I really dislike raving about products, but in this case I have to make an exception. Animusic's Video Album is an amazing visual and musical feast, not to mention a perfect gift for the season. Wayne Lytle the man behind Animusic create fantasy worlds of instuments that seem to play the music, not simply react to it. Along with animator David Crognale the Animusic video's are a complete joy to watch and listen.
First the basics about the DVD, there are seven original pieces that have been in production for approximatly the last 3 years. The care paid to the animations is evident. "Pipe Dream" my favorite was shown in the SIGGRAPH 2001 electronic theater and was, for my taste, one of the two best animations of the show. Each video presents a collection of fantasy instruments that seem perfectly real, yet aren't.
The amazing aspect of Animusic isn't the simply the music or even the animations it's the fact that the animations of the musical instruments (once the instrument has been constructed) are created automatically by the MIDI music. This is not simply reactionary music that changes color or bounces to a beat. It is carefully analyzed by proprietary algorithms they call MIDImotionTM.
Scene from "Future Retro"
Think about it this way. If you take a ball and throw it in the air towards a drum surface the actual sound doesn't occur until the ball hits the surface. The time in the air, maybe several seconds, is an animation that must start before the sound so it can't simply react to the music. Instead an analysis is performed of the sounds and the animations that occur prior to the sounds is computed and the timings resulting from that analysis drive the animation. The result is exquistly detailed animations which include interesting pre-sound animations. While the result is fabulous the cost however is that this is not a real time system nor could it ever be truly real time as the analysis would have to predict the future.
The end results of Animusic's work is one of the best marriages of art and technology I've ever seen. The animations are engrossing, the music is terrific and the thought of how the animations are created makes it all the better. It costs only $19.95 and is well worth it.