Photorealistic GUI: is it good or bad?
Last few days I was thinking about the GUI concept. Also I watched a hundred of plugins screenshots and tried to analyze: why do a lot of people dislike photorealistic GUIs for audio plugins?
In short, I found that a lot of photorealistic GUIs in terms of ergonomics has the next 3 problems:
- Glare: All surfaces are polished and looks like very powerful floodlight projectors are behind operator’s back. Glares are even lighter than text labels. To concentrate on parameters the brain starts to ignore glares and soon gets fatigue. In real life the surfaces of devices for serious work are dull, opaque, frosted. No glares. Also the light should be soft if you want to work several hours without burning your eyes.
- Perspective distortions: I don’t know either it’s wrong visual angle setup or lens simulation but surfaces and knobs are crooked. When I work with real hardware device I know it’s really straight. But on the screen it doesn’t look straight. The brain starts to compensate this distortion and gets fatigue. I think the right way is to use isometric projection instead of perspective one.
- Labels font size: If the modelled hardware on the screen were 1:1 scale it should be OK. But the hardware size in plugins is smaller than original. It causes for text labels to be hardly recognizable. I think the right way is to enlarge them a little. It’ll get a little “cartoon-like” look but it’ll be very convenient to work with.
And also GUIs either photorealistic or non-photorealistic often have problems with color scheme choosen, controls layout and fonts used. I mean you can make a bad GUI regardless either it photorealistic or not. 🙂
After hundreds of screenshots I found the best GUIs for my taste (never worked with these plugins though):
^^ Native Instruments Massive. Non-photorealistic design. But very good layout of controls. Very good fonts and labels. Very good color scheme.
^^ D16 group Shioitor. Photorealistic design. Good layout of controls. Good fonts and labels. Good color scheme. No polished surfaces. Perspective projection used but I don’t feel discomfort due to distortions. The fonts and labels are cool (instead places where there’s a lot of text).
The conclusion. I don’t deny the idea to make photorealistic looking GUI. I don’t have 3d modelling experience so I will use real parts of real devices.
There’s a couple of them already in my kitchen:
(old soviet power supply unit)
(old soviet ammeter)