We love music, and still almost all of the information absorbed by our brains is visual. Visuals and music go hand in hand, which is why music visualization was on a path to become a big thing,more than a decade ago.
Did you know that there are people still using and loving these programs? APEXvj brings the concept of music visualization to the present day, utilizing modern technology and a dedicated approach to automating aesthetically pleasing visuals for music.
These days we mostly see these types of visuals at large festivals or concerts, and they usually take months or even years to complete, and the budgets for them are huge.
So what about having great music visualization at your house party? Or if you're playing a gig or want to spice up the local clubnight? Or just to relax with music on your own? There's not really anything available for them.
The perfect solution is a simple app that listens to the music and intelligently and automatically turns it into a unique 3D show, in real-time. This is what APEXvj does, and it does it beautifully by pushing WebGL technology to its limits!
APEXvj was started four years ago as an experimental project by creative programmer Simo Santavirta and has served millions of people since then.
It has fans all over the globe: DJs, VJs, visual artists, bands and artists, and most importantly: people who love music and visuals. During this indie journey, the project has received several industry recognitions such as the Adobe / TheFWA : The Cutting Edge Award and articles in magazines such as Digital Production.
The visuals in APEXvj are created with an exciting new technology called Fuse (fusetools.com). It's been under development for over three years and Simo was the first pilot user. This technology allows us to create applications for any platform as native code. No HTML5 wrappers or bad templates or cheating: Real code. Real performance, on all our target platforms (WebGL, Windows and OSX).
Fuse also allows to target mobile platforms, without having to waste all of the glorious code and visuals already written.
When they do, or even better, when an unexpected pattern surprises you in a positive way, your body rewards you by producing dopamine. Dopamine makes us happy, creative and motivated!
When Simo worked on the sound analyzing algorithm for APEXvj, he found a way to detect these rewarding moments in a song and to use them to add visually stimulating components at the right time. The intended result is to strengthen the dopamine producing effect when we experience music.
After a long pointless work day Simo relaxed by passing Fast Fourier Transformed sound spectrums into a pixel manipulation program called Pixel Bender (Flash) and was able to produce something abstract and responsive. The next idea was to integrate SoundCloud API and just like that, the main concept was born. His fly-fishing pal Jani gave APEXvj a visual identity.
APEXvj was a small and unknown project for a couple first months, but on that day it exploded. Simo still don’t exactly know how it happened, but in following month of February APEXvj had over 350k visitors.
The following summer Simo took some unpaid vacation worked to create a desktop version of APEXvj. His friend Jani helped out again, and made the layouts and design sketches. The vision was that people would want to control and adjust all aspects of the visuals and then share them with friends — this turned out to be completely wrong, and the desktop application was not considered a hit.
Simo’s son was born and time for the project declined dramatically. However, it didn't stop him from continuing, although at a slower pace. Being patient, and using the time during the evenings after his kid has fallen asleep, the project moved onwards.
After 8 months of slow training, Simo was able to release the first version of APEXvj for mobile devices. It mangled pixels on iOS and Android, all of it done on the GPU.
Simo released the HD version of the APEXvj browser app. He decided to go freelance and try to get as much time as possible for the project.
Simo started to work full time on APEXvj. What pushed him to do it was reading all of those hundreds of positive tweets, blog-posts, Reddits, StumbleUpons, Facebook messages, YouTube videos and more about APEXvj. At this point, he had received hundrets of emails that encouraged him to continue this project.
After 8 months of hard work the next version was released for the Chrome browser. This was the first version made using Fuse, WebGL and WebAudio technologies, instead of Flash. The project received several industry recognitions such as the Adobe / TheFWA: The Cutting Edge Award and articles written about it in magazines such as Digital Production.
Simo decided to stop taking on freelance projects for a while and focus entirely to APEXvj.
Huge release number three is out with brand new artificial intelligence for sound analysis and a huge stack of effects and filters. APEXvj on the web has never looked better! The Kickstarter project is launched on the same day to raise funds for the next phase of APEXvj, which would be a supercharged version for desktops called APEXvj TURBO.
Despite the promising start on the APEXvj TURBO Kickstarter -campaign the funding was totally dried out after few weeks. One reason for this is that I wasn't able to get enough press coverage for the project.
APEXvj has steady user base of 45 000 visitors a month. We'll see where this saga goes next. Simo continues to work as freelancer and slowly developing the APEXvj.
Behind the project of APEXvj is Finnish creative programmer Simo Santavirta. Simo is a craftsman of the digital era: he has had a passion for real-time graphics, graphics design and user experience for over 16 years. He’s been on a journey in the digital medium through graphics, to print design, mobile and browser development, front-end programming and even games, digital marketing and all the way back to real-time graphics.
Simo, originally from Pori in Finland, is a demoscene hobbyist and open-source contributor and is always creating something (like his one-man award-stealing operation, the music visualiser APEXvj). In the summer of 2012 he went freelance, set up a company and focused entirely on the stuff he loves: real-time graphics. Once a pioneer and award winning Flash developer, Simo has since moved on to a new technology called Fuse from Outracks Technologies, a group of mad scientist technologists and tool vendors. Simo was one of the first pilot users of this technology and has used it on a daily basis for both clients and his own experimental projects, as well as APEXvj.
Simo has been a featured speaker on such highly regarded events as FMX and FITC, and has given talks at several design and media conferences.
Several people have helped me during this journey. I would like to thank the team at Fuse for technical guidance. Jani Länsimäki for ideas, mental support and the original visual identity of APEXvj. Jonny Ree for creating me some awesome 3D models, like the epic rock hand. Wessel de Lorijn for debugging the site. And to many others for bug reports, ideas and general support.