VS from Imaginando could be the visual synth you’ve been waiting for, thanks to a ton of layer and shader features that make it playable like a synthesizer.
VS – Visual Synthesizer quietly debuted last week; I’ve just started testing it. (You can, too, thanks to a generous unlimited trial on the desktop version – only patch save/recall is disabled.)
But while there have been a lot of takes on the visual synth / animation – reactive – VJ – music visualization tool before, this one does have some fresh features. And from the music perspective, maybe what makes it most compelling is that it treats its visual elements like musical voices.
Portuguese developer Imaginando – whose work we’ve covered before – goes full on with the one-to-one relationship between musical elements and their visual counterparts. The underlying engine begins with shader-based materials and multiple layers. Each layer also has “voices” that are “polyphonic”; each note you play can produce visual materials.
Now, that could mean you directly visualize all your musical elements, but it could also mean you just treat VS like another synth and play it to add visuals as you choose. That concept has a long, long tradition, from the ArKaos VJ interface of the 90s to the light organs built a century ago by composer Scriabin. (I know; you can go check them out in his flat!)
Nuno the developer has built a really terrific, minimalistic UI. What I love about this is, great as doing a lot of patching and coding can be, here you can really dive in and play directly with parameters and get expressive. It’s more like playing with a desktop synth, but for visuals – and therefore no less limited in its possibilities.
Through the 12th of July, the software is 50% off – 49.50 EUR for desktop or 10.99 EUR on iOS.
There’s a decent architecture here:
- 8 polyphonic visual layers
- 4 voices per layer
- 50 built-in materials
- 1 background layer with solid color/image/video (no modulations)
- 4 LFOs
- 2 envelope generators
- 4 Dual-mode audio input as modulators (peak and band)
The licensing model is novel, too. You can try the desktop version for free (iOS is paid only, but talk to Apple about that). 5 computers are included per desktop license. You can pay upfront, or use monthly payments you can pause.