|Page (1) of 1 - 02/02/07||email article||print page|
SoftSkies Screen SaverBeautiful Eye Candy From Makers Of GForce
SoftSkies is a software program that runs on the music player of your choice (a full list can be found at www.soundspectrum.com) and is a visual emulator. There is also a screensaver, and both applications can run on either Windows or Mac. Basically, SoftSkies is a really cool, advanced sky and cloud generator that reacts to what song is playing on iTunes, and is actually quite relaxing. Whats also cool is being able to hook up your computer to your TV via an s-video, DVI-, etc., cable, and listening to some good music while these emulations ?dance around on your television.
Gold vs. Platinum Editions
Before I get to how the software works, there are two choices to purchase, and both offer a year of service and support. Gold ($20) offers the skies, customization, V-Bar, Living Images, and more. The screensaver costs $5, however, at the point of sale, or $10 if you bought the Gold edition previously.
The Platinum ($30) edition comes with ?Multi-Player Support, which allows you to use SoftSkies on multiple MP3 software players, like iTunes, Windows Media Player, etc. You can also get results using a microphone, CDs/DVDs, and more. My recommendation would be to go with the Platinum edition.
How it works
According to SoundSpectrum, creator of SoftSkies, this program was created on C+ software. Their goal, according to their ?motto, is to converge art and music. As the song plays, the sky will change colors, clouds will form and ?move to the beat, and essentially give a nice performance, if you will.
I downloaded a copy and put it to use; after installing on my Mac, I opened iTunes, went to View, Visualizer, and selected SoftSkies. I then put on a song by the French, mellow electronica band Air. I then went back to View and selected Turn on Visualizer. The clouds started right away, the sky blue, as most of iTunes became SoftSkies. As the song played out, the skys color changed to pink, gold, etc., and at the top of the screen, it indicated the sky color.
Whats also cool is that the artist name, song and album, along with album artwork, pop up as the next tune comes up. Keep in mind, if youre going to be working, iTunes wont be seen, but after a stressful day (or part of the day), this is something to relax to.
It wasnt long before I decided to put heavy metal band Pantera on, selecting a particularly nasty, fast song. The clouds really had quite a workout, and I was soon wondering if I helping to form a hurricane. I just kept playing around with it and different songs from different bands. Which is something youll find yourself doing. This is, as I said above, something to relax to either for a moment or after a long day.
I decided to see what other visuals I could pull up, so I hit pause on iTunes and a menu popped up. You can choose anything to coincide with the clouds and sky, such as ?Living Images, including scenic castles; other ?sky displays like sunsets or a storm; and many others.
You can even create your own sky, by selecting colors, cloud shading colors, etc., then letting it go at it. Also look for the option to change the skys color to those of fruit, or just really ?vivid arrays. You can save a design in ?My Skies and pull it up easily by selecting a number at the top of the menu.
V-Bar and the Standalone player
If you arent pausing in your work, theres a way to enjoy SoftSkies while doing just that, and its through the ?V-Bar. Found in the SoftSkies folder in applications, once you open it and set up the preferences, a small bar with SoftSkies will appear. The company says you can adjust the ?audio input settings on the V-Bar (http://www.soundspectrum.com/softskies/faq.html#vbarsens). However, once the V-Bar is up, itll cover a side of your computer and you wont be able to see the desktop or any open apps.
The Standalone player, like the V-Bar, can be found in the applications area, in the SoftSkies folder. Click on the app and check out, as the title implies, a stand-alone version of SoftSkies. Note that any application thats opened will hide the Standalone player. You use the Standalone when using a microphone, etc.
If you have two monitors hooked up to your computer, you can use the Standalone by dragging it to the other monitor youre not using, and stretch it to fill the screen. Not a bad way to use it while working!
SoundSpectrum also says you can plug a microphone into the computer and maybe import a karoke CD into iTunes and have fun with that. Even without the music, SoundSpectrum promises some cool things will happen when you sing, talk, etc.
Earlier, I mentioned hooking up your computer to your TV, especially a nice widescreen SDTV or HDTV, and turning on the Visualizer and chilling out with SoftSkies on your television. Im sure the pundits would agree this wont ?rot the brain.
On the companys site, theres a question of using it for commercial use, like a concert. You can work out a licensing agreement to do this, as SoftSkies is strictly for private use. But one cant help but wonder what a concert with bands like Radiohead or Pink Floyd using it with their amazing live shows. An indie band can also add some cool effects to their show with a large enough screen, a solid projector, a computer, and a license from SoundSpectrum.
The screensaver works similarly, and when it kicks on, it moves on its own. On the websites FAQ (http://www.soundspectrum.com/softskies/faq.html#screensaver), there are instructions on how to get the screensaver to move with any music that might be playing. Otherwise, it wont move to whichever beat is playing on your iTunes.
SoftSkies is a neat little application that can do many things, but to me anyway, its something that can help you relax. With its many uses, like plugging it in to your television, using the Platinum edition with a microphone, even licensing it for concerts and such, its a powerful little software app.
All images copyright SoundSpectrum.
Heath McKnight is a filmmaker and author who has produced and directed several independent feature and short films, including Hellevator, 9:04 AM and December. He is currently web content manager for doddleNEWS. Heath was also a contributor to VASST's best-selling book, "The FullHD," and has written for TopTenREVIEWS and Videomaker.
Related Keywords:screen saver, softskies, gforce, soundspectrum, eye candy