Say hello to Memix, from the makers of Shadertoy
In this strange time of lockdowns, one group of creators is setting out to make our online lives as much fun as possible, starting with things like Zoom calls.
And they’re doing it via some innovative – and fun – CG webcam filter effects with an app called Memix.
The makers of Memix are Inigo Quilez and Pol Jeremias, co-founders of Shadertoy, a website and a community covering the creation and sharing of 3D shaders.
Now, you might already be familiar with Zoom’s virtual background, but Memix’s filters take things a whole step further. I asked Quilez and Jeremias what it was all about.
The idea behind Memix
Certainly, many of us working from home are now part of more and more online video conferences. We’re also likely to be catching up with friends and family almost purely via video conferencing, too.
That’s why Quilez and Jeremias thought it would be a suitable time to use their skills in computer graphics to provide a way to improve the quality of professional meetings, while also crafting a few zany filters along the way for other kinds of video calls.
“The first thing we were looking at was improving, say, your lighting on those work Zoom calls,” says Jeremias. “And then the second aspect was for fun meetings, to do some crazy stuff with your friends.”
Also Read: How to get started with real-time ray tracing
How Memix works
So what actually is Memix? Essentially, it’s a Windows app that you install on your machine that creates a new web camera in your system.
“Any application that is pulling from a webcam can pull from our ‘Memix webcam,” explains Quilez. “So in Zoom or Messenger or Hangouts, our Memix webcam is one you can choose from. You then have a Memix user interface window that lets you preview different filters.”
Those filters already include a variety of effects; things like bubbles, raindrops, an old-school film effect, a retro console graphics filter. As well as several color correction filters that can improve the quality of lighting in the room you’re video chatting in. There are also filters that are akin to a flying 3D logo version of an ‘out of office’ screen.
The idea is that these filters go on top of your own video footage, not just as a background like the virtual environments you might have used already.
However, Memix can do that also, with great results if you happen to have a greenscreen set-up (although a screen is not necessary for Memix to work).
The Memix experience
In the demo I was given, setting up Memix seemed very quick and easy. The user interface console is simple, and has, at the moment, just a few options for filters and effects. Sliders help control the level of certain filters, such as how much rain there is on screen for that filter, how much brightness, how much pixelation, how twisted your face looks (depending on the effect).
One fun demo I saw involved 3D rendered spheres spinning around a person in Zoom, while also interactively seeming to illuminate that person with different colored lights as the balls were spinning. It immediately made me think of the possibilities of extensive 3D rendered imagery in Zoom calls.
Another aspect of Memix the team showed me involved allowing the user to directly alter the code behind a custom shader (something anyone familiar with Shadertoy would be used to doing).
The plan for Memix
Currently, Quilez and Jeremias are looking to get Memix out there for people to experiment with. There’s a host of shaders at Shadertoy they say can be utilized for the app, while they’re also allowing developers to make content elsewhere to bring into Memix.
Memix is Windows-only for now, but it is free. “If everything goes well, though,” notes Quilez, “we should be making a Mac version, as well.”
“As you can see, this was our ‘fun-in-quarantine’ project,” concludes Jeremias.
You can find out more about Memix and download the app by heading to https://www.memix.app.
Become a befores & afters Patreon for bonus VFX content