A little over a month after the initial release of version one, we’re proud to announce the release of the first update to Z Vector. Despite just a slight change in version numbers, we think this is a major update to the software and should make it even more versatile in terms of both usage and the types of visuals you can create with it. Perhaps the most significant update in this release is the ability to do background Z converts. This brings Rutt-Etra type 2D to 3D conversion capabilities in to Z Vector and makes pictures or video become alive and intriguing 3D backdrops for any content you’d like to visualise. We’ve also added a new beat and animation type as well as included the capability to map the keyboard for shortcuts to controls in Z. For a full list of what’s new and changed, see the list below. Have fun!
Features and changes in v1.01
Background Z convert
The Z Convert for backgrounds uses the RGB information in the background to add depth to the background plane in a similar manner to a very old yet cool Rutt-etra video synthesizer. This opens up a whole new world of possibilities as the background depth pixels can interact fully with the foreground depth pixels from the Z Vector depth inputs.
The new Z Convert parameter in the background panel controls the strength of this conversion and the Z Phase controls the threshold value that’s used to determine which RGB intensity is converted to the highest depth value.
New animation controls
The animation sliders in the control tab are now hidden by default, so the controls look much cleaner and perhaps a bit less intimidating for beginners. An additional advantage to this is that now the control sliders are much easier to control with good precision.
However activating the A toggle in the panel header reveals all of the old and new animation controls for each control slider in the panel. If you prefer to have the animation controls always visible you only need to leave the toggle enabled when quitting Z Vector or changing the active scene and the toggle state will automatically be saved.
The synthetic clock based signals got a big upgrade with six new signals. The blue beat signals B go up and down to the beat and the orange count signals C go only up so that the value increases through the duration of the beats.
The first two beat signals are the ones that were already available in Z Vector 1.00 and together with the 8 and 16 beat variations work great for a look that really stays with the beat. The count signals give a nice variation to the beat signals.
Now you can finally utilize your keyboard for pretty much anything in Z Vector. This is a great addition to the MIDI controller mappings and the mapping works exactly the same way. In order to map the keyboard to controls simply enable the Map mode from the top bar (this was previously the MIDI mode), select the map you want to edit (or create a new one) and select Keyboard as the control device. After this you can select any button or slider in Z Vector and simply press a key to map the control to that key.
Examples of mappings that we found useful:
All triggers to the QWERTY etc. keys and number keys to the trigger banks.
Space to the beat sync button and Ctrl/Cmd + Space to the beat tap button.
F1 and F2 to the new tab switch buttons next to the control mapping panel at the top.
In the case you have multiple screens (or projectors) connect to your computer you can now put Z Vector’s output in fullscreen mode to any combination of these. If you simply have enough display outputs you don’t need a graphics splitter like the Matrox Dual/Triplehead anymore to enjoy Z Vector’s output on all the screens you can connect.
Selecting one or more of the displays will skip the automatic fullscreen assignment and adjust Z Vector’s output to fill all of the selected displays. Selecting none will return to the automatic behavior.
Note that these options are only shown for the number of displays you have connected.
Improved input and depth mix controls
The Z Vector inputs now have a depth histogram on their right edge. This histogram displays the input’s depth data in the same scale as the depth background and fade sliders and makes it easy to see where the input data is in the depth direction.
In addition to this the inputs now show the current center mode and warnings if no depth data is present or for example a tracked user was lost.
The depth fade start depth can now also be adjusted with the new Fade Front slider.
New preset shaders
Three new preset shaders as well as a new filter open up some nice visualization possibilities:
- Flare shader creates a blurred horizontal glow to all the brightest parts of the image.
- Weak Signal shader distorts the image lines horizontally.
- Grain filter makes it easy to give a more analog feel to the visuals by adding simple noise to it.
- Zoom Fade shader replaces the old Feedback Zoom filter.
These new shaders were made possible by the addition of two new textures to the automatic custom shader inputs. The “soft” texture is a smoothly blurred version of the rendered image and the “prev” texture is the previous rendered frame.
Animated GIF backgrounds
We stumbled upon the fantastic tumblr blog beesandbombs.tumblr.com and just had to implement animated gif support for Z Vector backgrounds. Combined with the new background z convert functionality this gives possibilities for some really interesting visuals.
Other improvements and bug fixes:
- Background video playback controls.
- Improved keystone editing
- Smoother fps indicator.
- Save current (modified) profile directly to a profile trigger, also load last screenshot directly into profile trigger.
- Random distort’s speed of change is now relative to the noise scale.
- Background movie playback controls and seek slider.
- Syphon input and output works correctly.
- OpenNI devices now work even if OpenNI is installed separately.
- Input shift didn’t loop correctly on render and was profile dependant.
- Exporting a scene didn’t include depth clip loops.
- Midi learn with same message wasn’t displayed properly.
- Background images were not loaded correctly on some Windows machines.
- Background change wasn’t effected by the control smooth parameter.
- In some cases sensor startup failed when two sensors were connected.
- Distort was too small in many cases when depth data was in the distance.
- Input center didn’t correctly read the background depth when no depth data was present.
- Background video playback didn’t work correctly on OS X.
- Input center stays in same place when a tracked user is lost.
- Control window geometry is restored better.
- Meta control value editor now shows up properly on OS X.
- Live mode state is now saved per scene.
Get Z Vector 1.01 from the Download page!