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Versions is the essential guide to virtual reality and beyond. It investigates the rapidly deteriorating boundary between the real world and the one behind the screen. Versions launched in 2016 at the eponymous conference dedicated to creativity and VR with the New Museum’s incubator NEW INC.

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Creating your own music visualizer just got a little bit easier

tilt brush
Creating your own music visualizer just got a little bit easier

The earliest commercial music visualizer produced was Atari Video Music, released in 1976. The system would create colorful wavelengths, determined by the intensity and mellowness from the music input. From then on, music visualizers evolved immensely.

Nowadays, a kaleidoscopic visualizer even comes packaged in with iTunes. iTunes’s visualizer is a technicolored feature that pulsates and moves wildly, all according to the music you’re listening to, of course. One of the missing features for most visualizers, though, is the ability to control the content as it’s evolving, or create what the visualizer looks like itself. In the latest update to Tilt Brush, the popular VR 3D painting app, audio reactive brushes have been added to implement just that level of customization.

In essence, then, this update for Tilt Brush makes crafting your own personalized music visualizer a lot easier. Its usage is simple: just play music from another source on your computer, and everything illustrated in the virtual space (specifically from using the new audio reactive brushes) comes to life. It sways, pulses, bounces, and shifts to the beat of whatever track the user is playing. Paintings in the software can be of the classic, highly-patterned music visualizer variety, or be more akin to the wondrous digital paintings one could create in Tilt Brush anyways, like a highly-detailed skeleton.

Sways and bounces to the beat of whatever track the user is playing

Tilt Brush’s latest update might be the answer to the semi-recent announcement of Harmonix Music VR’s The Easel mode. In it, users can craft 3D art that reacts to the their music—it’s coming to PlayStation VR this fall. Tilt Brush, however, relies on the proven depth of its own art-building software, where Harmonix Music VR relies on the opposite, its music visualization. While these two aren’t direct competitors—they’re on separate VR hardware after allit’s an interesting clapback, especially in a realm where everyone’s in a race to do new things in VR first.

DIY music visualizing within Tilt Brush.
DIY music visualizing within Tilt Brush.

Tilt Brush’s audio reactive brushes can paint virtually anything the player sets their minds to. Yet one aspect of the trailer that sparked my personal interest was the idea of creating concert visualsvisuals that not only react to the music as it plays, but complement it visually. By painting in an environment that reacts to it instantaneously and seamlessly, musicians (perhaps mostly of the electronic variety) can craft technologic-inspired visuals that pulsate organically to their beats. With the ease of creating in Tilt Brush, musicians that might not necessarily have the necessary tools to orchestrate their own visuals, can at last have complete control.

The audio reactive brush update for Tilt Brush is available now. You can download the app on Steam for the HTC Vive here.

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