Every virtual reality tester at Ars Technica has a favorite app on the Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive, especially when it comes to introducing newcomers to the format. for my money, Audio shield is most breathtaking for musically inclined users (and our own Lee Hutchinson might agree), but that rhythm action play can be too stressful and too much movement for a casual test.
Now I have a new feather in my VR demo cap: Tilt brush‘s new “Audio Reactor” mode. This update, which was added for free on Tuesday to the HTC Vive’s most famous paint sculpting app, allows VR makers to add PC audio sensitivity to all of the app’s paint strokes. Secure Tilt brush creations now respond to the rhythm and dynamics of whatever song is playing on your VR computer. This means that different types of paint strokes will shimmer or animate in time with the music.
Enabling Audio Reactor’s music feature has been a bit fiddly ever since Tilt brush has neither its own dedicated MP3 interface nor a convenient YouTube search function. Currently you need to turn off alt-tab tilting brush, enable the desired music playback interface and make sure it plays on Windows’ “default playback device” before returning to your VR window. Fortunately, Steam includes a music playback interface in its VR “chaperone” system, but it’s a bit inelegant as it requires you to go into the Steam menus.
Once you get this going, though, you can expect your paint strokes to come to life and be in sync with whatever song you’re playing. The app’s brushes aren’t built from the ground up for this functionality, so you don’t get that Fantasylevel music synchronization tools. But the glittering stars and “oil slick” painting options light up well. You can pretty easily build your own animated rave cave — maybe filled with a Tilt Brush interpretation of Flaming Lips weird lead singer Wayne Coyne, or a giant, fluorescent, lollipop-licking polar bear — and then, you know, trip.
If you don’t mind adding music to your paint sculpted creations, Tilt brush update to version 6.0 also includes a slew of new paint strokes. Highlights include a cel-shaded “cartoon” stroke and some “tapered” tweaks to the standard marker and pen strokes. And even if you think you are one Tilt brush pro, the app’s brand new “tips and tricks” menu option might still teach you something new.