FAQ  ("Frequently Asked Questions")

For Technical Help, please see DVD Tech Help.

Will there (ever) be an Animusic 3 DVD?

Are you starting to wonder? Well, we even wonder sometimes...

That's certainly our plan! But the fact is we're way off our originally intended schedule and several modified schedules, too. As things progress we'll update the Animusic 3 page.

And occasionally send out the (very rare, almost collectable) eMail Newsletter.

What on earth is taking you so long??

Wow, we must be on the same wavelength...We ask ourselves the same thing!

But in all seriousness, the answer to that question is so complex that I'm not sure any of us could narrow it down to a single cause. A major factor has been our investment in about 10 man-years of software development, manifesting itself as ANIMUSIC|studio. Along the way we switched modeling software twice, and rendering software twice. We moved the business to a new production facility, hired people, said goodbye to people, had a new web site built and threw it out, and did that again. We produced and released a Japanese version of Animusic 2, and rendered all the animations from Animusic 2 in high definition. But now we're starting to answer the next question already...

Can you please do a Blu-ray disc?

Yes! We are completing a Blu-ray to be release sometime in 2010. This will feature HD versions of the animations on Animusic 2, plus Pipe Dream (the original one, from Animusic 1). We're keeping one slot open for an animation from the Animusic 3 world, and as of June 2010 that's the only thing needed to wrap the Blu-ray project.

Can I upload videos from your DVDs onto YouTube or other web sites?

We really appreciate the enthusiasm of those of you wanting to upload Animusic to YouTube, but please don't rip from the DVDs and upload directly. We have a YouTube channel where we attempt to manage all our YouTube content.

But feel free to the clips found on the downloads page. These are formatted with titles and copyright notices not present on the DVD versions. See our full online video policy.

Do you have sheet music or MIDI files available?

Sorry, we don't have either sheet music or MIDI files available. The MIDI files are very specific to the synth sound mappings, and more recent animations are sequenced directly in ANIMUSIC|studio, and no MIDI file is exported.

There have been some (fully authorized) 3rd party transcriptions of our music for both percussion ensambled and marching bands. We're not sure about their commercial availability right now.

Are you aware of "Farm Music Machine" hoax?

Yes. People kept telling us about it, so we looked into it.  Apparently it's been circulating for quite a while now. More details here.

You guys launched that hoax email, didn't you?

Nope. We really didn’t. But we're glad someone did.  The whole thing is pretty amusing.  You can read more about it on snopes.com.  (In fact, we’re still hoping whoever did will drop us an email.   You’re not in trouble – in fact we’d like to thank you.  We’ll keep your identity confidencial if you’d like, but it would be fun to do a News Item about it if you don’t mind.)

Can I buy your stuff in stores?

Yes - Several national chains usually carry our DVDs, like Best Buy. Some locations might not always have them in stock. If you can't find our DVDS, ask a sales person when they expect more discs. Fry's usually has our DVDs -- they're mainly on the west coast and in some southern states. ABT also carries them, if you're in Chicago. The T-shirts, CDs, and mousepads are only available from our web site.

I need to send DVDs to different addresses, how can I do this on one order?

Sorry, but our online store is configured for shipping an order to a single address. So unfortunately each shipping address will require a different order. Also, note that since it costs us more to ship to multiple addresses, any discount for buying multiple DVDs can only be applies to shipping to one address.

Do you have PAL video format DVDs?

Our DVDs have NTSC video only, but many DVD players in Europe can convert NTSC to PAL. The DVDs are set to Region code 0 so they will play in all countries around the world.

What does "not optimized for computers" mean? Will the DVDs play on my computer?

The DVDs are indented for use in set-top DVD players. Just about all dedicated DVD players are up to spec and will play back full rate MPEG even at the very high encoding quality we use (about 50% higher than your average Hollywood movie. . . . just about the absolute limit). A few cheaper/free software DVD players are not up to spec. They cannot always handle the full bandwidth required by DVD. The image may freeze once in a while, then continue playing a second later. These things really aren't issues with dedicated DVD players of even minimal quality, so we recommend playing the DVD in that context. Finally, certain computer-based DVD playback software sometimes exhibit audio abnormalities with our content. Several people have reported hearing the volume fluctuate between normal and soft levels and at random times. This can be fixed in the DVD playback software settings.

What software do you guys use?

Our animation is created procedurally using our proprietary software ANIMUSIC|studio (which contains our MIDImotion engine). More details on our software page and gear info page.

Don't you create everything on Mac's? I heard you did.

Wayne answers: Sorry about this - I made a comment in some interview (quite a while ago) about doing all our animation with "off the shelf 3D Max". I think a few people heard it as "off the shelf 3D Mac's" (perhaps thinking Mac's with fast 3D cards?).

For the original Animusic-1, we used Mac's for the music production, and painting maps, etc. The other work was all done on Windows machines. Choice of platform is not a religious issue for us - we say "work on whatever platform makes you most comfortable and productive". We use both. We have several Mac's around, but more PC's. Our primary workstations are pretty tricked out BOXX's with high-end video cards and 2 or 3 monitors each. But lots of new stuff has come out since we first got them.

Even though you're not selling ANIMUSIC|studio (yet?), can I get it anyway?

We appreciate hearing people express interest in our software, even though we've said it's proprietary. But the only situations where our software has left our facility is when it's been specially licensed by a company, and appropriate NDA's have been signed, etc. But, see below:

Have you thought of marketing your software?

Absolutely. This has been discussed for (literally) years. A commercial version may be released at some point in the future, on some undetermined platform (PC? Game Console?). If this gets closer to being a reality, we won't keep it a secret.

Will Wayne, Dave, or someone come give a talk at my [ institution ]?

We feel a little bad that we keep saying "no thanks, not right now", and we really do appreciate being asked. But we're a very small company, and production is top priority. After we release another disc or two, perhaps we'll be ready to get out there a bit more.

What advice do you have for young animators just starting out? What software should I get to start doing animation?

There's a trend towards making learning versions of computer animation software free of charge for those interested in experimenting. That's a great way to get your feet wet, although you'll need a fairly powerful machine to run these pro-level programs. Use your favorite search engine to find trial versions of animation software.

Have you ever thought of animating a [ insert name of instrument, object, or other entity ]?

Over the last dozen plus years we've thought about animating all kinds of things, and have literally hundreds of sketches. If we'd actually animated every instrument we'd thought about or had suggested, we'd have 50 more DVD's out! We have reference books on musical instruments of the world with literally thousands of instruments depicted, and we've studied them, and hope to integrate ideas into our instruments in the future. Our approach is generally to combine ideas from different areas rather than attempt to accurately imitate a real instrument, either visually or sonically.

Have you ever thought of animating someone else's music, such as Dream Theater, Chip Davis, [ insert artist name here ], or perhaps some classical music?

Yes. In fact we've animated about two minutes of Kansas music which can be seen on their DVD (details in this news story). Our personal preference is for instrumental music, and it happens to work best with our style of animation (since we don't do traditional characters). Since most bands feature singers quite a bit, often these bands aren't a great match. But instrumental sections of songs, or full instrumental pieces could lend themselves to being animated. For now, though, we have enough original music to keep us quite busy. And we are animating a well-known piece of classical music for the Animusic 2 DVD.

Can you animate actual instruments and bands, or does it have to be MIDI?

We can animate actual instruments and bands as long as each part to be animated has been transcribed into MIDI format. This is the approach we've taken with performances played on non-MIDI instruments. A MIDI track is provided along with the audio mix. The MIDI data matches the performance. The better it matches, the more tightly the animation is synchronized, since the animation follows the MIDI data only, and is entirely unaware of the audio.

Can you animate my music?

Perhaps. We spend the vast majority of our time working on our own material (or, apparently, finding a hundred other things to do instead, like accounting, updating our website (more fun than accounting!), etc.) See our custom content page for more details.

Where are you located?

Our production facility is in New York state. We also have a business office in Texas and another satellite office in California.

Can I get a job at Animusic?

Thanks for your interest! Feel free to check out Work with Us.

How can I obtain scientific visualizations Wayne Lytle produced while at the Cornell Theory Center in the 1990's?

Please contact Cornell University directly — the Theory Center is now part of the Center for Advanced Computing.