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November 14, 2008

Plex/Seven: iTunes Visualizers

This feature has actually been a pet project of mine for quite a few months. You know, the kind of thing you work on when you have spare time left over from your spare time (which is to say, very rarely).

When I started the project I wasn’t even sure if it would be possible to get Plex to host iTunes visualizers. Getting the FFT code (spectrum analyzer) to match up more closely with iTunes’ was one of the more challenging parts. After countless hours, I’m happy to say that the feature now works well enough to be included in the latest development series.

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There are quite a few high quality iTunes visualizers available. Some of my favorites are GasLight, JewelCase, and Magnetosphere. Just install them normally for iTunes, and Plex will be able to make use of them. Here’s Gaslight:
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There are a number of limitations in the current code. Some plugins communicate with iTunes via AppleScript; for example, JewelCase does this to obtain the tracks list for rendering on the back of the CD. However, I think it still looks pretty cool with just the cover art.

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Also, the visualizer wants to be able to draw to its own window, so no OSD is available when an iTunes visualizer is being used. Additionally, and this is kind of a bummer, the iTunes 8 visualizer appears to be “baked in” to the iTunes binary, so it’s not available for use inside Plex. However, Magnetosphere, which is the original version of the iTunes 8 visualizer, works great!
However, even with all the limitations, I’m pretty proud of the fact that it works as well as it does. It should hopefully provide the Plex community with better choices for a visualization mode that, as someone said on the forums “doesn’t induce seizures”.

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