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Developer(s) Ryan Geiss
Stable release 1.04
Operating system Windows
Size 534 KB
Type Music visualization
License BSD license
Screenshot of preset included in MilkDrop version 1.04d

MilkDrop is a hardware-accelerated music visualization plugin for Winamp, which was originally developed by Ryan Geiss. It uses DirectX and intelligent beat detection to render iterated images which blend seamlessly.[1] MilkDrop uses a complex system of interpolation to transition between presets gradually through time, creating a constantly changing visual experience.[2]


MilkDrop is an environment for running presets, software which controls MilkDrop, and does not produce visualizations by itself.

Presets are saved in .milk file format, typically in a subfolder of the MilkDrop plugin directory. Creating new presets is generally referred to as authoring, or writing, making the person that wrote a preset its author. Presets are distributed on the Internet through Winamp, the Winamp forums, and through the personal webpages of MilkDrop preset authors.[3] A preset's title also doubles as its .milk save name, and usually includes the preset author or authors' pseudonym. MilkDrop presets often have more than one author, which is generally referred to as remixing or editing. A remix or an edit will often include these the terms in the preset's title.

Creating presets[edit]

Screenshot of preset displaying custom wave per-frame code along with the resulting visual effect.

A current .milk file is composed of 4 major different kinds of scriptable equations. These include per_frame and per_pixel equations, as well as custom shapes and custom waves.[3]

Code in the per_frame section is executed once for each frame, modifying variables which affect different parameters that can be passed to other areas of code. Trigonometric functions which modify MilkDrop's internal looping time variable, systems of logic, and interaction with the audio information received from Winamp or other applicable media player's Fast Fourier transform (FFT)[4] can be used to govern how these parameters evolve through time.[3][5]

Code in the per_pixel section of MilkDrop is not actually re-evaluated at every pixel as the name would suggest, rather the screen is divided into a grid and the code is evaluated at each grid point.[6] The pixels in-between these points interpolate their values from the surrounding 4 points on the grid. The size of the grid is 32×24 by default, but can be set higher or lower by the user. Per_Pixel equations allow the preset author to alter some of MilkDrop's parameters differently in certain areas of the screen based upon x and y values, distance from the center of the screen, and the angle.[3]

Custom shapes and custom waves each have variables which allow the author to change the shape, size, color, and location on screen, among other things. Shapes and custom waves each have internal per_frame code that affects these variables similarly to how per_frame equations affect the entire preset. Custom shapes and waves equations are included in MilkDrop version 1.04 and later.[3] While initially MilkDrop allowed 4 custom shapes and waves, the latest version of the MilkDrop beta allows up to 5 custom shapes and 5 custom waves to be utilized per preset.[7]


Originally closed source, its source code was released under the BSD license in May 2005.[8] Ryan Geiss released 12 versions of MilkDrop between 5 November 2001 and 31 July 2003.[9] Redi Jedi (Geoff Potter[10]) has taken up developing the program since 2005 and has released six beta versions.[7]

projectM[11] is an implementation of MilkDrop using OpenGL in C++, and is released under the GNU LGPL. It is available as a plugin for Audacious, XMMS, Winamp, iTunes, Jack, PulseAudio, foobar2000, VLC media player and XBMC. It comes natively with Clementine, and Qmmp that also available in the Play Store on Android.

MilkDrop has been ported to XBMC, a homebrew developed media player that can be downloaded for Xbox, PC, or as a LiveCD.

The Flickernoise software for the Milkymist One video synthesizer is largely inspired by MilkDrop, and is compatible with MilkDrop presets to some extent.

MilkDrop 2.0 was released in 2007. It is available with Winamp 5.5 or from projectM in their 2.0.1 version for use it with other players like the VLC media player. MilkDrop 2 added DirectX 9.0 support and added the ability to use pixel shaders in its presets.

The source code for MilkDrop 2.25c has been released on 15 May 2013 (

See also[edit]


External links[edit]