How To (do what I do)

"I like what you do; how can I do something like that myself?"

Depending on what you mean by "something like that" and how much time and money you're willing to invest, there are a range of answers. I'll try to lay out all the pieces of the puzzle; if you have questions after reading this, please contact me.

How I do it

Some people assume I'm using off-the-shelf, commercially-available software, and that if they get the same software I'm using, they'll be able to duplicate my results. That's not the case; I'm using software I wrote myself that isn't available to the public. If you want to learn more about this project, here's some background on it.

Hire me

If you have more money than time and want videos that are exactly like what I make, the simplest approach is to just commission me to make them for you. Or, if your goal is to get an animated graphical score of a favorite piece of music onto YouTube, you might want to consider underwriting its production.

Hire somebody else

There are other people besides me who are making animated graphical scores. Here are the ones I know about (please let me know if you'd like to be added to this list or removed from it):

  • Andy Fillebrown
  • aniMIDIfy
  • Ned Resnikoff
  • Dirk S
  • other people who have posted music visualizations on YouTube

    Use my 2006 software

    In 2006, I published Windows software that turns MIDI files into animations. Many people have used screen capture software to capture these animations into videos and post the results on YouTube. Since I've haven't done this myself, I can't give much advice; here is a page that tells everything I know about it. (N.b. Because the software is more than fifteen years old, it may not run on recent versions of Windows. I have no plans to update the software, and I don't support it; it is provided as-is.)

    Use existing tools—easy

    The simplest way to make animated graphical scores is to put a MIDI file into a piece of software that uses a graphical display, such as (please help me fill out this list) ...

  • Cubase
  • Maestoso NEW
  • Synthesia
  • MIDITrail
  • OBS Studio
  • ... and then use screen-capture software to capture the result into a video file.

    Use existing tools—moderately hard

    Here, I can't tell you much, other than this: people who make animated films use sophisticated, powerful, hard-to-learn tools, such as (please help me fill out this list):

  • Autodesk Maya
  • Adobe After Effects
  • Fortunately, if you want to follow this path, there are schools where you can study animation and learn how to use these tools.

    Use future tools—easy (but not yet available to the general public)

    The Music:Eyes team is developing music visualization tools based on the work of Lushen Wu and Stephen Malinowski. Their software is currently being used in selected schools; professional-level and consumer-level products are planned.

    Make your own tools—very hard

    If the animations you want to make can be made using other people's tools ... lucky you! If they're not, then you're stuck doing what I did: learning how to write software. (Or, if you're rich, hiring somebody else to write software for you.) Here are the things I studied that helped me:

  • music: theory, composition, notation, performance
  • mathematics: algebra, geometry, trigonometry
  • software engineering: graphics, MIDI, audio, real-time