Chris Randall: Musician, Writer, User Interface Designer, Inventor, Photographer, Complainer. Not necessarily in that order.
February 21, 2008

A Couple Thoughts On Feature Requests...

by Chris Randall

There's this thread over on KvR which got kinda silly yesterday. We have (or "had," rather) one customer who is ("was") somewhat incensed that we didn't add a particular feature to Ricochet, and despite the fact that I promptly refunded him, decided to air that grief on KvR. That's fine, of course, as it's what KvR is for, essentially. But my defense of Audio Damage and our policies maybe got a little more spirited than he expected. What can I say? I type faster than I think.

In any event, it got me pondering the nature of this business a bit last night. I was thinking that Audio Damage is in kind of an odd place, as while we're sort of largish, as far as the non-big-company plugin sources go, we're still small enough that the company has a very personal face. Or to put it another way, we have the sales and product line of a bigger company (like Ohm or PSP or whatever) but we generally act like the guys that make a lot of freeware plugs, inasmuch as you can talk directly to the person that makes the damn things.

(Does that make any sense? I didn't think so.)

But on to the larger point, which is regarding feature requests. As I stated in the KvR thread, we take feature requests seriously, but we don't usually add anything to a plugin unless a lot of people ask for it. There is a lot of reasoning behind this, but the simple fact is that changing the available parameters in any given plugin is a big deal. Some features that are requested (such as adding a control to the LPF in Dubstation) will actually change how the plugin sounds, and this is a Bad Thing, generally, as it will affect how a mix sounds if the plugin is used in that mix.

But the root of the issue is, I think, thus: you can write the guy that just put up a free VST and announced it on KvR, and say "hey, I tried your plugin and Knob A should control Parameter B in This Fashion" and he'll probably make that change for you if it seems logical to him. (I'd use a more gender-neutral terminology if plugin development wasn't such a sausage fest, but I'm not aware of any female plugin developers at this time.) So, since you can do that, you might assume that anyone that is easily available (e.g. us) will do the same thing, and be nonplussed when that turns out to not be the case.

We have a group of people we rely on, including at least one person from every demographic we're aware of in this industry, from the well-reasoned hobbyist on up to professionals that regularly chart in their genres, other plugin developers, and first-call engineers. This group of people get the plugins as soon as they enter beta (and in some cases they get early screenshots) and their opinions on features are regularly implemented long before the plugin ever sees the light of day. Using this method, we're fairly confident that when each plugin is released, it has a feature set that is appropriate to its abilities, and the controls that are present and the ranges under which they operate are as useful as we can make them.

Of course, this won't change anything if the customer has severe ADD or whatever (as was the case in this particular instance, I think), but I hope that it sheds a little light on how we do things.

February 20, 2008

If you were ever curious, the difference between "cool" and "fool" is...

by Chris Randall

Maaaaan, I dunno about Antares any more. When they put out that Kantos plug, I was like "okaaay... you guys need to stop running the UIs through committee." I mean, nice idea and all, but damn.

They just released Voice Thing (pictured above) and even gave it its own website. Truthfully, it has never occurred to me to give our products individual websites. I would like to think that's because the idea is silly, but who knows? But let's talk about the UI for this one for a minute.

While I'm certainly the first person that's gonna appreciate cartoon graphics in a plug-in (in fact, I think I'm the first UI designer to actually use cel shading, to the best of my knowledge), I draw the line, you know? I suppose you need to try everything out, but this one makes me throw up in my mouth a little bit. I don't even really care what it does. I just want to run fast in the other direction.

February 19, 2008

Oh, Happy Day (open thread)...

by Chris Randall

Today is the day we assemble all the digits for the tax man for our various companies, and get all that shit sorted out. Today is also the day that TVT Records filed for bankruptcy. I can't decide which I'm happier about. I mean, I feel bad for 45 people losing their jobs, but frankly, about 40 of them were pricks, and I know good and god-damn well the boss was.

In any event, this is a Business Of Music open thread. Have any music business questions you need answered? Good news? Bad news? A burning desire to start a publishing company for your new Grindhouse project? Let it out. We're all friends here.

February 18, 2008

Do, Jesus, them beats are thick...

by Chris Randall

I have to say that I find the "build a beat on my MPC-500 live in front of an audience" trend to be somewhat tedious, although there are examples of that particular craft that show exemplary musicianship, I'll certainly admit. I just don't usually care for the music.

That said, I was blundering about the Interwebs this morning, and came across this site. You're probably aware already if you find this sort of thing interesting, but if you aren't, of particular note is the "Videos" page. The guy that runs the site, Moldover (personal site), has a 15-odd minute explanation of what he's doing that makes assembling a song in Nuendo look like child's play. While this is definitely some sort of uber-DJ thing, and of questionable merit except in a live scenario (sometimes I just want to hear the damn song, right? Not a sped-up, chopped-up iteration of it played along with 15 other songs) it certainly takes a not-inconsiderable amount of technical skill to pull off.

The other videos are interesting, as well. Particularly the stuff from Materia Prima (Youtube page here, video above.) This dude has made an absolutely sick controller... uh... thing. He, unlike Moldover, actually _plays_ a lot of stuff live. It's kind of hard to describe; you'll just have to watch a couple of the videos.

But all that by way of saying that it's nice to see someone actually getting use out of a Novation Remote. I sure haven't managed yet.

February 16, 2008

May I Hate On AudioUnits Some More?

by Chris Randall

This whole thing with Apple development is actually getting fairly confusing, to where we're no longer entirely sure what the fuck is going on. What a stupid fucking format.

Anyways, come to find out, Ricochet wasn't responding properly to sample rate changes in Logic and DP, and crashed those two hosts at anything but 44.1. We've figured the problem out, and uploaded a fix, so Ricochet is Fully Operational in all Apple hosts, best as we can tell. If you've purchased Ricochet, and written me with Logic/DP problems, they're almost certainly fixed, so go download the installer from your account and there you go.


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