My Graphic
Logo Zwobot Visuals for Ableton Live

Zwobot v2.95 User Guide

last manual update 24 Mai 2024

How To Install

• Install all necessary external Max packages via the Max Package Manager. See video

Windows user should install: VIDDLL and Spout.
Mac user should install: VIDDLL and Syphon.

Usually the VIDDLL engine is pre-installed in Live11/12 and Max8+, but in some random cases it is not. Make sure that VIDDLL is installed! No VIDDLL = no video playback!

• Put Zwobot and modules in any folder you want. Add Folder in the Ableton Live Browser. That's it!

• Audio-buffer settings influences the fps of Zwobot. Change your audio-buffer settings in Ableton Live and try what's best for you to work with Zwobot & Ableton Live. A good value to start is 256 samples.
Currently there is a bug in the Max live version (Windows only) which can crash Ableton. Simply set the Max rendering engine from GL3/GLCORE to GL2. This bug is fixed with the Max 8.6 version.

More info:
Zwobot Blog
Open additional Ableton Live 9/10 user information
• Make sure you have the latest version of Max for Live installed! Zwobot is not working with Max7 and below. Just download Max 8 install it and make sure it is linked to Ableton. (Ableton -> Preferences -> File/Folder -> Max Application)
Even if you don't have a proper Max8 license, that's no problem. Zwobot only uses the Max8 core.
My Graphic

Feature Overview Zwobot

Loading Files

• There are 4 different ways to load files into Zwobot, all 4 ways have different advantages and disadvantages.

Drag'n'Drop different files or whole folders onto a Zwobot deck (A/B). The folder files will be shown in the dropdown menu. Single files will be played/shown as they are without overwriting folder files and preferences. You can start/stop/next/prev files via Midi automation or via the Remote extension.

& The Rack-Quickset module and the Rack module works like rack storage for your files and folders. You can simply drag'n'drop files or files/folders (folders Rack only) into individual Rack slots, re-sort them (via drag'n'drop), save them and reload the entire rack database in a Json/txt file (Rack only).

• While the first three methods work well with almost all video and image formats, the 4th method is limited to a few file formats like Mov Avi and Mp4.

You can simply drag a file directly into an Ableton Live slot (works only in Session mode). Just place the Sidecar module in your Ableton track and you can send the video information directly to a Zwobot deck. See video

From Zwobot V2.8 it is possible to drag video clips directly into Ableton Live arrangement mode. This is an early experimental feature.

• If you like method 1 best, but want to use the clip launch method to start a video clip, you can simply use "dummy clips" with the RMOTE extension module. See video

Player Functions


Play mode (loop, palindrome, next).

If you have dropped a complete folder or loaded it via rack modules you can access all videos here via drop down menu.

The Repeat-Dialer repeats the video-clip/image file to the main Ableton Live BPM beat count. This function is independent from the main Beat-Function in Zwobot. Each player has its own independent repeat function.

Prev/next file.

Activates the "Random Frame Function". When is set and FRM is on, the current video is set/launched to random frames.

Enables the "Random File Function". If is set and RND is enabled it will select random files from the loaded folder.

If Video Info is enabled through the Monitor module, it shows the resolution of the current video and its fps playback rate. Important! This information always refers only to the current video/file in the player.

Detailed Loop & Slice Editor

• Set a loop in the Loop-timeline . Re-adjust the loop with the more precise time markers . Temporarily pause the loop via the loop/play modes .

• Select the prefered slot for the slice and set the slice in the slice-timeline . Now you can trigger the slice .

• If your video gets stuck at the beginning of a loop, please re-adjust the decimal of the loop start. You are probably on a wrong or no key frame in the video file. This usually happens only with large mp4/h264 files without proper set key frames. We recommend the MJPEG codeq for all your videos.

General Functions

Disable Zwobot and Zwobot engine. If you want to temporarily disable Zwobot, simply use the Engine ON/OFF in the Monitor module or use the Pass Module key with the FX modules.

Click on the Zwobot logo and you'll sent a manual Beat-Control signal.

Set your beat clock rate for the Zwobot Beat Function. You can set the clock rate up to 1/16th. If Beat is enabled, it will send a clock to Zwobot and all effects, and if available, you can set this clock to your dialers/effects. more info at the Beat Control section

"Fullscreen" sets your main output window to fullscreen on your 2nd monitor/projector. Linked/Float binds your output window to Ableton live. If floating is set, your window is independent from Ableton Live. This is most important for Mac users. If you lost your window reset it in the Zwobot Monitor module.

Simple mirror and kaleidoscope effect.

Zoom video on X or Y axis.

Color FX - Invert, Invert2, Grinder. These effects are pre module FX. (see video routing)

This is your main X-Fader for the 2 video players. Here there are different X-Fade transition effects. (X-Fade, Door, Scale etc.) If the Beat-Function is enabled you can run the whole thing automatically, and you can set different transition modes in the Zwobot Monitor module.

Swap instantly A/B video channel/deck.

The A/B filter calculates the 2 videos from A and B in different mathematical modes. (as in Photoshop) The mixing filter only works in standard X-Fade mode.

Activate the audio of the playing movie clip. You can change the audio X-Fade behavior of the movie clip in the Monitor module.

This LED indicates if an FX is connected to Zwobot. If it is blue, the video stream will work. Click on this LED and the FX module will be bypassed by the FX chain and the LED will turn red.

Enable Sound Reaction (SR) for the X-Fade dialer. The dialer will move depending on the set frequency (hi/low). You can adjust the (hi/low) frequency ranges in the Monitor module. You can change the transition mode by clicking on the dials Beat button. Then the transition is a direct/linear/ease-in/ease-out fade depending reacting to the sound peak. You need audio on the Ableton Live Track where Zwobot is located to use this function.

Choose FX module (if called). The fx connector is working like a guitar foot pedal series connection. more info at the Connector section

• You can use Zwobot in midi and in audio tracks. We prefer to use Zwobot in a return track.

• Do not use the Zwobot main module twice in one Ableton Live set. Zwobot has different rules than a regular audio or effects plug-in.

• Ableton Live and its audio playback is always on priority No.1! So if you load new effects or 3rd party plug-ins, Ableton Live always keeps playing, while Zwobot can get stuck for some milliseconds. This is a feature, not a bug!

• Zwobot will save all dialer/toggle/fx-connections/video and folder values within Ableton Live.

Video Routing

• Video-signal routing through FX-connector/router (). 1 is your first FX, then it goes through 2, then 3 etc. . 18 is the last in line. You can choose any drop-down list you want.

Your video & is routing through:
A/B Filter
X-Fader Color-FX FX-Connector Saturation/Contrast/Brightness Zoom Mirror/Kaleidoscope output window.

EX ALPHA is not affected to any internal effects, it sends direct to output.

Extensions (EX modules)

Outgoing frames per second from your Graphics. Less than 20fps = orange, less than 15fps = red. If you have less than 15fps, delete/pass some effects for better performance.

Enable Syphon out for Syphon screen sharing (Mac ). This button will not appear on Windows systems. Spout screen sharing (Windows) is always on!

Set your internal render resolution for your graphics (GPU).

Enable additional preview window.

Reset all dialer values on the Zwobot module. This has no effect on your actual video playback.

Enable corner mapping in your main window. If enabled just drag corners to any position you like.

Disable Zwobot playback engine. If you want to edit your audio stuff without taking performance from Zwobot.

Cache size of given RAM in Gigabyte. If you have a lot of small files, this will help you. It doesn't make sense with huge files and just blow-up your RAM. Care should be taken when adjusting the size, if the frame cache exceeds the available memory, the application may crash. It doesn't have any effects for FX & Modules.

Drag'n'drop files & folders.

Empty cell path-information.

Send path-information to channel A or B. Watch on YT

Remote file transport A B and/or generate dummy-clips. Watch on YT

Live-record your main Zwobot window.

Setup resolution and frame-rate (frames per second) for live recording.

Drag'n'drop PNG files or folders. Don't use animated GIF-files with this extension, it could cause trouble.

Change transparency-filter from alpha-channel(png only) to white-filter.

Set the FPS to your screen refresh rate (e.g 60hz = 60 fps) for less screen stuttering and tearing. Even half refresh rate (30fps) is in some cases better than a free rendering GPU.
If you set to OFF the GPU will calculate without any fps restrictions.

Sound reactivity is set as a standard for electronic music. If you need a more precise reactivity just change it here.

Make shapes and use it as masks for projection mapping. Watch on YT

Enable/ disable Drag n Drop.

Select the ZB deck from which audio should be taken.

• Extensions (EX) no need to connect to Zwobot. They work as they are. You can put them in any track independent from Zwobot.

• Besides the RMOTE, VSEQ and RACK extension, do not use EX twice in one Ableton Live set!
My Graphic

Connect Effect Modules

How-to connect FX modules

• Click the FX icon to indicate the FX-module to Zwobot, and it will show up in the FX dropdown-menu in Zwobot. You can also press the Indicate-All-Button in Zwobot and Zwobot will show all open FX in the dropdown-menu. To reset all connections, just click reset .

Pass your effects if you temporary no need them. Effects may take CPU/GPU even if they are not connected. Connected FX are bypassed by default.

• Drag and drop the drop down menus back and forth to change the FX positions and its routing. You can also disconnect/remove the effect entries by dragging the FX entry to the Reset button

Disconnect the connection and disable the module.

If an FX/EX module is in another Ableton track than Zwobot, this (Z)-LED will appear. If you click on this LED, the view automatically jumps to the track in which Zwobot is located. (Jumper feature)

The Group FX Module (GRP) lets you easily connect up to 5 FXs to a single GRP module. Simply connect the desired FX to the GRP module and connect the GRP module to Zwobot.

Check out youtube to see how it works
My Graphic

Beat Control Function

This is your main Beat-Control knob. It takes the beat from Ableton Live (bpm), and (depending on the dial) spreads it to Zwobot and modules.

All enabled Beat-Buttons takes the Beat-Control clock to the module dials, and all enabled dials will perform to the pre-adjusted beat. Beat function is always on the left lower dialer side.

The Beat-Control bang can also be triggered by simply clicking on the Zwobot icon.

See video
how it works

Sound Reactivity (SR)

Set the prefered hi or low filter to fit your music with the Sound Reactivity feature. Adjust the slope for an even more precise or bigger range.

Reset the SR to the default values. The default values fit a common range of electronic music.

Select the frequency Hi Low X (high-pass, low-pass, disable) for the chosen dial.

Adjust the SR sensitivity for the dial. Keep in mind that the pointer deflection is depending on the pre-adjusted value of every dial! So the pointer deflection can rise or fall depending on the pre-adjusted dial.

Some Sound Reactive Generative FX - e.g. the Vaudio FX - have its own audio adjust dial independent from the Sound Reactivity settings in the Monitor Module.

Enable signal smoothing for Sound Reactive dials. Signal smoothing makes the knobs move less jitterily. This has no influence on the actual audio.
My Graphic

Effect Modules


My Graphic

Performance Guide

Short Story

The bigger your video files are (resolution) & the more effects you'll use = less FPS!
Keep the sample rate in Ableton Live low (e.g. 44100).
Increase the buffer size (sample buffer) if the GUI in Ableton Live is slow and delayed (e.g. 512 samples).

Long Story

First things first: The CPU Monitor in Ableton Live is for AUDIO ONLY! It just shows the audio occupancy rate from Ableton Live.

Ableton Live CPU monitor

(CPU monitor in Ableton Live is audio only)

There are a lot of different CPU threads running in Ableton Live, and if you have 20% CPU usage shown in Ableton Live means that the audio thread in Ableton Live runs with 20% CPU usage. In Ableton Live the audio thread is the high priority thread! All other threads like UI and in this example Zwobot running on a lower priority (for keep playing audio alive).

This is in most cases good, but even we are running Ableton Live without any audio, Zwobot will always have just a low CPU priority.
That means we have to know what we are doing and look around what we can afford.
The good thing is this doesn't affect the GPU. Let's explain how Zwobot works (CPU vs. GPU):

Zwobot has 2 video players (A & B), those players running full on the CPU (Max Viddlle Engine). Also all dials and button values affecting the video playback can decrease the CPU power. (see upcoming picture)
Descibtion aof the Performance in Ableton GPU vs CPU
Beyond the 2 player units almost everything else in Zwobot (including FX modules) is GPU driven (High performance).
The Zwobot FPS readout (Zwobot Monitor) works like this:
CPU encoding of the video (the player tries to play all videos on their set fps stable), and these fps then run into the GPU. Here, the video is converted to the internal Zwobot resolution for further effects, the lower the resolution is set, the better the performance.
The GPU receives the fps (e.g. 30fps), and then calculates the effects on top of it, i. e. 30 calculations per second, per effect.
Since the GPU sometimes doesn't get behind (especially at high resolutions) frames are skipped. Result: less FPS.
Keep your video resolution as low as possible. If your outgoing screen/projector is 720p it makes no sense to play 1080p videos. This will just drop the CPU/GPU. If you are playing 720p files, please set the resolution of your output screen to 720p as well. A higher resolution of the output screen will only result in the output resolution being upscaled, and in 90% of cases this will always look worse than the original resolution (720p).

Have an eye at the upcoming picture.
How to set the video Resolution ion ABöeton Live
Zwobot reads the incoming vid and its resolution, then it calculates this resolution to the internal Zwobot GPU resolution, and give it to the outgoing window/screen/projector.
Every single FX module takes CPU/GPU. Even if they're bypassed they'll take around 5fps (worst case). And if you have 10 modules and "pass" them they take 50fps.
Unfortunately we can't recommend any video codec for Zwobot, it clearly depends of what you're trying do with it.

For super fast performing without huge CPU or GPU loss we absolutely recommend an "Interchange" video codec like
Motion-JPEG or the HAP codec.

An "Interframe" codec like h.264, h.265, av1, vp9 may takes way less disc space, but the more compressed the video is the more decode power (CPU) is needed.

If you don't wanna "scrub and jump" like hell within a videofile an Interframe codec - like h.264 - is just fine. For heavy "loops and jumping" within the video-file we absolutely recommend an interchange codec like MJPEG. (MJPEG is our prefered codec)
Clean your computer/notebook/Mac from the inside. A lot of dust and particles can accumulate in their housing in a very short time and drastically reduce the cooling capacity and airflow.

We clean all our equipment once a year, and each time we have a noticeable increase in performance after cleaning.
Pre producing is not cheating!

Further improvement suggestions

(Win) Disable VSYNC (vertical synchronization) in your GPU/driver settings. Enabled VSYNC can drop your frame rate extremely!

(Win) Enable "High Performance" in your power management settings.

(Win) If you have any trouble with Fullscreen (crashes etc) please disable HiDPI (Live 10) in Preferences > Look/Feel > Disable HiDPI.

Don't use any Bluetooth,- and/or 3rd party routing-drivers etc. For best performance, all our audio interfaces and computers run on 256 to 512 samples at a bit rate of 44100Hz.

Try different settings in Ableton Live for best fps. In some cases less buffer size (e.g. 256) is the best solution. But in general, the higher the buffer settings in Ableton Live, the less GUI lag you'll have. A good value to start is 512 samples.

Please don't use any special 3rd party video codecs "Made for Ableton Live" (Yes, there are some weird stuff in the world wild internet) Those may crash Zwobot!

Close all high-GPU-needing software! Photoshop, video apps, 3D-tools and even your Internet-browser may take a lot of GPU (YouTube). All of them "can" cause some critical issues. Especially in live situations!

Use 64bit Ableton for better overall performance.

Freeze as much as possible in Live. More Ableton Live effects and plug-ins: less performance.

You don't need more than 44khz audio output in a live set. Really.

Bypass your effects (pass/bypass-button) if you temporary no need them. FX modules may take CPU/GPU even if they are not connected.

If there are less than 30fps, sound-reactivity on the FX modules may decrease noticeably.

If you are in a club/on a stage and adjust the projector, check if there are visible differences between the next lower resolution settings. If not, go down to the next lower possible resolution!

When you have a live session, always remember to cool down your Macbook/Laptop/Notebook. It can get pretty hot on a stage. From about 25 °Celsius (77 °Fahrenheit) the temperature controllers start to throttle and shut down the CPU/GPU.

Our suggestion for encoding your video-files is Handbrake. https://handbrake.fr/

If you still have low fps, write us: info@zwobotmax.com

My Graphic

Questions And Answers

In which Ableton Live channel/track should i use Zwobot?

If you don't need sound for your fader effects, it doesn't matter on which track you are running Zwobot.

You can put Zwobot and modules in different tracks.
Run Zwobot in a midi channel/track (e.g.) and modules independently in an audio channel/track.

SR (sound reactive) modules need sound for working. So put them in a audio channel/track.

We prefer to use Zwobot in a separate Ableton Live return track.

How can i record my visuals? #recording

Zwobot has an integrated recorder module, and you can send/share your outgoing video to other apps who support Syphon (Mac) or Spout (Windows). Some solutions will take a lot GPU/FPS.

The Zwobot recorder module records in h.264 with any frame-rate you like. Unfortunately it is not so high-powerful as other solutions since we need to draw and record at the same time with the same GPU in the same environment.

We personally use
Syphon Recorder (free/Mac) ( Syphon Recorder direct download ) but mostly Screenflow (Mac) to record all Zwobot stuff. We can also recommend OBS (free/WIN/Mac) and Spout Recorder (free/WIN).
If you install this
Spout plug-in in addition to OBS, you have the option to record in OBS directly from Zwobot via Spout(WIN).

For a smooth recording result, set Zwobot in the Zwobot Monitor Module to 60 fps and the recording software to 60 fps as well.

Syphon and Spout recording solutions record direct from your graphics card without huge performance loss.

There is another solution called HDMI grabber/ video capture devices. Those are hardware recorders who record directly from the HDMI stream/cable between your PC/Mac and your external screen.

We highly recommend this hardware solution on low spec computers because it's cheap and you won't have any loss of performance because it's an external device.

Even cheap capture devices like the "AGPtek HDMI capture" work well.


For most software recording solutions you'll need a sound bridge to get the audio from Ableton Live into the recording software.

we recommend:


https://jackaudio.org/ (free)

https://github.com/ExistentialAudio/BlackHole (free)

How can i install Zwobot and modules?

Put Zwobot and modules in any folder you want. Add Folder in Ableton Browser. That's it!

How does the licensing of Zwobot work? #licensing

The end-user license of Zwobot is linked to your email address with which you bought Zwobot. If you would like to have your license at a different address, simply contact us.

How does the updates work? #updates

If an update is pending, you will get an email with a download link. You don't need an Gumroad account or something. Just replace your old files with the new ones. Replacing your files with the new ones should not destroy your Zwobot stuff in your Ableton Live projects.

Use hot-swapping in Ableton
See video for replacing the old Zwobot modules with the new ones.

Zwobot is crashing Ableton Live

If Zwobot crashes Ableton Live, in 98% of cases, an (outdated) third-party device (Max tool or Vst plugin or a broken remote script) is not compatible with Zwobot. Please always make sure that no other plug-ins cause interference. Third-party Romote scripts in particular can cause crashes upon startup.

Also, a common cause is that old incompatible or corrupted modules are loaded, so please always delete the inside of the M4L folder first:
Mac "/Users/Documents/Max8/Max for Live Devices"
Windows "My Documents/Max8/Max for Live Devices"

If you are really sure that only Zwobot will cause Ableton Live to crash, please write to us: info@zwobotmax.com
We have a few routines to find out as quickly as possible why things are not working for you.

Spout is not working (Windows)

If you do not receive a Spout signal from Zwobot, make sure that you have installed the Spout package via the Max Package Manager and install the Spout tools from the
Spout website
Then you can customize the Spout settings (DirectX) for your system.

I want this and that feature!

Just talk to us! A lot of improvements in Zwobot are user driven (Rack module, Jumper, ABC, Alpha, the new Blender module et cetera). Just explain what's your plan, and why we should put this feature in Zwobot.

• Keep your main output-videoscreen/projector resolution low (720p for example, you really don't need more). If you're running higher resolutions, you'll have less fps.

We certainly do not recommend a framerate under 30fps! This may disconnect your effects, and in some cases it can cause a crash of Zwobot and/or Ableton Live!

Our suggestion for encoding your video-files is Handbrake .

Any other questions? Feel free to ask via email: info@zwobotmax.com