This morning, while wracking my brain over how to fill this space, I received an iChat from my buddy, Ben Long, of
Complete Digital Photography (and Macworld contributor) fame. He was in a fix.
It seems Ben is teaching photography to 14 – 18 year olds at
The Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute. Knowing that Ben’s also a multimedia guy, the acting instructor,
Ed Sherin, asked if Ben knew of a way to add an interactive visual element to the performance he was putting together for the kids the following week. In this performance he’ll have an oboist, modern dancer, percussionist, and violist all improvising. Ben suggested they tether a camera to a projector and shoot the performers while they perform but Ed thought the photos would upstage the performers. Later he came back and asked if there was any way they could get something like the iTunes visualizer. At which point Ben said, “Huh…” and iChatted me.
I haven’t done this kind of thing in quite awhile—so long ago, in fact, that I suggested he look at U&I Software’s
Videodelic, a very cool visualizer tool that can work with realtime audio input. Regrettably, it hasn’t been updated in ages. So much so that the program isn’t even OS X-native much less Intel-native.
I then recalled that iTunes’ visualizer was based on Soundspectrum’s
G•Force. A little digging around revealed that while the version of the visualizer licensed to Apple was limited to iTunes and its output, the standalone component (available only in the $30 Platinum edition) could respond to a variety of inputs, including line-in, microphone, and CD-audio input.
Laying hands on the this version of G•Force I installed in on my MacBook Pro, chose my laptop’s built-in mic as the source within the program’s preferences, hauled the MacBook upstairs, placed it on the piano, banged out a few notes, and grinned in stupid amazement at G•Force’s beautiful reaction to my noodling. It seemed like all Ben needed to do was run the program, configure it use his MacBook’s audio input port as the source, and attach a projector to the laptop’s video out port.
G•Force works with both Macs and PCs and with a variety of media players. To get a taste of its visual charms try the
free trial version.