaceable advantages. But the same things that make it great to work with can also be limiting. You can’t dynamically change patches without some plugging and replugging, you’re limited by what modules you’ve got bolted into a rack, and … oh yeah, apart from size and weight, these things cost money. …

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TouchDown Houston at Day For Night Festival; photo Roger Ho.

A bunch of tricks and tools for generative visual tool TouchDesigner

TouchDesigner, the visual development environment for interactive media, is a not-so-secret weapon for the artists creating some of the best eye candy today. And it’s likely to earn more attention now that it’s available for both macOS and Windows. (It was previously Windows-only.) But it’s not just the power of the tool itself that makes it stand out. It’s just as much a community behind it, sharing resources with one another. That says something, really. People working on interactive and event visuals often pull in some pretty hefty fees, and they justify those fees by making sure their tech tricks …

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Recreate classic MP3 visualizers, free – and use them in VJ apps

It’s funny, some things you really didn’t imagine looking back on with nostalgia. And yet, there you are – reminiscing about the days of staring at your Winamp MP3 visualizer. Well, I totally missed it, but there are some free projects that let you bring back those visualizers. Better still, you can pipe them into VJ apps on both Mac and Windows. First off, MilkDrop itself is a fascinating story. I won’t dive all the way down that rabbit hole at the moment, but here’s a short version of the story. Creator Ryan Geiss was (and is) a talented electronic …

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Image: Licht Pfad.

TouchDesigner 099 does everything with live visuals – now on Mac, too

It makes things look prettier, with something called “physically based rendering.” It has crazy compositing and capture powers. It’s networked with Web support, talks to DMX gear, and intelligently handles all your MIDI gadgets and capture cards and everything else. It handles VR with HTC Vive. And that’s just a few examples of what is new or improved in version 099. TouchDesigner is a name you’ll see coming up regularly mentioned in projects. It’s an all-encompassing visual development environment, using a patching (or “dataflow”) metaphor, like Pd, Max/MSP/Jitter, vvvv, and others. That interface is one of the best looking zoomable …

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Andrew Quinn / Nikolay Popov AV performance.

How one community was mapping the future of visuals this summer

There’s a shift on in the worldwide community of visualists, of the growing field of people using electronic visuals as a medium for performance, art, and inquiry. As these media become more mature and more international, there’s a renewed sense of closeness among practitioners. While big media festivals focus on novelty and show, these maker-to-maker events emphasize something else: craft. This summer seemed a particularly historic moment for not one but two tools – each of them built by small teams who make art themselves. We already covered the Berlin gathering for Isadora, the visual performance tool that has rich …

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Music thing’s Turing Machine gets a free Blocks version

We already saw some new reasons this week to check out Reaktor 6 and Blocks, the software modular environment. Here’s just one Blocks module that might get you hooked – and it’s free. “Music thinking Machines,” out of Berlin, have built a software rendition of Music Thing’s awesome Turing Machine Eurorack module (created by Tom Whitwell). As that hardware is open source, and because what you can do in wiring you can also do in software, it was possible to build software creations from the Eurorack schematics. The beauty of this is, you get the Turing Machine module in a …

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MICKEYPHON is a terrifying giant robot head that’s also a musical instrument

Inside the computer, music software very often looks like it always did – faux mixers and multitracks and piano rolls. But in the hands of designers, musical objects are appearing as something very different. And those iconic mouse ears seem to be … following you.

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