Isadora v2 Features

This guide provides a summary of Isadora 2.0s new features, and also serves as a QuickStart guide for those participating in our “early adopter” program. For our early adopters, the section under HD Performance is essential reading: reviewing this section will ensure you will be able to take advantage of Isadora 2.0s outstanding new performance.

New Features Summary

(All features are cross platform, unless otherwise noted.)

  • HD Performance: Isadora’s performance with HD video playback is now competitive with many high-end media servers, and yet surpasses them with easier programming tools, customizable interface and flexibility of unlimited interactive design. 
  • Integrated Projection Mapping: The new IzzyMap projection mapping tool is built into every Projector actor. One of it’s key features is that you can interactively control every parameter of the map, right down the control points of the bézier curves.
  • FreeFrameGL Support: Isadora 2.0 supports the FreeFrameGL plugin standard. Because these plugins operate on the graphics card (GPU) instead of the main processor (CPU), they are lightning fast.
  • HAP Codec Support: This open source codec provides excellent performance when it comes to playing several movies simultaneously. (To learn more about HAP, visit this page.)
  • Javascript: We’ve added a new Javascript actor, that allows you to more easily handle the complicated programming requirements of highly interactive performances. 
  • Spout: (Windows Only) Spout is the Windows equivalent to a Syphon on Mac OS X. It allows super efficient, low latency transmission of video streams from one application to another.
  • Improved Rendering: Improvements to the video rendering engine ensure jitter-free playback of your videos.
  • Excellent Reliability: We’ve completely reworked the video playback engine to ensure reliable playback of older QuickTime formats on Mac OS X 10.8 and 10.9
  • New User Interface: In Isadora 2.0, you can choose between a  new “Modern” theme and the “Classic” look from Isadora v1.  (The much darker “Modern” them perfect when you don’t want to generate too much light in a dark theater.)
  • Core Video and Core Audio: These Mac OS plugins are now automatically included in every Isadora v2.0 license. (Mac OS X Only). 

HD Performance

We’ve completely reworked the video playback engine for Isadora 2.0, offering AVFoundation playback on Mac OS X 10.8 or later, and DirectShow playback when running under Windows. Both offer excellent performance when playing high resolution video clips.

But, raw performance specs aren’t everything: Isadora 2.0 continues to offer playback via QuickTime because of its superior response to interactive control. Our new Movie Player actor lets you make the choice: need silky smooth playback of multiple HD clips? Then set the optimize input to ‘performance’; want to “scrub” your movie with a Wii Controller or a MIDI slider? Then choose ’interaction’ instead. (You can learn more about the new movie player here.)

AVFoundation on Mac OS offers excellent performance when playing H264 and Apple Pro Res clips. H264 is especially attractive because AVFoundation decodes H264 movies directly to your graphics card (GPU), offering an amazing performance gain. (In our tests, we were playing four 1920×1080 H264 clips at full frame rates on a recent mini Mac with an i7 processor.)


(Jump to the IzzyMap Tutorial)

A new projection mapping feature built-in to the Projector actor, Texture Projector actor and CI Projector actors. It can be used in a variety of contexts; from theatre stage mapping, architectural mapping, DJ booth mapping and custom dance/theatre or other set design to name just a few! Projection mapping is time consuming and quite difficult at first, however the IzzyMap provides an array of tools to aid you with this process!

In it’s simplest form the IzzyMap takes an input source, slices the video up into segments and remaps the image to make it fit a physical object. This is done by manipulating the image before it is sent out to the projector. This can be seen in the image above where the Isadora Troikatronix image on the left has been ‘cut up’ into slices and moved around, adjusted and manipulated on the right.

Isadora 2.0 Integrated Projection Mapping

Every parameter of every slice in the map, all the way down to the position of individual Bézier control points, can be published as an input to the Projector actor, allowing unlimited real-time interactive control of every element within your map.


HAP Codec Support

HAP is a new video codec designed for digital video artists and VJs with the goal of achieving higher-performance video playback in OpenGL-based applications. It is especially good when playing multiple clips at the same time. HAP original ran only on Macintosh, but now is also supported on Windows, both when played back by QuickTime and by DirectShow.

For more information about HAP, and to download the requires drivers and software, please visit our colleagues at VDMX who initiated this outstanding open source project.


Isadora 2.0 supports fast GPU based video effects via plugins based on the FreeFrameGL standard. We are compiling a list of sites where you can find both free and commercial FreeFrameGL Plugins. For the moment, you can start here:


A new Javascript actor allows you to code complex functions using Google’s fast V8 Javascript engine. Javascript in Isadora is a powerful method of processing data. It allows you to work with both text and numeric data in with a wide variety of standard functions. For example a text string can be converted to uppercase with a single line of code “str.toUpperCase()”. Add the new Javascript actor to your patch,and double click the actor to open the script editor.

In Isadora inputs and outputs are shown with a small grey circle (or blue if the actor is currently selected) beside the connection name. However, if you see a bright green connection, that means that the output is mutable and will change to match whatever you connect them to. In the Javascript actor, all defined inputs and outputs are mutable.

In Isadora v2.0, Javascript data has now also been added to the Monitor Window


Spout Support

Spout is the Windows equivalent to Syphon, allowing low-latency and low-overhead transmission of video from one application to another,  such as the depth-mapped image from an XBox Kinect camera. Isadora 2.0 adds support for the FFGL (FreeFrame GL) plugin standard. These plugins can achieve some truly amazing things. Spout shipped with two FFGL plugins, one for sending and one for receiving. There are a few easy steps to get Spout working in Isadora. 


Monitor Window: Be sure to check out the Monitor window (already introduced in 1.5.x) which allows realtime monitoring of incoming and outgoing data, alongside your Isadora file. The monitor window can be launched from the menu bar.


Native Windows Codec Support 

Isadora will now play Windows video formats such as WMV and AVI natively, offering much improved performance. (Windows Only)

New Status Bar


The new status bar, located just below the scene list, gives you important feedback about Isadora’s performance.

The four indicators at the left now allow you to see input and output activity for OSC, MIDI, SERIAL, and TCP/IP. In addition, the OSC, MIDI and SERIAL indicators offer a handy shortcut: click the indicator to open its associated set up window.

In the middle, you can instantly see how many of each media type are currently active. This is especially useful if you are using the Preload Scene actor.

Finally, the two most important indicators of Isadora’s performance – the current number Cycles Per Second and Frames Per Second (FPS) – are shown at the right. (Cycles tells you how many times per second Isadora can execute all of the actors in all of the currently active scenes.)

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