Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Band of Colours

Last week I received a speculative e-mail (via the contact form) from SoundSpectrum's Rick Eberle. He wondered if I'd be interested in reviewing their G-Force and SoftSkies plug-ins and sharing my thoughts with you?

I was terribly intrigued by this company, one that I'd never heard or read about before, and gamely visited SoundSpectrum's site! The feted plug-ins will be the subject of a future post. In the meantime, here's a basic FAQ prepared on behalf of the company.

SoundSpectrum - the #1 music and audio visualization software company on the market.
http://www.soundspectrum.com/

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SoundSpectrum for Consumer "Personal" Use:
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G-Force is currently installed on over 100 million computers worldwide and our fan base continues to grow by millions every year. We supply the core visuals for Apple's iTunes and visuals for Windows Media Center and the upcoming Windows Vista OS, and our products are recommended by WindowsMedia, Yahoo Musicmatch, RealPlayer, Winamp, and most other popular media players for your computer. We have also been recommended by various media outlets, including CNet, Wired, USNews, and many online blogs and publications.

SoftSkies is a music visualizer and screen saver that produces photo-realistic cloudscapes, rich with color and motion. SoftSkies features mood-enhancing color designs, patent-pending cloud animation, dynamic imagery, and detailed visual controls. SoftSkies is ideal for relaxation, music appreciation, and creating ambiance for any environment. SoftSkies runs as a software plug-in to your favorite media player, as a screen saver display, or as a standalone application. Users can customize SoftSkies to design their own skyscapes with varying weather conditions and colors palettes. SoftSkies includes an assortment of color combinations designed in collaboration with Colorcalm, Inc. to add atmosphere and complement d├ęcor. SoftSkies also displays scenic photos as “living images” with animated cloudscapes that create a mesmerizing on-screen experience.

Consumers can download free trial demo versions and they can purchase the full versions (i.e. Gold or Platinum) from our web site (www.soundspectrum.com) as well. Consumer "personal use" versions downloaded from our web site are licensed strictly for personal use at home. *Public display and commercial use are strictly prohibited without special license from SoundSpectrum.

Here are a few reviews on us you might find interesting

On G-Force:
http://reviews.cnet.com/4531-10921_7-6398181.html

On SoftSkies:
http://theappleblog.com/2006/12/16/pub-softskies-platinum-review/

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SoundSpectrum for Commercial Use and Public Display:
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G-Force and SoftSkies are also used in performances, nightclubs, theme parks, music festivals and retail environments throughout the world. Artists such as David Gilmour of Pink Floyd, Journey, Aerosmith, Seal, Herbie Hancock, Raq, Fischerspooner and Michael W. Smith have used G-Force in their concerts and as part of their album releases. G-Force has also appeared in places as diverse as The Arizona Symphony, Germany’s Hamburg Planetarium, New York, New York Hotel in Las Vegas, at the G-Force Rollercoaster at Drayton Manor Park in Staffordshire and on video walls at TopShop stores in downtown London, England.

How does G-Force/SoftSkies work as an enhancement to a band/DJ's live performance?
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As the band/DJ plays, mesmerizing visuals that dance and react with the music are projected / displayed behind and around them. You can add your own pictures, logos, text or even video of the band/DJ to play along in the background meshed with the visuals too. The venue would need a video screen (LCD, LED, plasma, CRT, etc.) or a video projector with silk/ projector screen (or white wall) that is positioned behind the performer. This would be connected to a mini mac, or pc laptop to run the software. We are happy to furnish commercial licensing terms for performers or venues, upon request.

How does G-Force/SoftSkies work as an enhancement to a band/DJ's album releases?
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We are currently creating videos, videotones, wallpapers, online video singles and other DVD, dual disc & enhanced CD content meshing our G-Force and SoftSkies visuals with pictures, existing live and stock video and music from DJ’s, musicians and artists in many genres and on many labels.

These videos can be made as full screen HD, video iPod and/or cell phone compatible and can be sold and distributed separately online. Or they can be bundled and packaged to offer extra incentive for consumers to buy the actual CD package from retail instead of downloading specific songs from the web.

We have demo videos available at:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsSMkM1Qrv0
and
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sRVUD8dBhuA

*G-Force and SoftSkies must be specifically licensed for commercial use or any public display.

Read an article about our work using G-Force with Journey in concert:
Journey tours with SoundSpectrum

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Important Commercial License and Reseller information:
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The most important reason to get the Commercial license is that it's illegal to use G-Force or SoftSkies for any public display or commercial purposes without a commercial license. The Gold and Platinum versions (found at http://www.soundspectrum.com) are licensed strictly for personal use, which is clearly stated in our start up screen, licenses, EULA, and on our web site.

With respect to features, the Pro (commercial) version of the software includes:

1. The ability to upload graphic images and photos directly into the visuals as "overlays" (i.e. in true-color in either “opaque” or “transparent” modes) which can be sequenced to display at regular intervals. This is in addition to our “Sprite” feature which enables users to add images and video, and our “text overlay” feature which allows them to scroll text on the screen with the sponsor and event information of your choice, easily manipulated and customized for each event they hold. They can also "turn off" the G-Force logo, as well.

2. A networking feature that enables clients to network two computers together so they can use the toolbar on the first computer to control the G-Force visual output on the other computer. This is useful if someone wants to control the visual output in real-time while the music is playing, to change graphics, colors, reactivity, etc., etc.

3. Pro users can also create "scripts" to invoke specific visual combinations, as well as text, photos, images, etc. (i.e. this is especially effective using the "overlay" capabilities) or we regularly create some scripts to specs for clients at an additional charge.

4. We can set up custom “hot keys” which can be used to seamlessly change from specifically built “theme sets” based on color, shape, background using just a qwerty computer keyboard. Save an unlimited number of “pages” containing “scripts” which can easily interact with your existing lighting/VJ configurations for a truly amazing enhancement to the room ambiance. Additionally, customers can create multiple instances of G-Force and SoftSkies; for instance this would give them the ability to run G-Force or SoftSkies in a “Blue” theme on one screen, in a “Green” theme on another etc. Due to the development time involved, this is only available for an additional charge.

5. Separately, we provide Pro clients with CD copies of the G-Force and SoftSkies personal use software which they can sell on-site to patrons who like the graphics, and we can offer them a commission on each piece sold.

*We also ask for some kind of acknowledgment which can be in the form of our logo appearing for a few seconds every 20 min or so within the display, or some kind of oral announcement or written acknowledgement (i.e. G-Force visuals provided by SoundSpectrum - www.soundspectrum.com ). It's important to us that people can identify what they are seeing, although we're very flexible as to the form of the attribution.

*There are also some projects in the works we may be able to use with an installation including interactive floorplates controlled by a kiosk, color kinetics integration, DMX lighting control and creating custom DVD’s for VJ and DJ use.

We're glad to provide customers with a one-time use commercial license for any event at nominal cost or we can set them up with a multi use license for a specific number of shows. (We also offer commercial licenses on a monthly or a yearly subscription basis) The per-performance cost varies with venue size and frequency of use.