Layer Manager

VS Layer Manager

The Layer Manager allows you to select layers, load materials via the material browser and set the Z index (stacking order) of the layers.

There are 8 numbered material layers, plus one background layer, ‘B’. The background layer can use either a video or image file; it cannot load materials. Background layer honours selected color when no media is loaded. By default the background layer color is black.

Each layer item has a live preview of its current material. If the layer is disabled, the preview changes to black. (Animated thumbnails can be toggled in settings menu)

Layers are rendered in a stack; the leftmost layer is top, and the very bottom layer is the background layer on the right. To reorder the layers, click and drag each layer to the new desired position.

Note: The background layer cannot be moved.

Clicking and holding a layer open its additional options:

  • Materials - open the material browser
  • Copy - copy the layer that is in the selected slot to memory
  • Paste - paste the layer that is in memory into the selected slot
  • Reset - open the reset dialog

The reset button has two options:

  • Reset Material - resets the current material to its default state (does not affect the color, as color is a layer property)
  • Reset Modulation Matrix - resets all values in the modulation matrix

Clicking and holding the background layer opens the following options:

  • Files - Open a document picker where you can select an image or video
  • Photos - Open the iOS photo picker (iOS only)
  • Reset - resets background media

The layer manager has four other buttons; the circle icon on the left opens and closes the color panel, to the right the mixer icon toggles the modulation section, the grid icon displays the modulation matrix, and the waveform icon opens the audio/MIDI file loader.

Audio/MIDI file loader

Audio/MIDI loader

The Audio/MIDI file loader lets you load and playback both audio and MIDI files, for VS to use as modulation sources to create visuals from. To load a file, click the directory icon on the right of the panel, then select a compatible filetype. (.MID .Wav .Aiff). Once the file has loaded, you can control playback with the three transport buttons located on the left of the panel, 'play', 'stop' and 'toggle looped playback' respectively. You can also click any part of the audio waveform to play from that position.

VS comes loaded with a number of demo tracks, which contain both audio and MIDI parts. These can be accessed and loaded when the Audio/MIDI file is open, by selecting Banks > Demo at the top left.

Color Panel

VS Color Panel

On top you can choose the blend mode that will be applied. Normal is the default option. There are also the following modes: Screen, Hard Light, Soft Light, Overlay, Difference, Exclusion and Subtract (these are explained below).

Clicking inside the color wheel sets a layer’s main color by altering hue and saturation values, alternatively you can manually enter a specific hex color value, and also change the layer's brightness setting with the slider.

Blend modes alter how a stack of layers is rendered by changing the way that layers interact based on different operations on color information from the layers.

  • Normal - The default mode is ‘Normal’ - where pixels are drawn ‘on top of each other’, effectively covering up the pixels of any layers below
  • Screen - Looks at each channel’s color information and multiplies the inverse of the blend and base colors. The effect is similar to projecting multiple photographic slides on top of each other
  • Hard Light - Multiplies or screens the colors, depending on the blend color. This is useful for adding shadows to an image
  • Soft Light - Darkens or lightens the colors, depending on the blend color
  • Overlay - a gentle multiplication of colors, both layers preserve details
  • Difference - a kind of psychedelic 70’s effect, with high contrast, inverted colors
  • Exclusion - similar to difference, but desaturated/washed out colors
  • Subtract - creates a darker image by subtracting brightness

Tip: if you are tweaking existing presets by playing with their layers and are getting unexpected results, perhaps check the current blend mode setting and try changing modes.

Material Browser

VS Material Browser

To open the material browser, double click any numbered layer.

Materials are presented in a scrollable grid, with an animated preview for each material.

The currently loaded material is indicated by a yellow outline. Click any material to load it into the selected layer. When a new material is loaded, the layer’s color property does not change, the new material will use the layer’s currently selected color.

Note: loading a new material resets all layer material parameters. If the same material is reloaded, material parameters are preserved.

To exit the material browser without loading a new material, click the ‘X’ button located at the top right of the screen.

Media browser

VS Background File Manager

To open the background image/video media browser, double click or long press the background layer ‘B’. You can then navigate your local filesystem for supported file types.

Select any file to display a preview, then choose to either load the selection into the background layer, or cancel the operation using the close button.

You can also choose to reset the layer to a blank background.

Note: supported files extensions are: jpg, png, mp4, mov, and gif.

Note: the in-app file browser has a file delete function. Use it carefully as it deletes the file from your file system.

Note: the iOS version opens the native file browser.

In the next chapter we will look at layer controls

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