ISF Video Generators and Effects from Vidvox

Vidvox the developers of VDMX have just introduced and new format for creating video generators and effects using the GLSL shading language.


ISF stands for “Interactive Shader Format”, and is a file format that describes a GLSL fragment shader, as well as how to execute and interact with it. The goal of this file format is to provide a simple and minimal interface for image filters and generative video sources that allows them to be interacted with and reused in a generic and modular fashion. ISF is nothing more than a [slightly modified] GLSL fragment shader with a JSON blob at the beginning that describes how to interact with the shader (how many inputs/uniform variables it has, what their names are, what kind of inputs/variables they are, that sort of thing). ISF isn’t some crazy new groundbreaking technology- it’s just a simple and useful combination of two things that have been around for a while to make a minimal- but highly effective- filter format.

ISF is now supported in the newest update to VDMX

Quartz Composer gets mentioned on the VDMX blog post and how it relates to the release of ISF.

Quartz Composer isn’t really a filter format, per se; it’s a visual programming language that, by virtue of its API, can be used as an image filter or generative source (or a great many other things). This is an attractive choice because it’s very accessible to users- it comes with os x, it doesn’t require a compiler, and as a visual language complete novices can pick it up quickly without prior programming knowledge. Additionally, if you know how to use a compiler you can easily extend the environment further by writing plugins and do some pretty crazy and wonderful things, so there’s substantial room for experts to grow. This ease of use has created a rich and enthusiastic community of artists and developers who use QC to create a variety of content. Unfortunately, QC is mac-only, it doesn’t appear to be getting any recent active development (though this could certainly change) and has accumulated some bugs over the years, and there’s a certain amount of overhead to be expected with the QC runtime- it’s not a lot, but it can add up. Nevertheless, there’s an important lesson to be learned from QC: the easier you make it to create content, the more content people will create and share.


Head over to to read some more and grab a demo of the latest beta.



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