Audiovisual Parameter Mapping in Music Visualizations

4 Software Tools

Today there is a wealth of diverse software tools for live image generation in association with sound. Individual and original approaches to the visualization of music and the generation of images are being developed with the aid of a wide variety of applications and methods. There are three basic approaches to managing the software, where each software has its own special features:

USER INTERFACE: A graphic user interface allows processing and mixing of images and films. No previous programming knowledge is required (e.g., Module8, Isadora).[11]

PATCHES AND NODES: A graphic development environment supplies preconfigured modules that can be combined in so-called patches in an object-oriented approach. The individual modules have specific tasks and produce new functionalities as a result of their combination with each other (e.g., MAX/Jitter, Pure Data, vvvv, QuartzComposer). The program vvvv stands out due to its high speed in the area of 3-D effects in real time. QuartzComposer is included with versions of the Apple operating system OS X 10.4 and upward.

PROGRAMMING: The direct implementation of a programming language (e.g., Processing/Java, OpenFrameworks/C++) allows any imaginable linking of sound and image. The open-source program Processing offers quick and simple access to the world of programming.[12] The open-source concept has the advantage that there is a global community permanently working on the further development of programs and the expansion of functions. There is a collection of knowledge on the Internet for each program which is accessible to all users and can be extremely helpful in the development of personal applications.

Advanced artists create their own instruments for audiovisual performances by falling back on preconfigured material (modules, libraries) and combining it in new ways. If a function is required that does not yet exist in the form of modules or libraries, they can program it themselves — however, it is essential that they are familiar with a programming language.

The more independently artists intervene in or modify the preset elements of the software — or test them for unusual modalities or even divert them from their intended use — the more authentic and individual the emerging image level will appear. For many of her early videos, the Austrian artist Lia used the multimedia program Director, which was not actually conceived for use in music visualizations, but rather for application in the programming and controlling of interactive CD-ROMs. Although software applications seem to suggest the use of certain effects or esthetics, the unique style of Lia’s works testifies to the possibility of independence from the utilized software.

With the aid of vvvv, the French artist David Dessens developed his own visual stylistic elements, whose basis is the superformula by Johan Gielis (a mathematical modeling of plant shapes).[13] Semiconductor, an artist duo consisting of Ruth Jarman and Joseph Gerhardt,[14] also developed their own live performance software, Sonic Inc., which enables them to generate forms and compositions in real time by means of drawings and manipulations while the computer analyzes the sound space. In their work Inaudible Cities (2002/2003), sound constructs an entire city in this way.