Saturday, February 03, 2007


The MetaFFRend beta is available now. We actually had a bit a of a celebration here tonight. Not only does MetaFFRend work, but we proved that nesting is unlimited. It's easy to make a meta-metaplugin, a metaplugin that contains metaplugin(s) which contain plugins. Or even weirder combinations, like a metaplugin which uses a mixer plugin to do automated mixing between two metaplugins. (!!) The level of nesting is arbitrary, and there's essentially no performance penalty for it, because the overhead of the base plugins is always huge compared to the overhead from nesting.

This is wild stuff, and not so impractical as it might sound. It means if I make a metaplugin that does something you like, and send it to you, you can use it inside one of your own metaplugins, add value to it somehow, and then send it someone else. By its very nature MetaFFRend encourages iterative composition, and distributed creation. It also means that you can simplify your own creative process by using grouping, in other words you can organize your own metaplugins in a hierarchy, with more basic effects at the bottom, e.g. a kaleidescope with automated rotation, and then reuse your building blocks (or other people's) in higher-level metaplugins.

Not only that, but embedding can be nested too, though ONLY if all the metaplugins at each level are "free", i.e. include the word "copyleft" in their author/license field. So for example if I send you one of my embedded metaplugins, and it's copyleft, you can embed it inside one of your metaplugins, and if you specify copyleft too, your metaplugin can also be embedded by someone else, and so on... And at each level the embedding works as expected, so the final plugin can be loaded into a host like any other plugin, and automatically unzips itself recursively the first time you load it. None of the recipients needs to worry about missing plugins. How about that.

The real point here is that it gives you, me, all of us a super-compact way to transport compositions. A complicated metaplugin might be 300K bytes, WITH embedding, without, less than 100K. Compare this to the cost of transporting a 30-second movie file, even compressed. The problem I've been trying to solve is that while Whorld operates in vector space, as soon as I apply effects to it, the output is video, which is a huge storage problem. But now I don't need to store anything. Instead of making a movie, I just send you a metaplugin that contains the Whorld plugin, running through a bunch of effects with automated parameters. It looks THE SAME as it did on my machine, but no goddamn gigantic movie file, and no compression either. You can render it to a movie file if you want, at any resolution you like, and if I used randomness in my Whorld patches (or in my automations), it will do something different every time you run it. The static movie file is replaced by an algorithm that's capable of dynamic behavior, user interaction, etc. Visual effects can be made quickly, without programming, even made live, and then easily transported, to be used and/or modified by others.

What this really does is push Whorld (and any other freeframe visual synths) back into vector space. It's a whole new type of content, all the more because it's N-dimensional (due the nesting capability), and distinct from making videos or coding plugins or VJing. It's metaplugin authoring, I don't know what else to call it, but hey, I'm drunk. Whatever it is, it's wicked object-oriented.

OK I'll shut up now and go drink some water. My head is starting to hurt and not just from programming.