Music Animation Machine — Do It Yourself?

"Hey, smalin, I'd like to make videos like the ones you post on YouTube; what software do you use?"

My YouTube videos are made with software I wrote myself (in fact, I became a software engineer in the 1980s to pursue this). Presently, music visualization is not a mainstream thing. If you want to write your own webpage, or do your own character animation, or make your own 3D-printed widget, there's there's off-the-shelf software to help you, but if you want to make your own animated graphical score, your options are limited. Hopefully, this will change in the future (see #6 below), but for now, your choices are limited to the six described on this page.

1. Use my public-domain software

In 2006, I published a version of my MIDI Player software. This program was designed to play MIDI files with various kinds of visualizations, but lots of people have figured out how to capture the output from the program and turn it into a video. This is the "do it yourself" option that will probably get you the closest to what I do with the least effort. I don't support the software any more, and except for this page, I don't give advice about how to do it. This software was written for 2006-vintage Windows machines, and with each passing year, more people find that they can't get it to run. If you want to go this route, I would recommend that you get a very fast Windows machine, and figure out what is the most recent version of Windows that will still work with my 2006 software (which was designed for Windows XP).

2. Use commercially available software

There is music software (editors, sequencers, etc.) which, although not designed primarily for music visualization, presents a graphical representation of the music, and there are various music visualizers on the market (e.g. Morphyre) which are not about animated graphical scores, but do things that are related that you might use.

3. Hire me

I make custom videos. I've produced custom videos for lots of people (see the list of clients). The video I would make for you would be like the ones I publish on YouTube. For details, see Work For Hire.

4. Hire somebody else

What I'm doing is not rocket science, and a competent software engineer with the relevant background (graphics, audio, MIDI, music, etc.) could write software like what I've written. And, I'm not the only person who is making animated graphical scores. Maybe one of the other people who is already working in the field would be interested in working with you. For example:

  • Andy Fillebrown
  • AniMIDIfy
  • Other people who are using my software to make YouTube videos
  • (I've seen others, but don't remember them at the moment; if you do, please contact me so that I can add them to this list.)

    5. Really do it yourself

    When I started on this project, I'd taken one course in computer programming (more or less the equivalent of this: Introduction to Computer Science —though of course it was very different in the late 1970s ... we programmed using punch cards). I'm not saying it was trivial, but it's a lot easier nowadays, and if you have nothing better to do, I'd recommend you learn to write software. It's a useful skill.

    6. Wait for it to get easier

    Like I said, I'm the main person doing this, but the situation may change. There's currently a group of people working on a project to bring music visualization software to a wider market. You can read about this here: Music:Eyes. The first clients of this enterprise will be educational institutions, but there might be commercial software in a few years; sign up on their mailing list (at the end of that page) to keep up-to-date on the progress of the venture.

  • Background

    If you're reading this page, you might like to get some background on this project:

  • History of this project (1974-2010)
  • YouTube milestones
  • Synchronization
  • Renderers
  • Techniques
  • Scrolling
  • Progress
  • Background (more complete list)