1.6 Animating parameters with beats


As fun and fast as it is, animating parameters using an audio signal is arguably not the best way to make sure your visuals are in synch with the music. In cases where you want to have tighter control over your visuals, Z Vector gives you the possibility to synch them to a BPM (beats per minute) tempo.

In Z Vector there are three ways to set a tempo: tapping it in by using the tap tempo button, just typing it in or receiving it via MIDI clock.

For the purposes of this tutorial, we will use tap tempo. While listening to any music you’d like to synch your visuals to, left-click on the tap tempo button continuously on each beat of the music for a few seconds. (Even if you aren’t exactly Buddy Rich) the BPM count should settle somewhere close to the actual count after three or four taps.

Once you have the BPM tapped in, it’s time to synchronize the beat to the bar. While listening to your choice in music, left-click the Sync button at exactly the downbeat (the first beat of the bar). This will reset the count and all synthetic signals used for animation.

The synthetic signals are visualized next to the BPM controls. Take note that there are two types. The blue are signals that max and min in B (every beat), 4 (every bar or 4th beat), 8 (every 2nd bar or 8th beat) or 16 (every 4th bar or 16th beat). The orange are synthetic signals that continuously loop from minimum to maximum, jumping back to minimum upon reaching the end of B (every beat), 4 (every bar or 4th beat), 8 (every 2nd bar or 8th beat) or 16 (every 4th bar or 16th beat).


This time instead of geometry, let’s play with color gradients. Again making sure that both your currently active profile and mixer slider are set to A, navigate to the Gradient section of the UI (found under the Controls tab). Click on the dancer icon in the tab to expose the animation controls for the geometry controls.

On the exposed controls for the count parameter, click on blue icons for B, 4, 8 or 16 to make for a pumping (up/down) motion, or the orange icons for B, 4, 8 or 16 to make for a more continuous looping motion. Just as you did when animating with sound, you can control the direction of the parameter change by left-clicking on the – (minus), | (ping/pong) or + (plus) sign for the parameter.

Your render should now be changing according to the beat. If you don’t notice an immediate effect, try changing either the strength of the beat signal with the dial that is available next to the BPM controls and/or going around the controls for profile A, exposing and changing animation settings for any parameters that you want.

You now know how beat synching works with tap tempo and how you can use the synthetic signals in order to animate parameters that make up your profiles.

Congratulations on completing the first tutorial series! You have now gained understanding of all the most basic features of Z Vector: editing, creating and randomizing visual profiles, mixing between them and animating their parameters via sound or beat synch.

1.0 Basics: Introducing Z Vector
1.5 Animating parameters with audio input