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):
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