Plex/Seven: iTunes Visualizers - Plex Blog

Plex/Seven: iTunes Visualizers

| 14 Nov 2008 | by 15 Comments

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.

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:
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.

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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15 Comments so far

  1. DagrtheSnide November 15th, 2008 12:03 am

    I’m really happy with my system at the moment and told myself not to change it till Plex is released with something worth while changing for, and you keep doing that :) thanks for this great software for my Mac mini.

  2. Conny November 15th, 2008 1:00 am

    Great! This has been one of my big gripes with Plex. Finally! 0.7 seems to be a hit. I really hope one of the new features will also be to seamlessly integrate with iTunes and iPhoto, then I can finally throw FrontRow away.
    If Apple would just upgrade the mini also I would be close to MediaCenter nirvana…

  3. Photek November 15th, 2008 10:14 am

    Enough already, the suspense is killing me! When do we get to play with it? ;-)

  4. elan November 15th, 2008 10:49 am

    @Photek: Tomorrow!

  5. q3aiml November 15th, 2008 1:02 pm


    (Sorry, but choosing that for the screenshot is much more impressive than any new feature you could offer.)

  6. elan November 15th, 2008 1:06 pm

    @q3aiml: I used to go to shows there all the time back when I lived in Uptown Minneapolis. I think my favorite was when Built to Spill ended with a note-for-note perfect rendition of Free Bird.

  7. Anville November 15th, 2008 3:28 pm

    Sounds great! I have been keeping my fingers crossed for a “Now Playing/Screensaver” mode that is intuitively usable with the Apple Remote . Hope it’s next!

  8. Mickey November 15th, 2008 3:40 pm

    @Elan: I was at that BTS show, I think! Didn’t they preface it by saying “If you don’t like jam bands, you should just leave now.”

    Looking forward to Plex/7

  9. Dyrhus November 17th, 2008 5:45 am

    Nice touch with The Hold Steady album :)

  10. Spence November 18th, 2008 11:30 pm

    This is awesome since it came out ive wanted to get Magnetosphere in plex
    sucks about the no OSD
    any chance this will be fixed in a later version?

  11. elan November 19th, 2008 10:33 am

    @Spence: The iTunes visualizers are just not really meant for an OSD, as they usually display their own album art and track information. The plug-in protocol doesn’t provide an easy (or even a hard) means to sandwich their output behind an OSD :(

  12. aris January 11th, 2009 5:59 pm

    Hi! Good Job!
    Despite that, I got some bugs/errors with the extra iTunes visualizers.
    With the pre installed iTunes visualizers I got no problems but with gaslight and magnetosphere.. it doesn’t show cover art. In gaslight it just show the name of song, in magnetosphere it show a white square cover art.

    Now with Jewel case I got serious problems. Despite it shows the cover art correctly as it should, it disable my Esc button. It doesn’t have to be opened, it just have to be in the iTunes plugin folder and the problem occurs as soon as I enter the music settings or the visualizer begins. The JewelCase doesn’t have to be the selected visualizer, it just need to be in the folder.
    The Esc button instead of make go back in the menus, opens iTunes :S

  13. spenguin February 2nd, 2009 8:06 am

    Hey is there a possiblity of having these visualizations on the linux port??

  14. Bolo March 8th, 2009 12:23 pm

    For some reason Magnetosphere is not showing up in plex for me. I just see Goom, Project M jelly stix. It does however work in iTunes.

    Any suggestions?


  15. Lars April 26th, 2009 3:07 am

    Too bad Magnetosphere still suffers from the bug that doesn’t update track information. It is the best visualiser out there. :(

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