Better Visual Feedback While Playing

Some may consider it eye candy, but I’ll try to elaborate why visual feedback is important and give some ideas.
Consider this as an invitation to a discussion, more than a straghtforward feature request.

Lots of programs look quite ‘dead’ when playing a song. Renoise is not one of those, but it shows a lot of data on the screen at the same time and sometimes it’s hard to tell the ‘active’ data from the empty lines.
Generally, if you are able to tell WHERE a sound is coming from, you can get around more easily in your song, even if it has lots of tracks etc. Also, less importantly, they make the tracker look more attractive when playing a song, and these two things together can lessen the shock most newcomers have when they first see the tracker spreadsheet.

-False frequency graph

what is it?
This was a feature in old ST/NT/PT programs. Basically, it’s similar to the keyboard you see in renoise’s instrument editor, only it shows all the played notes for all tracks currently playing. It would be positioned at the top like existing freq analyzer and track scopes. Note that in the ProTracker screenshot below it doesn’t look as a piano keyboard, but would benefit from such a layout.

what’s it good for?
When you are able to see what is being played, it is easier to see ‘holes’ that should be filled and keys that simply beg to be played. Especially when using synth or chip sounds, you can easily tell how to make the song sound a lot richer by making unused parts of the keyboard busy as well.

-False/Real vumeters on tracks

what is it?
Also a traditional tracker feature. It is a little vertical bar on each notetrack that jumps up when a note is played there. Fake one just jumps to the volume specified in the volume column or instrument property and then falls down, while the real one behaves like a real vumeter (duh). There is no graphical framework for it, so the vumeter is not visible unless triggered

what’s it good for?
Notes can clutter the display and this little thing makes it easier to connect what you hear with what you see, so you can get around the song without reading track names or looking at tiny instrument numbers to be able to find the bit you want changed.

Here’s a screenshot illustrating these two thingies:

-‘Audiotracks’ - waveform track preview

I don’t miss this feature, probably cause I never saw one in a tracker, but I can imagine how it can be useful.

what is it?
Waveforms of triggered samples laid out in tracks, like in Acid or Reaper or pretty much every DAW out there. Not exactly sure how it could be integrated into renoise, perhaps along with note data or you could switch between notedata and audiotrack mode for each track.

what’s it good for?
People who use samples with rhythmic content need a way to connect waveforms with note triggers on screen. So far there is no way to ‘see’ when a sample is silent and when it peaks etc.

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes!!!

+1 for the protracker ‘vu meters’.

Also helps you see where sound (for example sample loops with a volume envelope) ends on ‘empty’ noteless tracks, to place your next note. Sure you can use the oscilloscopes for this as well, but imo vu meters placed inside the programmed tracks work better for this.

looks really good,and as jonas said,it will have a good purpose too.

One more thing that I remembered:
Muted tracks could and should be dimmed into bg color (similar to dimmed continuous patterns) so when you MUTE or SOLO tracks you can immediately see what is playing and what is not.

I made a quick mock-up and 25% percent seems to work nice:

It would ideally be an option in the prefs where you could specify the dimming percentage to best suit your needs/color theme.

Yes! These are more important than just eye candy! They will also help selling Renoise, because it looks darn nice to see these stuff :)

Not only that. Being able to see where the sound is being made will make Renoise less confusing to newcomers.

now this mock-up should definatly make it clear,that this is a GREAT idea :dribble:

I had this implemented a while ago but removed that again, because that made the patterneditor too complex, too disturbing while composing.

Maybe we could try making this an option, or this needs more tweaks, but “more” - especially regarding visual feedback - does not mean that you recognize more / can use this extra information. In contrary, once things get to complex, you start to recognize nothing at all anymore.

WTF? Renoise is already now too complex, which means we all have to think about what to remove / simplify, when thinking about what to add somewhere. I don’t want to hijack this thread - this applies to various ideas here, but the ideas & suggestions forum should also deal with this problem. Imagine how S-N-Ss Renoise would look like if every feature he added his +1 to was implemented in Renoise. S-N-S: Don’t take that personal please, thats just an extreme example to make clear what I mean.

yes i can see your point Taktik.
but i still like the idea :D

i didnt mean that it just should be implemented right now.
of course we need to think about a proper way this would work with future thing/features like audiotracks,arranger for instance.

Hey taktik, there are thoroughly though out ideas and there are more brainstorming kinda ideas.
Of course it can be frustrating to know what was meant to be which.
But of course you are right. Renoise is so complex now that if anything new will be added there are 10 other things we need to consider to change as well.
For the visual stuff, If you ask me, then i think we should keep the pattern editor as clean as possible and get better visual and actually useful data through future stuff like Audiotracks, Pianoroll and Arranger.
We should keep things clean and simple so each kinda editor function optimal and intuitive.
‘Eye candy’ needs to be simple, useful and not just fancy.
IMO, dimming or ‘gray out data’ in tracks should be reserved to indicate a muted clip in a future arranger.

Perhaps there are some other way to better indicate a track is muted? Like something like a more defined track header that could indicate better a muted track? (that was just brainstorming btw ;))
Then again, muting tracks never bothered me the way it is now.
I find the track scopes more irritating when you have quite many tracks. I still fancy the suggestion for an option to change scopes to VU meters. It’s often hard to see if there is any activity on a track when looking at the track scopes.

Sure, I always thought these things should be optional, like in prefs. Renoise IS very complex as it is, and these ideas were not intended to make it richer, but to help make sense of what’s already there. Like, to make that overwhelming amount of data on screen a little bit easier to grasp.

I agree we should wait to see how the new stuff fits in before adding bells & whistles. We can keep on discussing ideas here in the meantime.

Still I hope the dimmed tracks will be back. And optional. :rolleyes:

Hey wait, VU meters are not just fancy eye candy, and they are certainly less compley than trackscopes, and when you only care volume they are actually better than track scopes. Also the track scopes are two rows at the top of the screen that don’t line up with the tracks, having something where the actual notes are would really be more intuitive.

What is more simple, useful and unfancy than a vertical bar corresponding to the amplitude of the sound currently playing?

I don’t get how audio tracks, piano roll or arranger would gelp here, that is not even comparable. Seeing the notes is not seeing the volume, and while seeing a waveform comes closer, a VU meter at high frame rate allows you to “see” the sound so to speak, much more direct as when looking at a waveform that includes not only present, but mostly past and future… and that also only applies to audio tracks?

What some find confusing, others find helpful. Especially as soon as you stop and edit, the VU meters drop dead - they never get in the way while composing! It depends a lot on the implementation of course…

But hey, come on: when you’re playing the pattern it’s kinda hard to actually see what goes on there in detail anyway… the VU meters give you an overview where otherwise there is just a blur (depending on the song speed and monitor quality).

Yeah, it’s all fine and dandy short attack sounds, then the notes offer some feedback, but when you have a pad that very slowly gets louder, that kind of stuff - then these VU meters are just unbeatable. Especially when they offer a log scale, so that quieter stuff gets magnified.

Like takitk, I was just speaking in general. Not saying your suggestions was useless eye candy. Not at all.
I’m just saying there might be many solutions to a ‘problem’ that the developer needs to think of.
And that can be quite frustrating sometimes when lots of ideas pop in.

For instance a pianoroll tells you lot of information in a way the pattern editor do not. It can graphically show you what is going on. Both note pitch note velocity (velocity could be in own part of editor or as different colors of the notes). In audiotracks you see the waveform etc… Of course all this would help you see what is going on and could help us not cluttering up the pattern editor with lot’s of other features thest we would need to compensate for all this.

This is why taktik and also the alpha team try these things for themselves. Like dimming colors, even automation envelopes in pattern editor etc… Lot’s of these things are considered, and even tested just to be skipped in the end. The overall feel of renoise is more important then single small features these days.

But again… this is very general speaking! :) So keep those ideas coming.