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Zio [iPhone]



Interactive generative art application we mentioned few months back from award winning computer animator and software designer Glenn Marshall is now finally available in the AppStore.

Explore and interact with an endlessly generating world of organic visuals using drag and pinch to pan, move and rotate through space, pause / play, save snaphots to your photo library, and switch on audio reactive visuals.

The app is based on the same algorithm (metamorphosis) as used in Glenn’s collaboration with Peter Gabriel to create The Nest That Sailed The Sky music video (see video below). While the app is free to download, included only is the visualizer of set parameters. To get the full ‘Zio Studio’ upgrade you need to purchase the upgrade via In App Purchase. Once you have done the full download, a whole set of incredible features (options) are available at your disposal. Whilst the app (default) in itself is quite immersive once you have unlocked the full potential you will find yourself spending at least an hour experimenting with all the features. Of course, as you would expect you can save your configurations and the app comes with 3 presets. Share to switch between these and interact with one at the time.

Here is a list of modification features available in the Zio Studio upgrade:
– Size, shape and growth of branches.
– Particle motion and dynamics.
– Colours, shading and special effects.
– Audio reaction settings for individual graphics.
– Alter the underlying math algorithms.
– Camera tracking and motion.
– Watch Zio react in real time as you make changes.
– 10 user preset slots to save your creations.
– Full visual instruction and help guide built in.

The app is so comprehensive is what it allows you to change is that you begin to wonder what is not included. This is not just for the sake of adjusting parameters but also the overall concept behind the app. I wonder whether the case of app’s self awareness was ever considered by Glenn. The biggest fall for many generative apps is that you tend to explore the options at first few opens but soon after find yourself removing the app from your iPhone as you believe you have fully discovered it’s functionality. The issue of self-awarness is an interesting one, leading into the are of AI, or intelligent systems/apps. Not many iPhone artists are exploring this area just yet but in a nutshell it is only an additional parameter that has some time/date/event/usage pattern based relation. In other words what may appear to happen one day within the app may be drastically different another day depending also on how ofter you have used it. I suppose this idea of permanently evolving eco-system of generative visuals would somewhat encourage users to keep returning to the app to check its evolution.

Nevertheless, Glenn has successfully created an eco-system, one that is highly customisable. Evolutionary or not, the app lets you dive into the deep end of the detailed behaviour patterns Glenn has designed. Probably most impressive feature of all is the audio reactive functionality which you can custom set to most of the parameters. This means that as you speak louder into the mic and depending on what you have set in the options, those elements will respond by changing their scale, colour, position, replication, etc.. Zio (as he points out) is a fusion of science, technology, art, nature, mathematics and very impressive indeed.

Note: the movie at the bottom is of Glenn’s collaboration with Peter Gabriel and not the actual iPhone app. There is a earlier version of the iphone app video just underneath the images + here but we hope to do one ourselves in the next few days unless Glenn beats us to it.

Platform: iPhone
Version: 1.0
Cost: Free + $4.99 in-app
Developer: Glenn Marshall


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  • Is this only capable of saving at the iPhone screen resolution of 320×480? I hope I'm missing something because it's such a shame to create something so beautiful that you can only use as iPhone wallpaper.

  • Bill

    hey, it's 1.0….give the guy some time.

  • I am also not sure the wanted outcome is a wallpaper. It's so much better animated, interactive. I haven't had the time but planning to do a little movie of it…

  • Marlene DeGrood

    And how are you planning on making the movie? This app would be incredible if it could save a quicktime movie. I did get this app along with the in app $4.99 upgrade. Now I'll just sit back and wait for the version upgrades.

  • Bill

    I guess he could get Apple's outrageously priced composite video/audio out cable and then record it off the tv display.

    I don't recall seeing any apps yet that will save out animations out to quicktime. I am assuming it's not possible in the SDK yet or it's very difficult to do. Wonder if the app could just save out a bunch of jpegs or something for the animation and then you could transfer them over and patch them together with other software.

    I think the first update should have the ability to save out larger images and then go from there.

  • Apparently you are unable to send what's on the screen to video out. The apps need to be designed for video out so it's not just plug and play. This is why we don't see any video captures of iPhone being used but instead apps running in iPhone

  • Bill

    Thanks for the info. I didn't know that.

  • dermonkey

    so i got this on the iphone and it rocks!
    but is there version for mac too? like the vid on the bottom? i totally want to see this in HD….
    keep up the great work!

  • AT

    I just use TVout for iphone to display this anywhere you want and then DisplayRecorder to copy if you want i for later

  • Dan

    Looks great!
    BTW, first screenshot reminds me of the Peter Gabriel’s OVO cover…

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