‘Curious explorer’ Animoog solo video with iTunes visualizer

This entry is about what might well be the very first Animoog app solo video. The video itself is made with iTunes’s built-in visualizer

Satri’s Curious explorer video

I’m happy to present to you my first video for my ‘Unanimoog, escape inside the music [Unmastered]’ album. It’s for its fifth track named ‘Curious explorer’ which is a solo improvised on the Animoog app with the ‘Daemian 1 – Phatty Saw’ preset. Playing a single Animoog preset in solo is just like playing a raw violin solo: a single instrument played live without loops, sequencing or external effects. Because of the expansive frequency content and harmonic complexity of Moog’s Animoog iPad app, along with the heavy presence of stereo ping-pong in the Phatty Saw preset, please wear high end headphones to fully enjoy the track. All of this work is licensed as Creative Commons CC-BY.

Liked the track? My latest album contains 47 such Animoog solos, leveraging numerous different presets. Learn more about it here and listen to it.

The whole video is made from a single run of the iTunes visualizer. Anyone with a Mac or Windows computer and the free iTunes software can make similar videos live, that’s several hundred millions people! I recorded the video with Quicktime, which can record a screencast. I however had to change the screen resolution of my old mac to the lowest possible (1280 x 720 pixels) to reduce the stuttering during recording. The simple montage was made in iMovie using one of its default themes. The following instructions tell you how to play and fully enjoy the iTunes visualizer yourself, at the full resolution of your screen and, of course, no stuttering since you’ll be playing it live. It’s a much nicer experience than what is shown on the video. I only played with the iTunes visualizer for less than an hour, I suspect someone’s skills after more practice means great fun.

iTunes visualizer

I found undocumented keyboard controls in this 2008 lifehacker article. Once you know and use the various controls in harmony with the music that you hear, you play the role of a VJ. Let me tell you about the basics of controlling the iTunes visualiser:

  • There are three main visual components, (A) the cores, which are the moving spheres, (B) the rays, which flow out of the cores, and (C) the nebula clouds, which fill the whole screen and changes the ambiance
  • There are 20 modes for you to enjoy, you incrementally cycle from one mode to the next with the ‘M key’. Take the time to explore the various modes since they’re what alter the visualizations most
  • You can modify the movement of the visual components by freezing the rays (F key) and by locking or releasing the camera rotation (L key)
  • The nebula clouds (N key) should not be underestimated, they radically change the ambiance and can also be toggled on/off rhythmically. Pressing the ‘E key’ will enhance the nebula clouds, making them more prominent
  • The ‘A key’ and ‘S key’ will add or subtract rays to the visualizer, usually, I prefer when there’s more
  • The ‘+ key’ and the ‘- key’ are equally important since they increase or decrease the brightness of the of the rays
  • Finally, you can change the color palettes (P key) which obviously impact the general feel of the animation
  • Once you understand the basics, the most artistic and technically challenging part begins: controlling it live over a great song! A difficult part of the performance to me is making certain changes of modes (M key) and freezing (F key) along with the rotation (L key) generate something beautiful and in sync with the music. That makes the most significant difference
  • Keeping the rotation enabled (L key)  mean you can get closer to the cores. Once very close to a core you may want to freeze and stop the rotation since the effects are often superb
  • Try also toggling freezing and rotation rhythmically, you can achieve something nice this way

The iTunes visualizer keyboard controls that I’m aware of, for iTunes version

iTunes visualizer keyboard shortcuts

MChange modeIncrement to the next visualizer 'mode', out of a total of 20 modes
FFreeze cores and raysFreezes the movement of the cores and rays, which can still rotate (L key). With freeze and lock rotation enabled, nebula clouds will also freeze
LLock rotationStops and starts the rotation of the camera. If the rays are in the frozen state (F key), only brightness of the rays will change according to the music's loudness
NNebula cloudsEnable nebula clouds that fill the screen with an animated haze. These clouds are not available for all modes (M key)
EEnhance nebula cloudsIf nebula clouds (N key) are enabled, pressing the 'E key' will accentuate them
+ / -Adjust ray brightnessIncrease (+ key) or decrease (- key) brightness of the rays, multiple presses further increase or decrease their intensity
A / SAdd or subtract raysAdd (A key) or subtract (S key) rays to the visualizer
PChange color paletteIncrement to next color palette, out of about 10 different color palettes
ITrack infoDisplays the track cover image, title, artist and album names at the bottom left of the screen
CCycle mode after trackThe visualizer mode increments to next mode when a new track begins. Enabled by default
RResetReset the brightness (+ / - keys) and density of rays (A / S keys) to their default values
?HelpDisplays most of the keyboard shortcuts, but this current table also tells you what the official Help won't
Any other keyAnnoying soundAvoid hitting unpaired keys!

The two improvements I’d like to see to the iTunes visualizer: (a) easy control for the number of cores in the scene, and (b) full control on how close or far we are from the cores.

If I missed any hidden iTunes visualizer keyboard control, please let me know in the comments below! Have fun — Alex / Satri

3 thoughts on “‘Curious explorer’ Animoog solo video with iTunes visualizer

  1. Hello there,

    Great, valuable info there.

    I wonder if you could advise me please.

    Any idea what the legal scenario might be if I wanted to use tracks from my album with itunes visualizer to make a video song for promotion on the web etc ?.

    Kind regards.

    Graham Dean Satterthwaite

    1. Hi Graham,

      Thanks for your interest. While I’m no lawyer, I strongly suspect that using the iTunes visualizer to create original visual content is not an issue in terms of redistribution. Of course, make certain you have the rights to the audio content as well!

      Cheers — Alex / Satri

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