Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Mixtikl Beta (and Alpha!) - and some background

It is always something of a relief to hit major project milestones. We have already passed a major one: Mixtikl is midway through its Alpha testing phase and now has people other than Tim and me using it! The Beta release is now only weeks away.

What is Mixtikl, and why are we so excited by it?

Mixtikl is the first mobile music creativity app that does not ignore the importance of the 'full-on' desktop music sequencer. Mixtikl embraces it: with both plug-in and standalone versions. Mixtikl is for both PC (Windows and Mac) & Mobile!

  • Mixtikl is open: Use your own content, or from in add-on Tiklpaks.

  • Capture / mix / work on content on the move on your mobile.

  • Finesse your mixes on PC using the Mixtikl plugin.

  • Move your mixes between mobile and PC and back again.

  • 'Performer' app - Perform music on your mobile.

  • 'Remixer' app - Create quick mixes, and mix and match sounds.

  • 'Partikl' app - Sound and FX design, exporting mix files

  • 'Player' app - Play lists of Ogg, MIDI and generative music.

  • Use audio loops, MIDI, generative music & modular synthesis.

  • Integrated Noatikl generative music engine for generative music.

  • Pitch shift your loops and apply realtime FX.

  • Act as VST or AU plugin in your VST/AU enabled sequencer.

There is also a whole lot of other stuff in there that we'll let you all know about when we release it!

What is Noatikl, and why is it in Mixtikl ?

For those who don't know, Noatikl is a Generative Music tool. This is an easy-to-use program (with great depth!) which helps you make music; by composing the music for you, in real time, while you give it direction in what to do!

Mixtikl contains a run-time version of Noatikl . That is to say, it Mixtikl lets you play your Noatikl compositions on whatever device you happen to have Mixtikl . You can use Mixtikl 's built-in synth designer (called Partikl) to attach sounds to your Noatikl compositions, to really bring them to life in a cross-platform way.

This lets you, for example, create playlists of Noatikl Generative Music pieces that you or your friends can listen to on the train, where the music changes every time you hear it; as a change from listening to the exact same notes in your MP3 collection time-after-time!

Releasing software is hard work!

It never ceases to amaze me exactly how much work is required to get software out of the door. We've been creating products since the early 1990s, so we've got a feel for how long things will take now and what order things need to be done in.

Our prediction "way back" when we started creating Mixtikl out of the ashes of miniMIXA has actually been pretty good; we figured it'd be out sometime this month (October) but it now looks like it'll be November. As always, the delays are due mainly to discovering new things along the way, and adding them in to make the product more interesting! :)

The software is now pretty much in a Beta state, give or take a few items. We'll let it out of the door when it feels ready!

Looking back, to look forward

It is interesting to reflect that we actually created the first version of miniMIXA back in 2004; and that we won a BAFTA award for miniMIXA back in 2005 - more than three years ago! If our then employers (Tao) had had the vision and resources to back miniMIXA, I wonder where we'd have got the product by now... Still, we're making up for lost time and are having a blast bringing Mixtikl to life.

It feels amazing to sit on a train and sculpt music in real-time on my mobile. And, when I want, just kick-back and listen to a generative music playlist courtesy of the built-in Noatikl Generative Music engine. And I still can't quite believe it when I use the exact same software as an Audio Unit under Logic, a VSTi under Kore 2 or Sonar ... or even standalone on my Mac/Desktop.

This is been such a long road; we started writing the code that is within the Intermorphic Sound System, which underpins Mixtikl , more than 6 years ago. We started writing the 2d engine that the Mixtikl UI sits on, well over a year ago. minMIXA itself took around 3 years to write, including three major releases. The port from miniMIXA to Mixtikl has been a long, hard slog through 2008, but it is great to be so close now to releasing the product that reaches our vision from nearly a decade ago!

And that product is an extendable, trans-platform music/media mixer and "box of tricks". And it includes a runtime of the Noatikl Generative Music engine. The first Mixtikl versions are for Windows (Standalone, VSTi), Mac (Standalone, Audio Unit, VSTi), Windows Mobile Pocket PC/Smartphone (Standalone). Once those are finally released, Symbian Series 60 looks to be our next target. And hopefully iPhone after that, if Apple ever solve the problems with their SDK.

We have lots and lots of ideas of ways to extend Mixtikl - and the prices are going to be amazing. I can't wait for the first full release ... not long now!


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