Highlights of the Blender Conference 2016

Here are three video recordings of presentations done at the latest Blender Conference that I think are worth watching.

Mad Entertairment Studio

I’ve never had the chance to attend the Blender Conference, but they have always provided live streaming and published recordings afterwards. The diversity and quality of the presentations invite me every time to go through it. There is a lot to discover in the field of 3D creation and, as with any open source software, people have used the tool in many different ways for the purpose of their research. So, after watching a few videos, here is my selection for this year.

Paul Melis uses Blender to demonstrate how path tracing works. Path tracing is a rendering method based the physical properties of light and thus simulates realistic lighting of a scene. Blender Foundation has developed a rendering engine called Cycles using this method. But how does it work? Paul Melis has modified Blender to literally show us how the rays are moving around in 3D before being turned into colored pixels. Along the way, he shows us how and why certain things might influence the final render.

For her PHD in media studies, Julia Velkova is focusing on open-source animation film production. She does not uses Blender, so this is not a technical presentation. Instead, she is focusing on the community, economy and mechanics behind the production of free culture using free / libre software. Her presentation puts in perspective contemporary media production with the history of art and technology. She also raises good questions for the Blender community and the free / libre art and technology practitioners as a whole. I’ll be looking forward to the conclusion of her PHD in a couple months.

MAD Entertainment Animation, is an Italian based animation studio that has gradually switched to a full Blender production pipeline over the last couple years. While this is more and more common in small sizes studios across the world, Ivan Cappiello presents here the latest projects they have been working on and shares the methodology they use when you don’t have big production budgets but still want to make big feature animation films.

I’ve singled out their presentation because of the particularly poetic look and feel they have achieved in their work (the illustration a the top of this article is a still from one of their production). But also for the Kinect based motion capture they use to help animators quickly set up poses for secondary character animation. All very inspiring.

There is of course a lot more presentations to watch if the subject and software is of any interest to you. So let me know which are your favorites from this year and why.

“Pointillism”, live coding at #PdCon16~

IOhannes M Zmölnig is an active member of the Pure Data development scene. So it’s of little surprise that he was attending the Pure Data Conference that just happened last week in NYC.

Pointillism IOhannes PdCon16

Pure Data (Pd) is a visual programming language […] for creating interactive computer music and multimedia works.

You also might have heard about Pd as an alternative to Max/Msp or VVVV.

The conference brought a panel of enthusiasts from all over the world to discuss the development and future of the software. I was especially pleased to hear Mark Edward Grimm‘s experience teaching Pure Data as a multimedia creation tool to some college students here in the US. (See Mark Edward Grimm’s website for more info.)

At night, the same people gathered at the Shapeshifter lab in Brooklyn to enjoy live experimental music from some of the participants. And this is where IOhannes blew my mind, friday night, with a performance he calls Pointillism.

There is a recording of a previous event from 4 years ago that you can watch online. But seeing it live, not knowing what to expect, with a big projection over IOhannes shoulder, was a totally different game. Also, since 4 years, IOhannes has played it multiple times and thus perfected the set up and process at each iteration. (The video here is not doing justice to the performance.)

To explain what is going on, IOhannes is using Pure-data to create a musical instrument. He does this by adding boxes with distinctive functions and linking them together. Everything is done live, in front of the audience, and we can all see what he is doing on a screen cloning his own computer screen. Nothing is hidden.

So far, nothing new here. This is often referred to as live coding.

Where IOhannes plays a trick here, is that he is writing all the boxes by heart and uses a braille font to display their names. This means that nobody in the audience, and barely him, can read what is going on. Nobody reads braille on a screen anyway. Mistakes in the process are almost not permitted because it would be hard to find where they happened. The music itself fiddles around a theme inspired by morse code (IOhannes told me afterwards the music is actually a reading of the dots of each boxes). And sooner or later, the musical and graphical composition becomes a giant knot of boxes, dots and lines, moving in erratic ways. But all ends beautifully in a rapid deconstruction and closes on a black screen.

Needless to say the performer was greeted with a warm applause and had to come back on stage as the crowd would not stop. I’ve rarely seen such joy and amazement in the eyes of the audience at events like this.

IOhannes respects all the rules of the genre but with a twists that makes it accessible for people outside of the community. Pointillism is clever, brilliantly executed and a pleasure to watch. I could not recommend it more to any tech festival looking for a original performance and do hope you’ll be able to experience it live some day.

#IOhannes right side up

A photo posted by Sofy Yuditskaya (@horus_vacui) on

RaspiVj (alpha release)

Yesterday, I’ve pushed online the code for what I call the RaspiVJ, a minimal VJ application for the Raspberry Pi.

RaspiVJ set up

The idea was to build a portable and lightweight VJ set up that could be versatile enough to adapt to multiple situtations and configurations. So the Raspberry Pi, as a small and cheap computer, seemed a good candidate. It can already play videos up to an HD format and can connect to a screen via HDMI or RCA (for those old televisions).

Inspired by PocketVJ, everything runs from the Raspberry Pi. All is needed is a smartphone, tablet or computer to connect to the web interface of Raspivj and then be able to manipulate the videos and switch between clips.

RaspiVJ screenshot

The difference with PocketVJ so far, is that it behaves more like a VJ application. You can quickly switch between clips, crossfade between two videos and fade to black.

I’ve already been using this application during a live show with the band Left Arm of Buddha. And I think it could be the perfect tool for young bands, performers or musicians that would like to play videos during their shows with a bit of control over the playback, while still being simple to use and easy to set up.

Left Arm of Buddha

Technically, a node.js server sends the interface to the user’s browser and communicates any action from that user to a custom video player (coded with openFrameworks and ofxOMXPlayer).

So all you’ll need is a Wifi dongle for the Raspberry Pi (or a network cable), some cables to connect the Raspberry Pi to a screen or projector and a smart device to access the webpage that acts as the interface.

The code is released on github as open source under an MIT license. Right now, you have to go through a somewhat lengthy process to install the application. But I’m planning to make a plug-and-play image that you will just have to burn on an empty SD card to get running. Just ping me if you’re interested, it would increase my motivation to do so.

Else, if you just like this project or wish their could be more features, don’t hesitate to say hello.

Médor est un canard

Au pays du surréalisme, un groupe de coopérants veut mettre le monde du journalisme et de l’édition sur sa tête. Et pour cela, il a besoin de nous.


Médor est un projet porté par 17 personnes, journalistes et graphistes, dont le but est de produire un magazine trimestriel d’investigation tourné vers la Belgique.

Grâce aux réunions mensuelles des artistes utilisant des logiciels libres, j’ai pu assister à la présentation de ce projet par l’équipe des graphistes, tous membres du prestigieux bureau Open Source Publishing, que beaucoup nous envient à l’étranger. Pierre, Alex, Ludi et Sarah expérimentent depuis nombre d’années des processus différents de publication dans une démarche ouverte et en utilisant exclusivement des logiciels libres. En s’associant avec une large équipe de journalistes de terrain, ils veulent aussi complètement modifier la façon dont, aujourd’hui, on produit un magazine d’information imprimé. Outre le fait de financer du travail journalistique de longue durée (3 mois), tous les participants au projet seront investis dès le début dans la mise en forme des articles. Ainsi, le modèle traditionnel qui veut qu’un article soit mis en page et illustré après son écriture définitive n’aura pas lieu chez Médor. Ce qui nous promet, j’en suis sûr, des surprises autant dans ce qui sera publié que dans le processus d’édition.

Médor est aussi original dans son mode de financement, puisqu’il ne se lancera que s’il a le nombre de lecteurs requis à sa subsistance. Cela lui donne aussi une grande indépendance de ton, toujours un facteur prometteur lorsqu’il s’agit de journalisme d’investigation.

Si ces mots vous ont convaincus, prenez aujourd’hui un abonnement. C’est l’investissement le moins risqué que vous pouvez faire pour supporter ce projet. Vous leur mettez ainsi 60€ en caisse (pour 4 numéros de 128 pages quand même) et si le magazine est imprimé, vous recevrez votre premier exemplaire en septembre 2015. S’il n’est pas imprimé, vous recevrez l’intégralité de vos 60€ en retour. Ne tardez pas à faire cette démarche, parce qu’il manque encore ~3600 abonnés pour que ce pari réussisse.

Il existe également bien d’autres manières de supporter ce projet et bien d’autres particularités à cette aventure dont je ne parle pas dans ce billet. Pour tout cela, je vous laisse consulter leur site: http://medor.coop.

PS: Ami français, toi qui aime tant le plat pays, abonnes-toi aussi.

Libre Graphics Meeting 2014 from social media

In Leipzig for a couple of days, attending the Libre Graphics Meeting. It’s a yearly gathering of coders, users, developpers and designers of free software, all revolving around graphic design and other visually related free culture projects.

For those attending or not, I’ve created a page that collects all (or most of) the tweets, pics, instagrams and social posts around this event. You’re free to browse it here under or by visiting this link.

The event is going on from the 2nd to the 5th of April. So this is just the first day. And there’s already too many great projects to talk about.

Continue reading Libre Graphics Meeting 2014 from social media

Une perspective féministe sur le cloud #VJ14


Verbindingen/Jonctions 14 est un événement organisé par Constant, qui propose cette année une perspective féministe des services fournis par les serveurs : mesh- cloud- autonomes- DIY.

V/J14 offre un regard critique sur nos attentes en tant qu’utilisateurs de technologie, de l’envie d’être toujours connectés en accès illimité, en permanence. L’infrastructure technologique nécessaire pour satisfaire ces attentes n’est pas sans incidence sur notre manière d’appréhender la notion d’espace, physique et virtuel, rendant de plus en plus difficile l’idée d’intimité et de familiarité avec les technologies.

Du 12 au 15/12/2013, ils vous proposent différents ateliers, conférences, performances,… dans différents lieux de culture bruxellois.

J’ai pointé pour vous:

  • jeudi après-midi, on remplace le système d’exploitation de son téléphone
  • vendredi, on construit des boîtes qu’on connecte ensemble et Aymeric nous parle de l’éthique de l’exhibitionisme du code
  • samedi, c’est le sommet des serveurs féministes. Là, je t’explique pas, mais il y a du monde
  • et dimanche, Femke nous parle du (des) père(s) belge d’internet ou “comment choisir tes parents et quels enfants ils pourraient avoir.”

Bien sûr, il y a plein d’autres choses à voir. Là, je partage juste ce qui m’a sauté aux yeux et qui pourrait t’intéresser. Mais le mieux est que tu ailles voir par toi-même.


14ième RMLL à #Bruxelles

Ce weekend, débutent les 14ième Rencontres Mondiales du Logiciel Libre à Bruxelles. La semaine s’ouvre sur 2 journées grand public, place de la Monnaie. J’y serai présent (surtout dimanche) en tant que bénévole pour l’association Creative Commons et y exposerai uH bench, mon banc public open source. (Il sera même sans doute possible d’en construire l’un ou l’autre sur place)

N’hésitez pas à venir y faire un tour, pour découvrir de quoi est fait ce monde libre. Ou pour les plus aguerris, à plonger dans le programme de la semaine. Ça promet d’être intéressant.

14eme Rencontres Mondiales du Logiciel Libre

Corrupt.desktop – Scratch #Apple’s image

Insert doubt into a fanboy’s heart.

Corrupt.desktop is a funny project by Benjamin Gaulon (@recyclism) and you can be part of the ongoing performance, if you’d like. Though, I suggest to be careful with this and where you do it (Some have seen their home raided by the secret service for doing something similar).

This project is obviously questioning our perceptions of computers and the illusion of perfection associated with certain brands. It’s also fascinating to see that what seems to be the “best” answer given by a store employee is to turn off the “broken” machine and reboot it. Which obviously, won’t “solve” the problem.

This project is open source and uses openframeworks. So you can go ahead and play with it :)


#Random squares + face recognition = Pareidolia

Une paréidolie consiste à associer un stimulus visuel informe à un élément identifiable, souvent une forme humaine ou animale. L’identification de visages dans les nuages est un exemple classique de paréidolie. (ᔥWikipedia)

Pareidoloop est une application conçue par Phil McCarthy qui:

  1. génère aléatoirement des polygones
  2. propose cette composition à un logiciel de reconnaissance faciale
  3. ajoute des polygones supplémentaires pour améliorer la reconnaissance

Ci-dessous, une petite suite d’images, générées par mes soins, en laissant la démo tourner pendant une nuit:

Vous pouvez voir une démo de cette application en suivant ce lien ou télécharger le code sur Github.

23 juin: fabrication de bancs publics open source

Invité par les Ateliers Populaires, ce samedi 23 juin de 14 à 18 heures, je dirigerai un atelier de fabrication de bancs publics à partir de palettes. Le but est de fabriquer un maximum de bancs pour le potager collectif déjà installé dans le quartier. Bienvenue à tous pour apprendre à fabriquer un banc à partir de matériaux facilement disponibles en ville. Emmenez scie, marteau et pied-de-biche, si vous avez, et une palette standard pour ceux qui voudraient reprendre un banc avec eux. Les autres réalisations resteront sur place.

Voir une carte plus grande

Toutes les infos sur le projet sont sur uH bench – le banc public open source – xuv.be.