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Andrew Benson

Written Articles

An Interview with Jacqueline Gordon

Jacqueline Gordon uses Max to build sculptural multichannel sound installations.

Introducing Max Workspaces

Are you patching on location in an exotic place, setting up a show, or just connecting objects in the corner of your local cafe? Is Max a part of your studio or office? We’re excited to launch a new feature of called Max Workspaces. We know that Max is used all over the world to [...]

Friday, September 27th: Max in the Morning – Ableton Day at the dB Festival

A New Max for Live Video Course

Want to learn to create custom devices? Austin-based collective Bit Voltage is offering a new video course to help get you deeper into Max for Live. The course, developed by Nate Crepeault, introduces the basics of Max for Live from the ground up with a focus on using the Live API in a Max [...]

Special Effect Brings Live Cinema to the Museum of Moving Images

Last year, Peter Burr approached me with an intriguing Kickstarter campaign he was starting for a travelling show, and wanted to know if I would contribute a video. The concept was that a group of video artists would each make 30 second videos about “the Zone” from Tarkovsky’s film Stalker, and/or the book [...]

Pushing the Edit Button

Helpful tutorials and Max for Live projects to get you started.

VIA Music & New Media Festival

This weekend, I’m heading to Pittsburgh, PA to perform as part of the annual VIA Festival. VIA is an all-volunteer run festival that pairs hot musical acts with current visual artists to create a unique audiovisual experience. I’m excited to be part of the show, working with the original moombahton group [...]

Building a Better Mousetrap with Max

Steven Jouwersma AKA Crofty-Systems created this delightfully over-engineered humane mousetrap using Max. “I made this mouse trap to catch a mouse in my house. The mouse trap catches the mouse alive, it uses a camera to detect the mouse and triggers a solonoid on the right moment.”

Recipe 56: Relief

    General Principles
  • Creating evenly spaced 3D objects
  • Making a 3D volumetric relief effect using video input

Recipe 55: MirrorHouse

Create complex repetitive visual patterns similar to a kaleidoscope.

Recipe 54: Zoom

    General Principles
  • Creating an endless zoom effect
  • Making a circular mask with Gen

Recipe 53: FlyOver

    General Principles
  • Creating generative fractal landscapes
  • Creating a scrolling "slitscan" effect
  • Working with particle-like motion

Recipe 52: DirtySignal

    General Principles
  • Combining Jitter Matrix manipulations to replicate an effect
  • Using sound to distort video

Recipe 51: Scrunch

    General Principles
  • Pixel animations
  • Feedback with OpenGL
  • Color and spatial effects

Recipe 50: Branching

The branching structure of a tree provides the basis for this animation patch.

Expand Your Sounds with Soundflower

Expand sounds in your next Audacity project.

Jitter Recipes: Book 4, Recipes 44-49

Max 6 brought a wealth of new tools -- including a full physics engine, support for complex scene hierarchies, advanced animation tools -- for making some really fine Jitter Recipes.

Collaboration in the Forum

Read about a collaborative forum thread filled with cool Max tricks and ideas.

Putting Max into Words

Our Italian friends Maurizio Giri and Alessandro Cipriani, authors of Electronic Music and Sound Design, tell us why their book is worth checking out and offer insight into its writing in this interview with Cycling ’74.

A Textbook For Max

Despite years of widespread use in academia, there has never been a proper textbook, written in English, for sound synthesis and processing in Max/MSP. With a recently published text, Maurizio Giri and Alessandro Cipriani have changed that. Electronic Music and Sound Design: Theory and Practice with Max/MSP – Volume 1 originally written in Italian, has [...]

When is a Patch Finished?

As it turns out, the answer to this simple question is as varied and complex as the Max user community itself. Perhaps how you answer this question depends on what Max means to you, how you approach it as a tool.

An Interview with Francisco Colasanto

Francisco Colasanto recently published Max/MSP: Guía de Programación para Artistas, the first Spanish-language book devoted to Max. In this interview, we get a chance to catch up with Francisco and learn more about his in-depth book as well as his work at CMMAS in Mexico and elsewhere.

Jitter Recipes: Book 3, Recipes 26-43

In third installment of Jitter Recipe Collection, the Jitter Recipe “AnaglyphRender” builds on the “RenderMaster” recipe posted to create a realtime 3-D anaglyph image.

Demystifying Expressions in Jitter

One of the most feared and respected objects in the Jitter collection, jit.expr arrived on the scene as part of Jitter 1.5. In some circles, there is a belief that harnessing its power will bring you great powers and enable you to achieve untold wonders. The fact is, jit.expr is a really amazing tool, but [...]

A Video Processing Device for Max for Live

While many people are looking at Max for Live as a great way to integrate their favorite hardware controllers, build really unique effects, and add variety to their productions, I was eager to explore what could be done with video inside of Max for Live.

The Edit Button Has Been Pressed

Even before the Max for Live beta was opened up to the public, a community of testers was hard at work putting Max for Live through its paces. The integration of Max into the Ableton Live environment opened up a whole spectrum of possibilities that many users hadn’t even considered until now, and it [...]

Making Connections: Camera Data

Coming up with ways to get information about the physical world into Max is one of the most fun aspects of working with the software. Whether it is for video processing, sound creation, or any other type of output, physical interactions provide a space for much more interesting relationships to develop. Unfortunately, many ways to get this information into Max require the user to get comfortable with connecting wires to circuit boards and understanding basic (and sometimes not-so-basic) electr...

The Video Processing System, Part 4

In this installment of the Video Processing System, we're going to tackle two big hurdles that Jitter users often find themselves coming up against. The first thing we will add is an improved, high performance video player module based around the poly~ object. This will allow us to load a folder full of videos and switch between them quickly and efficiently. The other module we will add is a simple recording module to capture our experiments. Since we are using Open...

Making Connections: Eowave’s New Wireless Eobody

Eowave has introduced another product in their line of sensor to MIDI interfaces called the Eobody2 HF, a wireless sensor to USB MIDI device. Building on the user-friendly and rock solid USB MIDI technology used in other recent Eobody boards, the HF allows you to place interactive sensor electronics on dancers, small objects, or anything else where cables would get in the way. Now that we have some of these in stock at the Cycling '74 office, I sat down to give them a thorough run-through to see...

Max for Live: A Sneak Peak at the Live API features

So far we have talked about how Max for Live will allow you to create your own custom Max devices that run inside of Ableton Live. Most of the examples you've seen so far have been pretty similar to your average plugin, with the fundamental difference of being to edit the device in place. That in itself is pretty spectacular, and probably enough to please a lot of people and keep everyone busy. Well now I'd like to talk about a couple of features that really make Max for Live unique and pretty e...

A Look Back at NIME 2009

I will try to summarize here what I thought were some of the highlights of NIME 2009...

The Video Processing System, Part 3

In this installment, we'll be working on some more advanced ninja tricks - creating the beginnings of a control/preset structure with assignable LFOs, and building a GPU-based video delay effect. These two parts will bring our system to a much more usable level, and allow for much more complex and interesting results. Ironically, most of what we are really doing in this installment is just an extension of bread-and-butter Max message passing stuff.

An Interview with Keith McMillen

Keith McMillen Instruments recently impressed all of us at NAMM with demonstrations of a new pair of string performance devices, the K-Bow and StringPort, both of which include some very rich software applications written in MaxMSP. The K-Bow, a bluetooth-based wireless gestural controller integrated into a violin bow, has just started shipping so we thought it would be a good time to catch up with Keith and find out more about the project. I met Keith at his studio...

The Video Processing System, Part 2

In our last article, we began to create our processing system by putting the essential structure in place and adding our input handling stage. In this installment we are going to be adding a gaussian blur and color tweaking controls to our patch.

The 2009 NAMM Show

I recently attended Winter NAMM 2009 in Anaheim,CA, where Cycling '74 was sharing booth space with our friends at Ableton. I arrived on Friday afternoon, well after we had released our product announcement for Max for Live, and was impressed by the volume of booth traffic we were getting. Ableton had, of course, also announced their new Akai controller and Live 8 in addition to Max for Live, so there was a great deal of buzz surrounding our area of the show...

The Video Processing System, Part 1

Between the tutorials, Jitter Recipes, and all of the example content, there are many Jitter patches floating around that each do one thing pretty well, but very few of them give a sense of how to scale up into a more complex system. Inspired by a recent patching project and Darwin Grosse's guitar processing articles, this series of tutorials will present a Jitter-based live video processing system using simple reusable modules, a consistent control interface, and optimized GPU-based processes w...

Making Connections: The Eobody USB OEM Board

This week the new Eowave OEM USB boards arrived at Cycling '74 HQ, and I was all too happy to give it a test drive. After having read the impressive spec sheets I was eager to see if the performance of the board lived up to all the promise. I quickly set to work putting it through its paces.

A Look Back at AES 2008 in San Francisco

We rolled out of bed and into our suits this weekend to attend the annual Audio Engineering Society (AES) conference at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, a mere 5 blocks from our SOMA office. We occupied a small piece of real estate in the shadow of the big Mackie booth, and directly across from a booth featuring big reels of magnetic tape.

Data Collection: Building Databases Using SQLite

Those of you who are paying close attention already know that Max 5 includes a database that manages all the files in the search path and makes handy things like the File Browser possible. To enable this functionality, we wrote an SQLite object to do all the important work under the hood. However, the SQLite object in Max isn't really something that you can type into an object box, and it doesn't come with any help files or documentation. In this article, we'll look at ways to interface with thi...

Siggraph 2008

Last week, Siggraph 2008 took over the Los Angeles Convention Center, and Cycling '74 was there to bravely represent Jitter to a huge crowd of CG enthusiasts, production professionals, and academics. For anyone who hasn't been to a Siggraph show, it is a huge, over-stimulating event for the computer graphics community, complete with academic talks, screenings, an exhibition hall, an art show, competitions, and a job fair.

Create Your Own Default Workspace in Max 5

In addition to an unprecedented number of configurable settings, Max 5 also provides a more navigable structure for making choices about your environment. In this article we'll discuss ways you can tweak the settings in various places to make your time spent in Max 5 more comfortable and fulfilling to your aesthetic requirements.

Freshening Up, Part 2

When we left off in the last article, we had created a new color scheme and layout for our old patcher using presentation mode, translucency, improved color controls, and embedded hints. We could certainly leave this patch alone, but we're going to take the interface to another level, making it a little more interactive and interesting, while providing more intuitive controls. The techniques discussed here should open the door to much more fun and useful interface designs for your patches.

Freshening Up: Giving old patchers a new face in Max 5

I have to confess that I always found UI design in Max 4 to be a little too cumbersome, and would almost always wait until a patch was completely written and debugged before bothering with any layout of UI elements and color. The design process was usually confounded in the end by the fact that [...]

Improving Your Patching Workflow

In addition to the smoother look and feel of Max 5, there have been a number of enhancements to the user interface that will help you to maximize your creative productivity and minimize the time spent performing repetitive and annoying tasks. In this article, I'll talk about a couple of the features that have really improved my patching workflow.

Making Connections: Building a USB Footswitch

As a guitarist, I was looking for a simple hands-free controller for Max. Rather than buy an expensive pedalboard and MIDI interface, I decided to build a simple USB footswitch. It’s ridiculously easy to make and costs less than fifty bucks. Here is what you will need to do...

Your First Shader

Typically, when I talk to Jitter users about writing one's own shader programs for use with, I usually get glazed-over eyes and this sort of distant look of wonder. When I try to explain how easy it is, that look typically turns to one of annoyed disbelief. So, for a long time now I've been thinking about writing an article to de-mystify the process of writing your own GLSL shaders, and to help everyone avoid some common frustrations.

Making Connections: Connecting a Joystick to MaxMSP/Jitter

Max is all about making connections. The Making Connections series of tutorials will introduce you to new connections you can make between MaxMSP and the outside world. This tutorial, the first in the series, will discuss the use of HID devices such as USB game controllers as gestural interfaces for your Max patches.

A Noisy Matrix

Many people already know that Jitter can be a fantastic tool for video processing, but what about audio? Used with a bit of cleverness, a matrix can be just the thing for that patching impasse. Following is a set of simple examples to get you started thinking about a matrix when you've run thin on patching ideas or need a more elegant way to manage your numbers.

Jitter Recipes: Book 2, Recipes 14-25

The majority of these recipes are specific implementations of a more general patching concept. As with any collection of recipes, you will want to take these basic techniques and personalize them for your own uses.

Jitter Recipes: Book 1, Recipes 0-12

Book 1 contains some clever solutions, advanced trans-coding techniques, groovy audio/visual toys, and basic building blocks for more complex processing.