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PlasmaVis Windows® Media Player Visualizer “ReadMe” Information:





What is PlasmaVis?

PlasmaVis is a music “visualizer” that turns sounds into graphic works of art.  It features high resolution hardware-accelerated graphics combining texture, color, and advanced mathematics such as real-time fractals.  Simply put, PlasmaVis is something to look at while you listen to music.  Beyond that, it can be used as background effects at concerts, dance clubs, parties, etc., a screen-saver to decorate your computer, or an advertising venue to draw attention to a message.


PlasmaVis consists of 3 main applications:


  • Windows Media Player “Visualizer” (runs inside of the Microsoft®  Windows Media Player)
  • Stand-alone visualizer (runs from microphone input, or if no microphone is present it runs from internally generated data.)
  • Screen Saver (generates visualization based on internally generated data, or microphone input if a microphone is active.)


These 3 applications are available as a free download with some features disabled.  Purchasing & Registering PlasmaVis Pro unlocks additional effects and features.  For an exact description of what is included in the free and pay versions, visit http://www.plasmavis.com.


Updates and Purchasing:



Minimum System Requirements:


  • Important: Please make sure the software runs on your computer using the free version prior to purchasing the Pro version.  Both software versions are the same code.  The Pro version simply enables more features.
  • Windows 7: This software is not yet compatible with Windows 7 or Media Player version 12.


  • Minimum Recommended System:

    • 1.5 GHz or faster processor
    • 256 Mb RAM or higher
    • Microsoft® Windows® 2000, Windows® XP, or Windows Vista
    • Windows Media Player version 10 or 11
    • OpenGL® accelerated video card
    • 16 bit color or higher
    • Windows Installer version 2.0 or newer (which is on all computers starting with Windows 2000 Service Pack 3)
    • Microphone input (If desired to run the Stand-Alone microphone enabled version of PlasmaVis)


  • PlasmaVis performance is highly dependant on the power of graphics cards.  For best performance, use a high performance video card.
  • Running on systems that do not meet the minimum system requirements may result in poor visualizer performance, or not work at all.  
  • It may be impossible to run it on some systems.  PlasmaVis is not guaranteed to run on all system configurations.  Use the free download as your opportunity to test before purchasing.

  • Special considerations for the Windows Media Player version of PlasmaVis:

    • The Windows Media Player feature of PlasmaVis is not intended to run on dual-monitor computers. (Though it can run in many cases via a work-around - see troubleshooting section below for details.)
    • The latest version of Windows Media Player can be found at: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/download
    • PlasmaVis is not compatible with some Windows Media Player “skins”.  It is intended to be run in the default Windows Media Player skin configuration, and in full screen or full window mode.

To install:


  • Close any running applications, including Windows Media Player and Internet Explorer
  • Un-install any previous versions of PlasmaVis, if applicable.  (Use the Windows “Add / Remove Programs” utility to do so, or use the un-install feature of the new installer.)
  • Double-click on the PlasmaVis.msi installer file, and follow on-screen instructions.


Installation Notes:


  • During the install, shortcuts to the PlasmaVis stand-alone (microphone input) application will be place in the “Start” menu.  (Start / All Programs / PlasmaVis…)
  • In addition, a shortcut to this “ReadMe” file will be placed on your desktop, along with a short-cut to “Buy PlasmaVis”.  If you do not wish these icons to be on your desktop, simply delete them by clicking on the icon, and pressing “delete” on your keyboard.
  • All other files will be copied to a sub-folder of the Windows Media Player (the standard location for visualizations.)


To Remove:


  • Use the Windows “Add / Remove Programs” utility.  This is accessed from the Windows Control Panel.
  • In case you need to know, all installed files are located in the C:\Program Files\Windows Media Player\Visualizations\PlasmaVis\ folder.


Instructions for Use:


Note: These instructions assume Windows XP and Windows Media Player 11.  For other operating systems (in particular Windows Vista), or for Windows Media Player 10, the instructions may vary slightly from what is here.


  • PlasmaVis incorporates 3 programs.  Scroll down for instructions on each:

    • Windows Media Player Visualizer plug-in (runs inside of the Microsoft®  Windows Media Player)
    • Stand-alone visualizer (runs from microphone input.  If there is no microphone input, then it runs from internally generated data.)
    • Screen Saver (Generates visualization based on internally generated data.  If there is microphone input, then the microphone input is used.)
    • Note that the stand-alone visualizer and the screen saver are essentially the same program, except the screen saver runs as a screen saver and exits when the mouse is wiggled.

  • To run the Media Player Visualizer:

    • Simply open Windows Media Player, start playing some music, then go to “now playing” to show the visualizer. (Note that the exact method for doing this will depend on the version of Windows Media Player that you are using.)

    • If PlasmaVis is not showing, choose it from the “visualizer” menu.

    • Once running, put on your favorite music, dim the lights, turn up the volume, double click on the display to run it in full screen, and then stare at it for hours.

  • To run the Stand-Alone (microphone input) version:

    • Click on “Start / All Programs / PlasmaVis / PlasmaVis Stand-Alone” from the Windows Start Menu.
    • Make sure your microphone is enabled
    • Make some noise!
    • Notes:

      • If PlasmaVis does not detect any sound after 10 seconds, it will automatically create visualizations from its own internally generated data.  This 10 second delay is configurable via the configuration settings described below. (PlasmaVis Pro version only)
      • The microphone input feature of PlasmaVis is not guaranteed to work on all systems.
      • If the microphone does not seem to do anything, check your microphone setup.  Your microphone setup is configured in Windows or as part of your audio card settings, and is not part of PlasmaVis.  (See troubleshooting section below for additional information.)


  • To run / configure PlasmaVis Screen Saver:


    • Right click somewhere in the blank area of your Windows Desktop
    • Choose “Properties” from the menu that pops up
    • Choose the “Screen Saver” tab
    • Choose “PlasmaVis” from the list of screen savers
    • To configure the screen saver, click on the “Settings” button provided by Windows in the Screen-Saver setup dialog.




  • To access PlasmaVis controls, move your mouse towards the top left corner of the visualizer display.  Controls will drop down:


Use these controls to optimize the visualizer to your hardware and preferences.


Note: Settings made with the drop-down controls are not saved.  When you exit PlasmaVis, they will revert back to default values.


 Change Visualization - Randomly choose a new visualization pattern.

 Decrease Sensitivity - Decreases the amount of response to the music (dampens “flickering”, and creates a more “dreamy” effect.)

 Increase Sensitivity - Increases the amount of response to music (increases “flickering”, for a more “disco / strobe” effect.)

 Decrease Allowed Particle Size - Make particles smaller.  Smaller particles increase the frame rate / performance, but decrease visual appeal.  Smaller particles also make the visualization appear somewhat darker.  Note that if particle size is too small, they may become difficult to see.

 Increase Allowed Particle Size - Make particles larger.  Larger particles can reduce performance on slower video cards.  Larger textures also make the visualization somewhat brighter.

 About PlasmaVis - Displays the “about” box (copyright and upgrade information.)

 Help - Displays this “ReadMe” file

 Purchase - Opens http://www.plasmavis.com to for information on purchasing.  Note that this button does not display once the software is purchased, and registration information is entered.

 Configure PlasmaVis - Use this to configure text and other effects, or enter in registration information after purchasing PlasmaVis Pro.  This same dialog can be accessed via the “Start” menu.  


Note that configuration options are only available in PlasmaVis Pro.


Details on advanced configuration options:


Important Note: All 3 PlasmaVis applications (Screen Saver, Windows Media Player Visualizer, and Stand-Alone version) are configured by the same control dialog.  Any change made in one version will affect the others, whether they are currently running or not.


      • Show Static Text every XXX Seconds – Check this to enable showing a short string of text every once in a while.  Use this to display a short message such as “Happy Birthday Jennifer”, or “Buy this computer!”

        Above: Example of “Static Text”

        • Note: The length of text supported is quite short, and depends on the number of pixels that create the text.  If you have text that uses lots of pixels such as (“88888”), then fewer characters will be allowed.  If you have text that uses few pixels (such as “11111”), then more characters will fit.  (View the “pixel used” count below the text entry box for reference)
        • Tip: To improve readability, you may prefer to insert spaces between characters.  For example, type “L O V E” instead of “LOVE”.

      • Show scrolling text every YYY seconds – Check this to enable scrolling text every once in a while.  This is useful for displaying longer messages.

        Above: Example of “Scrolling Text”

        • Tip: Setting the time delay for static text and scrolling text to the same value may cause the two text effects to occur back to back; therefore, it is suggested that you set these two time delays to values that are not exactly the same.
        • Tip: If you discover that the scrolling text tends not to be displayed fully, add some periods to the start and end, like this: “…..Happy New Year…..”

      • Disable Motion Blur and Fractal Effects – Use this to speed up performance, or create a crisper and blacker effect.  Note that motion blur and fractal effects are not always on.  When this check box is checked, PlasmaVis will sometimes do motion blur and fractal effects, and other times not.  When this check-box is un-checked, PlasmaVis will never do these effects.

        Above: Fractal Effect (left), Motion-blur Effect (right)

      • Reduce Particle Count – Use this to speed up performance by reducing the complexity of what is on the screen.  This also increases the amount of “black space” behind the visualization.

      • Simulate music after ZZZ seconds of silence – If no music is playing, PlasmaVis normally would go to a nearly completely black screen.  If this feature is enabled, PlasmaVis will auto-generate its own “internal music” during times of extended silence.

      • “Ok” button – Immediately apply changes and close dialog

      • “Apply” Button – Immediately apply changes without closing the dialog.

      • “Cancel” button – Cancel changes made since last “applied”, and exit dialog


Frequently Asked Questions:


  • Q: How do I know if an update is available?
    • A: PlasmaVis will alert you the first time it is run, if you are connected to the Internet.  Otherwise, check http://www.plasmavis.com, and compare the version number on the web site with the version number in the PlasmaVis “about” box.  If they are different, then there is an update.
  • Q: Is PlasmaVis available for other media players?
  • Q: What do I get if I upgrade to PlasmaVis Pro?
    • More control over what is displayed
    • Removal of “Trial Version” and “PlasmaVis” text
    • More effects
    • Check http://www.plasmavis.com for details and updated news.
  • Q: What can I do to get the best performance from PlasmaVis?
    • A: Performance is primarily a function of your video card.  Updating your video card to the latest CAD or “gamer” level video card, and / or updating your video cards device driver can make the biggest difference.  PlasmaVis is tested on modern ATI™ and NVIDIA® video cards.
    • PlasmaVis also needs processor time and memory.  Close other running applications for best performance.
    • Reducing the visualization window size will also improve the speed at which it can display, since less work is required to render smaller scenes.
  • Q: How can I get the best image quality from PlasmaVis?
    • A: PlasmaVis looks best when running at high resolution and full-screen with a fast video card on a large monitor with a high contrast ratio.  Dim the lights in your room for improved visual clarity and ambience.
  • Q: How can I take a screen-shot of the image?
    • A: press the “print-screen” key on your keyboard to copy an image of the screen to the Windows Clipboard, and then “paste” the image into another document or paint program.  Third party applications such as HyperSnap (http://www.hyperionics.com/) are also excellent choices for taking screen-shots.
  • Q: I have a suggestion, comment, or feature request.  Who do I contact?
    • A: We welcome your feedback please email: info@plasmavis.com.  We will read all emails we receive, but note that we may not be able to reply.
  • Q: I would like a custom version of PlasmaVis for my promotional purposes (concert, magazine distribution, tradeshow, etc.)  Where should I start / who should I contact?
    • A: send and email to info@plasmavis.com, with a brief description of what you want to do.  Projects such as these are open for negotiation.
  • Q: I’m having troubles.
    • A: See “Troubleshooting & Known Bugs” section below.
  • Q: If I buy a license (PlasmaVis Pro), can I install it on multiple computers?
    • A: If it is for your own personal use, then yes. Refer to the software license agreement for details.


Revision History (oldest at top):


  • (September 25, 2006)
    • Official Release of PlasmaVis free version
  • (October 2006)
    • A few new effects have been added to increase visual variety
    • Reduced severity of bug that can occur when switching between library and visualizer on computers running dual monitors from an “Access violation” to it simply not displaying sometimes.  (See troubleshooting below for more info.)
  • (December 2, 2006)
    • Introduced PlasmaVis Pro with additional controls and effects
    • Introduced screensaver mode
    • Introduced stand-alone microphone-input version
    • Introduced “scrolling text” feature
    • Fixed some visualization effects that would cause excessive flicker or other annoyances
    • Increased frequency of “fractal” and “blur” effects.
    • Added “Help” button
  • (December 6, 2006)
    • Added a few minor variations to visualization
    • Fixed a bug that could cause the word “PlasmaVis.com” to appear even when disabled in the registered (“Pro”) version.
  • (December 8, 2006)
    • Added a few more minor variations to PlasmaVis Pro
    • Fixed (another) bug that could cause the word “PlasmaVis.com” to appear even when disabled in the registered (“Pro”) version.
  • (December 12, 2006)
    • Added a few more minor variations to PlasmaVis Pro
  • (February 3, 2007)
    • Added a few more minor variations to PlasmaVis Pro
    • Updated this ReadMe file with work-around instructions for a Windows Vista installation issue.


Troubleshooting & Known Bugs:


  • Error when installing on Windows Vista:  If you get the following error when installing PlasmaVis on Windows Vista:

1.       Click on “Ignore” to allow the installation to finish.  (At this point, everything has installed properly, but the Windows Media Player needs to know PlasmaVis exists.)

2.       Go to: Start / All Programs / Accessories
(Note that the “Start” button in Vista is no longer called “Start”, but is instead the Windows Vista log in the lower left corner of Windows.)

3.       Right - click on "Command Prompt", and choose "Run as administrator".  This will open a “command prompt” window with administrator privileges needed to associate PlasmaVis with the Windows Media Player.

4.       Type this EXACTLY (and be sure to include the quotes and spaces.):

Regsvr32 "C:\Program Files\Windows Media Player\Visualizations\Plasmavis.dll"

5.       Press "Enter"

6.       If all is good, you should get a “success message that looks something like this:

7.       It’s now fixed!

  • Running on dual monitors:  When running on a dual monitor computer, it is possible for the visualizer to stop working when switching between screens in the Windows Media Player. If this happens, try switching screens back and forth a second time to “reset” the visualizer (for example, switch to “now playing”, then to the “library”, then back again).  If this does not help, then it may be necessary to close the Windows Media Player and re-run it, in order to re-start the visualization.
  • Some Windows Media Player “skins” may not display the visualizer properly, or not at all.  In particular, skins that have external windows for displaying.  In these cases, it is necessary to choose a different skin, or use the Windows Media Player default interface.
  • Hiccups: When playing on low performance computers, PlasmaVis may experience stuttering frame rates at times (or all the time on really slow computers)
  • If PlasmaVis only shows colored squares for all textures, this is an indication that the video card does not support certain OpenGL features, is not using hardware acceleration, or has an out of date driver.  If already running the latest device drivers for the video card, then most likely the only solution is to upgrade to a newer video card with full OpenGL support.
  • 2 users (out of 20,000 at the time of this writing) have reported not seeing any visualization, and getting exception errors.  We have been unable to determine the cause of this.
  • No response to microphone when using the “stand-alone” version: Make sure microphone is not muted, and is sufficiently amplified to generate a signal.  If you can hear the microphone through your PC speakers, it is a good sign that it is working properly.  Use the Windows Sound and Volume control, or other means to boost the microphone signal, if necessary.  (Try “Start / Control Panel / Sounds and Audio Devices”). Consult your audio card manufacturer for additional help on configuring your microphone. Note that the microphone input feature is not guaranteed to work with all hardware setups. 
  • If you have other troubles, here are some generic things to check:
    • Check that computer meets the minimum system requirements
    • Check that computer is running the latest video card device drivers appropriate for your video card
    • Re-boot the PC to clear out any computer “pollution”.
    • Uninstall and re-install PlasmaVis after a fresh re-boot.  Perhaps there was some computer “pollution” that prevented a proper installation the first time.
    • Try running the stand-alone version, to isolate problems that might be related to Windows Media Player, such as conflicts with “skins”.  If the stand-alone version works fine, then the problem may be with the Windows Media Player somewhere.  If the stand-alone version does not work, then the problem may be with your video card / driver / settings.
    • Consider that there might be OpenGL video card settings that are overriding the ability of PlasmaVis to operate
    • Check that hardware acceleration is turned on for your video card (Right-click on windows desktop, choose “properties”, then the “settings” tab, then “Advanced”, then the “troubleshooting” tab, then experiment with various settings.  Don’t forget to write down the original settings, in case you care to restore them.)
  • Visit http://www.plasmavis.com for updates and bug fixes



Copyright ©2006 Olsen Software, LLC.  http://www.plasmavis.com


Microsoft, Windows Media, and Windows are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.

ATI is a registered trademark of ATI Technologies Inc. in the United States and other countries.

NVIDIA is a registered trademark of NVIDIA Corporation in the United States and other countries.

OpenGL is a trademark of Silicon Graphics Inc.





PlasmasVis - High Resolution Music Visualization
Copyright © 2006 Olsen Software, LLC. All rights reserved