Sunday, January 27, 2013

VSTShell 3.77



Following some user comments, I made a rash promise that I would have an update to VSTShell within a week - OK, so it's more like two weeks, but I have been busy...

First of all, the interface has been cleaned up, with easier to read text and toggles that more clearly show their state.
Multi-timbrality has been implemented, so you can access all channels of a plug-in; to make this more usable with the arpeggiator, you can now send any arpeggiator slot to any instrument slot and target specific Midi channels.
Plugs are now loaded via menus which, as long as you're using the default locations, should automatically display all your VST and AU plugs (you can also store your plugs elsewhere and direct VSTShell to find them, but this may not be remembered).
A Patches window is available to load VST/AU presets by name (if the plug supports this).
State saving has now been implemented: most settings can be saved/restored, including the plugs loaded and arpeggiator sequences - with some caveats. A 'Safe Load' mode has been implemented, to  avoid crashes when trying to load all your plugs at once.
A Record window is available so that you can record the audio output to disc, either as a stereo mix, or as multitrack files for the various instruments plus an Fx mix.
Some minor tweaks like a pause button for the arpeggiator and solo buttons.
Bug fixes; slots now output in stereo, all 4 LFO's should work etc.
ReadMe updated & corrected.

Find it here

I will post a new video when I've got rid of this stinking cold; my voiceovers are croaky at the best of times - you wouldn't want to hear me now.
 Feedback always welcome, though bearing in mind that the Six Nations starts next weekend, it may be a while before I respond.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

VSTShell was one of the first Max apps I ever shared, a little over ten years ago.
 It's nothing fancy, but obviously people still find it useful, because I occasionally get emails about it. Quite early on in it's development I had an email from a games developer called Fernando Covett, who kindly loaned his graphics skills to improving the look of it - the background, and the knobs and sliders are all his work.
 It also got a mention in Sound-on-Sound magazine, in the 'Pro Tools Notes' section, back when you could use DirectConnect (remember that?) to play stuff into Pro Tools, and I even had an email from Behringer asking for permission to include it on a disc of freebies they were including with some of their gear.
Cut to late 2012, and someone submitted a bug report, which reminded me that I hadn't posted an update for quite some time, and as I had been tinkering with it quite a bit over the past few months, I thought it was about time to post a new version.
 So here it is, along with a couple of Youtube videos explaining what it is, and how to use it.
Funny how Youtube has taken the place of written manuals, and although it patently isn't, it almost seems easier to make a Youtube video than to actually sit down and write a 'manual'.
And of course, nobody reads manuals any more, do they? Did they ever...?

Anyway, the new version features a much improved arpeggiator, and I've already had feedback asking for some kind of state-saving to be implemented, so I will be looking at that in the near future.

Download it here

Here's the basic intro video:



And here's one telling you how to use it with Pro Tools via Rewire



Thursday, January 5, 2012

New build here; the last updated version was in the wrong folder, and I've made a few more tweaks etc.
In the absence of any other user testing (see below) I've found that making the videos has been really useful for finding problems.
For example, I've noticed myself occasionally getting confused between the Midi and Modulator sends/receive menus, so I hit upon the genius idea of using a different font & colour for the Midi ones, which actually seems to work...

I'm still desperate for some user testing to report, so please do get in touch. I have to hand in the write-up in a little over two weeks, and as yet have nothing to write about anyone else's experiences. It all works fine for me, but then it would - I need to know if it makes sense to anyone else.
Even if you just 'mail me to say "This thing is crap - I can't make head nor tail of it", I swear I'd still be grateful!

Talking of videos, I posted some new ones: Tonelab as Modular Synth and How to Build Your Own Modules.
(FYI, the distortion in the Build Your Own video turned out to be due to be an issue with my DSP settings, but I didn't want to do the whole thing again.)
Also, in the early stages, I posted a few videos of simple jams, whereas more recently I've tended to tack on a bit of a jam at the end of each tutorial, to reinforce whatever it is I've just been talking about.
For the Modular Synth video, I've posted a separate jam, "synth5.mov" because I was having too much fun to edit it, and it would have made the whole thing a bit long if I'd edited them together.
All three are below.








Monday, January 2, 2012

Another year, another Youtube video (and module)

Bez & Jake get festive.

After a brief break for New Year (spent in the New Forest, with family & dogs - very nice it was too) I managed to finish a couple of those videos.
They're both a bit long, so feel free to skip to the bits that interest you.
It's been interesting for me doing these videos, because making videos is what I mostly do at work, so it's interesting to be the other side of the camera - and not at all easy!
I'm not unaware of the effect that being 'on camera' has on some people - I'm used to seeing people who happily get up in front of a class of 200 students every day and talk for an hour, dry up when a camera is pointed at them. But at least now I can empathise with greater sincerity as they stumble through the fifteenth take.

Anyway, I also made another Generator module just before Christmas, which you can get here (or the full package below). It's a delay-based pitch-shifter, and the basic design comes from Miller Puckette's excellent "The Theory and Practice of Electronic Music", which has been the source of quite a few modules, and as it can be downloaded for free, I can't understand why anyone interested in electronic music would be without a copy.
Whilst we're on the subject of free electronic music PDF's, here's a couple that I hope one day to be able to understand, if not in their entirety, then at least partially.

The two videos are on the subjects of rhythm creation (I had originally used the term 'munging', but then found some rather distasteful definitions online, so dropped it) and an overview of some of the sequencer modules.

Get the latest package with the new module and other tweaks here.







Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Revision

Betty poses by one of my Quad 57's, and worries that I've forgotten to adjust the white balance.

Ho Ho Ho!
In the process of making some more Youtube tutorials, I came across a few bugs and things to be tweaked. This mainly applies to the Midule sequencers and the drum sequencer, but a few bits n' pieces in the main patch too.
Anyway, ons shouldn't really be coding on Christmas Eve, or even blogging for that matter (however attractive an alternative it may seem), so I've just zipped it up and posted it here.
Have a good one.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Evil Tonelab - First panic release!

OK, so it's nearly Christmas, and I need to get this thing 'finished', or at least out there, so I can get some feedback (pun not intended).
Software, of course is never finished, and I am finding bugs & inefficiencies daily, but as I said, I need to get this out there.
So here it is.
It's probably full of holes, and the documentation is far from complete - a brief description of each of the modules will follow in a few days, and I'm also working on a 'Rhythm munging with Notelab' Youtube vid - but in the meantime any comments will be greatly appreciated.
So make some noise and send them to: eviltonelab_btinternet_dot_com

Friday, September 16, 2011

Evil Tonelab, the prequel.



I'm currently working on a project called Evil Tonelab.
It's a modular system built with MaxMSP, and using Alex Harker's dynamicdsp~ objects, and it's aimed at sound designers, live musicians, remixers, composers, loopers, controllerists, bedroom DJ's or just plain old Maxheads - anyone who likes to make evil tones, in fact.
It's loosely based on Framework, an open-source patch that Leafcutter John shared a few years back, which used scripting to load bpatchers into a serial chain of signal processors.
What I've done is extend this so that they can be chained in any order via a matrix, added separate modulator patches and (Midi) input patches, plus a whole load of other stuff.
And by using dynamicdsp~, you can in theory, do all this on the fly without breaking the signal chain.
As I'm writing this up for my Masters in Music Engineering & Production, I'll be needing to do some user testing, so I'm putting together some tutorial videos for Youtube, and also just recording loads of screencasts of me jamming with it, and of course giving a good workout to that QuickRecord patch.
Below is a Youtube overview and a few QuickRecords - no post edits, just the live noodling. Some are (sort of) musical, some are more sound design, and at the most they might employ a couple of Apple Loops to get them started. They are all 100% Tonelab with no other patches involved - it starts to get more interesting when you involve other patches of course, so I'll upload some examples of that later.
If you search unde 'Evil Tonelab' you'll find a few more Youtube videos, again, most of which are just live doodling at the moment.
It's not quite ready for release yet, and I'll be announcing more about it here, of course, and via the Max forum, but anyone wishing to get in on the action early, please mail eviltonelab_at_btinternet_._com (underscores removed, etc.).
Tonelab is, and will always remain, free, and my hope is that folks will create their own modules in Max and share them here - I've built some templates, and there'll be manuals & Youtube tutorials, so it should be pretty straightforward to contribute.
Big thanks to Leafcutter John for the inspiration, Alex Harker for dynamicdsp~ and a host of other Maxers whose ideas I may have built upon, been influenced by or just plain plagiarised.

Evil Tonelab - it's not Ableton Live.



Some Quickrecords: