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Visualists, here’s the info on the GPU in the new Macs, Surface Books

The audiovisual performance is very much alive as a medium. I’m just coming off two festivals full of inspiring, stunning live visuals (alongside installations and virtual reality artworks). (One was MUTEK Mexico, the other the AV-centric Lunch Meat in Prague.) Live visuals are the definition of an edge case, to be sure – artists appropriating technology developed primarily for gaming – but life is beautiful on the edge. The big demarcation point in computers for visual work is really the absence or presence of a dedicated GPU. Intel’s integrated tech has gotten better on paper, but it’s still in my …

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Isadora 2.5, new chapter for creativity server, 3D shaders

In the landscape of live visual tools, Isadora is something special. Despite being known mostly in certain circles – its name itself is a nod to the world of dance (Isadora Duncan) – it’s uniquely adept in those worlds. When it comes to mixing live visuals and interactivity with modern dance and theater, for instance, Isadora (now on both Mac and Windows) is essential. Why Isadora I always had special admiration for Isadora, and its creator, Mark Coniglio. In fact, his was one of the first computer performance tools I ever saw – his original project, called Interactor. I was …

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5 Tidbits of Good News from WWDC for Musicians and Visualists

Apple’s WWDC keynote this year is an mix of mostly consumer-focused, end-user features and the occasional nerdier developer-centric discussion, plus a healthy heaping of hyperbolae. (The App Store, compared to the invention of the telescope and the discovery of electricity – did I hear that right?) But, if you’re paying close attention, there are some tidbits of good news for people using Apple’s platforms for creative work – or making the tools those people use. Before we talk about Apple Music, let’s look at the OS news. 1. Metal in OS X will open up new visual possibilities. Metal is …

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DIY Tool Max 7 Arrives; Here Are The Best New Features

Being “software about nothing” isn’t easy. Max has for years been a favored choice of musicians and artists wanting to make their own tools for their work. But it’s been on a journey over more recent years to make that environment ever more accessible to a wider audience of people. The aim: for beginners and advanced users alike, work faster, producing tools that work better. Okay, those are easy goals to set – a bit like all of us declaring we’re going to “get in better shape” in a few weeks from now on New Year’s Eve. But Max 7 …

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From Bluetooth MIDI to Easier, Faster Graphics, New Goodies for Creative Apple Development

Watching new operating systems is always a potent mix of “what new treats will we get?” and “what are they going to break?” Fortunately in this case, it seems Apple is mostly crossing items off users’ and developers’ wish lists on both iOS and OS X, though further details will come in coming developer sessions. Now, those are under NDA, but the wait for public information is unlikely to be long, now that Apple has announced a public beta of OS X Yosemite and an aggressive release schedule for both OS X and iOS 8. We also know a lot …

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Shake-to-Get-a-Free-Album: Apple Called it Too Useless to Approve

Nid & Sancy – The Cut up Jeans Technique app from Lab101 on Vimeo. Like an attention-starved Tamagotchi – or a two-and-a-half year-old toddler – this is an app that wants to shake around and gets easily bored. Yes, we’ve seen endless predictions that apps might replace albums. (I said it on a panel once, so I’m guilty.) But… how, exactly? In a novel and entertainingly-juvenile concept, the app R.A.N.D.Y. is a handheld dancing character who wants to be shaken around in order to keep the music playing. Worth it? Well, with the funky sounds of Belgian electronic/punk act Nid …

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VDMX Adds Wondrous Shader Features – And a Spec For Adding Them to Visual Tools

They’re a recent addition to popular OS X live visual app VDMX. But now is the perfect time to talk about the magic of shaders, generally. Standard “fragment shaders” are capable of performing feats of visual wonder as both generators and effects, using geometry and pixels. Written in GLSL, they are portable to any OpenGL-compliant graphics card, which now includes a range of modern hardware on both mobile and desktop devices. And since they run on the GPU, they do all of this magic on optimized hardware – without straining your CPU. Despite Apple’s reputation for being proprietary, they’ve been …

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TouchDesigner 088 Adds Crazy-Awesome Savvy in Mapping, Scripting, Sound and Music, More

Eye Vapor EEG Sonification 1 from Derivative on Vimeo. Smart. Even smart enough to visualize and sonify EEGs. TouchDesigner is not well-known in general circles, even after long-running availability. It’s Windows-only software for specialists. But there’s only one thing you need to know about it: it is consistently used in some of the best work artists are doing right now in multimedia. And in one go, the deceptively-named “088” is adding some massively-important stuff. Little wonder we’re hearing from a number of readers who are already excited. And there’s now a non-commercial license, too, fellow impoverished and overworked but lovable …

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Processing 2.0 Arrives; Where to Get Started Upgrading Your Creative Coding

It’s been a long time coming, but Processing this week has reached 2.0, a major landmark release. For graphics, video, data, and usability, it’s a big leap forward. The big story here is that the creative coding tool is both faster and simpler. An OpenGL engine, built by GLGraphics developer Andres Colubri, now powers everything. That makes extraordinary feats of graphic wonder possible (with shaders and the like), but it also irons out frustrating inconsistencies between renderers. The narrative is similar for video. Andres Colubri’s GSVideo library handles the video work, with high-performance HD (and function with the shaders) for …

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Creative Coding, Evolved: Processing Nears 2.0 Release With Hot-Looking Beta 9

There’s a reason for Processing’s popularity. By making code simple, elegant, and direct, and catering directly to the kinds of visual ideas creative people have, the environment has made programming accessible to artists and designers in a way nothing else could. Coding no longer has to be a source of fear, or a bad word. But Processing, years into its life, has also badly needed a refresh. 2.0 is more than just a house cleaning. It’s a new direction, with “modes” that mean it’s no longer tied to old desktop Java architectures. (See a tantalizing screenshot below – with the …

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