Patricio's Book of Shaders: GLSL in the Classroom

Last week I had a chance to be a special guest for the final presentations in Patricio Gonzalez Vivo's GLSL class at Parsons. One of the big take aways from the class was how versatile the language is, with students presenting projects ranging from web based mapping to 3D Unity worlds, realtime data visualizations in openFrameworks, and of course for live visual performance, all driven using GLSL.

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VDMX 64-bit now available, plus the El Capitan upgrade guide

Hi everyone!

Some exciting news over at VIDVOX today – as you might know the last several months Ray and I have been immersed in changes for the 64-bit conversion of VDMX – and now it is ready for some testing!

How many changes can you spot in this screenshot?

A more detailed change log is linked below, but here are a few highlights and notes before you try it out:

1. The new 64-bit update requires 10.10 or later!

2. If you'd like to keep this and the older 32-bit versions installed at the same time, simply rename the existing VDMX on your computer to something else (eg VDMX b8232 or VDMX 32bit) before running the new installer.

3. Various old movie codecs are no longer supported by AVFoundation. PhotoJPEG, Hap, and h.264 are now generally recommended for use in VDMX. ProRes is also supported.

(For other codecs such as Apple Intermediate you may need to install the latest pro video formats from Apple)

4. That's right, you can use h.264 movies! To get the best performance while scrubbing / adjusting playback rate make sure to set every frame as a keyframe when encoding.

5. Movie Recorder can capture to h.264 with hardware acceleration on supported GPUs. Recorder can also capture to PhotoJPEG / Hap / ProRes.

6. Vuo support! See the release notes for full details, but essentially Vuo compositions can be used as sources, FX, text sources and plugins.

7. Lots of bug fixes, performance improvements and time saving workflow tweaks.


Full release notes and additional discussion on the 64-bit update can be found on the forums here:

Additionally, today is also the date that Apple released its new OS update, version 10.11 also known as El Capitan. For VDMX users looking to upgrade their Macs we've written up an upgrade guide to cover frequently asked questions:



Spirals and Loops: New Free Video Clip Pack!

Download Spirals And Loops in Hap Alpha

Today we've got a new free clip pack courtesy of Herry, one of our recent visual performance students from Dubspot who was using his motion graphics skills to make his own video loops to use at live gigs.

One of the useful techniques discussed in class is creating several variations on a theme or style to have in your clip library during a live show. This can be in the form of having different color palettes, or exporting individual parts of your compositions with included alpha channels. Often this is normally part of the process when creating clips, but often instead of trying to create several clips, people focus on making one 'perfect' version which can actually be less useful in a live setting.

By having multiple similar versions of a clip you can quickly select the best one to match the needed energy level. It can also allow for creating more interesting performances where mixes begin simple and have new elements layered on along with the music.

This set of clips is designed for just that purpose. Each clip is in Hap Alpha so you can layer them on top of each other and there are several variations that can be switched between. They also serve as a good example of how simple changes in style can influence the feeling of a loop. The intention for a live mix was to start with the simple black and white outlines and then introduce the ones with color, but you can use them any way you'd like.

Here's a few examples from the collection:

PS These clips are totally free to use!

Behind the Scenes with Brian Randall Projecting Mapping onto Pasty Bodies for Sun Drug's "Wildman" Video

In case you had missed it last week, the newest music video for Sun Drug titled “Wildman” premiered over at the Creators Project. Along with being awesome to watch and listen to, the process behind it has some pretty interesting behind the scene details that co-director Brian Randall shared with us via an excited set of emails and photos.

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Minneapolis VJ Hang Out At Slam Academy On June 1st

Slam Academy hosts DJ, Ableton and other music production classes.

This year the VDMX crew is heading back out to the wonderful Eyeo Festival and as a bonus this time we've lined up a special VJ hang out session hosted by our friends at Slam Academy.

The plan is for something informal – a chance to share some drinks, pizza and stories with other performing visual artists. And of course we'll have a projector set up for impromptu demos or jamming, so bring along laptops for showing off.

This event is free and open to the public – hope to see you there!

Date: June 1st, 2015

Time: 2-5 PM

Location: Slam Academy, 1006 S Marquette Ave, Minneapolis

VDMX Workshop At Dubspot NYC Featuring Ben Krall On March 29th

VDMX co-creator David Lublin hosts this visual performance workshop with special guest Ben Krall on content creation and performance with VDMX5. Ben will discuss his approach to building the video design for The National's 2013-2014 Trouble Will Find Me international tour and share some of his experiences from video and lighting designs for concert tours, theatrical shows, and architectural / fine art installations. Together Ben and David will discuss approaches to live design, production planning and fabrication, freelancing, and visual art. 

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GifToSyphon: Free Giphy Search To Syphon Tool for Mac VJs

Download GifToSyphon (requires Mac OS X 10.9.5 or later)

GifToSyphon is a free Mac utility that combines two things that VJs love – Animated GIFs and Syphon.

Giphy + Syphon = Instant kittens in your VJ set

Powered by the awesome Giphy search engine, a Mac VJ with an Internet connection can now instantly pull tagged GIFs from a huge online library and use them directly in their favorite Syphon enabled video application.

When not connected to the net GifToSyphon can also still use images from its local cache or using any of your own animated GIF files. These downloaded GIFs can also be loaded into most VJ software for remixing alongside your other media files.

For a quick introduction to using GifToSyphon with VDMX watch this new video tutorial:


(using the 4 channel mixer example via the Templates menu if you're trying to reproduce at home)


Remix GIFs in VJ software.

Search the huge GIPHY library.

Caches downloaded GIFs.

For those who are interested in seeing how GifToSyphon works behind the scenes we've also open sourced the code on GitHub:

Lastly a huge thanks to Giphy team and community for letting us access their repository of GIFs!

Mike Latona with Jeff Mills: Shaping Times

Falling into the category of using all the tools at your disposal to make something awesome is this video from Mike Latona and Sean Caruso working with Jeff Mills for some classic techno mayhem in Montréal.

Recently we had the opportunity to take Montréal on an inter-galactic journey alongside techno pioneer Jeff Mills. We transformed the Studio St-Ambroise using over 50 meters of LEDs, a massive video-mapped elephant, moving lights and more, all controlled in real-time using CoGe, VDMX, and the Madlight feature of Madmapper. Our mission during the voyage: to have both the lights and video move harmoniously and seamlessly along with music, while still allowing us to perform with them live. For the lights, Quartz Composer patches with published parameters for each fixture were loaded into CoGe and syphoned to Madlight. Video animations were created in Cinema4D and After Effects and mixed live with VDMX. We also mapped the accelerometers of two Numark Orbit controllers and used audio react on various parameters for both the lights and the video to give them a more organic feel when mixing.

Hap Codecs now working in 64-bit AVFoundation

Hey all!

We wanted to make this an especially Hap-Hap-Happy Holiday for all Mac VJs (not just the VDMX-ers) and what better way is there than with another awesome open source code release for the hardware accelerated Hap video codecs?

It looks like 2015 will be the year that Mac VJs move to 64-bit and to help make that a reality for everyone we've updated our GitHub repositories to include new source code and documentation for developers to use the Hap video codecs with AVFoundation in their 64-bit applications.

Developers can find the new repository here:

Hap playback and encoding through AVFoundation works with the same classic .mov wrapper so all of your old Hap encoded movie files will work just the same, and likewise any new Hap movies created will be backwards compatible with older 32-bit application (and cross-platform with Windows).

 Hap 64- bit example app running AVFoundation in Yosemite.

Hap 64- bit example app running AVFoundation in Yosemite.

As a recap on the technical details and history of the move from 32 to 64-bit processing, for a long time on the Macintosh most video processing software has relied on using a technology from Apple called QuickTime for movie playback. Over the last few years Apple has been trying to transition everyone to use their new modern movie playback engine known as AVFoundation which has several advantages, but was also lacking in certain pro capabilities needed for fully featured real-time video processing applications like VDMX.

In particular one big limitation for VJs was the lack of support for 3rd party pro video codecs such as Hap...

Thankfully as of a few weeks ago it became possible to use Hap in AVFoundation, taking care of our big stumbling block on making VDMX a native 64-bit application. 

Though we still have a more work to do to fully realize the larger goal of having a 64-bit native version of VDMX, including further optimization and bug testing, we wanted other developers stuck on this same problem with their apps to be able to get their software working with Hap as soon as possible.

We'll be posting more information and details about the next round of VDMX updates in a few weeks so stay tuned for more announcements!

So once again, happy holidays to all and looking forward to seeing you in 64-bit land in the new year!

- Dave & Ray

ps. Devs don't forget that you can also use the Hap codecs on Windows too!

“We're Live” – Blair Neal's TV Face Substitution

This is a long very overdue post on the work of Blair Neal, who after interning with us many many years ago has gone on to be a lead developer at the award winning fakelove creative agency where he makes totally sick interactive installations for some of the worlds top brands. Along with this he somehow still manages to find time to make music videos, live show visuals and share his tools for other artists in the field; no doubt many of you have already probably used his Canon To Syphon app or read his invaluable in depth Guide to Projectors for Interactive Installations or one of his other projects shared online.

Today Blair published a new project he's developing called “We're Live” which involves using real-time face replacement algorithms available in OpenFrameworks to insert his (or any other face) into a live television feed that he's watching at home. It's a crazy amount of fun.


Along with photos of himself “guest staring” on a variety of popular shows, the blog post includes the technical details and his open sourced, Syphon-enabled face replacing app for download should you want to try this at home with your VJ software of choice.

His blog post also goes into the inspiration and background of the project:

We’re Live allows a user to composite their face (or any face they choose) onto a live television stream. Essentially, anyone you watch on TV can finally look like you….or anyone you want. You could make everyone on TV look like Bill Murray if you really wanted to.

One of television’s greatest powers is in its ability to display very structured and edited views of reality. By watching the fabricated streams of the shows, viewers begin to wish for the interesting, exciting and impossible lives of the characters. They can subconsciously desire the smiles and trouble free lives enabled by buying the products in the advertisements. With this software, viewers can come one step closer to truly seeing themselves on screen.

We’re Live is a project involving live HD cable TV and face substitution software. It is a hardware and software method for doing a real time facial composite/replacement on live television. The original face substitution implementation and cloning shader was created by Kyle McDonald and Arturo Castro in 2012. The face tracking algorithm that enables this kind of high quality facial substitution was developed by Jason Saragih.

Recap from Our Trip to Decibel Festival

A quick recap from Decibel Festival 2014 where I went to host some VJ workshops.

For those that couldn't make it, I've converted my notes from the introduction “VJing – WTF Is It?” talk into a blog post and some random photos below. Along with the presentations we also held a special VJ panel discussion with guests Chiaro, Ali Demirel and effixx.

As always the biggest highlight of the event was getting to have face time with other people in the A/V community. Huge thanks to the festival organizers, volunteers and other partners who brought an amazing lineup of electronic musicians, visual artists and educators to Seattle, we can't wait to make it back next year!


Hey everyone!

This week we're on our way to the infamous Decibel Festival in Seattle to teach some special [free!] workshops for VJs.. and in the after hours checking out some of the best electronic music and new media acts around today.

Let us know if you'll be in town and want to connect, hope to see lots of you there!

VJing Basics – WTF is it all about? (Wednesday)

Description: For musicians performing at live shows, touring and posting their music online, having the ability to bring a full multimedia experience to your audience is becoming increasingly important as a means to set yourself apart from the crowd. In this workshop we’ll explore the role of the VJ at concerts, take a broad look at the tools being used by visualists today and discuss how to add visuals to your own live shows.

Performing Live Visuals with VDMX (Thursday)

Description: Learn the basics of performing, producing and manipulating visual media with VDMX. Topics to include a general introduction to live video fundamentals including FX processing, image composition and audio reactivity. We’ll also discuss tricks for keeping everything in sync alongside audio software and other pro techniques for creating outstanding show visuals.

Back To School Sale: Ends September 10th!

Hey everyone!

Yes, it's that special time again to get VDMX at a deep discount with 100 USD off on every purchase!

This means that through September 10th 2014, students, educators and anyone applying for our starving artists discount can buy a license of VDMX for only 99 USD!

Visualizing audio waveforms with VDMX

Along with being a powerful tool for VJing and live visual event production, VDMX is also a great environment for learning the general fundamentals of image processing.

For new VJs looking to find out what this is all about, we've got a whole suite of tutorials to pour through including fun technique topics and guest visits from amazing artists. Also make sure to download free sample loops to get started with!


If you've not already read about the special discount for hobbyists and new artists, the idea is simple — help others get started by doing a community based project such as:

  • translating, or recording a new video tutorial,
  • documenting the details of a project you are working on in a blog post,
  • creating an original set of creative commons sample movies,
  • open sourcing some useful creative code, 
  • a DJ could share some audio loops for video artists who need soundtracks for demo reels,
  • sharing Quartz Composer compositions, 

Or write to us about another idea that uses your existing skills in exchange for a discount on a full license of VDMX. Some examples can be found in our roundup of featured projects from last year.

And don't forget that for the first time ever this offers applies to the every day sales price of VDMX making it an ideal time to get a serial number and start saving project files.

For more information on the sale visit our buy page, or send us an email with a scan of your school photo ID or a proposal for the starving artist rate, and we'll send back a coupon code to get your full license for 99 USD when purchasing VDMX from our online store.. but act soon, this offer ends September 10th, 2014!

Dear Apple: Please bring 3rd Party Codec Support to AVFoundation

Hey everyone!

Like many other developers who are writing video software for the Macintosh one of the biggest road blocks for us moving to a 64-bit version of VDMX is swapping out QuickTime code for AVFoundation. While this is becoming more and more possible with the release of Mavericks, in particular the ability to use specialized 3rd party codecs such as Hap has not been opened to the developer community and is severely limiting to real-time visual artists working on the Mac.

Front Pictures using 26 layers of Hap Q on 52 projectors played from Touch Designer on Renaissance

If you're a developer or video professional on the Mac, please take a few minutes and fill out a feature request for 10.10 asking Apple to release the documentation for the "Professional Video Workflow Plug-In" specification. Below is a template you can use, or write your own feature request explaining how you use 3rd party codecs like Hap in your own work.


Please post documentation and/or sample code with the specs and requirements necessary to produce a "Professional Video Workflow Plug-In" for OS X.

The quiet addition of "Professional Video Workflow Plug-Ins" and their use in Apple's own professional applications is a tacit admission that a modular plugin architecture for working with codecs is still a necessary and vitally important step in using AVFoundation to develop professional and special-purpose video applications.  Third-party developers need this capability every bit as much as apple's internal dev teams, for the very same reasons.

If a specific example would help clarify the issue, look no further than the Hap codec, which has been specifically optimized to enable the playback of large numbers of high-res video files simultaneously:

-- Under QuickTime, a stock retina MBP can play back 10 layers of 1080p/30fps Hap video in OS X before it starts dropping frames; more video can be played back simply by adding more/faster drives:

-- The d3 "4x4 pro"- a media server for major event production widely used by more professional touring musicians than you can shake a stick at- uses Hap to play back eight layers of 4k video in realtime:

…and to nobody's surprise, we've learned that Hap is extremely well-suited to projection mapping and dome installations, both of which are typically seen in large-scale, high-end events:

None of the examples on this page can be achieved with AVFoundation in its current state- all of the above apps are either based on QuickTime (OS X and Windows) or DirectShow (Windows).  Unfortunately, AVFoundation's built-in codecs are several orders of magnitude too slow for this type of application, and our inability to create a third-party codec means that this sort of performance simply cannot be realized with the framework- and this is just one concrete example.

This is an unfortunate and hopefully short-lived shortcoming, as AVFoundation appears to be capable of working with externally-produced codecs installed as "Professional Video Workflow Plug-Ins".  Please publish the information necessary to allow third-party devs to produce their own "Professional Video Workflow Plug-Ins".  Doing so can only help to cement OS X as the platform of choice for creative professionals with ambitious visions- visions that depend on the sort of bleeding-edge performance and flexible, useful API everyone should associate with OS X and Apple hardware.


(How to fill out a feature request for 3rd party codec support)

Once again, the place to point your web browser is to ask Apple to include official 3rd party codec support in AVFoundation for the next version of the Mac OS!

Thanks for taking the time!

New VDMX Update With Improved Chroma Mask, Audio Analysis Visualizations and More!

Hey everyone!

We've released an update that includes a bunch of new features and other improvements – watch the video and read below to get the highlights on what's new!

If you want to jump right in, here's the download link: Download VDMX

Audio Analysis FFT and Waveform Values Published as Video

Using the FFT Color Lines generator to visualize the audio frequency spectrum and raw waveform

When an Audio Analysis plugin is active two new video streams are published that can be used by generators and FX to create new forms of music visualization.

The FFT and raw audio waveform are provided by the plugin as grayscale video streams that are 1 pixel tall. You can access them anywhere a video input menu is found such as a preview or masking FX.

To get started try using the new example FFT Color Lines and FFT Spectrogram ISF video generators.

New ISF Video FX

Earlier this year we released a new format for making custom generators and FX for VDMX called ISF. For this update we've created a bunch of our own new high end FX using the new format.

New film style "Lens Flare" FX

These are some of our favorites:

  • Updated Chroma Mask.fs, greatly improved color masking (eg. green / blue screen).
  • Color and Film FX: Chroma Desaturation Mask, Color Replacement, Ghosting, Bleach Bypass and Lens Flare.
  • Glitch FX: Collage, Convergence, Slit Scan and Pixel Shifter.
  • Geometry and Distortion FX: Optical Flow Distortion, Side Scroller and Flip, Shake and Shockwave Pulse.

Pro tip: Don't forget that you can also make your own ISF based generators and FX using these as example starting points!

Support for Generic HID Controllers

HID Input Plugin connected to SpaceNavigator

The HID Input Plugin interfaces with game controllers, 3D mice, and other devices that support the Human Interface Device (HID) protocol. Buttons, joysticks and sensors are made available to control UI items in VDMX like any other data-source. These can be a fun alternative to using a MIDI or OSC instruments.

Import / Export Control Surface Templates

Exporting a Control Surface layout to a JSON file

From the inspector panel of the Control Surface plugin you can export the layout and settings as a template file that can be easily imported into other projects or sharing standard layouts with other people.

Use the “Import JSON layout” and “Export JSON layout” buttons in the inspector to respectively load and save the templates.

Custom Movie Recorder Directory Paths

Enable the 'Custom export location?' toggle in the Movie Recorder Options panel

When using the Movie Recorder plugin to capture video and images, an optional custom folder location can now be specified in the inspector panel.

The default location for movie recordings can still be set in the VDMX Preferences – this new setting is an optional override for situations where the videos are further parsed or handled by another application or to make sorting the files easier.

Hope you enjoy these new additions and refinements! As always if you have any problems or suggestions send us a message by choosing “Report Bug” from the Help menu.

Once again, here's the download link: Download VDMX

Have a great weekend!

- Dave & Ray


Premiered at Mutek Montreal 2 weeks ago, SEISMIK was one from HERMAN KOLGEN we had to get some more details about..

Performance or installation about the vertical layering dislocations

inspired by geodetic phenomenoms, frictionnal slidings, fossil earthquakes and the geologycal modelings, seismik use stress fields to provoque tension between vertical layering dislocations.
using the siesmic data of our planet territories, herman kolgen create, with this new work, nervous stratigraphic audiovisual motifs.

How was it made? Herman Kolgen sent us these images and description of their setup,

We created different app in OpenFrameworks to connect in realtime with the seismik data

and by OSC I control audio+video and my Modular analogue kit
by Syphon the audience can see the net connection and mix with my other clips

If you think this looks cool in your web browser, check the vimeo page for more videos and the Herman Kolgen website for upcoming live shows that might be coming to you later this year!

How to get VDMX stickers!

Hey everyone!

We've just arrived back from Mapping Festival where one of the highlights was getting to see visual artists and VJs of all levels from around the world learning new skills not just from the workshop instructors, but also from each other. Everyone openly shared their experiences and techniques using all kinds of software and hardware tools video production and live performance.

The first box full of VDMX logo stickers!

It was also our first chance hand out our new VDMX logo sticker design. Seeing people excitedly applying them to their laptops, bags, notebooks and other random gear was absolutely humbling.

To share this new vinyl goodness with everyone who couldn't make it to the festival we'd like to announce our new totally free “Stickers for Meetups” exchange program.

The idea is easy:

  1. Organize a meetup or workshop for visual artists in your city.
  2. Share the details online for people to RSVP (Facebook, EventBrite, Meetup, etc)
  3. Email us a link to the page and a shipping address for us to mail the free stickers to.

You can host anything from an informal coffee shop gathering to a full workshop, hackathon or jam session. Schools and other organizations that teach classes are also eligible, just send us an email!

Once you receive the stickers, bring them to your meetup and hand them out to people who show up. Use it as an opportunity to exchange your knowledge about VDMX with people who are experts with other tools.

Bonus points if you send us photos from the event to include in our image gallery showing off possible uses for your stickers!

And don't forget that you can also order your own VDMX coffee mugs, available in standard and high-defination models.

The Hap Video Codecs, Now Available For Windows!

 Front Pictures pushes the limit, 26 layers of Hap Q on 52 projectors played from Touch Designer on  Renaissance

Front Pictures pushes the limit, 26 layers of Hap Q on 52 projectors played from Touch Designer on Renaissance

Last year in a collaboration Tom Butterworth we had the pleasure of sharing a powerful new set of open source video codecs called Hap with the Mac real-time video community. The goal of Hap was to serve a broad audience with the same need to push more pixels, benefiting everyone from show designers on expensive media servers handling 2k and 4k arrays to weekend VJs now able to playback multiple HD streams off a laptop.

One thing we've learned about artists in our time writing video performance software is that in the real world they take advantage of all kinds of tools for different projects and to create their unique visual style. With every new application that adds native support for the Hap suite, now counting at more than a dozen, it makes it easier to get the best performance regardless of what software is used to get a job done.

This mixing and matching of software isn't limited to a single platform and today we're extremely excited to announce that the GPU accelerated codec of choice on the Mac is now officially supported on Windows!

As of this announcement, the Hap video codec family can now be natively used on Windows in TouchDesigner, OpenFrameworks (via ofxHapPlayer), Jitter (via, DirectShow and Unity (via RenderHeads AVProQuicktime), with support coming very soon to D3 Media Servers and the Isadora programming environment.

To celebrate, we've updated the Hap homepage to include our new photo gallery of the various applications and frameworks that have adopted the format on both platforms. The homepage is also the place to check out how Hap compares to other commonly used codecs for live visuals.

The installers for the QuickTime Hap codecs for Mac and Windows can be found on the downloads page:

(remember that the application you're using will also need to natively support Hap!)

Mac and Windows developers who are interested in learning more about Hap can visit the GitHub project page for technical details and sample code:

Thanks again to all of the developers who have helped build this Hap-py community, and infinite praise for the infamous Tom Butterworth who continues to make it all Hap-pen.