4 ways to sync VDMX and Ableton Live from Studio Rewind on Vimeo.

Frequently asked question? Maybe incessantly-asked question.

Live performers simply want a way to have more intimate relationships between music and visuals onstage. That means whether they’re working solo or with a live visualist, being able to get useful signal between music and visual tools and performance elements.

Livegrabber has got to be about the easiest way to do this I’ve seen yet. It’s actually a suite of plug-ins for Ableton Live’s Max for Live environment that spits out OSC (OpenSoundControl) messages to any visual tool that can respond.

And as you can see in the video, the results are both effortless and profound.

It’s best seen in this example with VDMX. (Any OSC tool will work – I’m rather keen to code around this with Processing, for instance, just for kicks. But speaking of VDMX, that superb tool is on a fire sale for a hundred bucks this month; act fast!)

The basic elements:


Sender: sends a bunch of OSC
Receiver: receives a bunch of OSC
ParamGrabber: here’s where things get interesting — connect to any parameter in Live
TrackGrabber: here, pull track-level parameters (like triggering clips)
AnalysisGrabber: this does more conventional audio spectral analysis
VoidGrabber: perhaps the most fun, you can use Automation and Clip Envelopes to send discrete information output for visuals
SingleNote: here, you can dig into individual notes – but with assignment that could theoretically be easier than simply using whole MIDI streams (which can be too much data)

The ability to go fine-grained, for solo performances or instances that need lots of synchronization, all the way to larger grain, when you just need particular cues to pass off to a visualist, seems really nice. And with Max for Live now in Live Suite and on more Live machines, this should also be a boon to audiovisual collaborations.

And if you can find a live visual performer with whom to collaborate, it gets all the more powerful.

Now in free “beta” (no word yet on what they’re planning to do with pricing long-term):

Lots of other amazing-looking Live-based visual/lighting tools, too many to mention:

Thanks, David Lublin and Dave Gutt for the tip! (Dave endorsed!)