Transform video and audio to art.


What's New on the Mac

Demo Videos



Spectra is a Mac and iOS app for creating computational art from video and audio.


What's New on the Mac (top)

Latest Version 1.4.9:


• NEW - Shadow option in the 'Lines' pane. This option will draw shadows for every line.


• FIXED - After app relaunch the 'Play Waveform Audio' may sometimes play the wrong audio file.


Previous Versions:


• New - When saving a spectra as a video you now have the option of including the audio, if available. The video duration will then match the audio duration. This can create a fun visualization of the audio.


• New - iOS - Audio menu has new menu item named 'Share Waveform Audio' enabling you to send the waveform audio, if there is one, to an email, message, etc.


• New - Mac - The File menu 'Save Video Audio' has been changed to 'Save Waveform Audio' enabling you to save the any waveform audio, if there is one, for email, messaging, etc.


• Fixed - Issue with audio processing that could prevent a settings file that uses audio from being restored to the correct look. It was due to a slight variation in audio modulation values. This issue was caused by changes in the last version.


• IMPROVED: Video color generation faster.


• NEW: Apply audio or set background image from Settings. ‘Apply Audio’ for audio, 'Set Background' for background.


• NEW: Playing audio shows its progress in the waveform graphic.


• NEW: When switching to settings without a background from one that does an option to remove the current background is offered.


• NEW: ‘Use Opened Audio’ menu item in the Audio menu: sets the current audio to the last audio imported from external apps (Files, iCloud, Messages, Music, etc) or internal samples.


• IMPROVED: The audio menu items 'Use Video Audio' and 'Use Settings Audio' are reimplemented for clarity.


• FIXED: Some audio files were not loading due to a mismatch of file extension and audio type.


• NEW: Option apply current background color to spectra when rendering. The background color is set in the Size pane.


- Updated 'More Settings' web view. Use 'More Settings' to load additional settings from the web into the 'My Settings' table.


- Fixed an issue with the 'My Settings' table where the table experienced inadvertent scrolling after selecting a setting.


- Improved Performance: Settings data is cached to handle the increased load from incorporating background images and waveform audio files. Most notably the presets table scrolls more smoothly, but other methods that use settings data is faster.


- Background Preview in Settings: The background image can be previewed from the user settings table. (Swipe on a row in iOS, right(control)-click on a row in macOS.)


- Open Settings Options: Opening settings is more discriminate - if current settings has background, but new settings do not then an alert is presented because the existence of a background could mean the spectra does not look as expected unless you change the background settings.


- Play Waveform Audio: The current waveform audio file can be played (if it exists; a waveform graphic only displays the audio samples, and its presence does not mean there is an audio file associated with it.) Select ‘Play Waveform Audio’ from the Audio menu. (Or on Mac use the ‘Play Waveform Audio’ button, and in iOS tap the waveform graphic)


- Apply Audio File Option: When opening settings with an audio file contained you have the option to ‘apply’ the audio file. This means that the file is read and stored as the current audio file for the waveform. This way if the settings are changed and saved a copy of the same audio can be included. (Audio is saved so that you can recall the audio by playing it from the user setting table.)


- Save Audio Option: Saving settings presents the option to NOT save the current waveform audio file. Saving the audio file is for two purposes:


1. So that you can recall the audio by playing it from the user setting table.

2. So that if you load setting with an audio file you apply it so it may be included when saving a modified version of the settings.


- The current audio data, as well as the processed samples for graphics modulation, is stored in a Spectra settings file enabling playing of the audio within Spectra.


To play the audio: In the 'My Settings' tab of the Presets table control-click row to display the row actions menu: Play, Rename, Delete and select 'Play'.


If there is no audio to play you are told so - for example old settings files will not contain audio.


Note: When loading settings the audio data is not used to replace the current audio being used by Spectra. But since you can now play the audio that was the current audio at the time the settings were saved you can recall what it was.


- Saving and restoration of Spectra settings supports background images and all background image options : show, fill and mask.


Note: when using an image as a mask white is transparent while other colors have varying amount of opacity.


- Settings tables modified for displaying white spectra (intended for use as background masks), and items labelled to indicate if contains a background image.


- When opening settings with a background 3 options are provided - ignore it, replace the current, or combine it with the current.


- Background can be masked by spectra (as well as spectra masked by background)


- 13 new audio ring tones


- Spectra can now be saved as video - frames of the video display the process of drawing the spectra.


- In the Lines pane there is a new option to draw using Isosceles triangles.


- Added support for background images managed from the new ’Background’ tab.


- A background image can be loaded from a file, set from the current spectra (including its current background), or the current video frame.


- Spectra can be composed using background images.


See demo video ‘Composite Spectra’


- Background image can be used as a mask for the current spectra: white is transparent, black is opaque, intermediate is semi-transparent. A new color option in the color pane called ‘White’ intended to be used for creating background masks from a spectra.


See demo video ‘Mask Background Image’


- A new color option in the Color pane called ‘Image’ will load a subset colors from a selected image file.


See demo video ‘Image For Color’


- In the size pane there is a new option to draw a grid. The grid size matches the spectra width and height parameters.


- The preview background can be set to a texture to help view spectra using background masks that are white - available in the ‘Size’ pane.


- New builtin presets using the new Isosceles triangles option in the Lines pane have been added.


- During screen recording the option to not record the cursor has been fixed.


New: Apply dash pattern to lines. Dash length and spacing is adjustable. Access from the Lines palette of parameters.


Demo Videos (top)


Composite Spectra

Mask Background Image

Image For Color

Composite Spectra (demos)


Mask Background Image (demos)


Image For Color (demos)


Description (top)


Settings files store the parameters that describe the art form and include:


• Control values
• Color palettes
• Audio samples


With built-in presets, video and audio samples you can generate cool art immediately! Then customize with your own settings, video and color palettes.


Spectra supports Live Photos: On iOS, you can pick a live photo with the image picker and its video and audio will be extracted and used.


More settings are available within the apps: select 'Show More Settings' from the File menu on either plaform.


You can save settings in the ‘MySettings’ table of the presets pane, or in iCloud with 'Save Settings in iCloud' in the File menu in iOS and directly on your Mac. This is one way to share settings between platforms.


Saved settings and presets will include the current color palette - which you may have created yourself from the ‘Colors’ pane - and the current audio.


On the Mac the presets tables are located on the right side of the Spectra window. In iOS open the 'Presets' pane:



Video frames can be used for creating color palettes for drawing, and the audio is used to modulate line or arc length - the components of the paths Spectra draws.


A color palette generator is in the colors pane, where you also can quickly switch between video, settings file, variable, random or grayscale palettes. The variable palette generates color using a given color and a periodic trigonometric function. Generating colors in this way is fun with unlimited surprising results.


Using color and sound from videos various art forms are generated automatically with with attributes dependent on the values of user selected parameter controls.These values can be stored and reloaded from settings files on both platforms.



Use your device videos, screen recordings or your favorite theatrical movies as input. You can use the audio of the video, or load a separate audio file.



Using the controls in the various tab panes - labelled Lines, Size, Type, Scale, Color, Label and Audio - the graphic preview will reflect the state of the controls.



The output can be printed from high resolution PNG images, or you can output the art as resolution independent PDF files to print at any resolution supported by a particular printer.



Spectra can be used as a platform for educators to integrate mathematical computation with creative art.


Although Spectra does not teach these concepts it can be used as a fun visualization and experimentation of applied math.


Numerous mathematical concepts can be introduced and illustrated through the art forms Spectra mathematically generates:


• transformations, functions, plots and parameterization
• plane geometry: lines, triangles, circles, chords
• angles, rotation, trigonometry, radians
• distance, arc length, area
• randomness


4 basic art forms whose names are derived from the math:


• linear
• radial
• arc
• chord


Each Spectra graphic is merely a path composed of lines, circle arcs and chords. Each part corresponds to a particular frame of the video and sound level at the same time.


When using video as a color source every color is chosen as the average color of the frame.


Various other parameters you can adjust include:


• inner and outer radius
• zoom and 2 different arc length modes
• use of audio for line width and length modulation
• random, grayscale and parametrized color palettes
• random variability in frame selection ranges
• descriptive title label
• art aspect ratio
• line capping and width
• alpha gradient : the transparency of each part can diminish gradually over time so it is apparent what other parts it may overlap
• path filling to create solid pie shapes


To view the variety type of art you can generate peruse the Gallery, or the Settings - because all settings are art forms that have been generated and saved by Spectra,


For your convenience...


• Presets Table: Select from many control, color and sound settings sets. Then customize by changing the control, color and sound, say from another settings file.


• You can save your settings, including the colors and audio samples for reuse on both platforms.


• Two sample videos.


• Audio Samples: Additional audio files are built into the app, in particular many presets contain sample audio. This enables you to use the app "out of the box."



Try it for free! The free download runs as a fully functional trial.