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You can download a zip file of official Lumen screenshots and Lumen / Paracosm logos here.

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What is Lumen?

Lumen is a Mac App that makes it easy to create engaging visuals in real time. With a semi-modular design that is both playable and deep, Lumen is the perfect way to get into video synthesis.

Feel free to reach out to us. We’d love to answer your questions, give interviews, or collaborate on some unique content for your site. Review licenses for Lumen are available.

What is Lumen, Technically?

Lumen is the first semi-modular analog-style software video synthesizer.

Let’s break that down:

  • “Video Synthesizer”: Video synthesizers allow you to create/perform video compositions in real time. Lumen is the first of a new generation of video synthesizers, the latest evolution in a long line of video instruments spanning from the Sandin Image Processor to modern synths like the LZX modular system.
  • “Software”: Because it’s an app, Lumen provides many conveniences that current hardware video synths can’t, such as a preset library, saving and loading patches, and undo/redo support. Lumen’s affordability makes video synthesis accessible to a broad audience for the first time in history. Empowered with Lumen installed on their laptop, artists can employ video synthesis in contexts that were previously impractical.
  • “Analog-Style”: Traditional analog video synths use the the same technological principles as audio synthesizers, operating on analog video signals instead of audio signals. We call Lumen “Analog-Style” because, while it operates in a fully digital manner, Lumen allows artists to use the same creative process they would with a hardware video synth - exploring through patching cables and twisting knobs.
  • “Semi-Modular”: As soon as Lumen starts up it’s generating a video signal through a set of interconnected “Submodules”. Twisting the knobs and flipping the switches changes the way those submodules process and create video signals. This is already very powerful, but when the user dives into the advanced patch panel on the “back” of the synth, they can rewire the synth to create novel effects.

Pricing and availability

  • Lumen was released on April 22nd, 2016, and is available through Paracosm’s online store.
  • Lumen’s price is $129, excluding VAT.
  • Lumen is compatible with all Macs running macOS 10.8 or higher.

Features

  • Preset Library with 150+ patches from 10 of our favorite artists
  • Comprehensive Tutorials and Slack Community
  • Direct control via the Knobs Panel - no menu diving!
  • Patch panel for rerouting the synth’s signal processing path to create novel effects
  • Innovative Snapshots XY-Pad - assign sets of knob positions to each corner and interpolate between them for ultimate expressive control
  • MIDI Control of all synthesizer knobs and buttons
  • Extensive I/O allowing for external feedback loops:
  • Patch import and export for sharing with the community of Lumen users
  • Permissive demo mode that isn’t time-limited. The only limitations are:
    • The output is watermarked
    • Patches cannot be saved
  • Submodules:
    • 3 Oscillators, each with a built-in Keyer, Colorizer, and Waveshaper
    • 3-Channel Mixer with YUV, Layer, and Max output modes
    • Effects section with Transform, Kaleidoscope, and Trails effects
    • Dual LFO with skew and frequency modulation
    • Camera and External Inputs modules for manipulating external video signals
    • Advanced Signal Processor that morphs between Sum, XOR, Fade, Soft Key, and Hard Key modes
    • Video Crossfader
    • RGB Splitter
    • Utility Sine LFO

Who makes Lumen?

Paracosm is a small software development studio founded in 2014 in Portland, OR. Their first app, a MIDI utility called Polymer has received excellent reviews, and continues to be used by artists all over the world.

Lumen was designed and developed by Jason Grlicky, with synth design input from Lars Larson of LZX Industries and performance/threading assistance from Matt Wymore.

What are our goals with Lumen?

  • Create an affordable product that brings video synthesis to a wide audience for the first time.
  • Bring classic video art techniques from the 70s and 80s into the current day by updating them with modern conveniences (such as saving and loading patches) and innovations (like the Snapshots XY-Pad).
  • Set the standard for onboarding artists to video synthesis, with comprehensive tutorials and a built-in preset library.
  • Allow for infinite experimentation via the patch panel.
  • Develop a video tool that feels like an organic instrument, not like an overgrown spreadsheet.

What’s next?

  1. Optimize the performance of Lumen’s rendering engine, with the goal of allowing rendering in non-SD resolutions.
  2. Add Audioreactivity and MIDI Sync. These features will be available to users as a free update.