I’ve always been fascinated with generative and reactive visuals for accompaniment of live music performance. Max from Cycling 74 makes creating and modulating a video synthesis patch easy, especially when paired with a DC coupled audio interface.

When I first attended electronic music events in Pittsburgh in the late 90’s, students from Carnegie Mellon would use a modded Playstation 1 to perform live visuals. In Boston, I played with a group of live electronic musicians and artists featuring now infamous visual artist, Zebbler, who also inspired my interest in video performance. Once I began building in Max, I became obsessed.

When I first started experimenting with Jitter (the visual programming system in Max) back in 2002, the application was not very inviting. In recent years, Cycling 74 have created macro style modules for both sound and video synthesis, the BEAP and VIZZIE collections. With these devices, it’s very easy to create and manipulate sound, video or both internally in Max, or using an external source. Thanks to the virtually limitless functionality in Max, we can use anything from a MIDI keyboard to Twitter hashtags to generate modulation in our system.

Of course, what we’d most like to use with a Eurorack modular system… is CV. Using virtually any DC coupled audio interface with inputs (I’m using the Roland Scooper in the example because it has a ton of inputs and very few outputs) we can inject CV modulation into any BEAP or VIZZIE patch, using the BEAP Input tool. Combined with the BEAPConvertr module in the VIZZIE collection, any CV signal can be converted to VIZZIE compatible data and used to modulate any parameter in a patch.

Creating a VIZZIE synth is easy. Use an input module, for instance the GRABBR (a webcam input module), then connect it to an output module, like VIEWR or PROJECTR. Then simply begin experimenting with the VIZZIE effects, by interrupting the connection from input to output. The data coming out of the BEAPConvertr can then be routed to control any element in the patch.

How are you generating reactive visuals with your synth? Let us know in the comments!

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Reactive Visuals w/ Max and Eurorack

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