Where do I go Animusic

Under the cut, a brief history of Wayne Lytle's animated brainchild - the Animusic project. This is a series of videos demonstrating original and amazing virtual musical instruments, the animation of which is generated on the basis of musical MIDI parts (of course, the creation of the technology is at the head of all efforts, the videos are only its demonstration).

Business card Animusic - Pipe Dreams:

Intel even recreated the whole musical installation in reality (as an advertisement for Intel Atom; according to the video description, 7 pieces are used for playback):

Less well-known fans of Wayne’s work are also eager for battle:

For dessert:

The origins

The idea of ​​using musical parts as the basis for generating visual accompaniment came to Wayne Lightle in 1982. Then he still did not have the necessary knowledge and skills to realize the idea. Wayne got his first real experience in 1989, and since then he has been working on a system that later became the prototype of Animusic.

A year later, Wayne presents the fruits of his activities at SIGGRAPH 1990 - an animation for his own composition “More Bells and Whistles”:

Even through the crude models and manner of “behavior” of the instruments, the future acting “faces” of the series are easily recognized.
The video has received many awards at various events, including from IBM.

In 1995, Wayne teamed up with computer artist Dave Crognale to work on a commercial order, a 5-minute stereoscopic animation for V-Rex (a manufacturer of stereoscopic glasses and projectors):

(Translator's note: it was then that Visual Music was founded, which later changed its name to Animusic)

In 1998, Uyen and Dave started creating a video album, which was released in 2001. That was the first Animusic. At the request of distributors, the guys added audio in 5.1 format and the so-called special edition appeared.

After some time, they take on the second album, released in 2005. Upon completion of the DVD, Dave decides to take a break. Wayne, on the other hand, is full of new ideas and, in addition to everything, he realizes the need for changes in the pipeline.

The company moves to Ithaca (Ithaca, NY). Wayne writes software completely from scratch. He is joined by Steve Westin, who, over the 2 years of his stay in the team, has made a great contribution to the graphical interface, the implementation of shaders, and integration withThe RenderMan .

Wayne's impression of the new system:
sometimes Dave and I play pranks on ANIMUSIC | studio, the complexity and advancement of which has reached the point where adding the “Create Animusic 3 DVD” button becomes a logical next step — you click on it and, after a few months, take the finished DVD!

The release dates for Animusic 3 were postponed several times due to various difficulties, and the guys even launched a successful Kickstarter campaign in support of the DVD .

The status of the third DVD is still “in progress”, the release date is “as soon as so.” Well, wait!


The main members of the team are Wayne and Dave. Both are busy over9000-fulltime and are putting all their energy into the current project (Animusic 3).

As the founder of the company and the ideological inspirer, Wayne controls the process of creating content from and to.
Wayne’s estate is the development of ANIMUSIC | studio, which provides the correct synchronization of musical accompaniment and animation instruments. It is he who creates prototypes for all animations and breathes life into tools. Wayne manages virtual cameras, setting angles for "shooting" (rendering), and carries out the final editing of videos. The musical compositions that sound in Animusic are also written by Wayne using software and hardware synthesizers ( Minimoog Voyager , Nord Lead 2 ,Yamaha DX7 , etc.), DAW ( Nuendo / Cubase SX , Reason / Record , Fruity Loops ).

Dave, on the other hand, focuses on the aesthetic side of the issue - the external design of the tools and their environment, sketching ideas and translating them into Modo, 3ds Max, or XSI. On his shoulders lies the responsibility for modeling hundreds of elements that are later easily assembled into a single whole, thanks to ANIMUSIC | studio. In addition to modeling, Dave is engaged in the preparation of shaders and materials that give the scenes a finished look (i.e. creates dirt, bump, specular textures ) during rendering , and compositing .
Animusic has its own render farm, it works 24/7 and is in the care of Dave.

Promotional materials, printed materials - the result of joint efforts (Dave is engaged in the implementation).

ANIMUSIC | studio and Co.

Wayne is often asked questions about the software used.
The central place in the content creation process is occupied by ANIMUSIC | studio - a MIDI sequencer and an animation system based on visual programming (translator's note: we mean the node representation of data and dependencies). The ANIMUSIC | studio kernel is its own animation generation library (its 5th version is already) - MIDImotion.

Now written by Wayne software, not available for licensing. Firstly, because the main priority of the company is the creation of content (in particular Animusic 3), and not the sale of software. Secondly, the author is depressed by the very idea of ​​writing documentation for a product in which he himself sometimes gets confused. Wayne does not rule out the possibility of the release of ANIMUSIC | studio in the future.


Wayne on the pipeline:
Over the years, we have changed the details of the workflow, while adhering to the general scheme: for modeling, creating materials and rendering we use third-party commercial software, while scene animation is generated procedurally using our own developments.

We switched to XSI (and partly Z-Brush) for modeling and returned to RenderMan as a visualization engine. All parts are written directly to ANIMUSIC | studio (translator's note: before that, the sequencer function was performed by Steinberg Cubase SX), so the headache of constantly importing / exporting MIDI files is now a thing of the past. Instead, at the end of work, MIDI is sent via a gigabit channel to a second workstation, where the final audio track is rendered in a host application with connected software synthesizers (translator's note: usually VST ).


Animating instruments with classic keyframing without MIDImotion is a time-consuming operation. The library includes about 12 basic algorithms (receiving from 10 to 50 parameters at the input) and generates animation with extreme accuracy. The music has changed - the generation process is restarted, without any extra effort!

The principles embodied in MIDImotion differ from reactive visualization technologies, which have become popular due to their use in audio players. Generation is preceded by a stage of analysis and pre-processing of musical parts. The instruments not only play notes that are currently assigned to the MIDI sequencer, but also take into account previous and subsequent transitions to recreate a more natural movement.

Animusic through the eyes of its creator

Wayne Interview for midi.org ( original ):

Interviewer : How did it all begin?
Wayne Light : In the 70s, even before the advent of MIDI, I became acquainted with synthesizers like MiniMoog , etc. With the onset of the early 80s, I vaguely suspected the existence of something like MIDI and only made sketches in a notebook, depicting my vision of animation controlled by music. Once a friend told me about a thing whose name is MIDI, and suddenly my two worlds merged together. Perhaps it was the most amazing and wonderful discovery in my life.
However, my first experiments began only in 1989. I tried to analyze the MIDI files that the sequencers operate on and generate animation based on the data received.

Interviewer : Are you a keyboard player by nature?
Wayne Light : I started with the piano and drums. Despite receiving a classical piano education in college, there were no outstanding successes in my playing skills. Much more I was fond of activities in musical groups. I am not a very accurate performer, and I am very pleased that MIDI and sequencers exist. It is enough for me to “think” about the notes and voila, they have already taken their place. At the same time, keyboards may or may not be used. Thank God, for this I do not have to be extremely accurate in execution.

Interviewer : How many people are working on the project?
Wayne Light: Three people are engaged in the main development, a couple of freelancers are involved in secondary projects. The team also has one developer, hired for a full shift. Dave and I are engaged in generating ideas, modeling and writing music. On the one hand, it is difficult to be a small team, and on the other, it is not easier to be a large team. Although we have no problems communicating between team members when there are so few people, the chances of getting burned are quite large.

Interviewer : How much time does the project take?
Wayne Light: The release of each of the first two DVDs took about three years. We are on the way to reducing the period to one year, at the moment we are writing software for this that will optimize the development process. Our goal is to reach the point where we can devote more time to playing with tools and creativity, rather than programming and debugging code.

Interviewer : Are you an animator who likes to play music, or an animation musician?
Wayne Light: I myself have repeatedly asked myself this difficult question! In fact: am I a programming musician or a programmer trying to be a musician? I suppose I have been trying for a long time to achieve success in at least one of the fields, feeling that it is worth stopping and focusing on one thing. However, this did not happen and now both hobbies perfectly complement each other.
This is certainly a lot of fun. It’s wonderful to do what you love, and also have your own company. We feel very lucky.

Interviewer : Is there any message hiding behind your work?
Wayne Light: That’s a great question, and I’m glad that it sounded because it is rarely asked. At the very beginning, the project was completely personal - it reflected what I wanted to do, and what I thought about for days on end. Definitely, it was my passion that became the starting point. But after the release of the first DVD, when we saw the reaction of people, our motives and goals changed somewhat. It seems that the results of our work really gave people pleasure, making them smile and feel joy. Children and elderly people are especially imbued with our creativity. There were even teachers who used Animusic as an auxiliary material in teaching musical rhythm, mathematics and social interaction in teaching physically disabled children.
The above was a complete surprise for us and, of course, a pleasant surprise. Now we are determined to move on and “fan the flame”. Generally speaking, our agenda is not an attempt to carry out education, but a desire to make a positive contribution to the electronic media and the entertainment industry, in our opinion full of low-quality products, violence and simply disgusting content. We are trying to show people the good side of the industry - we create something cool, while avoiding stupidity and banality.

Interviewer : What is primary - visual or musical component?
Wayne Light: Both. We practice both approaches. For some animations, I previously completely wrote and reduced the musical accompaniment, before even thinking about visualization. In other cases, it all started with the design of the tools and testing the animation, after which they switched to writing music.
Idelically - and we take a similar approach when creating Animusic 3 - we are talking about a symbiosis of both components, that is, simultaneous work on creating tools and exploring ways to best use them. We find out what the instrument is capable of, whether it is more suitable for fast passages or slow parts, for heavy riffs or bass. How many notes can you play, or will you have to throw something away and get an 8-note bass machine, or an instrument with a range of forty notes? As you progress, the musical palette also changes, and the development of the composition may affect the appearance of the instrument. The perfect option, again, implies an even greater degree of integration and the reduction of almost none of the priorities of any of the components of creativity.

Interviewer: Have you worked with DAW manufacturers ?
Wayne Lightle : Not yet. We are trying to focus only on content. Our product is DVD, not written software, although things may change in the future. In fact, we have moved away from using commercial sequencers. Not at all because they are bad - modern DAWs are constantly improving - just a year or two ago I decided to write my own sequencer (note translator: MIDIMotion), which could be integrated into the music visualization process so organically that you Could call it composing animations and animating music.

Interviewer : MIDIMotion available for purchase?
Wayne Light: This has been discussed, however, while the sequencer is not publicly available. It’s quite difficult to release low-cost software and provide good support, which is why MIDIMotion is still an exclusively internal Animusic tool.
We also have sophisticated animation software ANIMUSIC | Studio, in which MIDIMotion is used as the engine responsible for the musical component of the animation.

Interviewer : What, in your opinion, are the strengths of modern software synthesizers compared to hardware?
Wayne Light : First of all, I am glad about the current state of things, and I have practically no reason for complaints. Now you can use fantastically sounding synthesizers in any quantity. It used to be problematic to go buy 6 MiniMoog'ov. Now I can open, say, several windows in Reason and just switch between them, depending on what composition I'm working on at the moment. And at the same time, everything is already configured. To tell you the truth, I do not often notice a nostalgia for the past.
However, I have fond memories of the ELP performance at Madison Square Garden, where I saw mountains of equipment and Emerson knives sticking out in his Hammond and other instruments. It was fun!

Interviewer : How does MIDI fit into the modern music creation idiom?
Wayne Light: The fact that MIDI is as transparent as possible indicates incredible success. Yes, it has great potential, and it is not necessary to study it from and to. Unlike the past era of old modular synthesizers, when you simply drowned in questions, not understanding where and what to connect. Now much is hidden behind the curtains. MIDI is also used in computers, even if there are no cables nearby, since MIDI is not only an interface, but also a protocol that many people don’t know about.
I do not see this as a big problem, although it would be nice to develop the standard more, because there are things that are missing. Not noticeable people pushing MIDI forward. One of my personal ones is the possibility of a controlled transition from one note to another, as when using a tape controller on an old synthesizer, which allows you to smoothly return to the previous note.

Interviewer : Does it make sense to delve into the intricacies of MIDI?
Wayne Light: Perhaps, but how well do you want to understand the structure of your instruments? You can use musical equipment without thoroughly studying the principles of its operation. The artist does not have to know everything about the wood from which his brush was made, or where the bristles were made. This does not stop him from creating truly beautiful works. If you wish, you can dig even deeper and learn something new.
Obviously, for people involved in developing software for creating music, an understanding of MIDI is critical; moreover, it must be continuously expanded. In the end, knowledge has not hurt anyone yet.

Interviewer : How many details of the development process are you willing to reveal?
Wayne Light: You know, we would prefer to keep the recipe for our sauce a secret, but I think at some point it will be necessary to share what is happening behind the scenes. It is important for us to find out how it is clear to convey the details to people and to avoid a reaction such as “wow, how complicated it is. And these guys are brainy! ”, Because our goal is different. With the right approach to explanation, everything becomes easier.
First of all, we want to show what power is hidden in MIDI. Perhaps this will happen simultaneously with the opening of access to software (approx. Translator: we are talking about Animotion, now ANIMUSIC | studio). At the moment, our focus, for the most part, is on the next DVD.

Interviewer : How much do you think the “average” person can do with your software?
Wayne Light: With the software in the form in which it is now, probably not much. Just like in those old days, when synthesizers were controlled by guys in lab coats from the university; stuck all kinds of wires in ... Now with the help of a laptop you can do whatever your heart desires. I believe that this is how software should develop; and this applies to music with animation - people should be able to drag-n-drop to create new instruments and assign them musical parts. The user is not obliged to bother about the technologies used in our product. Our goal is to provide a simple and enjoyable creative process, without failures and crashes every few minutes, allowing people to create cool things!

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