Looking Forward

Okay, so It's been a while without any major updates to post here, and anybody currently occupied with the business of surviving 2020 can probably hazard a guess or two at why. The past several months have actually been quite eventful for a variety of reaosns, but all of them have been set against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. I'm incredibly fortunate to have a day job that allows me to work from home already, and which is likely to remain stable for the foreseeable future—but losing the ability to safely have childcare or take the kids to school has meant that the nighttime hours I used to devote more regularly to Lapis are now often taken up by trying to catch up on my other job.

It's also been a time of tremendous uncertainty for both scoring and live performance; even now, several months in, it can be hard to imagine ever getting back to the stage, whether that means in front of a Decca tree or in front of an audience. There have honestly been times when I've felt despair, wondering how many studios will still be around when this pandemic is over. In recent days, though, I've found that getting back to work on Lapis has been helpful—it prompts me to think ahead, to future ways of putting music to picture, rather than dwelling on the past that feels distant and the present that feels destabilized.

I recently finished a bit of housekeeping that isn't listed on the Road Map at all: updating for macOS 11.0 Big Sur. At the present moment, it looks like Big Sur will be a minimum requirement for Lapis. One of the reasons Big Sur merits the first major OS version number bump in two decades is that, in a more mature SwiftUI, it introduces an entirely new structure for app code, and I'd prefer to build within that structure now rather than try to conform the whole thing later. (This does mean that neither Lapis nor Streamers will work on Catalina. That is a drag, but it seems most people who have the choice are aiming to avoid Catalina anyway, staying on earlier OSes while they hold out for something better. I can't say I blame them.)

What's next

The next big section of the Road Map is the video engine, which is particularly exciting for a number of reasons. Obviously video makes up a huge share, arguably the largest share, of what makes a program like Lapis what it is. Getting frames on the screen is a tremendously satisfying psychological step in media development, too; it makes a project feel much more substantive and concrete. And although video playback is quite complex, it's a problem I've tackled several times in various forms, and I've already had the opportunity to learn from many past mistakes. I've been looking forward to taking a much more systematic approach to synchronized playback than I was able to do in Streamers's QuickTime-based engine.

Realistically, I might not get to see Lapis in action myself for a long time. I'm at high risk for COVID complications, due to chronic kidney disease, so at the present going rate, it's entirely possible it could be a matter of years before I can safely set foot on a scoring stage. That's still a difficult reality to face, because the camaraderie of getting together to make music and bring a picture to life has been an important part of my life for 17 years. But it will happen. It will even start to feel normal again. And working on this video engine is giving me a small peek at what that life will feel like.