Fugio Alpha Release

It’s time to begin the process of getting Fugio out into the world.

If you’ve not been following its progress so far, Fugio is a visual programming system primarily designed for rapid development of digital art projects, with a view to being a highly flexible and educational platform that builds transferrable knowledge while not forcing anyone to write a single line of code (unless they want to!)

Fugio is completely free for anyone to use (and will be fully open source soon).  It has taken me two years of hard work, time, and money to get it to this stage, and I’m very excited to finally share everything that I’ve been making.

As a lone developer, I haven’t had the luxury of a QA department testing all the code, so there’s definitely going to be some rough edges to begin with, hence this alpha release, which is aiming to catch as many common issues as possible before its full launch.

This first release is an extremely cut down version that only includes 42 basic nodes (the full version has around 200 nodes), but there is enough that we will be able to run through a short tutorial (below).

Please let me know if it does or doesn’t work.  Also, all feedback (good and bad) is really important at this stage, so do please tell me!

Download

 

Click here to download Fugio

Installation for Windows

Double-click on the Fugio-1.x.x-WIN.zip to open the archive, which contains FugioInstaller.exe – run this to install.

Follow each stage of the installer.  At this point you should just be able to accept the defaults.

Once the installer has finished, you can run Fugio by clicking on your Windows start button, going to the new Fugio entry, and clicking on the program icon to start the application.

If the application doesn’t start, try installing the Microsoft runtime that is included in the zip archive called vcredist_msvc2013_x86.exe

Installation for OSX

Double-click on the Fugio-1.x.x-OSX.dmg to open the archive, which contains FugioInstaller – run this to install.

Follow each stage of the installer.  At this point you should just be able to accept the defaults.

Once the installer has finished, you can run Fugio by going to your Applications folder in Finder, going to the new Fugio directory, and clicking on the program icon to start the application.

If OSX complains that the application hasn’t been signed (it hasn’t) then either right-click on the application icon (or Ctrl+Left Click) and select Open from the menu.  You’ll then see the same warning but this time with the option to run the application anyway.

Our First Patch

When you start Fugio you will see a welcome window.  Click the OK button to continue.

You’ll be presented with the main editor window:

Fugio-Alpha-Tutorial-01

To start a new patch, go to the File Menu and click on New (or press Ctrl+N on Windows, or Command+N on OSX)

The new patch will open a window, where we can now add nodes.

There are several ways to do this but for now we’ll just double-click in the middle of the patch window.  A new “Insert Node” window will appear.  The first time you do this it will be completely blank.  Start typing “Audio Output” (without the quotes) and you’ll see the names of nodes that match what you’re typing.  Once you see “Audio Output (PortAudio)” at the top of the list, you can press return to add the node to the patch.

Fugio-Alpha-Tutorial-02

The node will appear in the middle of the patch.  A node is a self-contained piece of code that has inputs and outputs.  The one we have just added is for sending audio to your speakers or headphones.

Fugio-Alpha-Tutorial-03

It has two inputs (the little blocks on the left hand side, which we call pins), one for audio data, and one to set the overall volume of the audio being played.  There is also a dropdown control to select which audio device on your computer to send the audio data to.  This will almost certainly be different from the one in the picture above.  You should be able to leave it as the default but feel free to change it if you need to.

You can move nodes around by dragging them around by their white title bars.

Add another node by double-clicking on the white space in the patch window.  Make sure you don’t double-click on the node you’ve already added as this won’t work.

Fugio-Alpha-Tutorial-04

We’re going to add a slider to control the output volume.  Start typing “Slider” into the window until “Slider (GUI)” appears at the top of the list.  GUI stands for Graphical User Interface and means that it contains some type of thing you can visually control.

Fugio-Alpha-Tutorial-05

The slider has a single output pin (inputs are always on the left, outputs are always on the right), which is a number between 0 (zero) and 1.  Hold the mouse cursor over the gray pin (not its name) and you should see a little popup that tells you some information about the pin, and in the case of numbers, it’s value, which is currently zero (as the slider control is all the way to the left).

Move the slider control to the middle, and hold the mouse cursor over the Number pin again, you’ll see the value has changed.

We’re now going to connect the output pin of the slider to the volume control of the audio output node.

Press the mouse cursor onto the slider’s Number gray pin and, while you keep your button pressed, drag the mouse away from the pin.  If you have done this correctly, you’ll see a new link following the mouse cursor:

Fugio-Alpha-Tutorial-06

Drag the mouse to the Volume input pin of the Audio Output node.  When you’re in the right place the link will turn gray (rather than red) to show that you can make this link.  Release the mouse cursor.

Fugio-Alpha-Tutorial-07

If you’ve done this correctly, you’ll see the new link turn yellow (showing it’s now selected).  Make sure it’s connected to the Volume pin (as above) and not the Audio pin.

As it’s currently selected, if you had made a mistake, you can press the Delete key (or Backspace on OSX) to delete the link.

Slide the slider all the way to the left (as above) to make sure the volume is set to zero (for now).

Double-click in the patch window to create a new node:

Fugio-Alpha-Tutorial-08

We’re going to add an audio signal generator.  Double-click on the “Signal (Audio)” node in the list.  If you add the “Signal (Number)” node by mistake, just press Delete/Backspace to delete it.

Fugio-Alpha-Tutorial-09

The new Signal node is going to generate an audio signal that we will be able to hear via the Audio Output node.  Connect the Signal’s Audio pin to the Audio Output’s input pin, so it looks like this:

Fugio-Alpha-Tutorial-10

If everything is working, you should now be able to slowly move the Slider towards the right, and you should hear a tone playing.  If you don’t, make sure your speakers/headphones are turned on and their volume isn’t set to zero.  Alternatively try a different audio output device using the drop-down in the Audio Output node.

The Signal node can generate several kinds of audio signals.  Let’s experiment with them.  Add a new node (double-click on the path window) and add a “Choice” node:

Fugio-Alpha-Tutorial-11

Connect the Choice pin to the Signal Type pin:

Fugio-Alpha-Tutorial-12

The Choice node now lists the different kinds of signals that you can generate.  Try selecting the different options.  Put it back to Sine when you’re ready to move onto the next step.

We’re now going to play with the Frequency of the generated signal.  Unlike the volume slider, the frequency value doesn’t go between zero and one.  In fact, average human hearing lies between 20Hz and 20,000Hz (20kHz).  Hertz (Hz) is the unit we use to count ‘cycles per second’.

We need to take the output of the slider and map its range to the frequency range we want to cover.  We’ll use a “Number Range Map” node to achieve this.

Fugio-Alpha-Tutorial-13

Here we’re going to use a slightly lower range (20-8,000 Hz), but feel free to experiment.

Fugio-Alpha-Tutorial-14

Number Range Map takes an “Input Value” (which will be our slider value) that it expects to be within the range between “Input Min” and “Input Max”.  By default these are set to zero and one respectively, which perfectly match the range of our slider, so we don’t need to change these values.  What we do need to do is change the output range.

Move the mouse cursor over the input pin called “Output Min” and you’ll see its default value, which is currently zero.  Right-click (or Ctrl+Click on OSX) on the pin’s gray box to bring up its menu, and choose “Edit Default”.  Change the value to 20 and click on OK.

Fugio-Alpha-Tutorial-15

We now do the same with the “Output Max” pin and change the default value to 8000:

Fugio-Alpha-Tutorial-16

To see the effect of what we have just done, let’s add “LCD Number” node and connect it to the Output Value.

Fugio-Alpha-Tutorial-17

Add a new slider and connect it to the “Input Value”:

Fugio-Alpha-Tutorial-18

As you move this new slider, you will see the output number is 20 when the slider is at the far left, and 8000 when the slider is at the far right.  Don’t worry if this is not entirely clear at this point – it’s not the most straightforward node to use but you will find it useful to quickly convert values between nodes.

Fugio-Alpha-Tutorial-19

We can now add a second link from the “Output Value” and connect it to the Signal’s Frequency input.  Move the slider and hear the change in the sound.

The full patch should look like this (click on the image to zoom in):

Fugio-Alpha-Tutorial-20

That’s it for this first tutorial but even at this early stage there are plenty of other nodes to try out if you want to explore further.

In the Nodes window on the left of the editor is a full list of all the currently available nodes.  Click on their names once to get further information and links to documentation.  Double-click on the name to add it to the current patch window, or you can drag and drop it into the window.

If you have any feedback or questions, or were unable to complete the tutorial, please let me know via the comments of this post, or contact me here.

Free Brushes for Painting With Light

For the new art installation I just completed at Birmingham Open Media (BOM) for the upcoming Ingenious and Fearless Companions exhibition, I had to create some new brushes to use in Painting With Light.

You can click on each brush below to get each full size brush individually, or click here to download a zip archive of all four brushes.

Painting With Light 1.5.1 BETA

I’ve made a new release of Painting With Light for OSX and Windows that fixes a couple of critical bugs in the Sequencer, and adds this rather lovely installer for OSX!

  • Improved HAP playback reliability
  • Fixed crash when loading images into Sequencer
  • Fixed Sequencer drag and drop under OSX
  • New version number scheme (as I’ve switched from Mercurial to Git)
  • Backspace key deletes shapes on OSX

In a recent workshop we experienced some issues with versions of OSX.  After some research into the subject, I may have to recommend a minimum of 10.9 (Mavericks).  PWL definitely won’t run on 10.6 (Snow Leopard), but you might get away with 10.7 (Lion) or 10.8 (Mountain Lion).

Download Painting With Light 1.5.1 for Windows

Download Painting With Light 1.5.1 for OSX

Using code inside Fugio

Screenshot 2016-02-26 09.51.23

An example of using code in Fugio when it makes sense to (trying out the new 2D drawing functionality).

While the node interface is a great way of creating reusable components of code that don’t change much, it isn’t a good fit when you’re trying to define very custom logic. If we stuck to just using nodes, we’d need huge trees of small nodes that would be difficult to build, debug, and maintain, and would have performance overhead implications. Sometimes writing code is just much more efficient in all of these areas, and the design of Fugio recognises this.

Therefore, we can use code, but just when we need to. I feel this offers a good balance between flexibility and simple design.

In other news, there has been a great deal of (boring) work done on refining the editor and hammering out all those little bugs that don’t break things but are just annoying.

The cross-platform installer is under way, with an almost working OSX one done, and a Windows version not far behind. I’m not focussing on Linux right now, as it’s a huge amount of work just supporting two platforms!

I’ve also done some development on the audio side, with the signal generator node receiving quite a bit of focus. I’m using it to build some very basic (at present) synthesisers!

New Fugio Editor Features

Screenshot 2016-02-06 07.39.27

Several new features have been added to Fugio in the past week while enjoying a bit of Californian winter sunshine!

  • Editor zooming – and general trackpad navigation improvements
  • Node grouping – group nodes into nested groups making it much easier to understand the structure of complicated patches
  • Snippets – save a re-usable sub-set of nodes to a ‘snippet’ that can be drag and dropped into new patches
  • Rewrote the audio input node so it’s working well now with FFT analysis, etc
  • Finished off split/join framework where a pin that contains data such as a colour can be right clicked on and a menu of nodes appears to split the colour into RGBA or HSLA etc values

With these additions, I think I’m pretty happy with the level of functionality of the editor so next step is to go through the whole code base and get it ready for its public release.

Lua scripting support added to Fugio

Lua scripting inside Fugio

I’ve long been a fan of the Lua scripting language due its incredible speed and relative ease that it can be interfaced with a host application. In this screenshot we can see the new LuaNode that is reading a random number from an input pin, modifying that value and setting an output pin.

While this is a relatively pointless example considering the amazing range of things that could be achieved, it works very well and very quickly!

Scripting is an important feature of Fugio as not all stages of code translates well into nodes. For instance, performing simple maths on one or more values would result in having to use lots of nodes, to store values and apply each operation. With scripting we can pass values in, concisely manipulate these values, and output the values, all in one node.

I’ve implemented a basic but extensible way to pass other types of information to and from Lua, such as colours, vec3’s, etc, so there will be no need to split/join these datatypes into their basic components before passing them into/from the LuaNode.

Machine Learning

After a long ten weeks, I’ve finished the Stanford University online Machine Learning course! It’s been a solid, if mostly science/engineering orientated, introduction to designing and implementing the basic algorithms. While it usefully touched on several image processing applications (road driving, OCR, pedestrian/face recognition), in all cases there was (by necessity) a clear result that each application was trying to achieve.

See my shiny Machine Learning Coursera certificate

To apply ML in an art context, past the ‘deep dreaming‘ quirkiness (that successfully communicated something tangible about how such algorithms operate, although I wasn’t able to fully comprehend what it was doing until I’d learnt how to code such processes) is probably going to take me much longer to conceive as one must skirt the ‘what is the purpose of art’ type questions, which is probably not the kind of thing that can be usefully defined in the way that a ML algorithm could be devised for.

For instance, I’ve seen various projects that take visual styles from one artist (Van Gogh seems to be a favourite) and attempt to derive or apply them to new or other works by different artists. This kind of thing is certainly fun, but is shallow (aesthetically, if not technically) and quickly becomes repetitive.

However, I do think there is scope for application in highly personalised interactive artworks that will either provide a deeply transformative human experience, or possibly nothing at all, which might be the most one (as an artist) can hope to achieve anyway!

If anyone is interested in exploring/discussing ideas along these lines, then do drop me a message, or please share to people you know who might be involved in such things…

2015

2016 will shortly start rolling around the globe, so I wanted to quickly get in a last minute summation of what’s happened in 2015 and an update on what’s to look forward to on this site in the new year.

Firstly, I want to thank all of you for reading and subscribing to this site, and for using and buying my software over the years.  I very much appreciate the support and feedback, which encourages me to find new ways to create useful tools and features that open up new creative possibilities.

Painting With Light has had quite a few new features added to it over the year, including audio playback support, a built-in video sequencer, new layer blending modes, more advanced mapping controls, and layer masking.

Over the year, I used Painting With Light to create art installations, including a live video mapping performance at the inauguration of Serre Numérique in Valenciennes, France, and running workshops.

Fugio was announced, which is a project I’ve been working on for a couple of years that provides a high-level visual programming interface to low-level coding, including Oculus Rift support, DMX, OSC, and a powerful timeline system.

I’ve been using Fugio to create art installations, including a permanent interactive artwork at Eden Project in Cornwall, and a Virtual Reality experience at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London,

I initiated a Fugio beta testing program to get some feedback on the software before I attempt a public release.

What’s next?

Early 2016 is already shaping up to be rather busy, including workshops and talks on the west and east coasts of America, as well as many UK activities being finalised.

I’ve recently added (but not yet released) HAP video support to both Painting With Light and Fugio, allowing for playback of more HD video streams simultaneously, with synchronised audio.

There is also native support for high DPI screens in both applications, such as Retina displays on OS X.

There are also plans for a new mesh tool in Painting With Light to address situations that aren’t currently addressed with the existing tools.

I’ve got Fugio compiled and running on Raspberry Pi (although the OpenGL rendering is still giving me a few headaches), with the aim to be able to create live digital artworks that can be physically installed without leaving valuable computers around.

So, with so much talk about Fugio, the question that is most asked is regarding when it will be released.  To answer this clearly, we need a bit of context.

Hard Fail

I started Fugio as a timeline project to control PWL, and synchronise lighting and audio for a theatre performance back in 2014.  As the project developed I started to see great new creative opportunities with being able to finely control the timing of media playback coupled with live interaction.

Close to its initial release, I tore the whole thing apart and rebuilt it as a node based visual programming system so that I could reconfigure the components as needed.  This system now forms the core of my art projects.

Once I had amassed a certain level of functionality, I decided it was time to get some more eyes on the project and ran an open call for beta testers.  The feedback came in slowly and was pretty crushing.  As well as the expected level of early bugs, no one could see how to use it, it wasn’t clear to anyone what it was for, or what everything did.

In hindsight this was all very valuable, though I’ll admit after working on the project for over a year at that point, I felt like I’d just ploughed a lot of time and effort into a stupid failure.

It’s taken me a few months to recover and regroup from that experience.  I had a good amount of travelling to do in that time, and fortunately had the opportunity to sit on the hot sands of Laguna beach in California, stare out to the Pacific, and do some soul searching.

Guru Meditation

Where I got to, and the reason I can relate all this publicly, is that my priority and passion is making art.  Sometimes, when I get all caught up in the excitement of coding, I seem to forget this and seemingly form aspirations of running a company selling software.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m very thankful for the money that comes in via sales of Painting With Light and my plugins.  It really helps justify spending more time adding features and fixing bugs.  But turning it into a larger commercial organisation just isn’t where my heart lies.

With this new found clarity, I began to re-evaluate my original aims for Fugio and what I want from it.

While a full discussion of this subject would at least double the size of this already weighty post, the core decision came down to one of ‘when’, not ‘if’ to open source the project.

Open Source

I talked to a whole bunch of people about this including a kindly Mitch Altman who talked with me about it and ended with saying “go for it”.

I feel a heady mix of fear and excitement at the prospect of being on show that much, of releasing almost two years work into the public realm, of giving up the money I might have made by selling it, of no-one caring, of no-one understanding…

I choose to do this because I want to make the best art that I can make – the software is, and will always be, secondary to that.

So, this is how I greet 2016: with blood pumping from adrenaline, riding fast into the night with the headlights only illuminating the road a short way in front of me.

When, then?

I have one main feature to add, which is the ability to group nodes into components that will make organising, reusing, and handling large patches infinitely better, I’m aiming for a February/March release on GitHub.

I wish you all a very happy new year!

Painting With Light 1.5.1160 BETA

Painting-With-Light-1.5.1160

Following feedback from the Toy Hack Digital Metropolis workshop over the weekend, I’ve addressed a few requests and bugs:

  • NEW: Supports animated GIF’s!
  • FIX: Fixed video output bugs
  • FIX: Line Width wasn’t being enabled correctly
  • FIX: Issues where shape handles were difficult to grab have been fixed
  • FIX: Sometimes textures would appear in 3×3 mapping

Download Painting With Light 1.5.1160 for Windows

Download Painting With Light 1.5.1160 for OSX

If you have any suggestions, comments, or bug reports, either send them directly to me via the Contact Page or post them on the Facebook Page.