VisualTracker – Modular Pd Environment for sequencing events on the timeline
Author: Aleš Černý
VisualTracker is a prototype of modular time based Pure Data environment exploring the possibilities of sharing data and functionalities across dynamically created external patches (abstractions).
Main part of VisualTracker is linear sequencer which triggers various events i.e. basic time based objects such as [bang], [toggle], [line] or even complex patches such as audio or video players built as structured abstractions (modules) independent from main program.
Each module can be loaded into VisualTracker in (theoretically) infinite number of instances and each instance is handled as independent program (e.g. each sample player can play different sample). Modules are connected with main program through “connector abstraction” which delivers essential VisualTracker features such as event duration changes, looping, time stretching, fit in tempo or output management to each connected module according to its position on “VisualTracker Timeline”.
Once module instance is loaded into VisualTracker, “connector abstraction” automatically creates its graphical representation ([cnv]) and places it on GUI timeline divided vertically to tracks and horizontally to bars (measures). Shifting canvases over bars and tracks by mouse (in CTRL+E mode) defines the placement of module event in time and provides very intuitive and user friendly way to create module compositions and control output routing. Module canvases (representations) are “time sensitive” i.e. duration of module event has its interpretation in size of canvas.
Another essential feature of VisualTracker is fully integrated storage system which allows to save main program state (such as BPM, track names and outputs) together with all loaded modules including their position on timeline and current module instance values into external text file and load them back (recreate whole composition).
Since development of VisualTracker aims first of all at main program and cross-module communication concept, the module development relies on the pdlive project (http://code.google.com/p/pdlive/) which is a big collection of patches found on the web and which will port patches proven to be efficient and easy to use to release a comprehensive and extensive set of tools for audiovisual production and composition.
VisualTracker is regularly developed and tested for more than a year (after several ALPHA versions comes already into BETA phase) with the idea of cooperation and open source evolution (focus on readable code, comments, documentation etc). The aim of potential presentation at PdCon2011 is to introduce the concept to Pd fans and enthusiastic and tempt them to use VisualTracker as platform for their experiments, extend the library of modules and come with new ideas. The basic functions featured are of course already known from proprietary software such as Ableton Live or ACID, but only in open source and 100% readable environment of Pd they can be really explored and used the way they were never used before. The “user experience” of VisualTracker also tend to attract people who are not so familiar with programming and are more artistically oriented.
Complete documentation, screenshots and download:
4th international Pure Data Convention 2011 Weimar ~ Berlin